Familiar faces elected to local school boards

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published November 10, 2016


WARREN/CENTER LINE/STERLING HEIGHTS/TROY — Several school board races were decided on Election Day, Nov. 8.

In the Warren Consolidated Schools district, five candidates ran for three open seats. Incumbents Susan Trombley and Megan Papasian-Broadwell and former board member Susan Jozwik won the six-year terms.

According to the unofficial results from the Macomb County Clerk’s Office, Trombley received the most votes with 22,835. Jozwik followed her with 17,355 votes. Papasian-Broadwell received 13,435 votes. Challengers John Schroder and Jill Forrest received 12,401 and 11,801 votes, respectively. Incumbent Ben Lazarus did not seek re-election.

This will mark Trombley’s second term. She was first elected four years ago.

“I’m not done yet,” she said. “We’re just now getting our district on an upswing.  I want to continue that upswing.”

Because of Michigan’s economic downturn in recent years, districts statewide — including WCS — have made budget cuts as less revenue for public education has been available from the state.

“Over the last four years, we have made substantial cuts,” Trombley said. “We made some concessions with our staff, who took a substantial cut in benefits and pay.”

For the past three years, Superintendent Robert Livernois has taken a 10 percent cut in his salary to help balance the budget.

There have been other challenges as well, according to Trombley.

“We’ve had mandates from a legislative standpoint without the financial support to fulfill those,” Trombley said. 

“It’s hard for the district. We don’t get more funding for that,” said Jozwik, who first served from 2010 to 2014 and wanted to run again. “I feel we have a lot of responsibility. We work together well. This is about the kids in the community.”

In the past year, however, the financial outlook has been a bit brighter, and Trombley said unions across the board received an average 1.9 percent increase in benefits or salaries this school year.

But lack of funding for mandates continues. Another issue that has come up is Common Core, which has been a sore point for many parents because of the math component.

“The state adopted it. We have to implement what the state gives us,” Jozwik said.

“The math is horrendous,” Trombley said, adding that she recently met an engineer who works at a major automaker who said he would not hire any applicants who learned math via Common Core because it doesn’t fit the company’s engineering. 

Trombley said there are plans for the future of the district. In May, voters passed a $134.5 million bond issue to fund updates throughout the district. On the agenda are improved security, updated technology, interior and exterior door replacements, improvements to heating and cooling systems, new school buses, and parking lot and sidewalk replacements.

It’s not always easy to set policies within the district that are going to be unpopular.

“It’s very difficult to make decisions,” Trombley said. “It’s something we struggle with ourselves.”

More local school board election results
In Fitzgerald Public Schools, incumbent Lori Eseman-Dreyer was re-elected with 3,963 votes; her term begins Jan. 1, 2017. She was the only candidate who ran for the two open six-year seats, as longtime board member Hilary Kutella decided not to run again. Her term expires Dec. 31.

Because there were not enough candidates in the FPS race, district officials will follow a process to ensure the second position is filled. Like with Eseman-Dreyer, the new term begins Jan. 1. According to school officials, if there is no one to fill the open position, the board has to appoint someone.

In January, school officials will announce that there is an open board position and interested candidates will be able to apply for the position. Board members will then hold interviews to appoint a new board member. Beginning Jan. 1, the school board will have 30 days to appoint a new board member. If nobody is selected, the Macomb Intermediate School District will step in and appoint someone.

In Center Line Public Schools, incumbent Gary Gasowski and Gary Shimer ran uncontested for the two six-year terms. Gasowski earned 4,273 votes, while 3,830 people cast votes for Shimer. Pamela Grey-Pugliese did not seek re-election.

In Van Dyke Public Schools, incumbents Eleanor Bates and Richard Carloni were re-elected to two six-year terms with 3,979 and 2,932 votes, respectively. Voters also cast their ballots for two partial terms ending Dec. 31, 2018, in VDPS for current board members Amber Brace and Charlene Johnson-El being re-elected with 3,589 and 2,970 votes, respectively.

In Warren Woods Public Schools, current board members Michael D. Fitzpatrick and Jere Green were re-elected to two six-year terms. Fitzpatrick received 5,979 votes and Green got 4,761 votes.

In the Macomb Community College Board of Trustees race, Katherine Lorenzo and Kristi Dean were elected. Lorenzo received 66,945 votes and Dean received 66,500 votes, beating challengers Mike Aiello, Joseph Backus, Steven Banaszak, Ken Goike, Roy Gruenberg, Dominic La Rosa, Jeff Randazzo, Peter Szyszkowski and Vincent Tocco. Current board members James Kelly and Elizabeth Lucido did not file to run. On Nov. 8, Lucido was elected to the Macomb County Board of Commissioners District 9 seat.