2016-10-27 / Life in Leelanau

6 seek 3 terms on G-L board

Six candidates are seeking three nonpartisan seats available on the Glen Lake Board of Education.

They are incumbents Laura Alysworth-Bonzelet, Ross Hazelton and Lisa Niergarth, who are facing newcomers Douglas Lake, Ed Ricker and Lisa Siddall.

The top three vote-getters will serve 6-year terms on the board.

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Ms. Siddall moved to the area in 1993 after graduating from the University of Michigan Dental School and Colgate University. She lives in Empire Township and owns a dental practice in Lake Leelanau. She serves as treasurer of the Glen Lake Yacht Club and has two adult sons and a daughter in the 8th grade at Glen Lake.

Mr. Ricker of Glen Arbor will also be on the ballot. The Korean War veteran holds a master’s degree in secondary education from Miami University.

Mrs. Niergarth was appointed in June 2015 to fill the unexpired term of Meredith Goodrick. She holds Doctor of Pharmacy and Master of Public Administration degrees. She and her husband, Steve, have lived in the district for 22 years where their children attended Glen Lake.

Mr. Lake spent his career in education as a teacher and coach for 27 years and administrator for 10 years. He has been married for 48 years and is the father of two and has two grandchildren.

Ross Hazelton is an 8-year member on the Board of Education. He lives in Glen Arbor with his wife, Roni. They have two children who attend Glen Lake School: Sydney, a sophomore and Elliot, a seventh grader.

Ms. Aylsworth-Bonzelet earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from Michigan State University. She is a project manager for an international consulting firm AECOM and has two current Lakers.

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We asked each candidate three questions and asked them to limit their responses for each to 75 words.

1. About one in three students at Glen Lake Community Schools resides in other school districts. Is having that many school-of-choice students a benefit for the school district?

AYLSWORTH- BONZELET: Being an out of formula district, school-of-choice student enrollment is always being reviewed for cost to benefit for the district. Out-of-District students allow Glen Lake to offer more and diverse classes and provide more students for additional extracurricular offerings. However, there are times when district students should receive priority on offerings with limited enrollment such as pre-school. As a board member I encourage the diversity that all students bring.

HAZELTON: Yes, there is a benefit to the school. Glen Lake functions most efficiently at 60-70 students per class. This allows for more varied curricular choices for students as well as enough students to fill all of our extracurricular programs. Our out of formula status for funding is actually higher than the per pupil stipend from the state so while there is a cost to the district it is marginal.

LAKE: I believe that what Glen Lake provides its students is very good for so many to come from out of district to attend classes here. The more diverse a class is, the greater the number of perspectives all students are exposed to and therefore enhances the opportunity to form opinions of their own. Additional students also bring additional funding with them which benefits the district as a whole through economies of scale.

NIERGARTH: As an out-of-formula funded district, Glen Lake doesn’t receive additional funds to educate SOC students. Although SOC families are an active and valuable part of GL, this program should be continually evaluated to make sure that we are doing what is best for all students. This requires an open discussion with stakeholders identifying and balancing the advantages of more students in the district compared to the opportunity of greater financial resources to educate in-district students.

RICKER: Most definitely.

SIDDALL: With declining enrollment seen county-wide, drawing students from other districts is an indicator of Glen Lake’s success. Being an out of formula district, it could be argued that more money would be available to spend on in-district students by not allowing SOC students. I think the benefits these additional students provide outweigh any negatives. Additional students allow us to offer academic programs and field athletic teams that might not be possible with fewer students.

2. What’s the best thing Glen Lake Community Schools does for students? What one area could use improvement?

AYLSWORTH-BONZELET: The best thing that Glen Lake offers is its commitment to provide every student with a safe and nurturing learning environment. We ensure each individual student’s needs both in the classroom and outside are addressed. An area of improvement is curriculum. We as a district have been through a tremendous amount of change in the past years and one of the new administrations’ goals is to evaluate and improve curriculum.

HAZELTON: Glen Lake offers students smaller class sizes, dedicated teachers, stable consistent funding and a true sense of community involvement. Glen Lake has always been a “good school” with our recent additions to our administrative staff I feel Glen Lake is on the verge of becoming “a great school.”

LAKE: Glen Lake Schools is preparing its students to succeed at a high level after graduation, both in college and in the work force. There are a high percentage of students who are able to attend academically challenging colleges. One way to assess the effectiveness of a school is to look at its record on statewide tests. While there are some good and bad parts to these tests, Glen Lake has always performed very well on them.

NIERGARTH: Glen Lake offers students a safe, comfortable, and caring learning environment with a staff and administration that encourages each student to reach their utmost potential. However, as a current board member I have worked to offer students an even better education by encouraging an aligned curriculum across all grade levels and promoting a process of continuous improvement where we constantly measure, identify, and modify areas that need enhancement, while further enriching what we do well.

RICKER: Provides a wholesome environment. Character development.

SIDDALL: I have witnessed firsthand the welcoming, warm, supportive learning environment Glen Lake offers all our students. My severely autistic son spent 14 years and was never once bullied. Staff and students do a great job cultivating an inclusive community. One area that could use improvement is our fine arts program. I would love to see the construction of a community performing arts facility and an effort made to draw on our amazing local talent.

3. How involved should a school board member become in staff personnel issues affecting the district?

AYLSWORTH-BONZELET: As a current board member my job is to work in partnership with the superintendent. We have to trust that most issues at Glen Lake will not require board input. However, there may be some staff personnel issues that may require board action in the future and it is the responsibility of the superintendent to ensure the board is updated, as policies and laws require.

HAZELTON: Individual school board members should not be involved in personnel issues. The board has one employee, the superintendent. This individual is responsible for most personnel issues. Board policy along with the employee handbook dictates the procedures involved if or when board action is required.

LAKE: There are very few times that a school board member should become involved with staff. Examples when it would be appropriate include; if an employee does something that breaks a district policy or affects the district in a negative manner, that issue could be brought to the board by their administrator. Also if a staff member does something that affects the district in a positive manner, that also should be brought to the board.

NIERGARTH: As a current board member, I have worked diligently to develop a vision, direct policy to attain that vision, and hire a superintendent to achieve that vision. Therefore, in personnel matters, we have adopted policies that govern staffing, however it is the responsibility of the superintendent to implement those policies and manage the district. While the board approves staffing recommendations brought by the superintendent, we are not involved in the day-to-day management of personnel.

RICKER: Work with superintendent in helping staff to continue to improve subject matter but personal development as well.

SIDDALL: I don’t think individual board members should ever be involved in staff personnel issues and the board as a whole should be involved as little as possible. We hire talented and competent administrators to handle those issues and pay them accordingly. School board involvement should be limited to evaluation of the superintendent and setting policy.

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