Voters in the Saline Area Schools district will elect three trustees to the Board of Education in the Nov. 8 election.
Scott Hummel is the only candidate seeking the two-year term on the board. Michael McVey and incumbents Dennis Valenti and Alan Brilliant are running for two six-year seats on the board.
In this article we feature Michael McVey
Why are you running for election?
It may seem old-fashioned, but I believe in service to the community. I watched my parents volunteer in my community for years through Lions and Kiwanis and those experiences enriched their lives enormously. I’m running for this election because I have almost 40 years of experience as a teacher, administrator, and professor intimately involved in almost every aspect of schools and I believe I can put that background to good use on the board.
Why should Saline voters elect you?
I hope my neighbors in Saline would value my concerns for the health of public education, for a strong school system, and a safe learning environment for all our children. We have a good Board of Education, but we don’t have much in the way of actual K-12 (P-20) teaching experience to draw upon beyond the administrators.
Describe your approach to solving problems and making decisions as a leader in a group setting?
I prefer to work the problem, to strip away politics and personality to get to the basic elements of the problem. Information and facts combined with respectful conversation and common goals can help us to reach solutions. I serve on many university committees and work well with a wide variety of people by following those strategies.
With the bond issue passed, new flexibility with Sinking Fund money and more revenue from the Special Ed millage, Saline Area Schools finds itself in a fairly strong financial position. How should additional revenue be used?
I have concerns about the growing caseload on our special education teachers. I am also concerned that new technologies emerging from the field and finding their way into the classroom will require additional spending for professional development. I want to make sure we are using our new found fiscal strength wisely. It is my hope that some additional funding will help to encourage new after-school programs.
What’s your view on online learning in the district and how it should be employed?
I have taught in online programs and trained online teachers - my own program even offers a certificate for teachers to help teachers meet national standards for online teaching. That said, my experience has been that online classes are not for everybody. There are sets of attitudes and skills appropriate for both teaching and taking online courses. In the case of a teacher shortage for niche courses, I think seeking an online option would be just fine if the provider is reputable and transparent. Right now, almost 150 school districts across the U.S. are streaming in courses while they actively seek to fill vacancies - that is a decent last resort.
Should the district move to a new calendar (year-round school, for example)?
I like the balanced calendar as I have seen it at work and have seen its value but I’m not as familiar with the year-round calendar. My first reaction to a year-round calendar is that many parents, myself included, count on summer breaks and the enrichment of summer camps and extracurricular programs. I know many parents and teachers are concerned about skills decay over the summer but year-round might not be the best solution.
Are you in favor of creating more Next Gen Classrooms? If so, how should the district demonstrate they are worth the investment? If not, why not?
Many of my teacher candidates from my university have visited our Next Gen classrooms and they all report being inspired by their potential. One favorite example came when we watched a first-grader casually record her reading of a passage on an iPad and send it directly to her teacher. Her teacher, with this record of the student reading, can confer with colleagues if issues are noted and can share that same recording with parents to highlight strengths, concerns, and growth over time. This and many other powerful tools are changing education by engaging more students, differentiating instruction with ease, and preparing students for the digital learning opportunities beyond the classroom.
Given the disparities in how the state funds school districts, how can Saline compete with other top school districts to attract and retain talented young teachers?
Saline is in an excellent position to attract new teachers despite our absence at local teacher job fairs. Our record of excellent schools is well known. The support they receive from mentors is wonderful and everyone involved in the process understands the long-range value in supporting new teachers. Money isn’t the only thing that will retain a talented teacher. Enrichment through regular opportunities for growth, chances to coach other teachers, and encouragement to take on leadership positions in the district will help retain teachers.