Four votes,four yearsfor write-incandidate
May 16, 2007DRYDEN — With just four votes in the May 8 school election, last-minute filer Kenneth Hreha found himself elected to the Dryden school board.
Hreha filed as a write-in candidate on April 24, just three days before the deadline. When the results came in, the newcomer had finished second to current board president Glenn Hojnacki, who received 277 votes. Both were elected to four-year terms on the board.
With an absence of candidates on the ballot, Hreha said he felt compelled to throw his hat in the ring.
"I was a little surprised and disappointed that no other parents stepped forward to run," said Hreha, who has no children.
It wasn't until he attended a recent school board meeting that he even considered running for a board seat.
"(Board president) Mr. Hojnacki was asking parents to make suggestions about what to do about the problems with the school budget," Hreha recalled. "I had some ideas so I decided to run."
Some of those ideas include addressing the high cost of paying for teachers' health care and retirement benefits.
"They're all talking about how underfunded the pension and health care system is for teachers," said Hreha. "I heard that it costs $14,500 per teacher annually for health care. I don't think a lot of Dryden residents could afford that.
"I would like to see some reform initiated in the system," he continued. "This is the kind of issue that school boards need to address."
Hreha said the district also needs to inspire its students to attend college after graduation and achieve at the highest level.
"I think only about 60 percent of Dryden's graduates go on to college," he said. "That's too low. I think we need to work on increasing that number. We have to motivate our children to take advantage of higher education."
Hreha said he was, however, pleasantly surprised by something he recently saw on a wall at Dryden High School.
"I noticed a poster that was proclaiming Black History Month," he said. "I think diversity is really important in a competitive society. Young people have to have some sense of who they will be working with and for when they get out in the world. I also believe in diversity in curriculum."
While admitting his road to a position on the school board has been one less traveled, he intends to make the most of the opportunity.
"I'm ready to serve," he said. "I'd like to bring some of my ideas to the table and see how other board members feel about them.
"I'm going to give 110 percent to the position and we'll see how it all shakes out."
Had Hreha not been elected, the board would have been required to appoint a new member. By running as a write-in candidate, Hreha was able to bypass the customary interview process before an appointment.
Schools Supt. Tom Goulette said he didn't know Hreha prior to the election, nor his motives for running.
"We trust his good intentions," said Goulette. "Mr. Hreha does not appear to be someone who is coming to the board with a particular agenda."
In another school matter, district residents approved an 18-mill renewal of non-homestead property for school operations.
The renewal was approved by a nearly 2-1 margin, with 233 voting in favor and 123 opposed.