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Northville School Board Interviews 6 For Interim Seat, Narrows Pool to 2

Cyndy Jankowski and William Bryan are finalists for the position and will be interviewed again Tuesday.

The Northville Board of Education – charged with the task of picking a replacement for – heard from six candidates Thursday night who applied to fill the seat.

At the end of the night, the board decided on two candidates – .

They will be interviewed again at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Earlier this week, the board in the first set to interviews.

Here are some of the highlights from the board interviews last night, in the order in which they were first interviewed.

Michael Barrett

Occupation: Former athletic director and former head coach at the University of Detroit-Mercy

Motivation for seeking a board position: Barrett told the board that although he doesn't have kids in the district, he feels vested in its success. He added that because of his experience in education, he hoped to bring a new perspective to the table.

Three characteristics a board member should have:

  1. Being able to listen. Barrett said this is important to gaining knowledge and understanding issues in the community. He added that when evaluating a situation "I give honest answers."
  2. Being able to communicate.
  3. Being an effective decision-maker.

On the issues: Barrett touched on several budgetary and staffing issues. On matters of dealing with administrators, Barrett said "we have to hire the right people ... we have to be overseers of that." He also said that tackling high class sizes and high school counselor to student ratios are important. As a solution, he recommended tapping those in the community who want to volunteer to help the schools.

Roland Hwang

Occupation: Assistant attorney general for State of Michigan, adjunct professor at the University of Michigan, professor of labor law at Madonna University. Hwang also holds an MBA, or Master's of Business Administration.

Motivation for seeking a board position: "I think it's time for me to get involved in education," he said. Hwang added that he has two kids at Northville High School who have lamented some of the cuts the district has made.

Three characteristics a board member should have:

  1. Be a good listener
  2. Know the community
  3. Have an area of expertise

On the issues: "The main issue is probably a budgetary concern," he told the board. Hwang said that the biggest issue will be stretching lowered state education dollars. He also said that he would be interested in diversifying the foreign language course selection at the high school using outside funding.

Lynn O'Meara

Occupation: Kindergarten teacher in the Harper Woods school district

Motivation for seeking a board position: O'Meara said that she has been a teacher for more than 25 years and has been interested in running for a position for a while. She also said that she has children in the district's elementary, middle and high schools. "So I've noticed the changes that have been made," she said, referring to cuts in the district last year. 

Three characteristics a board member should have:

  1. Be objective
  2. Be a problem-solver
  3. Be proactive

On the issues: O'Meara said the biggest issue facing the board is how to handle school funding cuts. As a teacher, she said she's familiar with the impact. In Northville, O'Meara said that will require "some out-of-the-box" thinking. She said that the district has long been a top-notch one, "that's why many of us moved here." Maintaining that, O'Meara said, will be a challenge.

William Bryan

Occupation: Partner in an accounting firm, former school board member in Indiana

Motivation for seeking a board position: Bryan is the father of four children in Northville Public Schools. "I'm new to the area," he told the board. "One of the reasons we settled on Northville is because of the schools."

Three characteristics a board member should have:

  1. Be willing to listen
  2. Be open-minded
  3. Be positive

On the issues: Bryan said he would like to listen to the community's concerns and suggestions. He echoed other interviewees opinion that finances are a big issue for the board to tackle. He said he can use his professional skills to generate solutions.

Cynthia Jankowski

Occupation: Paralegal. She has held leadership positions within local paralegal professional organizations while living in California.

Motivation for seeking a board position: Jankowski told the board she has long wanted to be a member of the school board. She said she has been involved in the Silver Springs Elementary School community, where her child is a student, and has leadership experience. Jankowski said she can digest and explain the complex issues facing the board.

Three characteristics a board member should have:

  1. Integrity
  2. Diplomacy
  3. Empathy

On the issues: Jankowski said finances will continue to be an issue in the district. She said the board will need to plan for best and worst case scenarios for the future. She also said the district's compliance with the and spreading the word about the program will be important. Jankowski said making professional education opportunities more doable and available for teachers should be a priority.

Michael Nolta

Occupation: Ford Motor Co. employee

Motivation for seeking a board position: Nolta said he would have been able to bring an objective and different voice to the board. Nolta said he doesn't have children in the district. He said that as a resident of Northville Township for more than 10 years, he sees the impact a good school district has on property values and taxpayers.

Three characteristics a board member should have:

  1. Fiscal responsibility
  2. Objectivity
  3. Consensus-building

On the issues: Finances will be the biggest issue, Nolta told the board. He said another issue the board will have to face is the possibility that a cap on charter and virtual schools be lifted. He said evaluating the district's expenditures should be done using a "line item" approach to tackle cuts and expenses.

Pilar Herrera-Fierro January 22, 2012 at 10:03 PM
It seems to me that Roland Hwang is the candidate better qualified

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