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Letter: Ferndale School Board Member Supports CBE Candidates

Board of Education vice president Chuck Moeser submitted this letter to the editor.

Ferndale Patch welcomes letters to the editor.

The following was submitted by Ferndale Board of Education member Chuck Moeser.

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The reason I support the CBE candidates for the Ferndale School Board, is as simple as Councilman T. Scott Galloway’s reasons.  Over the last 22 years of elected service on the School Board I can honestly say that Keith Warnick, Katrina Collins, Jim Pfleger and Brad Parks have 10 times the School related experience of the other candidates and are ready to serve.  Look at the record over the last 10 years:  worked with the community supporting 2 successful bond issues (some of the opponents recommended against the bonds), balanced budgets year after year, supported programs that have improved student achievement test scores, introduced new innovative educational programs, saw the high school named as a reward school by the state, worked together collaboratively instead of a confrontationally, focused on what is right for ALL the students not just the few who have left and above all, made the tough, difficult decisions in the light of ever increasing reductions in state funding, a loss of over $470/student in the last year, to bring us from the brink of bankruptcy to a general fund of over $4,600,000 and a full service school District.  The Superintendent is doing exactly what he was hired for, is recognized by his peers and has positive performance ratings from all 7 Board members.  So Mr. Councilman, critical decisions have been made.

The School Board and the City of Ferndale have met at least 3 times during the term of Mr. Galloway and he only attended one meeting. There is no record of the concerns he mentions.  The biggest topic raised by the City was for the District to move their elections to November.  Why wasn’t the Councilman forwarding his concerns to the School Board or better yet, bringing those concerns to the regularly scheduled School Board meetings where the public is always invited to speak?  After all, the School District sends a representative to every Council meeting.  Maybe the Councilman should attend Board Meetings or the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee, of which he is a member, and work with residents, board members, administrators and staff, that comprise the District committees.

CBE has successfully endorsed the majority of School Board candidates, including 6 of the 7 currently seated.  CBE interviewed all eight candidates looking for good, experienced, ready-to-serve individuals, something I don’t believe the Councilman did.  Mr. Galloway and other City officials were invited to a meet/greet for the CBE candidates and declined to come.  I also wonder if the Councilman listens to residents’ complaints about the city, and enacts change based on those complaints without consideration of the effects on the entire City.  I think not.

To quote Jim O’Donnell from a published 2010 election letter: “…a school district that has improving academic performance, is financially stable … has superb music ….and honors programs … the result of our current School Board”.  “We need experienced leadership.”

This district does deserve more and will get more with the above experienced candidates.     

