School Board Election: Run Schools More Like a Business?

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 10/18/2012 - 04:00

There are four candidates running for two open six-year terms on the boards. Smita Nagpal, Diane Friese, Karen Delhey and Paul Hynek will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.  The candidates have paired off to run as teams, with Nagpal and Friese running as one team and Delhey and Hynek running as the other. Voters, however, are free to choose any two they wish.

See the candidates side-to-side when the Saline High School student group Students Reinvesting In a Valuable Education (STRIVE) hosts a candidates forum at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 25 at Saline Middle School.

Here is today's question:

Should school districts be run more like a business? Please explain your answer.

Smita Nagpal

We have heard much about finances and running the school as a business. The school is not a business, in the typical sense in which that word is used.  Being a business implies an entity that is run for profit with the goal of maximizing profit, even at the cost of sacrificing the quality of the product. Cutting costs to the bone to maximize profits may make sense in the business model, but clearly does not make sense when it is a service that is being offered and cost cutting directly impacts the community of users. After a point cost cutting starts to impact the quality of service that is being provided, in this case the quality of our children’s education.

This does not mean that some business practices cannot be applied to the school district but these practices must be suitable to the nature of the school’s business i.e. educating our children.  It is important to bring focus back to the business of our school district – providing excellent education and a safe, supportive environment for all students. It makes sense that paying attention to staff morale, and keeping quality teachers working with us would be very good business in the case of the school district.  

Diane Friese

The business of education is to educate, not to make financial profit. I believe education requires specific attention and insight into human development.

Karen Delhey

There are certainly business principles that are involved in managing taxpayer’s money. Working within a budget and transparency to the stakeholders are key. It is very important that the taxpayer’s money makes it into the classroom for the benefit of the children.

Paul Hynek

Any entity that has a 50 million dollar budget cannot escape traditional “business” functionality. This requires good decision making, knowledge of best practices and a critical eye on auditing standards. Much of the business end has to do with reporting to various regulatory bodies. The inconsistent school funding over the last several years necessitates some savvy business decisions and creative ideas to arrive at a balanced budget. At the end of the day, Saline Area Schools is in the business of educating the students of our community and providing a professional environment to all employees. No doubt, the focus needs to shift towards the educational parts of the “business”. Reality is, with two year union contracts, we will be back at the bargaining table in 18 short months taking care of the “business”. Both federal and state legislation continues to impact the way districts do “business”, and pending the result of some ballot initiatives this election cycle, more and more district resources could be diverted from our main mission of educating our students.


Previous Questions

Saline School Board Election: Why Do You Want to Serve?

Saline School Board Election: Guiding Beliefs and Principles

Saline School Board Election: Creation of FSAS Director

Saline School Board Election: Board/Administration Relations

Saline School Board Election: Support for a Bond Proposal?

Saline School Board Election: Class Sizes

Saline School Board Election: Athletics Fees

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Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is a veteran community journalist. He is founder and owner of He is co-publisher of The Saline Post weekly newspaper. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 734-272-6294.

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