By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — One thing that can be said of the Trenton Public Schools Board of Education: It’s a democratic panel whose members serve in a variety of positions.
“Everybody gets their chance,” outgoing President Mike Hawkins said.
On Monday Hawkins turned over the gavel to Cristine Howe, whose service on the board includes time spent as trustee and secretary. At the first meeting of each year the board elects officers from among the seven panelists.
“It was a nice experience,” Hawkins said. “I was lucky enough to have served in all capacities and follow the chain.”
For the coming year, Howe will lead a board with the support of officers chosen last week: Wayne G. Sieloff will serve as vice president, Thomas J. Kinney as secretary and Dennis W. Bearden as treasurer. Howe was unavailable for comment prior to press time.
Hawkins said the past year for the board was one of challenges for the board, from the appointment of Supt. Rodney Wakeham to financial decisions that did not always meet with instant public approval.
“We did some good things this year,” Hawkins said. “Obviously school of choice was a big issue for the district. We handled it correctly — we couldn’t turn it down — but did it limited.”
Under the state of Michigan’s “best practices” guidelines, the Trenton school board last April approved allowing school-of-choice for a maximum of 60 students, most in elementary school.
“The budget was always a concern, of course,” Hawkins said.
The new-look board includes newcomers Sean Gearhart, who won a seat during November’s general election that was vacated by Carol Oakley. Board members serve six-year terms.
After the election, during which longtime Trustee Wayne G. Sieloff was re-elected for another term, the board appointed David M. French to replace Marie Conflitti, who had to resign due to relocation. French recently served as president of the Trenton Educational Foundation.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])