Chuck Moeser

Ferndale School Board Member

Matthew Nowaczok October 20, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Robert. That is simply false. There were several options available to the Board. Mr Warnick was the biggest advocate for keeping them in May. I will find the minutes from those meetings tomorrow so that you can see. Good night.
Robert Bokram October 20, 2012 at 02:23 AM
I am very concerned about the CLEAR slate's newly found concerns......concerns they never felt strongly enough about to attend committee meetings or board meetings and provide comments and criticism. This slate is collective solution looking for a problem and are hanging their hat on "lack of transparency" and student retention. If they had bothered to attend some of the board and committee meetings they would have experienced transparency in action ! Their negative comments about the board and district are probably the most corrosive comments in the community right now and surely are making many undecided young parents wonder whether the Ferndale Schools are right for them......they are actually negatively impacting our efforts to maintain student retention.
Robert Bokram October 20, 2012 at 02:23 AM
In addition, the CLEAR candidates have taken an elitist attitude about what's is in the best interest of the district, convinced that only they can provide solutions, disregarding the administrators, teachers, parents and citizens who have put in countless hours to move the school district forward. Jim's own comments above, "Only the BOLD candidates have the right combination of school district experience and outside experience to acknowledge and solve the problems facing the district now and in the future" speak volumes about their intended approach. They have already formulated a 30 day plan that they promise to implement, without any interest in collaboration, consultation or compromise. I believe that this a profoundly flawed approach and reflected their naivety and inexperience about how the school board and school district functions. We need rational board members who can collaborate and find common ground, not fomate conflict and obstruction.....we have many challenges; state funding, challenges from schools of choice; many more,,,,we do not need baseless challenges from our board members distracting us from the important business of educating our children
Robert Bokram October 20, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Correct you are grasshopper... May would have cost us $40,000....money the city was unwilling to provide for our elections.....Warnick believed that we would get a more informed voter, although less turnout, that it would be a more informed vote, but the majority ruled and he abided.
Robert Bokram October 20, 2012 at 02:35 AM
I was there, so don't ruin your Saturday looking up trivial facts already on record. GO BLUE
Matthew Nowaczok October 20, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Robert. So you then admit that the Board had several options in front of them and choose one that extended several of their terms? I am a nerd and love doing Internet searches so it is no sweat for me to pull it. I was there too. Go Green.
Robert Bokram October 20, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Yes, but whereas you see a self-serving intent, I see a practical, informed decision, based on recognition of state legislative actions. It's a moot point, the entire state is now on 6 year terms.....we were just smart enough to save $40K before the inevitable mandated transition.
Robert Bokram October 20, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Oh yeah....did I say GO BLUE?? LOL
Brian Smith October 20, 2012 at 02:48 AM
The uber liberals have been in charge of both the school board and the city council forever. This is a prime example of how, given to their own devices, they can't even get along with each other. Eventually they will eat their own...priceless....
Robert Bokram October 20, 2012 at 02:52 AM
That was non-sequitur...
Barb Landry October 20, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Here you go Matt, thank you to the FP for following the whole thing so close. Not a good topic for many of us. http://ferndale.patch.com/articles/ferndale-residents-disappointed-in-school-board-move-to-november-elections-6-year-terms
Barb Landry October 20, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Rob - I am sorry but that is just not true. The state mandated that all boards go to EVEN YEAR terms - so that means 4 years was still an option. Again the community came to the board and spoke in LARGE numbers on how we DID NOT want them to extend their own terms and YET AGAIN they ignored the public and chose to do it anyways with a vote of 4-3. Why is it that you claim that myself and my fellow community members are the uninformed ones? Just because they might not align with what your beliefs are does not make them UNINFORMED!
Ferndale Resident October 20, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Seems to me that a lot of people are getting bent out of shape over this election. Instead of seeing each other as politicians, look at each other as fellow parents, fellow neighbors who want to do what's best for their schools. Quite frankly, people are acting like children with all the he-said/she-said. At this time, I'm only certain of one person I'll be voting into the school board, but frankly all these negative comments and in-fighting is making me not want to vote for -anyone-.
Greg Pawlica October 20, 2012 at 09:16 PM
I never said anything about the length of terms or years of service. You can be elected to office a dozen times, holding office for decades, and continue to have a firm understanding that you are easily replaceable. Read my words...they're not hard to interpret.
Thomas Gagne October 21, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Darcey, do you know where I can find district test scores going back to 2000? Yourself and others comment about the "significant progress our district has made," but I've not seen any numbers demonstrating what that progress has been. Those numbers would be a much more powerful statement than anecdotes. Even though the tests have changed over the past 10 years, our scores relative to other districts would still be relevant. I'm surprised that data hasn't already been posted by the board in support of its incumbents.
