Endorsements: Frendreis, Page, Tauke, Williams for Grass Lake school board
Nine candidates are running for four seats on the Grass Lake District 36 school board.
Four of the candidates are incumbents. They are Cynthia Collins, Debra Fogel, Susan Kozenski and Ron Lobodzinski. Among them, only Fogel participated in our endorsement process.
Five of the candidates are newcomers. They are John Frendreis, Russell Page, Susanne Tauke, Andrew Williams and Jim Heischberg. We endorse four of them -- Frendreis, Page, Tauke and Williams. Heischberg did not participate in our endorsement interview.
Nine candidates vying for four seats on this board tells you something is going on in the tiny district, and that is definitely the case. The challengers we endorse make it clear that there is a lack of communication and transparency from the current board.
The challengers aren't happy that Grass Lake's student scores are well below the 50th percentile, while they say the school's cost per child in 2016 was among the highest in the state. Frendreis, Page, Tauke and Williams argue that the costs are high but the student performance is not. They are also concerned about funds the district has amassed. Despite an annual budget of $3 million, the district has accumulated more than $12 million. Yes, $6 million is budgeted for a much-needed school addition, but Tauke still wants some of the money either spent on the students or rebated to the taxpayers.
And they want changes that make sense, such as running the district on well-managed budget and achieving a reputation that will be appealing to new homebuyers. And they want money invested in students and teachers so performance improves.
In a joint interview with our editorial board, Fogel, the board's current vice president, struggled to address many of these issues. She seemed flustered and outmatched on accurate school and state statistics.
The challengers want more communication, transparency and change, and they make a good case. Frendreis, Page, Tauke and Williams have the smarts, civic involvement and passion to bring fiscal responsibility and high standards to District 36.