Longtime school board member retires
Posted July 12, 2017
FRASER — Gerry Gauthier said he joined the Fraser Public Schools Board of Education because he wanted to be involved in the community, as well as with his children’s education.
Gauthier, who spent six years as board president and 23 years total as a member, announced his retirement from the board in May. He has lived in the Fraser school district for approximately 30 years.
Prior to his becoming board president in 2011, three of his children graduated from Fraser High School — in 2003, 2006 and 2008, respectively.
“I was fortunate in Fraser Public Schools to have a very positive, focused board in my 23 years, very much understanding the role as a board rather than a superintendent,” Gauthier said.
He explained that FPS Superintendent David Richards runs the district, while the board selects the superintendent and sets policies and guidelines to allow the superintendent to competently run the district on a day-to-day basis.
Richards called Gauthier’s leadership “outstanding,” adding that he demonstrated an incredible level of passion and commitment for the district and its students.
“(Gauthier) has given countless hours attending sporting events, board meetings, performances and community activities,” Richards said. “He leads with his heart and he bleeds blue and gold. … He will always ask the tough questions, and every decision is based upon the mantra of, ‘What’s best for kids?’
“Honestly, it’s the end of an era with Mr. Gauthier’s retirement from our board. The Fraser community has been served well by Gerry, and he will be missed greatly. He leaves our district in a great place and at a time that allows for a smooth transition to a new board president.”
The board is a seven-member body that consists of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and three trustees.
Every January, the seven members of the school board reorganize, with any member being able to throw his or her name into a hat to vie for roles of president, vice president and treasurer. Gauthier would update his colleagues annually, telling them he wanted to remain president.
When a member retires or resigns, résumés are submitted and candidates are interviewed to be part of the board. All board members are equal in stature, with no one person having more input than any other. If the superintendent has a problem that needs to be resolved, the president brings the issue to the entire board for discussion.
Laura Edghill, formerly the board’s vice president, has assumed presidential duties until January, when it will be determined if she remains in that position. A new board member is expected to fill the vacancy left by Gauthier by the end of July.
Gauthier said his family originally moved to the area due to the school district’s reputation. He pinpointed personal highs that gave credence to the job he and his fellow board members endured, including: selecting Richards as superintendent; building Richards Middle School; infusing technology into the district’s curriculum; starting the development of personalized learning; and being able to hand each of his children a high school diploma.
He acknowledged that in a period of 23 years, different circumstances can arise and cause friction. While not being specific, he said the team of the board and the superintendent have worked through such circumstances to attain positive results.
“We’re very lucky to have the community we have in Fraser Public Schools,” Gauthier said. “They’re very supportive of the schools, and caring. It’s been my honor to be able to serve the people of this school district, and I want to thank them for putting their trust in me.”
His decision to retire from the board was a yearlong process. First, Gauthier wanted to see the district’s bond pass in May. Second, the district is coming to the end of its second three-year strategic plan, with a new plan being developed this fall. He felt that a new board member should be part of that next blueprint.
Being board president was just a part-time job, though, and he still has his full-time position as a sales manager in the machine tool business. He said he will still be part of the community and will attend school-related events. He also looks forward to more time with his family.
“It’s been a great 23 years,” Gauthier said. “I’m going to miss it. I’ve got to meet a lot of good people.”
About the author
Nick Mordowanec covers Fraser, Clinton Township, Fraser Public Schools, Clintondale Community Schools and Baker College for the Fraser-Clinton Chronicle. Nick, a graduate of Michigan State University, has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2013 and has won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists Detroit Chapter and the Michigan Press Association. He has slight obsessions with “Seinfeld” and Led Zeppelin.
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