Thomas Gagne October 21, 2012 at 03:44 PM
"It is alarming that four newcomers .. have publicly disparaged our hard earned progress ... during a campaign season and not before." Darcey, more citizens than BOLD have asked questions for years without satisfactory responses. I've written letters and articles asking questions both privately and publicly without satisfactory responses. I've waited weeks for responses to emails that either dodged the questions or spun the answers. There are many great things happening in the district, but there are great things that happen in many districts -- even Detroit Public Schools. Yet despite DPS' achievements and awards the second largest district in the state after DPS is students leaving DPS (according to Robert Bobb). So there must be something else parents and voters are looking at beside the district's press releases that factors into decisions for 623 students (31% of in-district students) to leave FSD . It's true 1720 incoming students outnumber outgoing students nearly 3-1, and so FSD has a strong appeal to students from Detroit (1084), Oak Park (366), and Southfield (87). Maybe parents are uncomfortable with the apparent strategy of balancing FSD's budget with dollars from students attending University High and Taft. Maybe residents are queasy with the thought the district doesn't spend all of a Taft or UH student's state-aid dollars on the student, but instead uses the money to pay for athletic and other programs at the "core" schools.
Nathan Schoenfeld October 22, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Ferndale Resident, whoever you might be : Agreed that this has been a very tough road and that the negative commentary has certainly turned people off. If you have followed this, the finger pointing has come from the group trying to get their slate elected on many unfounded facts, poorly defined plans and loosely based claims that the current board is not doing their job. My hope is that people will still going to get out and vote and not make a poorly informed emotional decision on who should be on the board.
Ferndale Resident October 22, 2012 at 04:01 PM
I wholly intend to vote, no worries there. Unfortunately, many of my neighbors are considering not voting for anything school-board related because they're tired of the sheer negativity going on with that particular election.
Thomas Gagne October 22, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Ferndale and Nathan, I'm curious what you believe is "negative." In any contest between candidates there are differences of opinion between them--else no one would be running. If you could post examples of comments you feel are negative and without merit, that would be helpful. Without examples the complaints are difficult to weigh.
Ferndale Resident October 22, 2012 at 06:53 PM
It's not so much one particular comment or another, it's the entire vibe of the election. You can see for yourself how there are so many letters to the editor here on Patch, each one taking issue with what one group or another has said- namely Darcey's letter and the comments about Council taking positions. From an outsider's point of view, it just looks like a bunch of back-and-forth. This would be excusable for, say, the Presidential election, but I feel this overall hostile election only serves to divide the community. My overall point is that infighting won't do our children any good. We all want what's best for our community, and it's hard to see what that is when everyone is at each others' throats.
Patrick Dengate October 23, 2012 at 12:06 AM
I get impatient with the attitude like Mr. or Ms. Resident's. Yes, from an "outsider's view" things look like a "bunch of back-and-forth." Or, in other words, "negative." So, get over your laziness, apathy, or aversion to anything that might make you uncomfortable because there are strong opinions. Important things are at stake. People have different ideas about these things; I recommend you find out what they are, instead of shrinking away because there is an argument going on. Sometimes there IS division within a community as important matters are sorted out; it always been so. What are you afraid of? I haven't seen anything particularly nasty involved, no ad hominem attacks, no physical threats—just a vigorous dialogue. If the public marketplace of ideas is making you squirm, then just stay home, turn off your computer, and let other people try to figure things out.
Ferndale Resident October 23, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Mr. Dengate, I dislike the hostile tone of your post. I'm simply pointing out what myself and others have noticed during this election. If that is your definition of laziness, apathy, or aversion, I advise that you find a different dictionary. Laziness would be not getting involved in this discussion at all. Apathy would be not caring about how all this in-fighting will affect the community. There will always be division regarding important matters, but just because there haven't been physical threats of violence doesn't mean that this hasn't been an unpleasant election cycle for people to witness. Quite frankly, you're guilty of using ad hominem yourself, what with calling people such as myself lazy and apathetic. Nathan has the right idea. People are turned off, and certainly not because of laziness or apathy. We get more than enough negativity from other campaigns this time of year, and it's concerning and sad to see it coming equally from within our own community. So please, tone down the hostility. I care about the community, that's why I'm voting. That's why I encourage everyone to vote- and to remember that ultimately we're all on the same side.
