By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — The newest member of the Trenton Public Schools Board of Education hasn’t decided yet whether the position will be limited to a three-month appointment.
Kellee Howey, an accountant who has served on the Trenton Educational Foundation Board of Directors since its inception in 2008, was appointed Monday to complete the term of office held by Dennis Bearden, who resigned this summer due to having relocated out of the district.
Bearden’s is one of three board seats that expires this year, and Howey said she hasn’t yet filed as a candidate for the November general election.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to get involved on a temporary basis so I could make that decision,” Howey said.
Three seats on the seven-member panel expire on Dec. 31, those held by Howey, Vice President Thomas Kinney and Treasurer David French. Trustees serve six-year terms, and candidates have until Oct. 6 to file nominating petitions.
French and Kinney have submitted petitions, as have Rachel Helton, Eric Vargo and Bruce Wyke.
Howey was among four finalists for the position, Supt. Rodney Wakeham said, and prospective trustees offered the board a variety of candidates.
“It’s nice to have some choice for a four-month-long appointment,” Wakeham said. “It gives community members an opportunity to get a taste of what it’s like, and maybe run for a seat.”
Howey said she looks forward to putting her accounting background to work on the panel.
“I’d like to become more familiar with the inner workings of the board,” Howey said. “I’m interested in looking more closely at the district’s financial statements, the budget and what plans they have for long-term planning.”
Howey has three children currently enrolled in Trenton schools, and said the challenges facing the district are similar to those throughout Downriver and Wayne County: maintaining student enrollment against decreasing populations and alternative choices such as charter schools and online academies.
“Everyone is struggling with that,” Howey said. “We need to retain current students and attract back students we lost to private schools. That’s what drives revenue.”
On the plus side, Howey said previous boards had made the difficult choices in recent yeas to close buildings, privatize bus service and keep district costs compatible with reduced revenues.
“The board made some tough decisions early on, and we’re able to see those results now with a healthy fund balance,” Howey said. “We’re on the right track to using resources wisely.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)