Saline Board of Education Election 2022: Meet Michael McVey


Michael McVey is running for the Saline Area Schools Board of Education in the Nov. 8 election. McVey, vice-president of the board, is the lone incumbent as five candidates run for two four-year seats. Joining McVey in the race are Kristin Hoffman Peavler, Laurie Saims, Timothy Austin and Sharene Rumohr.

Here's our Q & A with Michael McVey



My name is Michael McVey and I am seeking re-election to the Board of Education. My entire career has been focused on education. I began my career as a high school Special Education teacher and after almost 20 years of teaching in a variety of increasingly challenging settings, I was invited to help prepare teachers at The University of Arizona. From there I joined the faculty of Eastern Michigan University in their Teacher Education Department. I have had a rich career but it has been made all the more so by being father to one daughter who graduated from Saline and from the addition of two step daughters through my marriage to Christen Mitchell eight years ago.

Why are you running & why should voters choose you?

I have been honored to serve our community successfully and with great dedication as a Trustee on the Board of Education for the last six years. I have worked to ensure that Saline Area Schools maintains its focus on excellence and the support of students at all grade levels. I am a staunch supporter of our rich arts programs, our Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, and our STEM/Robotics/Science Olympiad programs. I have also been a very strong supporter of our special needs students and have taken an active interest in understanding how our technology is being used to enhance instruction. I have worked diligently to ensure that our district policies are up-to-date and that their language is clear. I have listened to parents and tried to find ways to use their insights to inform our policies and the direction of the district through its spending decisions. I have also worked to ensure that essential lines of communication with the public remain as open as possible. Finally, I have stood firmly for the safety of our most vulnerable students. I am running because it is my wish to return for another term to dedicate my time, energy, and skills to continue this service.

Projections show a continued decline in student population in the district. How should the district address this issue?

I have heard much speculation about why our district’s student population has declined. People have ascribed several reasons for this. When examining the cause of the decline it is helpful to look at long term trends. The population in this county had remained flat from 2000 until about 2007 when it started to slide downward. Our district population has been tied to statewide declines, however, there is a bright side for Saline embedded in the statistics. Statewide, student populations have declined by just over 9 5 percent. In Washtenaw County, the drop has been just over 7 percent. But in the Saline Area Schools district, we have only declined 2.5 percent despite the rise of alternative school choices. Maintaining our school of choice option will help the district to maintain a stable number of students. Long range projections of the population were recently shared as part of the detailed preparation for our upcoming bond and the population in Saline, as well as across the state, are rebounding according to the latest Michigan Labor Data report. Let me also add, that recent surveys show that teachers and parents express an overwhelmingly positive attitude about this district and I share that enthusiasm. Maintaining the excellence of our schools, enhancing our STEM programs, and continuing to be a vital part of the Saline community will go a long way toward addressing this issue. 

What are your top priorities and why?

My top priority is to maintain our smart spending goals. I would like to see the district continue to invest in classroom instruction, updated technology, and professional development opportunities for teachers. I would like to maintain spending that helps to ensure the safety of our children through updated buses, enhanced air filtration, and modernized infrastructure. I would like to see the district to continue to seek revenue generating ideas such as updating sports fields. I would like the district to ensure that teachers are paid well and that support staff are paid well enough to ensure that we can retain them – consistency is a great benefit to student success. I want to ensure that the district maintains a level field level for all students and ensures that all students’ needs are met as well as possible. To do this, I will continue to observe the district both in person and by through the many sources of data we have available to us as board members. I will also continue to listen to those whose views differ from mine. Almost everyone comes from an honest and earnest place when they step up to share concerns and I try to hear and understand those concerns.

Were you satisfied with the way in which the district handled the pandemic? What changes would you have wanted to see?

Considering that we did not know what we were dealing with at first, the district reached out to the scientific expertise in our broader community and followed their guidance. I believe this district took carefully and seriously the strong recommendations it received. Our reactions, first and foremost, were for student safety. This district took very seriously our commitment to maintaining an uninterrupted educational experience for our students as much as was possible. From the initial lockdown then to the many other mitigation methods, I saw this district do the best they could with the information it had available. I also saw our administrators, teachers, and staff do what they could when transition and churn made it difficult to make decisions. This district kept its focus on the needs of students and tried to reduce disruptions as much as possible. I witnessed our staff preparing laptops and getting them into students’ hands safely and efficiently. I saw us work to increase internet access points and maintain lunch programs in ways other districts did not. I would have liked to have seen increased assistance for teachers struggling to master remote emergency online teaching. I would have liked seen more community conversations to reach earlier solutions to help some of our more vulnerable young learners and families with unique needs.

Do you support the Saline Area Schools bond proposal? Why or why not?

Yes, without hesitation or reservation I support this bond proposal. This bond will help to enhance our STEM programming. This bond will help to improve the quality of our sports facilities and make them into revenue-generators. This bond will ensure that technology is standardized across all the schools in the district. This bond will open up our play spaces so they are more accessible. This bond will help to improve communication in case of emergencies. This bond, if passed, will continue to maintain our current trajectory of excellence and continue to keep Saline a destination district.

Public schools have always played a role in socializing our children. At the same time the debates over societal norms have never been more ardent. In these times, how should the district weigh its societal role against the rights of the parents who don't want some ideas instilled?

