WLD Column by Barbara Read: Why Serve On Your Local School Board?

The key word here is “Serve.”

You won’t find glory; many community members and even parents won’t know your name. You won’t get rich; the annual stipend of $840 is a fair compensation for your time and travel. And you won’t immediately change the world; the school board is a governing body that only has authority when it acts as a unit. And the board is made up of seven individuals each with our own well-formed opinions.

So why do it?

I am speaking for myself as an individual trustee, but I ran for office to have a seat at the table. I care deeply about the children and teens who attend Dexter Community Schools. Issues that arose with my children or among my neighbors were probably also issues for other children. I am a natural problem solver, so I look at issues and setbacks as imminently solvable.

My desire to improve upon the status quo was made immeasurably more difficult the first several years of my service on the board because of the tighter and tighter budget constraints.

My platform of optimism the first time I ran (better playground at Wylie, support the arts, make athletics available to more students, increase number of students graduating) hit the wall of budget cuts at $1 million and higher for a few years in a row. Dexter Schools, along with neighboring districts, cut the fat, cut the meat, and eventually cut the bone in lean times while striving to maintain the programs, teaching professionals, staff, and buildings required to continue offering the stellar education Dexter has been known for.

The second time I ran for office, it was easy to answer what the top issue facing Dexter Schools was: it was funding. Thankfully, the cycle is again returning to overages at the end of the budget year. We are striding into 2020-2021 in much better financial times and are finally able to ask again, “What do we want? ” Discretionary money is still rare and precious, but it’s there.

So why would you sign on to a near volunteer job that takes you out in the cold on snowy winter nights and keeps you from your family on some of the most glorious of summer evenings? Why would you agree to attend committee meetings in the middle of a work day or in the wee hours of the morning? Why would you join a group where at the end of the evening, the vote could go against your strongly held conviction and you have to respect it?

You do it because you have a dream for the future. You do it because you are civically minded and want to address issues beyond your own front door. You do it because you aren’t afraid of hard work or long meetings or educating yourself on the current issues or seemingly endless discussions prior to the votes. You do it because every student matters.

This is a great time to embark on school board service. If you have hopes for what you would like to see in Dexter Schools, those changes are possible. Communication in and around the district is better than ever before, and you can count on the sitting board members to put the students first and leave their personal politics and biases at the door. School board candidates are non-partisan for a reason, and we work as a team to address the specific needs in the district.

If this sounds like the place you want to be and the table where you want to sit, the deadline to apply for the 2020 appointment is Feb. 19 at 4 p.m. Questions should be directed to the district offices at 734-424-4102.

Vacancy Announced (We Love Dexter) 

Application Process  (Dexter Schools Website)
School Board Q&A Video (Barbara Read, School Board Trustee Personal Facebook Page)

What is involved in School Board Service (We Love Dexter Letter to the Editor)

Calendar: 2/19/20 deadline to apply, 2/25/20 – 2/26/20 candidate interviews, 2/26/20 selection of new candidate, 7/16/20 deadline to file for the November General Election.

These are my personal thoughts and my own perspective. I do not represent the school board with these statements, just myself as an individual school board member. I wish the best of luck to those who decide to apply for the appointment and participate in local government. It can be very rewarding.

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