Source: Sherman Publications

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Challengers run for school board
Kelli Horst

October 31, 2012

Kelli Horst is running to fill a need.

"I believe the school board needs a parent perspective, one that is informed by seven years of volunteer leadership in our schools and an absolute conviction in the value and importance of public education," she said.

She and her husband, Scott, have been married 14 years and have two sons, both Clarkston students.

"I want to be part of creating a positive environment at the board level so all who participate in educating our students parents, teachers, administrators and board members feel respected, appreciated and valued," Horst said. "To accomplish that, we need at the board level a renewed spirit and commitment to the democratic process, including healthy debate, respectful disagreement and a willingness to work toward consensus."

She has worked in communications and marketing for 23 years, currently as a consultant in higher education

She started volunteering at Clarkston schools when her children became students, serving on the superintendent's Parent Advisory Team and the district's transportation committee; a two-year stint as PTA president at Springfield Plains Elementary; and the last two years as president of the Clarkston PTA Council.

Excellent public schools are necessary for Clarkston to continue to be attractive to new residents and businesses. Consensus can be 4-3, if everyone at table feels frespected and heard, she said.

"Then they can live with and support whatever compromise is reached in the end," she said. "That to me is what conseus is about."

Regarding the communications policy, "once consensus is reached and a decision is made, I think there should be one spokesperson for that decision," she said. "I don't think it means that everyone else can't talk about their perspective, she said. "I don't think it means that everyone else can't talk about their perspective. I don't think it would be nearly as much of an issue or a controversy if the process I described before happened."

The school distict is Clarkston's largest employer, she said.

"For us to be attractive to residents and businesses, we have to have that trust, that confidence in our public school system," she said. "We already have a great school system, but we have to continually build that symbiotic relationship between school and community."

Viewpoints on the following:

District transparency:

"It's certainly evolved tremendously in the last few years," said Horst, who has served on parent advisory teams with superintendents Al Roberts and Dr. Rod Rock. "Overall, there's much more transparency in the district than in the past."

Budget cuts:

"I'm a huge believer in education. It's one thing that has to continue to improve to keep pace with society," she said. "We're funded now at 2005 levels. That's unacceptable. We all understand what the economy is doing, and we're very realistic about it. We're very judicious with resouces, but what message does the state send when education is what they're going to cut so significantly?"

The district is given a certain amount of money, and its responsible for spending that amount of money on kids. When it keeps going down and down, eventually something is going to break, she said.

"What I want in the end is people sitting at that table who understand how complex it is, and who feel as passionate about education as I do. I want to be responsible with tax dollars. I pay taxes. But this is one thing on the list that needs to continue to improve. How do you do that when cuts come year after year," she said.

Charter Schools:

Charter schools are not relevant in Clarkston, she said.

"I don't see where need for it here," she said. "Other districts have failing schools due to their socio-econonic situations, and there, charters should be given a chance, but they're not needed in Clarkston."

The 2012 $20 million bond:

Horst advocated for the bond as a member of Clarkston Kids First.

"I'm proud to have fought for it," she said. "Education has to continue to improve and keep pace with society."

The community spoke, though.

"I respect the process it needed the blessing of the community, and the community said 'no thank you.' I'm absolutely fine with that."