School Board Elections May 4, 2010
By, Crystal A. Proxmire
Please note that the Ferndale 115 News DOES NOT endorse candidates, nor does the editor and publisher vote. Our goal is to facilitate open discussion and to teach people to understand issues by looking at multiple sides. We strongly encourage readers to use the links we provide and learn more about all issues, especially before voting.
The elections for The Ferndale Schools Board of Education will be held on May 4, 2010. Residents within the school district will be able to vote. There are two open seats, with four people running. The incumbents, William Charles “Chuck” Moeser and Carol Frederick have chosen to run as a team against two parents with kids in the district who have also decided to run together – Nancy “Nan” Kerr-Mueller and Kristy Stoll.
There are many issues that affect the school district, but the divisive topics seem to be (1) election dates, (2) transparency vs. unity, (3) and experience vs. representation. Other topics talked about in recent debates and online have included how to handle students leaving the district with open enrollment, how to handle the budget for the school district, and how to improve communication among students, school staff and administrators, parents and the general public.
Moeser and Frederick are in favor of keeping School Board Elections in May. “I know it costs some money, but you loose value if you move the election to November. It dilutes the quality of an election. This way interested people look at the candidates and what the issues are, instead of voting because they want to vote for one man and one woman, or however else they decide,” Frederick said at a Citizens for Fair Ferndale[CFF] candidate forum.
Kerr-Mueller and Kristy Stoll are campaigning to have the election combined with the elections for all other public offices, which takes place in November. “It would save the City money and increase community involvement in the election process,” said Kerr-Mueller in a CFF questionnaire.
Transparency vs. Unity
Another oft-mentioned issue is that of transparency vs. unity. Moeser and Fredrick have campaigned on the basis of their experience and the idea that the board should be unified, while Kerr-Mueller and Stoll think the focus should be on getting many people involved to make decisions.
“The most important thing is for new members to work together and function as a team without having personal agendas. And once a decision is made the team needs to be behind it. We’ve got a good board and we work well together now. That needs to continue during these trying financial times. Experience is critical,” said Moeser in a previous interview (http://www.ferndale115.com/19p11moeser.html).
Fredrick too believes that the current board functions as a cohesive unit. “Although no single board member has the power to make change, I’ll continue to be a strong team member supporting positive change and improved student achievement,” she said in a Woodward Talk questionnaire.
Kerr-Mueller and Stoll have been vocal about their opinions and election happenings on their Facebook pages. Kerr-Mueller also said she disagreed with a recent School Board Decision to disallow “frivolous” comments at School Board meetings. “It doesn’t feel right to call someone’s concerns frivolous if they want to address the board. We should listen to people and not dismiss them,” she said. Stoll said that teachers she has been talking to are not happy and feel like they aren't being listened to, and that members of the public are upset and confused by the redistricting several years ago, and the open classroom lottery.
Experience vs. Representation
Kerr-Mueller and Stoll say that communication and a changing of the guard are necessary for the district to move forward in line with what parents, administrators, teachers and community members want for Ferndale students. “The teachers I’m talking to are not being heard. For me it’s about building bridges,” said Kerr-Mueller. “We need to strengthen our relationship with the city and the stakeholders.”
Stoll said “My most important thing in my life is my children. We [parents] are not represented on the board.”
Moeser and Frederick are seasoned School Board members. Moeser has been on the board for 19 years, and has been President of The School Board for the past 11. His children went through Ferndale Schools and have gone on to productive lives.
Frederick, whose daughters graduated in 2008, has been on the board since 2006.
Kerr-Mueller has a son in first grade and another in third. Stoll has a third grader at Kennedy and a four year old who will enter the district in the fall of 2011.
“We are asking that we be allowed to serve while our children are in school,” Stoll said. “It’s time to pass the torch.”
Frederick said that now is not the time to hand off the baton. “This is the part voters have to understand. This election is about the funding… It’s about who is best qualified to make those decisions.” She said that the Board's leadership has kept Ferndale Schools in better financial shape than other districts, and they've been able to keep all of their programs. They have also been able to bring money to the district with University High School, expanded adult ed programs, and accepting administrative work from other districts.
Voters have packed two candidate forums, and another is scheduled for April 29 at 7pm at the Ferndale High School Media Center. Voters have asked about declining enrollment and loosing students to other districts with “schools of choice,” the availability of open classrooms, the impact of candidates using social media to share information (Frederick and Moeser do not have a large online presence, where Kerr-Mueller and Stoll have been vocal on their Facebook pages and website), and alternative ways of funding programs.
For more information on the Moeser and Frederick campaign, go to www.ferndalecbe.org. For more on the Kerr-Mueller and Stoll campaign, go to www.nanandkristyforschoolboard.com.Citizens for Fair Ferndale also has candidate questionnaires available at http://www.fairferndale.org.
You can also view opinion letters on the School Board Election. Views on Moeser and Frederick can be found at www.ferndale115.com/VIEWSfandm. Views on Kerr-Mueller and Stoll can be found at www.ferndale115.com/VIEWSkands.html.