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Voter's guide: Oxford Board of Education


(Pick only two)



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October 27, 2010 - Name: Bill Keenist

Municipality of residence: Oxford

Number of years lived in school district: 23

Occupation: Senior Vice-President of Communications, Detroit Lions

Education: Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Ohio University; Master's Degree in Sports Administration, Ohio University

Previous involvement in schools:

School Board Member since 2009; Community Member of the School District's Strategic Planning Committee, 2007, 2008, 2009; Member of the Community Facilities Steering Committee for two school bond projects in 2009; Co-Chair of February, 2009 School Bond; Member of Oxford Athletic Booster Club since 2005; Member of Oxford Community Schools Athletic Hall of Fame Committee established in 2010; Served as keynote speaker for Oxford High School Senior Athletic Awards in 2006 and 2008; Member of the TURF committee, a community group formed in December, 2009, to raise private funds that will pay for a new turf field at our high school stadium. Co-Chair of the Bud Rowley (Oxford Head Football Coach) Recognition and Appreciation Banquet, honoring Bud's 200 Victories as Oxford Head Coach, in December, 2007.

Past government experience: N/A

Number of children in the district: One currently in district; two Oxford graduates now attending Adrian College

1) Why are you running for a seat on the Oxford Board of Education? I believe "TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN, MUCH IS REQUIRED. Consequently, I have a strong desire and obligation to serve Oxford schools. My service also is a way to say "thanks" to all the Oxford teachers, coaches and administrators for what have done for our three children.

2) What are the top two issues facing the district and how do you plan to address them if elected? The economy and its challenges; and the ever-changing world that is becoming more global (and smaller) every day. We must continue to advance our curriculum and expand our educational and extra-curricular opportunities for students in order to best prepare them for our ever-changing world.

3) What is your opinion of the overall condition and direction of the Oxford school district? I believe we are as well-positioned to properly prepare and educate our students as any Oakland County district. The fact that Oxford is considered a model school district by State School Superintendent Mike Flanagan and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson overwhelmingly supports our vision and direction.

4) What is your assessment of the job done by Superintendent Dr. William Skilling? For Oxford, in this economy, to have the highest fund balance in history; and that we have not cut teachers or students programs; and that we're held in such high regard by the state of Michigan's educational community is a testament to Dr. Skilling's leadership and vision.

5) What separates you from your opponents? In other words, what do you think makes you uniquely qualified for a seat on the school board? I don't' "need" to be on the school board for personal gratification. I "want" to be on the board in order to serve and help the district and our students. I also believe my professional experience and contacts will continue to greatly benefit our district and community.

*****

Name: Lisa Kempner

Municipality of residence: Oxford

Occupation: Art teacher, Jewelry designer

Education: 2 years Elementary Education major at Eastern Michigan University

Previous involvement in schools: Chairing Lakeville Elementary's haunted house, spring fair, volunteering for various other school and classroom events.

Past government experience: I follow local, state, and federal government elections and current events.

Number of children in the district: 1

1) Why are you running for a seat on the Oxford Board of Education? I believe it is time for a change. We need a School Board that listens to the community. Board members must question the administration and ensure the district stays true to what voters have agreed to. The administration needs to be held accountable and RESPECT the opinions of the public.

2) What are the top two issues facing the district and how do you plan to address them if elected? Fiscal responsibility and class sizes. The children in our community come first. All monies spent during these difficult economic times must benefit our students. New buildings, furniture, and advertising are secondary. Also, studies show that students flourish best in smaller class sizes, especially in the lower grade levels.

3) What is your opinion of the overall condition and direction of the Oxford School district? Our teachers are the most important resource in educating our children. We need to support our teachers by giving them the ability to effectively teach all learners, including at-risk students. Money cannot be wasted on new administration buildings and furniture. Money needs to be spent on teaching our children.

4) What is your assessment of the job done by Superintendent Dr. William Skilling? William Skilling's visions come at a high cost: division in the community, fear of retaliation if one speaks up, being treated in a disrespectful and condescending manner, just to name a few. A superintendent that doesn't realize that people matter more than "things" concerns me.

5) What separates you from your opponents? In other words, what do you think makes you uniquely qualified for a seat on the school board? I am committed to asking questions and researching to find the answers. I am the voice of the community, staff, and students. I will not allow the community or teachers to be bullied or disrespected. It's time to stop dividing the community. People matter. Most importantly, our children matter.

*****

Name: Colleen Schultz

Municipality of residence: Oxford

Number of years lived in school district: 23

Occupation: Christian Services/Outreach Coordinator, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Lake Orion

Education: Western Michigan University

Previous involvement in schools:

Past PTO President- Daniel Axford and Lakeville Elementary

Spring Fair chairperson-Daniel Axford and Lakeville Elementary

Classroom tutor-Daniel Axford and Lakeville Elementary

Oxford Middle School: 8th Grade Dance Committee 2003, 2005, 2009

Field Trip Chaperone-Yearbook Class to Michigan State University 2002-2008

Oxford High School: Homecoming and Winterfest Dance Chaperone: 2003-2010

Dance Code of Conduct Committee-Oct 2009

Girls Swim team volunteer

Girls Soccer team volunteer

Project Graduation Committee/Volunteer: 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010

Strategic Planning 2008, 2009, 2010

Past government experience: Election Inspector/Precinct Chairperson for Oxford Village and Oxford Township 1995-2010

Number of children in the district:Two Oxford graduates currently attending Michigan State University and one child at Oxford High School

1) Why are you running for a seat on the Oxford Board of Education? Whether it is through my services on the FISH executive board/volunteer, Love INC church coordinator, or serving on the school board, it has always been important to me to serve and give back to our community. Fiscal responsibility and providing kids with opportunities needs to be a priority.

