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What Do Ferndale School Board Candidates Have to Say About Adult Education?

We'll recap some of the candidates' recent forum responses in advance of two more upcoming forums.

Eight people are running in the Nov. 6 election to fill four seats on the Ferndale Board of Education.

Last week, all eight candidates participated in their first candidate forum at Ferndale City Hall, hosted by the League of Women Voters. Two more forums are planned Oct. 28 and Oct. 29.

In the meantime, let's take a look back at some of their individual responses, in case you missed it last week.

Adult and alternative education

Question: Describe the value of adult education and alternative education to the school district and society at large. What would be the consequences of a loss of the program?

Keith Warnick said the value of adult education and alternative education is graduating additional students, which benefits the community at large. He said losing the program would mean a loss of employees.

Amy Butters said the district has a long history of alternative and adult education and there are many success stories out of the programs, though there have also been community concerns.

"We need to know what the community wants out of our school district. Does the mission of alternative education still resonate with the people who live here? I believe it probably does," she said.

Katrina Collins said as a board member she attends all three high school graduation ceremonies and her favorite is for the adult and alternative education programs, where she has heard many touching stories.

"They are very motivated students. This is a wonderful opportunity that they're given," she said. "I wouldn't want to see it go away."

Kevin Deegan-Krause agreed that the programs are important but said it needs to be done better. He said he has talked with educators who have said a largely-virtual adult education program needs to start small, have community support and have a strong student-teacher ratio.

He said the Digital Learning Center has a 50:1 ratio and started with 1,000 students. "That's more than any other program has started with," he said. "We need to do it better."

Raylon Leaks-May said she is a former student of adult education and believes in the programs. "Everyone's paths in life are very different," she said. She said she does not believe the programs should be expected to be money-makers.

Jim O'Donnell said he supports the programs as they "provide second chances for many people." They should not be thought of as "profit centers," he said, and they need to be monitored closely for educational progress so that they succeed.

"Those students are our students," he said.

Brad Parks said adult and alternative education are important and the new Digital Learning Center has been able to serve a wide range of students, including those who are sick and cannot leave home for that reason.

"I think it's a big part of the district," he said.

Jim Pfleger said another benefit of the Digital Learning Center will be the effect it can have on Ferndale High School.

"The things we are learning are going to change the way we educate kids in Ferndale High School," he said, such as students being able to watch classes online if they miss class. "That kind of stuff is going to really make learning very different in the future."

Candidate profiles

The above is just a summary of what the candidates had to say at the forum on the topic of adult education. You can view a video of the full forum online here.

Want to learn more about each of the candidates and their positions? Find links to their profiles below.

Amy Butters

Katrina Collins

Kevin Deegan-Krause

Raylon Leaks-May

Jim O'Donnell

Brad Parks

Jim Pfleger

Keith Warnick

Two more forums

Oct. 28: Sunday, Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. at the Ferndale Public Library, forum hosted by Citizens for a Fair Ferndale. Find more information here.

Oct. 29: Monday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Ferndale High School media center, forum hosted by the Ferndale PTA Council. Visit here for more information.

What do you think?

What are your thoughts on the district's adult education programs?

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