MARQUETTE - Four people are running for two open seats on the Marquette school board.
Incumbents Kellie A. Holmstrom and Norm Gruber are joined on the ballot by Brian Cherry and Mike Kohler. The seats carry four-year terms.
Holmstrom is a 12-year member of the board and has spent three years as board president. She is a veterinarian and local business owner, co-founding the Animal Medical Center in Marquette in 1993. She is married, a graduate of Marquette Area Public Schools and a MAPS parent.
"I found that I've acquired a lot of knowledge and skills being on the board," she said. "I want to continue looking at ways to support the kids and to continue to serve."
Issues facing the district in the near future are going to be related to the budget, Holmstrom said.
"The biggest thing is how do we spend the dollars that are available," she said. "Most of the funds are not discretionary."
She also strives to help students become well-rounded, 21st Century learners.
"What's very important is we teach them how to look critically at what's on the Internet," she said. "So they can connect with community both locally and globally."
Other issues for Holmstrom are maintaining accessibility by participating in school functions and parent meetings, finding new and better ways to communicate with families and transparency in decision making.
Gruber has spent the past 2years on the board. He is retired from the city of Marquette, where he worked as the city planner and city clerk.
"After I left the city I felt I had a lot of useful knowledge about city government and how Marquette works," he said. "I thought that I would be useful in helping it (the school district) run well."
In the near future, he said he sees the district continuing to deal with a shrinking budget.
"The two real big issues are declining enrollment and the threat of further reduction in state revenues," he said. "Which makes all other decision making difficult. ...We run with shrinking resources what I think is a pretty good district. We're working hard to make sure it's a place more students want to attend and learn and graduate."
Gruber said he strives to keep the public informed about the decisions the board makes concerning the budget.
"If the revenue keeps going down we're going to have to make further cuts, and we try really hard to let people know what those cuts are, what the options are," Gruber said.
Cherry is a professor and the head of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Northern Michigan University as well as the director of the mast of public administration program. He has a master's degree of public administration and doctorate from Indiana State University. Cherry also teaches the politics of education at NMU. He is married and a parent of two NMU students, who are both Marquette Senior High School graduates.
Cherry said he has always been interested in running for the school board and he has good experience from his position at NMU.
"Education plays a large role beyond that just what's in the classroom," Cherry said. "I'm just at a point in my career where it seems appropriate to do so. I think I can bring my experience to the school board to get them through this difficult time."
If elected, Cherry said that he would work toward communicating with the community and keeping an open dialogue, something he feels has been lacking.
"My main theme has been 'Put the public back in public education,'" he said. "I think we've lost some of that community support, decisions are not being expressed back out to the public. That's very key. I'm hearing that from all sorts of people. ...We need a lot of community support and input for the next couple of years to get through the budget crisis."
Kohler is a 20-year veteran of the law enforcement profession and is a detective sergeant with the Marquette City Police Department. A longtime Marquette resident, he is married with two sons.
Kohler said that spending nine years in the local schools as a D.A.R.E officer, youth services officer and school liaison detective spurred him to run for a position on the board.
"During that time I had seen and heard and experienced a lot of things that I thought could be better done," he said.
Key issues that Kohler sees for the election are transparency and communication.
"I hope that I am able to provide transparency as one of seven people on the board," he said.
He said that providing a voice for community members is one of the things he will strive to do if elected, especially when people seek answers to questions.
"I want people to know that there is someone on the board that will listen to them. And that this person will do everything in their power to ask the hard questions and deliver and answer to them," he said.
Claire Abent can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.