2) What are the top two issues facing the district and how do you plan to address them if elected?

Preparing our kids for the global market by improving our curriculum and providing opportunities for them. We must always be fiscally responsible with taxpayer's money, increasing our fund balance and keeping a watchful eye on how money is spent.

3) What is your opinion of the overall condition and direction of the Oxford school district? Oxford is working hard to position ourselves to be in as good of shape as any of our surrounding districts. Never before in the history of our district have we added so many new programs and opportunities for our kids, kept of teachers employed and increased our fund balance to an all-time record high.

4) What is your assessment of the job done by Superintendent Dr. William Skilling? Having worked with 3 superintendents I feel that Bill has worked tirelessly to position Oxford Schools to be able to prepare of kids for their global future. Accolades from Brooks Patterson, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and State Supt Mike Flanagan speak of Bill's vision for our kids.

5) What separates you from your opponents? In other words, what do you think makes you uniquely qualified for a seat on the school board? I have had the privilege of serving on the Board for 12 years and bring with me years of service, Level 3 Board Certification and many years of working with teachers, administrators and community members.

*****

Name: Bryan Thomas

Municipality of residence: Oxford Township

Number of years lived in school district: 12

Occupation: Superintendent at an Automotive Manufacturer

Education: B.S. Electrical Engineering

Previous involvement in schools: I have attended all board meetings, bond meetings, and community forums since early this year. I opposed the custodian layoffs and was an advocate of a plan to help low-performers and at-risk students.

Past government experience: Assist low-income families with Income Tax Preparation; Have extensive experience in negotiating legally binding contracts

Number of children in the district: Four

1) Why are you running for a seat on the Oxford Board of Education? I developed concerns about the direction of our schools based on many recent issues. I was disturbed at the lack of accountability and fiscal responsibility exhibited by the board. Having been educated by the public school system, I feel it is time for me to give back to the community.

2) What are the top two issues facing the district and how do you plan to address them if elected? Large class sizes and a lack of fiscal responsibility are two major issues. Studies show reduced class sizes result in increased academic achievement. In addition, all money spent should benefit Oxford students, not international commitments made with China, Mexico, etc. Fiscal responsibility also means competitively bidding all projects.

3) What is your opinion of the overall condition and direction of the Oxford school district?

Oxford is a great district with talented, caring teachers. They need support from the administration and recognition for their work. With significant reductions in state funding, we're faced with tough economic times; however, we cannot sacrifice education for money. The students must come first above all else, even furniture.

4) What is your assessment of the job done by Superintendent Dr. William Skilling?

Dr. Skilling seems more interested in "marketing" the district to the world than improving the education of Oxford students. Test scores and student achievement are down. Unfortunately, Oxford graduates will suffer as they apply to colleges. Dr. Skilling's media success has come at the expense of our children's future.

5) What separates you from your opponents? In other words, what do you think makes you uniquely qualified for a seat on the school board?

The current School Board has failed to listen to the diverse opinions of the community and has failed to serve as a check and balance to the administration. As community members and taxpayers, we share many of the same concerns. I am not afraid to debate issues to drive results.

*****

Name: Rhonda Yell

Municipality of residence: Oxford

Number of years lived in school district: One.

Occupation: Teacher

Education: Lapeer East High School, BS Special Education - E.I. Endorsement - EMU, MA Educational Leadership - EMU, MA Teaching - Marygrove College

Previous involvement in schools: PBS (Positive Behavior Support) Committee Chair, club sponsorships, building representative for EA, internal review board EA, chaperoning, Member of building ESC (Effective School Committee- Elementary and Secondary levels), Turf Committee Member, Social Studies Dept. Chair

Past government experience: None

Number of children in the district: 4 - OHS, OMS, Clear Lake, toddler

1) Why are you running for a seat on the Oxford Board of Education? There are important decisions to be made that will have long range effects on the education Oxford Students receive. As a parent, educator, and community member I feel that I can make positive contributions to keep the district moving in the right direction for years to come.

2) What are the top two issues facing the district and how do you plan to address them if elected? School funding and providing the best opportunities for our students so that they can achieve success both in and out of school are the top issues. Both would be examined and addressed with the goal to get the most for our students with the resources allocated to the district.

3) What is your opinion of the overall condition and direction of the Oxford school district? Oxford is ahead of other districts in many areas such as course offerings and extracurricular activities. Student population is growing while other districts shrink. With the support of parents, staff, and community members, Oxford continues to be headed in the right direction and a wonderful place to be a student.

4) What is your assessment of the job done by Superintendent Dr. William Skilling? Dr. Skilling has done his job. He has been instrumental and supportive in many initiatives that have resulted in positive outcomes for Oxford students.

5) What separates you from your opponents? In other words, what do you think makes you uniquely qualified for a seat on the school board? I am the only teacher running. This difference gives me a unique perspective of how school board decisions affect students, staff, and the community.

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