By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — Seven candidates for the Dearborn Heights District No. 7 School Board will face off on the Nov. 6 ballot for full and partial terms.
Bill Dishroon, Carrie Harleton, Marcia LeBar, Jonathan Premo and Karen Whisler are seeking three four-year full-term seats while Susan Almaliki and Mandy Diroff are seeking a two-year partial term seat.
LeBar serves on the school board and is a registered nurse, Diroff is the school board president and Harleton is a special education teacher.
Each candidate was asked three questions with a 100-word limit for each answer. Almaliki, Dishroon, Premo and Whisler did not respond to the questionnaire by press time.
Question 1: What skills, strengths, education or experience do you possess that make you a qualified candidate for the position you are running for?
Diroff: I have worked my entire career in education, in public schools, at Wayne RESA and at the Michigan Association of School Administrators. I believe my work experience in education is an asset to the school board, as I understand the issues and challenges for public educators and public education in general. In addition, I have experience as a school board member and believe the board needs a mix of new perspective, with continued experience, which I feel makes for a well-rounded board of education.
Harleton: I have been teacher for 17 years with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Education, member of volunteer and administrative selected committees (school event planning, school union representative, interview committees, student support team, school improvement team, and positive behavior intervention team), was awarded Teacher of the Year and an educational leadership award, and have collaborated with administration and co-workers to problem solve and develop a school-wide plan to improve test scores and provide resources to help support teachers. Also, my children and I have always attended D7 schools. I am a lifelong and active resident of the district.
LeBar: I am currently a District 7 School Board member. My term began in 2014, giving me four years of experience. During my current term, I have served as trustee, treasurer, president and secretary. I am a member of the Michigan Association of School Boards and have taken multiple classes to stay informed on school issues. I have been a member of multiple school board committees, as well as a member of the district’s strategic planning committee that is charged with the development of district goals. I am actively involved in District 7 schools and events. I have a history with District 7 and a strong relationship with staff, students and community members.
Question 2: What will be your priorities if you were (re)elected?
Diroff: My No. 1 priority is to work together as a team with the board of education, superintendent, administration and staff. Our current board is not operating as a team, which causes much angst for staff, as well as the Board. I’m a firm believer in the importance of working together, valuing the opinions of all, and moving forward as a team — even if your opinion wasn’t the opinion of choice.
Harleton: My priorities will be to find ways to retain staff and students in the district, positively work together with board members and the superintendent to move the district forward in all directions, look closely at different aspects of the budget to determine that best and most efficient ways to spend district monies, help increase student achievement, and help support staff, students, and families.
LeBar: I would like our school board to sit down and look into our state funding and annual budget. We need to go through budgeted items closely and look for areas that could possibly be adjusted to give our district the funds needed to give our staff members wage increases. Our staff members have remained dedicated and passionate, despite going many years without wage increases. Also, I would like to add more counseling and support services for our students at all grade levels. It is important to have not only educational support, but emotional support and guidance, as well. Funding for more specialized classes is also a priority, as every student is different and should be offered classes that compliment their learning style.
Question 3: Why should people vote for you?
Diroff: I hope voters see that I am a 35-year resident of the district and have always been extremely vested in our school system. I’m a believer and supporter of public education and life-long learning. I have no other agenda than a strong willingness to work as a team player with the entire board of education, superintendent, administration and staff to continue to move D7 forward for our students.
Harleton: I will provide a positive, professional, and different perspective to discussions and tackle the difficult decisions with other board members and the superintendent. I think D7 has the potential to succeed in all areas and I believe in the district. With my knowledge, dedication, and passion for education, I wanted to be part of the solution to make the district better. My hope is with my educational background, my commitment to the community, and my leadership skills, I will help the district to continue to provide educational excellence for all students, help support staff members, and listen to community members.
LeBar: I am a 29-year resident of District 7 and a graduate of Annapolis High School. My daughters have always attended D7 schools. I have always been actively involved in the schools and community. I am a very transparent person and take into consideration all aspects of an issue when making a decision. I am not afraid to ask difficult questions and seek out thorough answers prior to decisions. I feel the dedication, commitment and passion I have for District 7, as well as my experience as a school board member would make me a great choice, again, for a school board member.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])