OPINION: Elect Boatswain, Austin and Miller to the Saline Board of Education

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Voters in the Saline Area Schools district will elect three members to the Board of Education during this election cycle. Incumbent Paul Hynek and Aramide Boatswain are running for the single six-year seat on the board. Incumbents Tim Austin and Heidi Pfannes join Tom Frederick, Jenny Miller and Brad Gerbe in the race for two four-year terms on the board.

2020 will go down in history for the Saline Board of Education. Two liberal voices joined the board in January and challenged the conservative orthodoxy of the board. The school district made national and international headlines for a couple of ugly racial incidents in the winter. Then COVID-19 struck and wiped out the rest of the school year. COVID-19 continues to present tremendous challenges for staff, students, parents and administrators as the schools navigate extraordinary circumstances.

That said, it's comforting to know there are many excellent candidates who would serve this community well over the next four to six years. Below, The Saline Post's Editor and Publisher Tran Longmoore offers endorsements of the candidates.

Six-Year Term

The Saline Post endorses Aramide Boatswain.

There are two great candidates but one position. Both have a stellar track record of community service. Both are thoughtful and intelligent. Both have faced a rocky election season with grace and dignity.

Aramide Boatswain is the right candidate for this moment. The community and the school district need someone at the board table who understands the struggles faced by people of color - by someone who will not tolerate having their children experience what other marginalized children have faced in this community. That's not all Boatswain brings to the board - but it is what drives her candidacy and The Saline Post's endorsement of her candidacy. Her background in computer science, business and marketing will also be of benefit to the board.  

Losing Hynek and all of his experience and knowledge would cost the board. But Boatswain is incredibly sharp and she will get up to speed quickly.

Four-Year Seats

The Saline Post endorses Tim Austin and Jenny Miller.

Miller, an educator who worked in Saline schools before taking a job in Ann Arbor, would bring to the table the perspective of a teacher. Frankly, it's a perspective that's been somewhat lacking at times. Miller isn't the only educator in the race. Brad Gerbe teaches in Manchester and Tom Frederick retired from teaching in Saline. But Miller is the most articulate and speaks convincingly about the issues in our schools.

Austin, first elected in 2014, brings the perspective of a business owner to the board table. One area where Austin shines is finances - an area that will need attention and care if the COVID-19 bailout money dries up. While he brings a business approach to the board, Austin is a well-rounded trustee who works with all parties to improve the district. Austin's intervention helped break a logjam between the administration and the teachers' union and get a deal done during the last negotiations.

Lastly, The Saline Post endorses accountability, transparency and engagement. You're elected by the voters. You owe allegiance to the community, to your conscience and to nobody else.  

Do not agree to policies requiring training from the Michigan Association of School Boards. Take the training if you think it will help you be a more effective board member - not because other board members want to make it mandatory.

Do not agree to policies that limit your ability to publicly question the majority of the board, or that limit your ability to engage with the public.

The Open Meetings Act spells out what board members can and can't do. We don't need extra regulations on our representatives.

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