Totaro Seeks To Expand Curriculum, Protect Shared Services
November 1, 2018
This is the third in our series of profiles on candidates for the Brighton Board of Education, and today we are profiling Kara Totaro. Six people are running for 3, 4-year positions on the board in the November general election. The candidates are Andy Storm, Angela Krebs, Kara Totaro, Laura Mitchell, Sean Hickman and Ken Stahl, who is the only incumbent.
The Totaro family formerly lived in Atlanta, Georgia, and before they moved to Michigan, Totaro looked at many school districts in the Detroit area before settling on the Brighton Area School District because of its strong academic program. She says her eldest daughter, Ella, graduated from BHS with 24 credit hours at Michigan State, thanks to advance placement classes.
Totaro says she deeply cares about the Brighton Area Schools, and for the last five years has attended virtually all Brighton Board of Education meetings. She says a teacher told her some time ago that more parents should go to the board meetings because that’s where the decisions are made, and she has followed that advice. And she has occasionally addressed the board at call-to-the-public when she feels an issue needs to be brought to their attention or a board member has said something inappropriate under board guidelines.
Totaro says she is running for the Brighton school board because she wants “to ensure that every kid is prepared for their future life, whether college or a trade.” She also wants to be a part of the process that will lead to an expansion of the curriculum and to new courses of study. Totaro says she is glad the board is placing more emphasis on the STEM program — which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and STEAM initiative, which denotes Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math - particularly STEAM, because she says the arts, including music, dancing and the theater, are important for a well-rounded education.
Totaro says she also will work to keep the Shared Services and Schools of Choice programs strong, and wants the district to advocate for Shared Services before the legislature if the program is challenged. In Shared Services, the district provides courses and teachers for schools in a multi-county region who, because of their small size, do not have the resources to offer them. Shared Services has been a revenue generator for Brighton, earning about $2 million each year and being a major factor in eliminating the budget deficit.
Totaro says she was “surprised” that she was not among the three candidates recommended by the Brighton Education Association - which represents district teachers at the bargaining table — since she has always been a strong supporter of teachers. Three of the six candidates (Krebs, Stahl and Mitchell) have been “recommended” by the BEA - while Storm, Hickman and herself — have not received the BEA’s endorsement. However, she expects many teachers to vote for her because of her extensive volunteer work over the years. Totaro began her volunteerism not long after moving into the district as a volunteer worker for the $88.5 million bond issue in 2012.
For three years she was one of two parents on a science curriculum committee, composed mostly of teachers and administrators, which was charged with evaluating and choosing a new science curriculum for all grades. Totaro also was a Science Olympiad coach at Scranton Middle School for two years and has continued it at Brighton High for the last two years. She says it was a perfect match for her experience in the pharmaceutical device industry in the Chicago area after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. Totaro has also coordinated Hilton School plays, Maltby talent shows, the 2017 BHS Mock Accident and has held an office in the PTO since 2012 at either Scranton or the high school. She has also served on the BAS Technology Advisory Committee and Scranton Middle School Improvement Committee. Friday’s candidate profile will be on Sean Hickman. (TT)
BIO: KARA TOTARO
FAMILY: Married to Jay; two daughters - Ella, 19, an MSU freshman and Adriana, a BHS 11th grader
RESIDENCE: Brighton Twp.
YEARS LIVED IN DISTRICT: 12
REASON FOR RUNNING: The school district is in a good position and I want to keep it that way and more
GOALS: Keep the school district strong and advocate for it
RECOMMENDED BY BEA: No
POSITION ON 2019 BOND ISSUE: In favor