Trustees on the Saline Board of Education spoke about various topics during board member remarks at the Feb. 11 meeting.
Trustee Jennifer Steben spoke about the recent turmoil over racism in the community. She told students and families who’ve reached out to her that she’s listening to their feedback. She also commended Saline teachers for their support of students and for their ongoing efforts to ensure every child has access to quality education. She also had a message to the district’s children.
“To the kids of this district, I do not care if your skin is the same color as mine or different. I don’t care if English is your second language. I do not care if you are LGBTQ+, have special needs, are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or any other religion or have no faith if you’re in clubs or not or if you’re in 12th grade. I love you all,” Steben said. “I promise to continue to do what I was elected to do - to listen, to make informed decisions. We need to work together. Racism or any other form of discrimination has no place here in Saline.”
Steben encouraged people to hold on to the heartbreak people are feeling now, and to use that feeling to create solutions together.
Valenti on Giving Back, Diversity
Trustee Dennis Valenti said he attended an annual meeting for the Coach Crabtree Scholarship, named for educator and coach Jack Crabtree. He noted that in 17 years, there have been nearly $120,000 in scholarships awarded.
“I hope all future alumni try to give back and make Saline Area Schools a better place,” Valenti said.
Austin on Snowblast
Tickets for the Foundation for Saline Area Schools’ Snowblast event are still on sale, according to Trustee Tim Austin. Tickets are $75 each.
“The foundation does so much for the community and the school district,” Austin said.
Thomas on partnerships, forum with Sup't Graden
Evan Thomas, the student representative on the board, had several reports. On Jan. 29, Thomas and other students worked with middle school students who want to switch from plastic trays to biodegradable trays in the school cafeteria. He said middle school students will soon bring their plans to the board.
“I like interacting with kids who have ideas and who want change, who want to help the environment.
Thomas said the high school’s writing center held a “scholarship help day” on Feb. 3 to help students win scholarships.
High school students are working with senior citizens in a group called “Sassy Writers.” They’re creating a magazine filled with poems and other writing, all centered around the idea of “space.”
“We are bridging the age divide there,” Thomas said.
Thomas said students held a forum with Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden on Feb. 11. He noted there’s tension between students as a result of the issues surrounding racism. He said the talk focused around creating spaces to decrease tensions, be inclusive and fair to everyone.
Estep on Community Response, Teachers' Dedication
Trustee Susans Estep thanked Saline Mayor Brian Marl and County Commissioners Shannon Beeman and Felicia Brabec for a listening session on racism at city hall Feb. 9. Estep took issue with an Ann Arbor News story headline that questioned why Saline Area Schools teachers weren’t there.
“The way the article was titled made it seem like our teachers don’t care, and that’s so not ture,” Estep said. “They are on the ground and hurting just as much as you or I.”
She said teachers are engaged in training and working to solve issues in the community.
Estep also said thee community rally for inclusion and diversity was “powerful.”
McVey on Funding for Disabled Students, Talent Show
Trustee Michael McVey said he was recently in Washington, D.C., with the Nationa School Boards Association lobbying for funds promised by the federal government when the Disabilities Education Act was passed in 1975. He said he’s also asked US Rep. Walberg to secure funding long ago promised to schools.
McVey also invited people to attend the annual Young Adult Program talent show, March 6 at Saline Middle School. The show, featuring adults and students with disabilities from the Liberty Club and Young Adult Program, begins at 7 p.m.
Hynek on Career Tech & Ed, Library Planning
Vice President Paul Hynek said he and other members of the Coalition for a Quality Community participated in the Saline District Library’s strategic planning process. He also reported the South and West Washtenaw Consortium’s Career Tech and Ed open house was a success.
“There were a lot of people there. It’s a good program. Students who might not fit the mold for college should check out the CTE programs,” Hynek said.
Pfannes on Recognition for Education
President Heid Pfannes said she was encouraged to see business leaders in Michigan and Lansing talk about the need to focus on improving education to make Michigan a better place to live.