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East Lansing Public Schools Board Member 4 -Year Term {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

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    Robert Clark

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    Mike Conlin

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    Kath Edsall

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    Erin Graham

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    Kyle Guerrant

  • Hillary Henderson

  • Nichole Martin

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Biographical Information

Why are you running for school board? Please mention any experience or background that makes you particularly qualified to serve.

What are the three biggest issues facing your district and how do you propose to address them? Which issue is your top priority?

If budget cuts become necessary during your term, what would you be willing to sacrifice?

If necessary to meet budget constraints, would you support closing a school building?

Are you satisfied with the academic achievement in your district? Why or why not?

Are you satisfied with the facilities in your district? Why or why not?

Are you satisfied with the performance of your superintendent? Why or why not?

Are you current in all tax, alimony and child support obligations? If not, please explain.

Hometown Gaylord, michigan
Education Associates of Political Science Lansing Community College
Family Parents: Bob & Charlene Clark Siblings: Cathy Potter, Jeff Potter
Professional Experience Employee of Lansing Community College 2004-2013
Political Experience Lansing City Council Candidate 2007
I’m a current employee of the Michigan Education Association, and former employee at Lansing Community College. I believe that a good education is deserved by all people and is the single best investment a community can make. Education is not a zero-sum game where some students can only succeed at the cost of others success. I believe that we can and must do better. I bring fresh perspective and the expectation that the school board sets the values and moral compass for the school and must be an example for the students.
I believe our school board policies need improvement. They need to reflect the values we wish to give our students. They must also be inclusive and less bureaucratic. We can't always predict the exact nature of the challenges, but we can implement a methodology to resolve them. Our sex education program was a recent national laughing stock. While no one likes to talk about sex education and students, failing to teach them about sex and relationships is a guarantee of their future hardships. Finally, our student achievement, especially at the elementary level is in need of improvement. Early learning efforts have much greater impact through school and life and are easier to correct.
Extracurriculars would probably take a hit. I played middle school football and was in my High School marching band. These activities are hugely important to student success. But it is also where the community is much more willing to reach out to help the school meet these needs. However, Extracurriculars are usually not the cause of budget deficits. We would have to find where in our implementation, technology, maintenance, and operation budgets we can trim costs. Wage freezes would be low priority, as teachers are often the ones who are already sacrificing, and keeping and maintaining good teaching talent is a key factor in maintaining quality schools
No. First we don't have the capacity at our other schools to close another building. Second, our budget is not so dire. Third, closing a school is a significant move that can not be taken lightly, nor can it be easily reversed. Additionally, in closing a school building the district is often left with a continuing burden that worsens over time and hinders reopening or repurposing a building. Furthermore, the disruption to students, additional busing requirements, and the strain on the system do not warrant a closing.
Our elementary student success is not at the best it could be. We are failing our students of color and our economically disadvantaged students. We must recognize that elementary success has long lasting effects and is a strong indicator of future success. Further early childhood education needs can be impacted by forces outside of the classroom. We must work with the community to ensure our students educational needs are met. While our achievement gap task force has worked to improve our bottom 30%, much work remains.
We still have lead problems in some of our schools, notably, Glencairn, which is also overcrowded. Traffic problems continue to plague our district. We are looking at a bond proposal for renovation work for all of our elementary schools. The needs of these schools must be made clear to the public to earn their support and beyond that it must be clear that we have a regular schedule to maintain our schools.
I believe Dr. Robyne Thompson has worked hard in spite of the reconfiguring of our district. I believe she is committed to the students and the community and will continue to work to the district's benefit.
Yes. I have no alimony or child support payments.
Hometown Chicago, IL
Education Ph.D., Economics, 1995 M.S., Economics, 1992 M.B.A., Finance, 1988 B.S., Mechanical Engineering, 1985
Family Stacy Dickert-Conlin (wife), Daniel (Junior), Molly (7th grader), Charlie (4th grader)
Professional Experience Economist, Mechanical Engineer
