School election a referendum on new policies

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By Laniesha Evans and Kelsey Block
The Holt Journal

Tuesday, Holt voters will determine which four of nine candidates will take their places on the Holt Public Schools Board of Education. Three, 6-year seats as well as one, 3-year seat are up for election.

Four candidates with similar platforms are running as a team. Doug Needham, Julie Bureau, Craig Anderson and Mark Perry are campaigning together. While each has specific goals in mind, all share similar opinions on the north campus, academic achievement in the middle grades and AP course offerings for high school students.

“We are not happy with the current board and administration and we want it to change. We feel they are out of touch with the community and we’ve chosen to bind together to be the community’s voice,” Needham said.

Current board members have a 3- to 4-year district improvement plan that has been ongoing, said Malatinsky.

“The board meets once a year with all of the district’s administrators. We review the accomplishments of the past year and update the plan for the upcoming year. We weigh changes in funding, legislation, and student performance. Once this is done, we map out our goals for the upcoming year and determine how we will measure success. This plays a major role in the district’s ability to remain a viable educational and business entity,” said Malatinsky.

Tom Shaver, 33, is also on the ballot. Shaver is involved with the district’s wrestling club.

“I would say first of all, I don’t have kids yet, I have kids that I have interest in in the district, and I don’t plan on moving anywhere. Eventually, I will have kids coming through the school district, know administration, I know current board members and a lot of teachers,” Shaver said. “I still think we have a great community and a great school district, not about going in and changing anything just like to keep it that way.”

Mary Rutledge is a 49-year-old Holt resident. She said she’ll be voting for the four challengers on Tuesday. As a parent of two, Rutledge said she feels lied to by the current board administration.

“We’ve got great people in Holt, wonderful people,” Rutledge said. “Is it time for a change? I think it is.”

The candidates in alphabetical order

Craig Anderson, 57-year-old father of twin juniors at Holt High School, said he wants to encourage more people to send their children to school in the district.

“The community is a significant part of the school, and when the community believes it is no longer being listened to, it causes challenges,” Anderson said. “When you talk to people who live in Holt and they say, ‘I no longer have my children at Holt schools,’ that becomes a challenge.”

If elected, Anderson said he plans to involve local employers in the school curriculum as well as examine withdrawal rates.

“I know we’re hearing about globalization. Well, globalization means businesses and business structures, and we don’t do a very good job in those areas. We need to focus here (in Holt) and move out,” Anderson said.

Partial Term Trustee Rick Brooks has been on the board for a year and three months. Brooks also serves as a human resources manager for the state of Michigan and worked for the Michigan government for more than 12 years.

“I am motivated to remain on the board in order to ensure that the district remains responsive to student needs, reaches forward in providing expanded learning opportunities, and spends its financial resources responsibly. It is my responsibility to work to establish policy, review and approve financial activity, participate on educational program planning and goal setting, and oversee the management of the district’s facilities and investments. If I am re-elected, I will continue to place more emphasis on academic program and curriculum review during board meetings,” said Brooks.

Julie Bureau said she has lived in Holt for 12 years. The 46-year-old mother of five said she feels the current board members haven’t considered the variety of families in the area.

“There were several seats available and I was not working full time any longer, and it was something I could dedicate my time to,” Bureau said, noting that she has experience dealing with issues like budget cuts during her time working with animal control. “I have creative ideas that I can bring into the mix, so it seems like the perfect time.”

If elected, Bureau said she’ll focus on improving opportunities for students in grades 5-8.

“There aren’t very many academic programs to help build them up and get them thinking ahead. We need to focus on that to help get scores up, so by the time they’re in the ninth grade, it doesn’t matter what building they’re in because they’re going to know what they need to get through school or to get a job,” she said.

Holt Board Treasurer Fred Ford has been in office for 12 years and isrunning for re-election. He serves in two capacities at Lansing Community College, as adjunct faculty and career liaison.

“Ultimately, I want Holt-Dimondale students to be the best they can be. I still have ideas and I want to help bring more opportunities to the students. I decided to run for re-election because I’m not through giving back,” said Ford. “It should be less talk about the new building and more focus on the future, opportunities and success of the students. Our goal with the new senior building is self-regulation. The campus prepares our students for their future by allowing them to figure out a pathway for their life. The building allows seniors to experience a college atmosphere, while giving them options and opportunities, whether it’s going to college or job opportunities, students have the ability to explore their own pathway,” he said.

John Malatinsky has been on the board of education for 21 years. Malatinsky is the current president.

“I bring 37 years of experience, as the CFO and Human Resource Director for the MSU Department of Radiology. I have experience in developing budgets and dealing with decreasing funding. My board experience includes returning the district’s financial picture to one of financial stability in times of decreasing funding. It also includes being a part of its major building project 10 years ago. Being a resident of the district for over 50 years, I understand the community’s history and the pride it takes in the school system. I am not driven by a single agenda, but by giving back to my community,” said Malatinsky.

Doug Needham, 42, has a ninth-grader and an 11th-grader in the district. He said he’s concerned about students in the middle grades as well as the size and quality of the classes.

“The straw that broke the camel’s back was the switch,” Needham said, adding that this is the first time he’s ever run for public office. “The community has spoken. Students did a sit-in and said we don’t agree with this change. We need somebody to step up.”

If elected, Needham said he plans to work to return the district to a separate 9th-grade campus. He said he also wants to work with the administration to examine what other area schools are doing and to implement those ideas in Holt.

“We should be focusing more of an effort in the earlier grades. By the time you get to high school, you’re either on the path or you’re not,” Needham said. “Seventh and 8th-grade is key as far as talking with students as far as what they want to do for a career, and my concern is some of these students, we lose, as they transfer into high school.

Mark Perry, 50, has lived in Dimondale for 18 years. He said he decided to run because he wanted to help reconnect the community.

“We cannot go forward a divided community, so the immediate thing board members need to do is reach out,” the father of three said. “Things have to be put behind them, but also need to take a look at this issue of the switch (to the north campus) and put it to bed once and for all.”

If elected, Perry said he will focus on declining enrollment and the effect it has on the district’s finances.

“I think we’re driving parents away, and maybe kids, too, based on how residents feel about the district,” he said. “With today’s technology and what’s available out there … For a parent that is unhappy with the school system, there’s some alternatives for them and the student. If your reputation is not seen as being good, it can really hurt you.”

For Deborah Roeske, current board trustee, community service is also an important priority.

“I believe this is a community service job, It’s my job to give back to the community and take care of the students. I never do the things that I do for recognition, I give back because it is right. I have been a board member for 24 years and I still enjoy what I do, this board has made some big changes and I want to be apart of the changes we have taking place and see the opportunities for our students grow,” said Roeske.

If re-elected, Roeske also plans to continue enhancing the education system. “I want to keep working on the education pathways to ensure success for students in the future,” said Roeske.\

Tom Shaver said he graduated from Holt High School. He said he’s not upset with anything in the district, and would provide the same services.

“If people have a concern, they can talk to me about it. I would do my best in the position so the overall opinion of the community and what’s best for the students at large is always accomplished.”

Shaver said he’s been keeping up on issues like test scores and enrollment decline, as well as the status of the north campus.

“In my experience, a lot of kids who have plans for college never get there or never complete what they started. The opportunity of north campus is going to expose kids that may not have otherwise been exposed to college,” he said.

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