Seven Candidates Seek Four Seats On BAS Board
October 28, 2020
By Tom Tolen / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Brighton Area Schools has a robust race taking place for the Board of Education in next Tuesday's general election, with seven candidates vying for four, 4-year seats.
Three of the seven candidates are incumbents: Board Vice President Alicia Reid, Board Secretary Roger Myers, and Treasurer Bill Trombley. The other four candidates include former board member John Conely, along with newcomers Caitlin Perry Dial, Patti Dunbar, and Catherine Tilles. Current Board President Andy Burchfield, whose term expires on Dec. 31st, is not running for reelection.
In order to give voters a better idea of who the candidates are and where they stand on the issues, WHMI posed a series of nine questions to each of the candidates.
Their responses have been condensed here for the sake of brevity. The complete answers are available through the download below.
Dunbar did not respond to our questionnaire.
The questions are:
1) Why are you running?
2) What do you think is the biggest need in the school district?
3) If elected, what are your goals and priorities for the next four years?
4) Do you believe Brighton teachers should get a pay raise?
5) If so, how much would be a fair and reasonable raise?
6) What special skill set/s do you possess that you believe would make you valuable to the board and district?
7) Are you a district parent with children in the Brighton Area Schools?
8) How many children do you have, and what school/s do they attend?
9) How can Brighton best retain and build on the excellent academic reputation it has gained in the state (and even nation)?
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING?
To the first question, Alicia Reid replied that she’s running for reelection because “the board and district have a lot of work left to do…to provide all students with an education that enables them to succeed in life.” Myers responded that he is running because “there is much more work to do, particularly given the new and unforeseen challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.” Trombley said he is running again “to maintain the momentum the district has gained by me being on the board for the last 8 years.” Perry Dial said she is running because, in her words, “I love this district and everything it offers for kids, (and want) to envision its future.” Conely said, “(The) Brighton Area Schools needs oversight and guidance from its community," and Tilles said, “to institute global education.”
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST NEED IN THE DISTRICT?
In the matter of what the candidate regards as the biggest need in the school district, Conely said, “Get rid of Common Core education; confirmation that basic skills — reading, writing, and arithmetic — are being accomplished.” Trombley responded with, “a contract that every employee and everyone else is happy with;” Perry Dial said, ”navigating our way through the pandemic and addressing inequalities uncovered in the in-person vs. virtual programs,” while Reid responded, “building safety, communication, and learning from our mistakes.” And Myers said, “an unwavering commitment to successfully and safely educate our children during the pandemic.” Tilles gave the succinct answer of “multidisciplinary studies.”
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS/PRIORITIES FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS IF ELECTED?
To the question of what their goals and priorities would be for the next four years, Myers said, "promotion of STEAM programs, expansion of career technical programs, enhancing social-emotional support systems, continued growth of the Shared Services program, adoption of a new strategic plan, properly manage our Schools of Choice program, and successful completion of bond work.” Tilles said to “place as one of the top 25 districts in the USA, crime and drug-free schools, and scholarships and grants for all students.” Reid said to “learn from the strengths and weaknesses of our pandemic response and build better lines of communication…” Trombley said “to keep our fund balance over 15% and to keep our district academically in the top 3%…” Perry Dial said, “to continue to innovate and strive for better” and improve in “diversity, equity and inclusion,” and Conely stated, “Programming that makes sense for the student’s future and job opportunities — (that) includes trades, business, engineering, and academics.”
DO YOU BELIEVE BRIGHTON TEACHERS SHOULD GET A PAY RAISE? IF SO, HOW MUCH?
To the issue of whether teachers should get a pay raise, Reid replied that teachers should be better compensated, but declined to give a specific amount of pay increase she feels they are warranted. Like Reid, Myers said he has voted for every pay hike that has been recommended by administration. However, both lamented the fact that Brighton is one of the lowest-funded districts in the state, at 718th or 719th, and that state funding needs to be increased, as Reid put it, “to pay our teachers what they are worth.” Conely said, quoting, “In the past, I have supported raises when progress was being made.” However, he wouldn’t commit to a specific pay raise. Perry Dial said, “a reasonable raise is the original 2.3% salary increase negotiated in the union contract.” Tilles responded that teachers should get a pay raise that is equal to the cost of living increase, while Trombley replied that he couldn’t comment because he is part of the administration’s negotiating team.
WHAT SPECIAL SKILL SET/S DO YOU POSSESS THAT WOULD MAKE YOU VALUABLE TO THE BOARD AND DISTRICT?
To the topic of special skill sets they possess that would be useful, Perry Dial replied that she sees “clarity in the face of great uncertainty,” calling herself a “problem solver.” Reid, employed as a bank compliance officer and regulatory attorney, said she has great experience in “analyzing risks and matching resources to those risks." She said those skills are needed “to continue meeting the financial pressures of running a school (district) in uncertain times while still preparing our kids to succeed…” Trombley stated, “The same skills I have used for the last 8 years to keep BAS out of deficit, build fund equity, complete all bond work as promised, and uphold academic standards.” Myers, like Reid an attorney, said his professional experience has instilled in him “the value of being a good listener, distilling large volumes of information to recognize what is most important, understanding and respecting the opinions and concerns of all parties, and taking a measured, informed approach to all decisions.” Tilles says her “special skills” are "technology, grant writing, gifted and talented education, entrepreneurship, and combatting race and sexual stereotypes.” Conely stated he has been, “self-employed for 35 years in Brighton (with) multiple successful businesses." He also served two, 4-year terms on the board and “was part of balancing the budget, growing fund equity, allowing BAS to add many new programs to benefit the students.”
ARE YOU A DISTRICT PARENT WITH CHILDREN IN THE BRIGHTON AREA SCHOOLS? IF SO, HOW MANY CHILDREN DO YOU HAVE, AND WHAT SCHOOL/S DO THEY ATTEND?
Myers has four children in the district: a son attending Brighton High School, a daughter at Maltby and two daughters who have already graduated from BHS and are in college. Trombley has two children, both of whom attend BHS. Perry Dial has a first grader at Hornung, currently attending the Brighton Virtual Academy, and a preschooler. Reid has a daughter in 6th grade at Maltby and a son in 10th grade at BHS. Conely’s youngest child graduated from BHS in 2009 while he graduated from BHS in 1980; he added that his 2 daughters and 1 son are all college graduates. Tilles does not have any children in the district.
HOW CAN BRIGHTON BEST RETAIN AND BUILD ON THE EXCELLENT ACADEMIC REPUTATION IT HAS GAINED IN THE STATE AND, IN THE CASE OF BRIGHTON HIGH SCHOOL), EVEN NATION)?
Reid replied the way to accomplish that is to “prioritize supports for students that learn differently or have challenges in learning…create more opportunities for hands-on learning at all grade levels…(and) continuing to expand counseling services.” Myers said “to constantly reinvest in our employees, such as maintaining competitive wages…having more STEAM and CTE offerings and properly maintain the infrastructure…to support academic success.” Conely said “by maintaining a vision for programs that are on the cutting edge for students, invest in programming and high-quality staff.” Tilles and Perry Dial both said the best way is to continue to be innovative. Finally, Trombley says, in his words, “by re-electing Me* to the board.” (*Capitalization his)