The Ferndale political action committee Citizens for Better Education announced on Wednesday its support of Keith Warnick, Katrina Collins, Jim Pfleger and Bradford Parks as candidates for the Ferndale Schools Board of Education election on Nov. 6.
Four of the school board seats are up for election this year. Warnick, Collins and Pfleger currently serve on the board, and Parks is running for the first time.
Carol Frederick, CBE president, said the group spent months interviewing candidates and talking to community members about the school district and goals for the future.
"We strongly believe that the combined years of experience these candidates have on district committees and their leadership roles in parent organizations across all grade levels, make them the best candidates to continue moving the district forward," she said.
A 2010 switch to six-year terms and a November school board election created four board openings this year. To avoid a similar situation in future elections, the top two candidates with the most votes this year will serve six-year terms and the two candidates with the next highest number of votes will serve four-year terms.
Board vice president Charles Moeser, trustee Nancy Kerr-Mueller and trustee Karen Twomey will remain on the board. Trustee Darcey McLaughlin is not seeking another term.
McLaughlin said she recently began traveling for work and wouldn't be able to commit as much time to the role but said she only felt comfortable leaving because she knew Parks was seeking the seat.
"It's hard to step away from it unless you've got someone behind you that's ready," she said at a CBE event on Wednesday announcing the candidates. "Brad hands down has put in the time, has the experience and I would be honored if he won my seat."
Here's a look at the CBE-endorsed candidates:
- Currently serves as president of the Board of Education
- Served on the board since 2004.
- Father of two Ferndale High School graduates.
- Elected to the Michigan Association of School Boards board of directors in 2009 to present.
- Warnick said his main priority has been and will continue to be increasing student achievement. "We've made strides in that area," he said, but pointed out a continuing achievement gap between black and white students and a need to increase test scores. "We need to work harder to get those lower scores up to where they need to be."
- In the past eight years, Warnick said he has brought a lot of state and national legislative information to the board and will continue to do that. "We need experience on the board," he pointed out. "There are still an awful lot of challenges."
- Served on the board since 2007.
- Parent of two FHS graduates and a current FHS sophomore.
- She has been active in the Eagles Nest Football Boosters and has served on the district’s operations, finance, program and technology, and staff relations and policy committees.
- "I felt like we were going in the right direction," and she wanted to continue that progress, Collins said of why she wanted to run for another term.
- Increasing student achievement is her main goal, Collins said. "We are making steady progress," she said, and pointed out the need to tailor programming for students based on their individual learning needs. She said she also wants to see test scores improve and help retain families in the district.
- As a school board member, avid "sports mom" and with her husband Tim Collins as the city's police chief, Collins said she has a "very unique perspective" on district happenings. "We really have our finger on the pulse of what's going on," she said.
- Appointed to the board in 2010 to fill a vacancy created when a board trustee stepped down.
- The father of two FHS graduates.
- He has served on the district finance committee, is a past president of the Ferndale Fine Arts Boosters and currently chairs the FHS theater props committee.
- Pfleger was out of town Wednesday and could not yet be reached for comment. Ferndale Patch will update this article.
- The father of two school district children.
- Active volunteer in elementary and middle school PTAs.
- Past-president of the Ferndale Education Foundation.
- He currently serves on the District Operations and Program and Technology Committees, and is chair of the School Bond Citizen’s Oversight Committee.
- Parks said he decided to run because the district could benefit from his experience. "There are four openings right now and we need experienced people to fill those openings," he said. "I don't think there is anyone else here that has as much experience as I have."
- Parks said he wants to build on the district's positives, like a balanced budget and full-service offerings. "We're very lucky to be able to do everything that we do in the district," he said, pointing out cuts in other districts.
- It's important to focus on every school in the district, Parks said - from the elementary schools to the alternative education program. "Those people deserve to go to school too," he said. "You have to be concerned about all the different schools in the district. The Ferndale School District isn't just one school, it's a whole district."
According to CBE, all four candidates support these common goals:
- Remaining financially stable and becoming the best small school district in Michigan.
- Being a full service district that avails every child the opportunity to succeed and continue on to the college or career program of their choice.
- Continuing to support the community’s Long Range Plan for the Ferndale School District.
- Continuing to add innovative programs like the Digital Learning Center to engage students.