January is School Board Recognition Month

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published January 22, 2021

 January is School Board Recognition Month, in which staff and students present tokens of appreciation to school board members for their time and service.

January is School Board Recognition Month, in which staff and students present tokens of appreciation to school board members for their time and service.

Photo provided by Center Line Public Schools

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CENTER LINE/WARREN/STERLING HEIGHTS — Every year, the state of Michigan sets aside January to acknowledge the elected officials who serve on local school boards.

January is observed as School Board Recognition Month, and in the past, staff and students presented tokens of appreciation, gifts and kind words to thank local school board members for their time and service.

The presentations are usually done in person at school board meetings. However, since meetings are currently being held virtually because of COVID-19, this year’s acknowledgements are being conducted online.

Plans were set to honor the Fitzgerald Public Schools Board of Education with a video presentation in which students shared what they love about the district. Each board member also received a Fitz jacket to wear.

The Van Dyke Public Schools Board of Education was recognized at its Jan. 11 meeting. School groups, including student council, planned to show their appreciation through cards sent directly to the school board members.  

“It’s a very different year, but we still want to thank, honor, and send love to our very dedicated Board of Education members in Van Dyke,” VDPS Superintendent Piper Bognar said in an email.

At the virtual Center Line Public Schools board meeting Jan. 4, Superintendent Joseph Haynes gave a presentation to the board members in appreciation of their service. Each board member was to receive a certificate and Center Line sweatshirt.

“School boards are charged with making decisions that can sometimes be quite difficult, or require sifting through a great deal of information. They contribute hundreds of hours each year leading Center Line Public Schools,” Haynes said. “As citizen leaders, individual school board members face complex and demanding challenges. Their job is to establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision, ensure schools are accountable to the community, and strongly advocate for continuous improvement in student learning. The job of a school board member is tough, the hours long, and the thanks few and far between.”

Warren Woods Public Schools Board of Education President Jere Green has served on the board for almost 25 years.

“I enjoy serving the community that I live in and its residents,” Green said in an email. “I believe the continuity that is provided by the mix of long term and new board members makes us a stronger board and a much more efficient and successful district.”

It’s not always easy to make decisions that will affect the district, staff and students.

“Unfortunately, there have been many difficult decisions that we have had to make as a board over the years that may not be popular with some of our constituents,” Green said. “Those decisions are always the most difficult to make, but, as a board, we always frame those decisions around what is best for students and find solace in knowing that while difficult the decisions were made in keeping with the district’s mission.”

One challenge over the past several years has been the lack of school aid funding coming from the state, forcing school officials to make budget cuts across the board.

“The last 13 years have been some of the most financially difficult for districts across the state of Michigan including Warren Woods. Studies have been done and prove that the state’s funding system does not support the needs of today’s students,” Green said. “We appreciate the sacrifices that our staff have made to allow us to continue to offer a wide variety of programs for our students.”

Green and the board members also “are extremely grateful” to the community for supporting the 2017 and 2020 bond issues that provide funding for school improvements, building enhancements and technology updates districtwide.

“Obviously, this is an unprecedented time for all of us, especially our school community.  While it has been stressful, we are proud of the Continuity of Learning Plan that we have been able to provide our students and families,” Green said. “We all know that in-person learning is the best for our students academically, socially and emotionally, but we need to do it in the safest manner possible. The district has done an amazing job balancing the safety of students and staff with the expectation of parents to offer both in-person and virtual options.”

When the pay-to-play issue arose in Warren Consolidated Schools several years ago, Susan Trombley had strong feelings against it. So, passionate about the matter, she decided to run for school board. She did and got elected.

“Instead of complaining about the issue or problem, I thought the best way to be effective was to become a member,” said Trombley, who currently serves as WCS Board of Education president, a role she takes very seriously by “being very open and honest and making sure our community is informed along the way. You have to talk to people to understand what the needs are. It’s challenging right now. We’ve been fighting for so long for local control.

“We’re not going to be able to solve all the problems that are brought to us,” said Trombley, whose three children are WCS graduates. “We do what we can to provide our students with they need. Our goal has always been to provide the best education we can.

“The reward is watching a child become a successful and happy,” Trombley said of serving on the board.

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