April 24 10:41 AM
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Negative comments, letter offensive

To the Editor:

I would like to take a moment to thank the teachers and staff at Capac schools. I am constantly amazed at the learning environment these teachers create, the enthusiasm they bring to the classroom and their incredible expertise in teaching our children. These educators are doing a great deal despite very limited resources and they are always willing to go the extra mile for our children.

I am troubled by some of the negative comments coming from the school board and from Mr. Naeyaert in his letter to the editor last week (3-4-09). As parents we expect our children to respect their teachers. The comments from the board member who said he felt like a "father" to many children he had just said "no" to, and the comment from Mr. Naeyaert stating "CEA don't be so greedy and using parents as weapons to gain your contract! Settle up!" were both in my opinion very disrespectful and set a poor example. Also, as a parent who volunteers every time I am asked, I feel the comments from the board about parents needing to get off their "posteriors" and attend meetings were inappropriate and condescending. I would also like to point out the $59 cut per student that board member Mr. Warnez spoke of in his letter to the editor last week has already been avoided by the federal stimulus package.

We heard at the last meeting about declining enrollment and loss of students in the second half of the year. Then we were given the impression that being on the MEA's critical list is not that big a deal because it does not impact funding. But being on the MEA's critical list does have great potential to impact funding by influencing families who are potential home buyers in this school district. I am concerned that the board seems so focused on what we can get from the federal stimulus package that they are failing to see the school's role in the process of reviving our community and generating revenue.

Capac schools need to put their best face forward in order to attract new families to this area. I would hate to see the community and the school district lose out as the national housing crisis begins to improve because people are unsure of our schools due to lack of a contract. The state of our schools has a huge impact on everyone in the community whether they have children here or not. I think we need to look at the big picture.

I sincerely hope that the powers that be will recognize the value of our teachers and staff. The quality of education our children receive is directly related to the quality of teachers we are able to attract and retain. When I see how little the schools, the teachers, and most importantly the children have in terms of resources, it is very upsetting to see thousands and thousands of dollars being spent on a hired gun who has failed at the negotiating table. As we have recently seen from Imlay City's school district and others, a negotiator is not at all necessary to reach a contract when good faith is brought to the table. As a taxpayer I have voted to give the school more money every time they have requested, but I feel a negotiator is a misuse of funds that are sorely needed in other areas. I have every confidence that Capac's board and administration are capable of sitting down and hammering out an agreement with our teachers and staff. As a taxpayer and a parent I expect this, especially given our administration is paid so well. It would be really great to read something positive in the paper about Capac schools and how we were able to resolve our issues, overcome the obstacles and work out an agreement.

Editor's note: 'MEA' is the Michigan Education Association which is an employee union. Eighteen school districts are named on the latest 'Critical List,' (March 9, 2009) including Southfield, Birmingham and Waterford.

The Capac School District hired a negotiator to handle contract discussions for a sum of $10,000 annually plus mileage and expenses. He was given a three year contract.

Kelly Cramer-Strine, Capac
March 11, 2009

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