October 31, 2012 - Betty Reilly began going to the school board meetings awhile ago but her interest was sparked when she noticed how long the needs list was for Clarkston Community Schools and when talk started for the 2012 $20 million bond.
"That is really when I became involved," said Reilly, running for Clarkston Board of Education on Nov. 6. "There is a lot of information out there. A lot of people are not aware of what the debt is for our school district.The state bonds the interest rate on that is seven mills. If not enough money is collected to pay off the obligation to the state then we borrow from the school bond loan fund and now are borrowing it from school bond revolving fund. We are continually borrowing money. Our debt per student is over $27,000."
Reilly and her family moved to Clarkston over 13 years ago. Her oldest son graduated from Clarkston High School in 2009. Her other two children are currently in high school - her youngest son is a senior and her daughter is a sophomore.
She added it helps having children still going to school in the district because she can talk to them and their friends.
"You can ask questions about things going on in the classrooms and the schools," Reilly said. "You always want what is in the best interest of your kids. You want to make sure the positions you take won't adversely effect them and it could be anything in life. It could be deciding sport you want them to try, when they take driver's training, it could be all these things in life you teach your children."
While her children attended Bailey Lake Elementary she was part of the PTA and also co-chaired the fall school fair for two years. She continued to be involved with the PTA when her kids went on to middle school and junior high school.
Reilly is now chairperson for the beautification group and is treasurer for the Academic Boosters of Clarkston.
Reilly has a BBA in Financial Management from Walsh College and has over 30 years of accounting experience as well as experience in human resources.
Her financial background will help the district for ways to make budget cuts while not taking away from the students.
"There is one page on the transparency report of the employees making over $100,000," Reilly said. "On there is a breakdown of healthcare and everything. We have fabulous benefits and it is all public knowledge. Unfortunately the school district only has so many avenues of funding we have to figure out how to live within that funding and it's now easy."
If voted onto the board she would like to see the district be more physically prudent with money and do what is best for the children in the school district.
She also sees the board as seven individuals with seven different opinions.
"They may be on the same page," Reilly added. "They may not be on the same page. Everyone should have a chance to voice their opinions. I personally don't see anything wrong with all 7-0 votes. We are all individuals and represent the citizens of Clarkston School district."
Viewpoints on the following:
Budget cuts: I also think the kids need to come first. Our classroom sizes are getting to be too big and if they are how are we going to change it. The kids need to come first.
The 2012 $20 million bond: We have antiquated computers systems. We have limited areas in the high school that have wireless. There are the C.O.W (computers on wheels) systems that have a wireless range but a lot of those have been proved by PTOs and PTAs in the elementary schools. I am not sure if it is the same in every school. There should be a strategic plan. You should be updating every single year and should not be depending on a school bond to go and get rid of everything and start over. Everything should be on good plan and see what you have. It was a non-state bond so the millage rate was totally dependent on what the property values were and if enough collected to pay bond holders. It doesn't have same safety net as state bonds.
District transparency: We need more information. This is our school district and we should be concerned with how money is being spent.
State wide School of Choice: You are relying on people to get the students to the schools. That is a lot of obligation on parents to get their children to a different community for school. We moved to a specific area because that's where we wanted to go. Does it does it take away from current students? It just depends. We would have to see what they mean of school of choice.
Charter Schools: If you have a product people want and their goals are meant I think you shouldn't have any worries about your schools. The student count in Clarkston has been pretty much the same. For the most part people are happy with the district. Can you improve? Every day. All of us can improve as individuals every day, the district can improve every day.