Former trustee appointed to fill Chippewa board vacancy

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published October 27, 2021

 On Oct. 14, six candidates seeking to fill a vacancy on the Chippewa Valley Schools Board of Education were interviewed. The board ultimately appointed Ken Pearl, who most recently held public office in 2020 on the Clinton Township Board of Trustees.

On Oct. 14, six candidates seeking to fill a vacancy on the Chippewa Valley Schools Board of Education were interviewed. The board ultimately appointed Ken Pearl, who most recently held public office in 2020 on the Clinton Township Board of Trustees.

Photo provided by Chippewa Valley Schools

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A community member with local experience in politics and education is now resuming his post on a board.

On Oct. 14, six candidates were interviewed at a Chippewa Valley Schools Board of Education meeting, held in the Dakota High School auditorium. The board was looking to fill a vacancy on the governing body following the resignation of Jolene Andriaschko.

After the interviews, the board members named their top candidate, with four of six members selecting Ken Pearl. Two other votes went to Gene Kazmierczak.

Pearl, of Clinton Township, most recently held public office in 2020 on the Clinton Township Board of Trustees. He is a former Fraser city councilman and mayor pro-tem, and he previously served on Chippewa Valley’s Board of Education as a president, treasurer and trustee.

The other candidates were Chris Gura, Kristen Murray, Jason Ryan and Bruce Wade. During the interviews, candidates had 20 minutes to answer six questions. Questions included what challenges face the district, how they would handle having a differing point of view on a topic and what the most important skills are for students to have when they graduate high school.

The 71-year-old Pearl first served on the education board from 2000-2008. He was elected as a Clinton Township trustee in 2008. He currently works as an operations director at a property management company.

“I’m humbled by their confidence that I can do the job for them,” Pearl told C & G Newspapers after his appointment. “I think they’re looking for someone who has experience. With all of the issues going on, they wanted a consensus builder.”

Pearl has been a member of the district’s education foundation for two decades.

Board President Frank Bednard said, if times were different, he might have gone with a candidate with children in the district.

“We’re getting through very different times, and Mr. Pearl brings that stability that we need out of a board member,” Bednard said. “It’s a very good fit at this time.”

Ron Roberts, the district superintendent, calls Pearl an avid supporter of Chippewa Valley Schools.

“He brings a long history of volunteer service to our community,” Roberts said. “His prior experience as a board member and township trustee, along with his service on other non-profit boards, will be an asset to our school district.”

In his interview, Pearl said staffing shortages are one of the challenges the district faces.

“I remember when my daughter-in-law was teaching, there were 50 people for every position; now, it’s not the same,” he said.

Pearl said a short-term issue is the political division within the district due to COVID-19.

“In the long-term, I think the board has to do more community outreach and explain to the public, the citizens, residents and parents how good this school system is and why their kids should come here,” he said. “We have a lot of building going on in Clinton and Macomb townships.”

Pearl indicated in his past experiences, he’s always tried to listen to all board members’ views, receiving input from administration and citizens.

“If it comes to the end that the board makes a majority decision on an item that maybe I’m not in favor of, I’d still back the board and administration’s decision,” he said. “I would never go against the majority wishes of the board.”

Responding to what skills students should have upon graduation, Pearl noted that when his oldest child graduated, there was an emphasis on good writing.

“In college, they weren’t taking tests; they were writing reports,” he said. “I think a child has to grow up knowing to work with everybody and do your best.”   

The board held a special meeting Oct. 12 in which it held a selection process for the vacancy, ranking the top six candidates.

Bednard said the board utilized a tool kit from the Michigan Association of School Boards to assist in the selection process.

Andriaschko resigned as a trustee in September. She was elected to the board last year.

Over two dozen applications were received to fill the vacancy. Pearl’s appointment began this month, with the term ending once the November 2022 general election is certified. He said he’s keeping his options open on whether he will run to be on the board next year.

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