Since January 2017 I have had the honor of serving on the Board of Education for the Chelsea School District. Like all Michigan school boards, ours consists of seven members elected by citizens from within the boundaries of the district. Our purpose is to work with the superintendent (Dr. Julie Helber) to develop policy, monitor budget and curriculum, and set goals for the entire district.
I admire my board colleagues for the time, effort, and care they put into the work of serving our public school system in Chelsea. Like you, board members care deeply about the Chelsea School District and want to see its reputation for excellence maintained. Simply put, we care about children and youth, and we want the Chelsea School District (CSD) to be the best it can be.
The CSD Board is currently considering a School of Choice option. Dr. Helber asked the Board to consider this based on two main factors: ongoing enrollment declines and per-student Foundation Allowance funding from the state. Both factors have a significant impact on the quality of education we offer. Dr. Helber has thoughtfully addressed both misconceptions and concerns about implementing a School of Choice policy for CSD. She has shared this information broadly, through board meetings, Chelsea Update, conversations, emails, and phone calls. In turn, board members are carefully considering feedback from citizens as we form our own opinions.
I want to take this opportunity to share some of my perspectives on this issue. Unless you email me, talk to me, come to board meetings, or follow my board Facebook page, you might not know my thinking. While I am not obligated to comment publicly, it is something I choose to do for this important issue. The following comments are mine and should not be construed as representing other board members, our superintendent, or the CSD itself. In fact, board policy is set by way of a democratic and public voting process involving the entire board. I am one vote among seven.
I believe a limited School of Choice policy, one that will allow the district to better manage enrollments and access additional revenue from the state, is essential to maintain the quality and scope of CSD educational programs. If we ask Dr. Helber to implement a limited policy, one that is carefully managed, the benefits will outweigh the costs. I believe CSD can have a School of Choice policy that maintains a strong focus on the Chelsea community, and its traditions of excellence, while addressing the financial realities of public school funding. I want my sons (Ryan and Finn) to have wonderful Chelsea school experiences like I did. To that end, I will support a policy that provides these opportunities without compromising the core values and practices that make Chelsea School District great.
I encourage you to contact Dr. Helber with your questions and concerns. You can also reach out to board members at our next board meeting, June 25, at 6:30pm at the Washington Street Education Center.
CHS Class of 1986