Our teachers, parents, and community members ALL play a role in helping to socialize our children. It is important not to place too great an emphasis for this socialization on public schools alone but this is one area that we, as parents, have some control over. There are so many influences on impressionable minds that are out of our hands. It is a struggle to model core values through our own actions as parents especially when some of those values appear to be at odds with those expressed by a school curriculum. As a single father of a high school student, I was regularly reminded that we compete for the attention of our children with a wider culture as expressed through videos, advertisements, social media, and through interactions with peers and the community. Parents do have a legitimate (and legal) expectation for a voice in the education of its children and this district is currently working on policies to maintain parental voice in a way that can enhance instruction.

What ideas do you have about school security?

I like that Saline Area Schools has a strong relationship with the Saline Police and Fire departments and we are in constant communication when issues arise. I began my thinking about our School Resource Officers (SROs) with some caution as I have heard issues raised here and in other districts about heavy-handedness and other interactions that caused me to question the entire program. That said, I have watched our administration work closely to develop a good set of understandings with our SROs over the years and the program has responded positively. As for security in general, during her interview for her current role, Principal Stager noted that Saline High School had over 80 separate doorways any one of which could potentially be propped open with ease. To me, this is a reminder that school security goes beyond the “hardened” entry ways and intercoms that we invested in. I want students and staff to feel safe in their learning environments, but I also want them to be aware that they each have a role to play in keeping their schools secure.

What should the district to defend children against discriminatory attitudes they face over race, sexual orientation, religion or other traits?

We do a great deal, especially at the younger grades, to get our students to understand that they are all members of a vital community that works best when they are “kinder than necessary.” As they get older, sadly, this sense of community can deteriorate to some degree. I think one of the first things this district can do (and tries to do) is to take complaints of discrimination seriously and adhere to the policies that are in place and work to maintain an environment of respect. There is also a place for restorative justice and conversations that use the norms exemplified by the Bridge to Civility we have embraced in Saline. I know that our administrators work very hard to maintain this environment. I would like to hear, at the board table, not only the negative stories of discrimination but the stories of efforts to build a more respectful community. That is one of the reasons I support the work of the high school’s Connecting Club and hold them up as an example of how students can help to build a more caring school environment.

Saline High School students are scoring lower on college prep tests, a trend that started pre-COVID. What do you make of this trend?

Today, over 1,700 institutions of higher education are reconsidering the importance of the SAT as a tool for university admission. That trend started pre-COVID and continues today. Despite our slightly depressed scores our students are still doing very well against other schools statewide on the same college prep tests. A variety of recent test scores reported to the board show that in some areas and grades we have turned a corner and that scores in many areas are beginning to rise beyond those from the pre-pandemic level. There is still a lot of work to be done and the Teaching and Learning Team have put into place strategies to target areas of the greatest concern. I have faith in out teaching staff and believe that when they see these same data they modify their teaching. This is why I also support the continuation of the professional development our teachers receive and I look forward to the many student showcases that I attend at all grade levels.

The length of board meetings has become an issue for administrators and engaged public citizens who want to stay abreast of happenings. How should board members conduct themselves in a way that manages business while respecting the time of already-stretched district administrators and employees?

As the only candidate who has attended almost all of the last 120 or so board meetings and some 60 policy committee meetings, I can tell you that I have seen some internal mismanagement of time that we are working on correcting but I also recognize that some elements are out of our control, some closed meeting sessions absolutely need to be dealt with despite their length and some presentations should be more narrowly focused. What I refuse to alter are the opportunities to hear all sides of issues from parents and students, brief student showcases, and the occasional substantive public discussion of key policies. I have tried to do my part recently by taking on the required WISD budget presentation and shortening it – it’s a small step but it’s part of our recent efforts to streamline meetings without giving up any essential work.

Are you happy with the direction of Saline Area Schools? Please explain your answer.

Yes. Without sounding too excessively buoyant, I have witnessed first-hand schools in some of the largest urban settings like Detroit as well as those in rural Michigan settings. Beyond this state, I have had the opportunity to teach in schools a short drive from Mexico and rural schools in Canada. I have taught on the other side of the world in Japan and have studied schools and schooling all over the world. So, it is with some authority that I can tell you that Saline School District is simply one of the finest districts I have ever had the honor of being associated with. I am not JUST speaking about our superb facilities or varied sports, arts, and science programs. I have seen, first-hand, the care that our teachers have taken to engage and involve my daughter when we first moved here from Arizona. I have seen some of the best teachers, staff members, and paraprofessionals infuse their energy, enthusiasm, and excitement into the life of our schools. Anyone directly involved with our schools knows this and takes pride in what we do here. I don’t think we are perfect, but I think we are on the right track.

For years Saline was recognized as a destination district for families with students with special needs because of the district's commitment to inclusivity. In recent years parents have raised concerns about the practice of seclusion and restraint. Are you satisfied with the district's actions in this area? Do we need reform? Please tell us your thoughts.

This is an issue that is sometimes misunderstood partially because Saline Area Schools has been properly reporting such incidents as required by law while other districts have not. When I first brought the issue to the board table, prompted by a request from several community members, we discovered that we were far more transparent that other districts and we were, in fact, OVER reporting. As a board, we heard some heartbreaking stories from the lived experiences of community members. My personal opinions about the issue stem from my own unique experiences as a high school Special Education teacher who narrowly avoided serious injury on several occasions during my efforts to keep students from hurting others or themselves. I believe we need to continue to keep our staff well-trained, to monitor every incident, and to continue to engage parents to determine the best way forward for their children.


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As a community we are fortunate to have a highly qualified individual such as Michael McVey on our School Board. He has earned my respect and I encourage all the voters of our community to support his reelection to our School Board. He is balanced, inclusive, practical and demonstrates the values of our community in how he goes about his work on the Board. 

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