Gafa chosen as new Grosse Pointe Schools president

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 29, 2015


GROSSE POINTES — The Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education chose its leaders for the next school year at the Jan. 26 meeting, including Judy Gafa as president.

Gafa was selected by a 5-2 vote with Trustees Cindy Pangborn and Ahmed Ismail voting in opposition.

“Mrs. Gafa’s been a highly experienced board member,” board Treasurer Brian Summerfield said. “She’s been previously the president. She’s sat through a superintendent’s search, and I cannot think of a more fierce advocate for the education of all the students throughout the entire school district. So, I think she’d make an excellent president this year when we’re looking for a superintendent.”

Others agreed.

Board Trustee Lois Valente said that she served as vice president when Gafa was president.

“I was impressed the entire year with her attention to detail, her due diligence to try and keep up on every issue that was coming up in front of the school district, in front of the board: to get out in front of it and to provide guidance and counsel,” Valente said. “I was particularly impressed with her leadership as it related to some of the legislative challenges that we were facing as a school district.”

Margaret Weertz, who was selected by a 7-0 vote as secretary during the meeting, said she was “excited to serve under (Gafa) as president.”

“I’m especially excited that you’ve been through the search procedure before,” she said. “I’ll need a little guidance there.”

Prior to the vote, Pangborn had asked if she would make a priority of working on policies concerning residency and tuition, to which Gafa said she would. Ismail raised another concern.

“My big concern, as I expressed during the election, is board member governance education,” he said. “What can we do as a team here to make this a priority?”

Once the board chose Gafa as president, she and Vice President Daniel Roeske, who had been chairing the meeting, switched seats.

“I appreciate the support of my fellow trustees in electing me as president of the school board,” Gafa said. “I look forward to serving with everyone and hope that we have a great year.”

The board chose to keep Roeske in his post as vice president with a 7-0 vote.

“Thank you for your trust, and I’ll continue to do a good job for you,” Roeske said.

Summerfield was selected to keep his position as treasurer.

“I’ve served with three board treasurers, Mr. Summerfield, and I can tell you that my experience with you in that role has been very positive,” Roeske said.

“You’ve put in a lot of extra time above and beyond what’s been required as a trustee,” he added.

Gafa agreed.

“You’ve made a great treasurer,” she said.

“You pay attention to detail, and you have really good fiduciary eyes on our budget,” she said.

After selecting officers, the board members announced how they would like their compensation dispensed.

Ismail asked for his compensation to be given to Deputy Superintendent Christian Fenton’s office to reimburse for the questions he asks in terms of documents.

Pangborn once again chose to accept her compensation, which is something she chooses to do each year.

“Every year, I say that in the hopes that more young people will be interested,” she said. “It’s $30 a meeting. When I was on the board in the ’90s, I still needed a babysitter. Thirty dollars barely buys a pizza and a sitter, so I’m taking mine so people know that you can take it and it does help.”

Valente said she typically also accepts her compensation because, as a single mother herself, Pangborn’s comments are true. Also, as a mother of a child with disabilities, she will always need a babysitter.

“It’s important for single parents to see that they can step up to a community service job and make it work,” Valente said.

However, this year she chose to donate her compensation to the Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education.

“The money that they have infused into the school district has just allowed us to make a tremendous amount of difference and change in students’ lives, and I’d like to be able to contribute to them this year.”

Weertz chose North’s booster club, Summerfield chose Defer’s “One Book, One School” program, Roeske chose the Poupard PTO and Gafa chose The Family Center of Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods.