March 19 04:21 AM
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Community must take a greater interest in Capac schools

To the Editor:

I have been a parent and have lived in the Capac School District for a long time now. In that time, I regretfully have to say I have only attended a few school board meetings. As with many parents, we get busy with day to day activities and due to various reasons can't make it to all that we would like to.

On Thurs. Feb. 19 I went to a Capac School Board meeting. I felt like I needed to with so much going on in our district. Our teachers on the Michigan Education Association's critical list, money is being wasted on a negotiator, and there's an upcoming election on May 5 to elect two school board members. I thought this was a good time to get more active in my children's education. As I walked up to the school, the teachers were outside picketing, and I saw my child's kindergarten teacher holding her picket sign. It made me think of all that these teachers do for our kids, they are basically our sons' and daughters' 'parents' during the school day. We trust these people with our most precious things in life. They help mold our children into great students, great learners, great citizens, and they are a constant figure in our kids' everyday lives. You just can't put a price on that! The teachers in our district are wonderful at what they do, although I can't speak for the teachers in the high school, since my children do not attend there. The teachers that have helped shape my children at the elementary school, and the middle school have been spectacular! As have the principals, and the support staff. They really care about our kids. I sometimes help out at my son's kindergarten class, which has 24 students. When I leave there, I think how in the world do these teachers do it, day in and day out? I have just two kids, and am often at my wits' end! I leave there utterly exhausted. I thank God for the teachers in our lives, I know I couldn't do their jobs, it is a special calling indeed!

As I sat in the board meeting, I was surprised at the feeling I got that many of our current board members are out of touch. Many parents, and teachers got up to speak, and give their feelings on the current situation of our school district, only later to be told by a board member that they sounded like children. The same board member also added that the parents in this district just don't care about our schools, and never attend meetings. Yes, I'm guilty of that, as are many others, but people do have work and lives that sometimes can't be put on hold to go to these meetings. For most of the time we've lived out here, I couldn't attend meetings due to my husband's work schedule. But now that I can become more involved, I go to a meeting only to hear that we sound like children and don't care. I want to tell that school board member, he didn't do much to get my vote for re-election last night, as I'm sure this was the feeling of many parents in attendance.

I urge all the parents and community members of Capac to attend the next board meeting on March 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the high school library. Let the board know that we want better for our kids, we want accountability, we want change. Stop spending money on an outside negotiator, use that money for our kids, do your job and come to an agreement with the teachers. Yes it has to be give and take, that is the way our society is, just look at what the UAW is giving up now. But at least come to the table with something, don't drag this out. It's not good for our kids, and for our community, which is hurting enough right now. If any board members are reading this, hopefully we will have a big turnout for the meeting, so maybe make some extra copies of the agenda so each person in attendance can have access to one. Thanks.

I also urge everyone that can vote in our district to come out in full force on Tuesday May 5 to vote for the two board seats that are up for election. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many new candidates on the ballot, and I for one will be voting for change! For those of you who don't know, the new candidates running are: Barry Geliske, Norman McDunnah, Loralee Pillsbury, Mary Ransom, and Larry Tullio, all of which have been actively involved in our schools, sports, and communities.

If you care about the quality of our schools, and our kids, please attend the next meeting on March 19!

Editor's note: As reported last week, talks between school administration and staff unions held on Feb. 11 were unsuccessful in reaching an agreement. A third-party negotiator has been retained by the school district in an effort to resolve the issues. Teachers have been without a contract since August 20, and support staff since June 30, 2008. Both are on the Michigan Education Association's 'Critical List.' Last year, the union filed an Unfair Labor Practice grievance against the district. A hearing is supposed to take place this spring.

Incumbents James Crane and Walter Lentz are also seeking seats in the upcoming school board election.

Jennifer Gerschick, Capac
February 25, 2009

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