Source: Sherman Publications

Challengers run for school board
Craig Hamilton

October 31, 2012

Craig Hamilton decided to run for the Clarkston Community Schools Board of Education for his two sons.

"I think Clarkston has an excellent school district and I want to make sure it stays that way," he added. "I want to make sure I do my part. I am lucky enough that my business is here. I have a little bit of free time to give back to the community and do this."

Hamilton has attended Clarkston Community Schools since he was in fifth grade, when his parents moved to the area. He graduated from Clarkston High School in 1995.

He added he thinks it helps he went to schools in Clarkston.

"I know the community and big part of community for so long," he said. "It gives you a better view. I pretty much grew up in area and went to a few football games but didnít have a whole lot of involvement in the schools."

He continued his education at University of Michigan with a double major in microbiology and molecular chemistry before going to Oakland University and getting his master's degree in chemisty.

He worked for DOW Chemical before starting Precision Testing Laboratories in Independence Township, which he is owner and a chemist. They do drug, alcohol and DNA testing.

He is married to Melissa and they have two young sons at ages three and one. After having kids he paid more attention to what was going on in the district.

"Recently I have been talking with people," Hamilton added. "I am getting an idea of what is going on in the school district and what people want even without me saying I am running for school board."

He wants to help the community but doesn't plan to change a lot going on.

"I am not going to get on the board and re-invent the wheel," he explained. "They are doing great as it is. I am obviously going to listen to who I can in the time I have. I also bring a younger perspective to the board plus having the two young boys gives me a different perspective as well."

Hamilton has attended board meetings since June and has watched them online before June. He has noticed the split votes between the members.

"The nice thing is havenít been around Ė I am not on one side or another," he said. "I am not going to be."

His experience in college helped him view high school differently. Though he would go back and do things differently he understands college isn't for everyone.

"You canít change everything in the school district to cater towards college," he added. "There are other people who donít have an interest in college. You have to gear towards them as well."

Viewpoints on the following:

Budget cuts: Hopefully we donít have to make them. I think a burden shouldnít be shared by a group it should be shared by everybody. One and two groups shouldnít be getting cuts and losing benefits while another gets raises. Itís not how I want to do things. For class sizes, would love to have 20 students in a class but there is only so much money to go around and only so many people you can hire. You have to do with what you have to do. There is a contractional standpoint on how many in a classroom and you do want them as low as you can get them. There are a lot of ways to get funded like DonorsChoose.org. Teachers write a proposal for a project and try to get funding from people. Some programs do matching funds. Even little things add up

The 2012 $20 million bond: I was very disappointed they had the vote in May in an election that was paid by the taxpayers. It was bad timing to ask for that much money from the community. People are unemployed or underemployed and to do a bond that will cost $200 a year for average home of Clarkston. It is a lot of money.

District transparency: From what I have gathered the district needs to be more transparent. We are not guarding trade secrets. I donít know what has been asked for and what hasnít but I am guessing it is a matter of public record anyways. I t should be more easily accessible. If there are items pertaining to students then it is a different story. If budgetary then no reason it should be a hassle to get the information. If it is taking away from the staffís job then maybe something needs to be looked into it.

State wide School of Choice: I am very against it. Clarkston is a community and has an identity. I like that identity. I grew up here, I stayed here and itís the reason I want to raise my kids here. Additionally Clarkston residents have paid taxes for the building improvements to make sure our kids have nice facilities and better teachers. There are school of choice programs and gives us opportunity to offer things to the students we wouldnít be able to do or not have enough students to offer.

Charter Schools: It would have to be case by case. They would have to present a case there is a need to open under our umbrella in the Clarkston school district which I think would be tough to do because I think Clarkston does an outstanding job.