Political Experience None
My wife and I have lived in East Lansing for the past eleven years and currently have a junior, 7th grader and 4th grader that attend East Lansing Public Schools (ELPS). I am a Professor of Economics at Michigan State University who does research on Michigan’s K-12 education funding system. My interest in Michigan's funding system began while volunteering at East Lansing's elementary schools. I am a candidate because my understanding of Michigan’s K-12 funding structure, and my background as a mechanical engineer, will allow me to make informed financial decisions that will improve the quality of public education in East Lansing by increasing the classroom resources.
The biggest issue facing ELPS is the decrease in classroom resources resulting in larger classes and less individual student attention. Straightforward steps ELPS should take to turn this trend around. 1. Use alternative tax policies, like a recreational millage, to free up general funds. This can be accompanied by a decrease in the sinking fund millage which must be used for capital expenditures. 2. Investment in school buildings that allows maximum resources to be directed to the classrooms. 3. Evaluate all options for the use of current building space. ELPS must also address the aging elementary school buildings and the lack of a comprehensive long run strategic plan.
ELPS will be less likely to experience budget cuts if the three steps discussed above are implemented. If budget cuts are necessary in the future, it is important that these cuts have the minimum effect possible on classroom resources. My financial background will allow me to minimize both the probability and the effect of budget cuts on all ELPS students.
ELPS enrollment can support five elementary schools. The ELPS system is evaluating a bond referendum to provide much needed renovation/new elementary schools. If ELPS does not overinvest in school capacity and manages their school of choice program effectively, there is no reason enrollment changes would warrant closing a K-5 elementary school building in the foreseeable future. ELPS enrollment cannot support six K-5 schools. While closing Red Cedar was done with little thought or planning, reopening as a STEAM school, or pre-K school, operated by ELPS is not financially responsible. I would like to see educational programming in Red Cedar and my recommendations can be found on my website.
ELPS is fortunate to have exceptional teachers, engaged parents and a community that values education. I’ve had the privilege of working closely with many of the teachers, principals and social workers who have provided the students in my children’s schools with fabulous opportunities. That said, increasing class sizes and less individual attention clearly hurts the quality of education our children receive– including their academic achievement. Implementing the three steps I listed above to bring more resources to the classrooms, as part of a long run strategic plan, would make a big difference in the quality of education ELPS students receive.
ELPS needs to make a significant capital investment in their aging elementary schools. East Lansing is clearly a community that values education, but it is also an educated community that wants smart investments. To restore voter support for investments in East Lansing Public Schools, East Lansing residents must be assured that their taxes are being spent wisely and maximizing the resources in the classroom. This can be achieved by proposing a bond referendum that results in appropriate sized buildings for our student body.
As a non-incumbent candidate, I don’t have enough information to access the superintendent’s performance.
I am current in all financial obligations.
Hometown Ann Arbor, MI
Education BS(MSU '84), DVM (MSU '86), MBA (MSU '92)
Family Wife: Alice, Sons: Bailey, Emery, Jackson, Martin and Marcus. Daughters: Ruby, Maxine and Malijah.
Professional Experience Small animal veterinarian for over 30 years. Employed by the Capital Area Humane Society for 6 years. Small business owner (Cat blood bank).
Political Experience East Lansing School Board January 2013 to present.
Campaign Website http://www.kathedsall.com
I was elected to the EL Board 4 years ago. During this time, I have and would continue to work to address significant equity and inclusion issues, while striving for academic excellence. I suggested policy changes to protect LGBTQ and GNC students, worked diligently to bring our sex education curriculum into compliance and representative of our students' needs, supported Title 1 school wide status at Donley, as well as restorative justice and culturally responsive PBIS to address disproportionate disciplinary rates, I continue to advocate for our children with disabilities, support increased AP offerings and supported a three year contract for our teachers.
My top priority has been addressing the achievement gap/opportunity gap. Our lowest performing students need support and programming that allows them to graduate with the same or similar opportunities as all other students. Preschool programming has been shown to significantly address this gap. We have charged a committee with planning for additional preschool opportunities within our existing elementary buildings. Mental health issues are also a priority. How students feel about themselves and how they treat one another are so important to a healthy and safe school environment. Equity and inclusion are my overarching priorities: All students must be able to fully participate in our schools