Barb Landry October 23, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Nathan - I am so sad by your answer - it is just not true. Just because your opinion differs from mine does not make my opinion and what I believe in wrong. I find it so sad that this has turned personal and all the lies that are being spread out there. I support candidates that I believe will make our schools a better place to be, a place everyone will want to send their children and a board that will be able to be approachable by the community. I keep seeing time and time again people pointing their fingers but it isn't from our team (just in response). I just want to remind EVERYONE that on November 7th we will all still be neighbors, we will have to work together on committees and in groups, our kids will have to attend school together and we will see each other in the community. PLEASE stop all these lies and rumors.
Ferndale Resident October 23, 2012 at 02:02 AM
My thoughts exactly, Barb. We're all still Ferndalians at the end of the day, and that's what matters most! Let's not let this election divide us. That just wouldn't be in the spirit of Friendly Ferndale, now would it? : )
Robert Bokram October 23, 2012 at 10:50 AM
I certainly agree with this. We all want the same thing...we just have different viewpoints on how best to achieve these results.
Nathan Schoenfeld October 23, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Barb, I never said anyone's opinion was wrong and I would not say that. Everyone has the right to disagree and as long as it's done in a respectful manner then people should be willing to accept that which I will and do. So many times that this issue has been out on the forefront it's the people who are not actively involved in the district as us that are causing the caustic enviroment. Those that are creating these issues, are standing on the sideline or back of the room and chirp out just to hear themselves are not involved in meetings, committees or sending their children to our district, but out of district. True on November 7th we all will still be here to work on things for the betterment of schools and the children as we should no matter who is elected.
Barb Landry October 23, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Nathan - I still think this is your interpretation. This is what starts all the "rumors". The BOLD candidates are very involved in the schools. Just because they don't sit at the same tables as others doesn't mean that meetings and updates are being shared. Part of the responsibility of the people that sit on committees is to go back into the community and to share what is going on. I know that this is being done within CLEAR at least. We have members that sit on all of the committees in the district. Finance, Operations and Program and Tech. We have members that attend Policy and Staff Relations (which don't have community members assigned to them - only board members and administrators), Superintendent Advisory, Ferndale Education Foundation, PTA Council, FS-PTSA, FE-PTA, Kennedy PTA, PTO's, Ferndale Art Boosters, Orch Support, Community Groups, etc. CLEAR is a very active and involved group of community members. So when you say, that no one is involved, no one has any idea what is going on in the district or how things are run, you are just not telling the truth. I am begging that this stop.
Kristy Stoll October 23, 2012 at 02:55 PM
I agree with the Ferndale Resident about the level of finger-pointing and vitriol that has been a part of this election. It is gut-wrenching to witness. I will say, that it seems to be a small minority of folks doing most of that (on Patch, Facebook, etc.). Having run, I know how hard it is to hear or read personal attacks, especially when they are not true (I was amazed at emails that were being sent around about me that had false statements and horribly offensive opinions). As for me, I have been trying to keep it positive, although at times I have to bite my tongue or sit on my hands to do so. I think all eight candidates are good people. I think all eight candidates have the best interests of the schools and students in mind. Seriously, these people are vying for an often thankless, time-consuming VOLUNTEER job! I commend all of them for raising their hands to do so. Thus, I won't use this forum to spew lies about any candidates, nor say bad things about anyone personally. I will say that I am personally supporting the CLEAR slate of candidates because I like that they want to ask tougher questions, retain students and be more connected to the community. I don't believe they have a radical agenda to turn this district upside down and chase administrators and students out of town. I've heard it from each of their mouths...we have a really good district, they just want it to be great. Here is the one negative thing I'll say that just might anger all sides: Roll Tide!
Nathan Schoenfeld October 24, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Come on really not telling the truth? Disappointed is the best I can say at this time. I was not attacking you nor others that are involved. Re-read my comments above and think about what I said.What I was referring to are those that know who they are that are not involved....
Thomas Gagne October 24, 2012 at 03:30 AM
"Those that are creating these issues are standing on the sideline .. are not involved in meetings, committees or sending their children to our district..." So? Does it make sense to dismiss their concerns simply because they don't attend meetings? This is one of the problems folks have with the district BEFORE they leave. They attend meetings and are ignored. They write letters and are ignored or patronized. The attend a board meeting and are sneered at, and so they leave because others may listen to them, or offer what they're looking for. Experience isn't all the status-quo crowd makes it up to be. Experience knows how to listen. Experience knows how to recognize problems. Experience has an open mind. Experience also knows how to defend itself without attacking others as inexperienced, uninvolved, or sitting on the sidelines. These aren't arguments, they're name-calling. And with experience like that, no wonder 31% of in-district students leave for other districts, and other folks go even further and move out of the district. A much bigger message is sent, but no one seems to bother reading it.

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