Michael Zabat selected as new RCS Board member

By: Mary Beth Almond | Online Only | Published December 7, 2012

ROCHESTER — The Rochester Community Schools Board of Education has selected Michael Zabat as its new Board of Education Trustee.

“It was evident that Mr. Zabat understands the value of public education in our society, and his professional career experiences as both an engineer and educator will complement the background of the current board members. In addition, he is an immigrant from the Philippines and the board felt he would be able to bring that unique perspective to the table, as our community is very diversified,” Board President Jennifer Berwick said in an email.

Zabat, a Stoney Creek High School parent with a background in aerodynamics engineering, filled the seat vacated by Gerald Moore. Moore — who was elected to the board in Nov. 2009, and his six-year term was extended when the board’s elections were moved to November in even years — resigned last month due to an increase in job-related travel.

Zabat was slated to be sworn in, and take his seat, at the Board of Education meeting Dec. 10 — after press time. Zabat will serve as a board member until Dec. 31, 2014. Voters will select a trustee for the remainder of the term, which expires Dec. 31, 2016, during the Nov. 2014 election.

Zabat was chosen from a pool of 15 candidates, who were interviewed by the board Dec. 3. Five finalists — Zabat, Sherry Wynn Purdue, Gary Tucker, Kelly Borowski and Brian Kirksey — were chosen to advance to a second round of interviews Dec. 5. After half hour interviews each, board members ranked each candidate and narrowed the pool to three candidates — Purdue, Tucker and Zabat. In the end, Zabat was unanimously chosen to fill the vacant seat.

“In all, we had 15 very strong candidates willing to give their time and talents to our school board,” Board President Jennifer Berwick said in an email. “I am appreciative of everyone who applied and I sincerely hope they will continue to be involved in Rochester Community Schools.”

Zabat, a former engineering professor at the University of Southern California, currently works as a consultant in Troy. During the interview process, Zabat said he would bring an open mind, and an analytical one, to the board.

“The past couple of years, I’ve been focused on decision-analysis type of work in my consulting business, so I thought it would be a good thing to bring that kind of expertise to education, which is probably the most important endeavor that we have as a community. I’d like to bring that kind of rigor and knowledge in, to help with the very difficult decision making that’s done here,” he said.

Zabat has lived in Rochester Hills for 17 years with his wife and their two children, who both attend Stoney Creek High School. Prior to coming to the area, the Zabat’s lived in California, where much of their family still resides.

“We love it here. In fact, I turned down a couple of offers this past year to move to different states because my wife and I decided that this was going to be home, so its important for me to do what I can to help the community and I think this is a good way of doing that, because schools affect so much,” Zabat said during the interview process.

Call Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at (586) 498-1060.