First, our fund balance is very healthy and has increased significantly during my time on the board, especially in the two years I have been Treasurer. We have been financially strong enough to add administrative staffing at the central office in the areas of HR and Buildings and Maintenance while still giving the teachers a three year contract with raises in two of those years as well as providing the health care plan they preferred. If, for some unseen reason, our budget reversed course, any and all cuts would need to be made as far from the classroom as possible.
Having recently undergone a school closing, it is imperative to understand that not all closings save money. In our case, we consolidated students and were thus able to cut teacher FTE to get some cost savings (which could have been done without closing a building), but this meant larger class sizes and overcrowding in some buildings. There were minimal or no cost savings in administration expenses due to moving costs from one building to another. The belief that closing a building automatically saves money is false and any closures need serious understanding of all the financial, programming and community outcomes before proceeding.
Our highest achieving students continue to do very well. We are now offering more Advance Placement courses and hope to provide more opportunities in the areas of STEAM and/or project based learning. In the four years I have been on the board, we have seen improvement in our lowest achieving students as well. All but one school moved out of Focus Status and that building has seen improvement in all areas. The principal and staff have worked incredibly hard to achieve Title 1 building status as a means to support all students in all areas of teaching and learning. I believe we have people in place to continue to make progress in regards to decreasing our achievement/opportunity gap.
Our middle school and high school have undergone significant renovations in the last decade. Unfortunately, our elementary buildings have not and are in need of replacement or renovation. These 50 year old buildings simply do not meet the educational needs of today's students and teachers. Our demographics have changed; special education students, English Language Learners and students needing interventions in reading and math need more and larger spaces. Learning is more project based or done in small groups so classrooms need more space and flexibility. Infrastructure needs are significant as well. Hopefully, we can bond for improvements in our elementary facilities in the near future.
As a current board member, I do not feel it is appropriate to answer this question. The current board is in full compliance with our directive to set goals for and evaluate our superintendent.
Yes
Education BA, History, University of Houston; MA, Latin American History, University of Houston; Ph.D., Latin American History, University of Houston
Family Married to David Stroupe; Mother of 2 Children, Ages 10 and 13
Professional Experience Educator; Researcher
Political Experience Currently serving on the East Lansing School Board
I am running to remain on the Board to assure that all students have challenging, inspiring, and engaging educational opportunities. My commitment to equity and academic excellence has guided my work. For example, I organized a panel on building an equitable learning community, pushed for lead testing to assure that our children’s drinking water is safe, and worked to create safe spaces for LGBTQ students. As a parent volunteer, I fought for a fair teacher contract, pushed for relevant sex education curriculum, and was an assistant debate coach. The Michigan Education Association (MEA) has recognized my hard work on behalf of students and teachers and has given me their endorsement.
The three biggest issues facing the district are: equity, academic excellence, and the need to pass a bond to address our aging infrastructure. As a board, we have set priorities for our administration that will help us to be successful in these areas. These priorities include elevating teachers’ voices and drawing on our proximity to MSU to enrich students’ educational experiences. Strengthening our partnership with the city will help us to pass a fiscally responsible bond. By incorporating community input, we can design structures that encourage 21st century academic excellence. We will pass the bond by engaging in dialogue, transparency, and informed decision making.
If budget cuts become necessary, I would take a hard look at the budget at that time to determine the most appropriate cuts. Fortunately, we are not currently in a position in which budget cuts are necessary. If we do find ourselves in that position, the cuts I would make would be those that would do the least harm to the teaching and learning occurring inside the classroom.
It would not be my first choice to close a school because of budget constraints. If we found ourselves in a position in which budget cuts were necessary, I would work with our administration, other board members, and community members to assess all of our options and to make choices that have the least impact on our students.
As a district, we are continually striving to improve learning opportunities for all students. The word "achievement" is often confused with standardized test scores. In March, I organized 6 MSU faculty members to participate in a panel entitled "Looking Beyond the Achievement Gap: Building an Equitable Learning Community for All Students." The panelists asked us to rethink how we measure "achievement." We want teaching and learning that prepares all students to be critical, thoughtful, and informed participants in society. If we focus on trying to attain these outcomes, then our students will improve on multiple measures of achievement.
