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Letter to the Editor: School Board Member Takes Issue With PAC Accusations

Ferndale Schools Board of Education Trustee Darcey McLaughlin submitted this letter to the editor.

Ferndale Patch welcomes letters to the editor.

The following was submitted by Ferndale Board of Education Trustee Darcey McLaughlin.

_______________________

As a School Board member, I am offended by the charges from the newly formed group CLEAR that tough questions have not been asked or answered by the current board regarding our district. This is simply not true. Through its committees, the board has always carefully considered and debated the district’s important issues while our meetings have been facilitated effectively, and cooperatively. CLEAR also accuses our district of being non-transparent when in reality all questions posed to the board or administration have been answered promptly and completely. Documents exist to prove the district’s attempts to clarify issues, yet CLEAR continues to make divisive comments.

Our Superintendent has found an innovative approach to offsetting funds taken away for years by the State in a long-standing consulting agreement between our district and Michigan Future, Inc. Because this is a political year, after almost four years of this contracts life and revenue to date of $800,000 for our district, the CLEAR group and its candidates and one current Board member have inferred that for lack of time sheets, our Superintendent and his immediate staff do not put in a full work week or that conflicts of interest may exist. To suggest these things are ridiculous. Our Superintendent and FPS administrative, teaching, and support staffs are some of the hardest working individuals you will ever meet. They put in countless hours on behalf of our district and students.

I have firsthand knowledge that our Superintendent works 60 or more hours per week for our district and that his private consulting work is in addition to those hours. Other administrative staff members are in our buildings well into the evenings week after week. I know this because I am often at the evening meetings with them. CLEAR members, however, have only just begun to attend board-related meetings.

Our Superintendent should be commended for finding alternative sources of revenue to add to our district and allow us to continue to be a full service district. For six of the last ten years, our district received either NO increase or an actual reduction in State Aid yet we are still serving nearly the same number of students in a full service district! Under his guidance and his qualified teams, pupil test scores have risen. Ferndale High School was recently named a Reward School by improving academically at a rate greater than 95% of all Michigan public schools. FPS is on the right track and making great progress.

As a lifelong resident, volunteer and board member - I am offended by CLEAR’s
accusations of our district, our administration and our staff. Unfortunately, the
November election may be divisive for the community. Much work needs to be done, and publicly accusing our administrators and Board during a political season only damages the reputation of the district. I hope voters will wade through the rhetoric. The future of continued improvement of our schools is at stake. Visit www.ferndalecbe.org for more information.

Sincerely,

Darcey McLaughlin

Laura Berger October 02, 2012 at 08:34 PM
CBE, thank you so much for commenting. You must be confusing me with someone else, as I am not affiliated with CLEAR as an officer or in any other capacity. My interest in both CLEAR and CBE and the candidates they endorse is the interest of a district parent and taxpayer who has a decision to make this November. I really appreciate you clearing up the confusion re: CBE's public meetings and events: there aren't any. And you're right, that's perfectly okay--except when you claim otherwise, either explicitly or implicitly, as you have in the past. It's unfortunate that you can't find my emails; my offer to host a coffee was real and sincere. I have no doubt that CBE, like CLEAR, wants the best for our district, and there is much I admire in some current and past CBE-supported board members/candidates. The difference is that CLEAR has reached out to the community to participate in defining what that is and how we can get there. That may not be important to everyone, but it appeals to me, and to many others. Finally, it is disingenuous for you to state: "since CLEAR supporters have now redirected some of their accusations from the School Board to our organization...." When a current school board member endorsed by CBE chooses to editorialize in the media and blast the "opposing" PAC, well, then, you shouldn't really be surprised that "CBE" joined "CLEAR" in this discussion.
CBE October 02, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Laura, our sincere apologies. We mixed you up with Jodi Berger, who is listed as a member of the CLEAR executive Board on the CLEAR website. You are only listed on the CLEAR website as a supporter. Our apologies for the error.
Jodi Berger October 03, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I appreciate Laura Berger's comments as well as her reaching out to CBE. This Berger (me) has never made negative or anti-CBE statements (and don't ever plan on it). We are a great community--a group of people working together for the common good! I just choose to put my time and energy into helping CLEAR work toward a new strategic plan for our great Ferndale schools; the people who introduced me to CLEAR were also the ones putting together the Ferndale District Ambassadors! We love our schools (and teachers) and are putting our positivity into action by constantly sharing the greatness of our district. Such positive action and ideas make me excited about BOLD's ideas and commitment to improve parent/community relations (respect people, even when asking difficult questions), make student retention a higher priority (make our schools so great no one thinks of going elsewhere!), continue the work in academic expectations and innovations, helping all types of learners succeed. There's too much work to be done to waste time on negativity and divisiveness. I hope anyone interested in making changes and improvements will join us at our general meetings--October 8th 7 PM at the Ferndale Library is next week.
Barb Landry October 03, 2012 at 09:51 PM
I personally take offense to misinformation that keeps getting said about CLEAR. I would like to comment on the following statement by CBE - "There are many fantastic, dedicated CBE members who are parents from all of our various schools in the district, representing the entire voice of the district, not just one magnet school." CLEAR has members and active volunteers with infants/toddlers, children in preschool programs not in the district (such as Drayton and Ferndale Montessori), children in Grant, Roosevelt, Coolidge, Kennedy, Ferndale Middle School, Ferndale High School, children who attend other school districts and community members who have no children at all. This group with many different opinions, all here for the same thing, our children and to make our schools better. I feel a very GOOD representation of our district as a whole. The other very big important factor for me is that CLEAR is very TRANSPARENT and chooses to allow ALL people of the community/schools to attend meetings. People are encouraged to share their experiences and to talk about how to make our schools that we love so much, even better. I feel the same as so many of my neighbors and leaders of my community - please check out the endorsement list http://makeitclearferndale.org/endorsers.. With this all being said, this is why my husband and I have chosen to support and vote BOLD on November 6th.
Greg Pawlica October 04, 2012 at 03:09 AM
So because the finances improved after the current super Superintendent came to this district, tax-paying residents shouldn't question the activies taken to get there? The person who turns a blind-eye ends up being robbed blind.

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