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Incumbents campaign to keep seats

Susan Boatman

October 31, 2012 - Susan Boatman has served as a Clarkston School Board Trustee for over four years, including two years as Vice President.

During my tenure I have become a Michigan School Board Association certified school board member and have earned their Award of Merit and Award of Distinction through coursework and participation at county, state and national levels. I have served on the Oakland County School Board Legislative committee and the Clarkston School Board finance and policy committees. I also mentor students at Clarkston Junior High School.

Prior to serving on the school board, I volunteered for 15 years in our district. I have worked one on one with children, collaborated with teachers, helped develop PTA educational enrichment programs, proposed changes at building and district level as well as advocated for legislation to benefit public schools.

I have served as treasurer and other positions on the PTA boards of Bailey Lake Elementary, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston High School and the Clarkston PTA Council. I served as President of PTA Council for two years. For eight years I was a member of the Parent Advisory Team. I have sat on various district committees including the Field Trip Task Force, the Fundraising Task Force, the Clarkston High School Blue Ribbon Committee and the Facilities committee. In 2007, I received the Outstanding Service Award from the Administration Building.

I believe in the importance of education. I am fortunate to have the time and energy to devote to public service. I am seeking my second term as School Board Trustee because it is crucial to have a board that exercises the appropriate checks and balances when deciding on district direction. I will continue to push for greater transparency and detailed planning from our school district. If our currently board majority is changed I believe we will be able to be more effective by permitting input into agenda items, creating a culture of expecting well thought out proposals, and open discussion before taking action.

I have 19 years of work experience in Information Technology, including 11 years as a department manager supervising computer programmers. I have experience in developing work plans, preparing annual budgets, conducting performance appraisals and hiring staff. These skills are all required of a board member.

What do you think about the board communication policy and funneling information through the board president? The board has not adopted an operating procedure that names the president as spokesperson for the board. If someone sends a letter to the entire board, I let the Board President respond. However, if someone contacts just me, then I respond to them. I represent the community and I feel it is important to stay connected to people. Legally, decisions are made by the entire board in an open meeting. Individual board members cannot make promises for the board nor can they say how they will vote. This must be done at the board table.

Viewpoints on the following:

Budget cuts: It is important to live within our means and sometimes this means we must make budget cuts. Procedurally, the board gives the administration a target amount to reduce and then the administration will provide a recommendation listing what items should be reduced. The board then decides whether to approve the recommendation or not. We all try to keep cuts away from the classroom as possible.

2012 $20 million bond: It was premature to go to the public with the bond proposal. The district began a number of technology pilots last year and there have been no results reported to the board. Why buy more mobile devices before you know if what you have is worth the cost? The board was not presented with a comprehensive plan regarding the implementation of this technology before the vote was taken to have the May election. Several bond meetings I attended had presentations were different than the previous meeting. This did not instill confidence the bond was a well thought out proposal. I don't think the rationale for the May election was accepted by the community.

District transparency: The district has become more transparent but there is still room for improvement.

Statewide School of Choice: All students should be able to experience an excellent education. However, there are support issues and costs associated with accepting students from other districts. The public needs to stay on top of the bills going before the legislature to ensure the move to open enrollment won't adversely affect our community. Transportation is a huge barrier for many people who might want to try schools of choice.

Charter Schools: Charter schools are public schools and there are good ones as well as failing ones. They are a growing trend with about 5,600 open in the country. Charter schools often are established in areas where residents are dissatisfied with their public school system.

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