Our middle school and high school facilities are designed to meet the challenges of 21st century teaching and learning. However, we have aging elementary facilities. The district plans to put a bond on the ballot in May 2017 to address these buildings. Our community bond committee is meeting most Thursdays to make a recommendation to the Board as to what should go before voters in May. We will pass the bond by engaging in dialogue, transparency, and informed decision making.
As a sitting board member, I do not feel it is appropriate for me to answer this question by specifically referencing our superintendent. Instead, I will answer this question by saying that a strong superintendent is a leader who listens, who is actively involved in shaping the vision of the district, and who has a roadmap for that vision. A strong superintendent is in constant conversation with the community about this vision. A strong superintendent has thoughtful judgement and a deep understanding of teaching and learning. A strong superintendent treats educators and others as professionals.
Yes, I am current on my tax obligations. The other questions are not applicable.
Hometown East Lansing
Education University of Michigan Masters of Social Work (2003); Long Island University, CW Post BA in Psychology (Child Development) (2000); East Lansing High School (1996)
Family Emily Guerrant, Katie Palsrok (10), Maddox Guerrant (9), Zachary Palsrok (8)
Professional Experience Michigan Department of Education (8/2005-Present) Michigan Department of Community Health (6/2001-8/2005)
Political Experience N/A
I'm a ELPS graduate (ELHS ‘96) who has worked, coached basketball, and volunteered in the district. I grew up in the Pinecrest neighborhood and have lived in East Lansing for over thirty years. My wife Emily, and I have three children who attend ELPS. As Deputy State Superintendent of public schools with the Michigan Department of Education, I have significant statewide experience working in educational issues ranging from school finance and reform, to student physical/mental health services, school safety, and early childhood programs. I'm running for school board to champion educational success and growth for all ELPS students.
1. Closing the Achievement Gap - I would advocate to expand differentiated instruction and curriculum opportunities to nurture academic growth for all ELPS students. Whether a student is a high achiever, or struggling to grasp specific content, our educational offerings must meet students where they are, and challenge them to grow. 2. Increasing quality early childhood opportunities for families through partnerships and pursuing additional resources. 3. Reforming exclusionary disciplinary practices and over use of student suspensions and expulsions. Key strategies include quality Restorative Justice programs, increased behavioral health supports, and additional staff professional development
With constant student enrollment fluctuations, this is a very real question to many school boards across Michigan. You must prioritize budget cuts that have the least amount of impact on education in the classroom, and look for any efficiencies in the operations of the district. Our greatest priority must be investing in the quality teaching staff entrusted to educate our students, and the building level supports that reduce barriers to learning. Investing in educational technology is also critical in effectively preparing ELPS students to compete globally.
Closing a building is one of the toughest decisions a school board has to make. Considering the district recently closed an elementary building due to declining student enrollment, and reconfigured building grade levels, I would not support closing an additional building. I believe many ELPS families who have faced the challenges associated with this transition are looking for stability in their child(s) educational path. Furthermore, I think families who are moving into the area are also looking for this stability as they consider a community to live and raise their family in.
No. I think ELPS staff do a great job educating students, but I think they too are striving every day to improve the educational opportunities and outcomes for their students. This should be our goal for all students, and I think I can contribute to achieving that goal.
There has been recent investments at the high school, and middle school level, however, there is a need to invest in the districts elementary buildings. As evidenced by the recent technology bond voters approved, I think the community recognizes that need as well. The recently completed elementary building assessments documented the needs of our aging elementary facilities. With the formation of a bond committee, I'm eager to see what enhancement recommendations are brought forward. An investment in these facilities is an investment on our students and their educational opportunities.
Superintendent Thompson has worked hard to understand the community and chart a vision to increase academic growth and success for all students. She has a strong educational track record in her pervious roles, and I'm excited by her enthusiasm, care of our students, and collaborative perspective.
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