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Race to Watch: Gordon, Read Face-Off for Dexter School Board Trustee

Dexter resident Barbara Read is challenging incumbent Chris Gordon for a seat on the Board of Education.

While all eyes have been on the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney, locally the outcomes of several elections could change the makeup of boards and councils in Dexter.

One race to watch is the election for a part-time position on the Dexter Community Schools Board of Education.

Current incumbent Chris Gordon faces Dexter resident Barbara Read in the race.

Gordon was picked by the board to replace trustee Kim Covert in February. A former U.S. Navy pilot, Gordon said if elected, he will work closely with other members of the board to reduce the impact of revenue reductions in the classroom.

"Ours is a dynamic, growing district that deserves to be represented with high expectations and responsible stability during the myriad challenges we are facing. I use my perspectives as a parent and perennial school volunteer, my extensive leadership experience, and my steadfast commitment to the community to meet these challenges," Gordon said.

"I understand the role of a trustee is to see the big picture and to focus on policies and priorities rather than micromanaging the daily operations of the district. I work effectively with my Board of Education colleagues to minimize the impact of revenue reductions on the classroom and to promote the achievement of all students throughout their Dexter Community Schools experience."

Read, a parent and volunteer in the district, is campaigning on a platform of communication and transparency.

"Many parents have expressed their concern that they do not have a voice with the board of education. Dexter parents want to feel that their ideas and concerns are heard by the board. As a board of education trustee, I will be an advocate for the parents of Dexter to ensure their opinions are expressed and considered at all board meetings," she said.

"The school board has tough choices to make when considering among options, and parental input is vital. Our No. 1 priority for the district must be to provide a meaningful education for every student we serve. I will work to establish clear academic achievement standards to ensure that students graduating from Dexter Community Schools are prepared to succeed in adult life after high school in this challenging economy, whether their plans include college, vocational training, or some other path."

You can read more about Chris Gordon at http://www.gordon4dexterschools.org.

You can read more about Barbara Read at http://www.barbararead.org/

Laura Jones October 29, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Daniel Lai: I hope you will be following up on the school issues regularly here on The Patch. This is a serious issue for our community and apparently there is a lot of information we have not all known. I for one would be very appreciative. If schools is Dexter fall in quality, so do home values, business opportunities and everything else behind that.
Barbara Read October 29, 2012 at 02:37 PM
After I expressed concern at a couple of board meetings last year about the graduation rates, the principal make a detailed a presentation to the board. I can't remember if I was already putting the meetings online. I'm running out right now to print movie night flyers, but you could go to schoolboardonline channel on youtube and go back about a year. Or I'll check when I get back and post the link if the presentation was recorded.
Shawn Letwin October 29, 2012 at 03:09 PM
It was in my review of county data almost two years ago that I noted the drop. I brought it to the attention (via email and at board meetings)of the board and admin asking for an explanation. Prior to the start of the school year 2 summers ago, there was a presentation from the HS, but it only addressed the upcoming new Freshman House program. The presentation itself, nor anyone on the board nor the administration took the opportunity to address the grad rate decline, nor what specific action plan/measurable goals would be used to see Dexter rates rise again.
Shawn Letwin October 29, 2012 at 03:16 PM
The local news organizations have had plenty of opportunity to report on the detail of the district activities. I emailed all of them on a regular basis regarding key meetings/agenda items that would be discussed/voted on and also followed that up with what happened after the meetings. The local news organizations have consistently relied on the press releases of the district to publish with no review of the information by the news staff-just took it at face value. For the record, I had submitted some articles for inclusion into the Patch, but the editors found my reports on just the FACTS (with no bias injected from my opinions)not what they wanted printed in the Patch.
Jill Boydston October 29, 2012 at 05:25 PM
I am writing to express my support for Barbara Read, candidate for Dexter Community Schools' Board of Education. I met Barbara several years ago and have been impressed with her leadership. She has dedicated many hours volunteering at the schools. If elected, Barbara will be an advocate for the parents and students of Dexter, ensuring their opinions are expressed and considered at board meetings. Barbara supports academics, arts and sports; she will be a great addition to the Dexter School Board. Please join me by voting for Barbara Read. http://www.barbararead.org/
Dexter Mom October 29, 2012 at 06:23 PM
When reading comments from Barbara and Chris, there is a major difference in their tone. Barbara comes across as open to other people's ideas and respectful while Chris seems to have a defensive attitude. Having the current board pick him is a negative in my book. I have been very disappointed in the way our school tax dollars have been spent recently. One example is the IB program which is a huge expense that benefits a very small number of students. I believe the number is in the 20's. I have spoken to parents of some of the kids in IB and they are struggling. These are bright kids who were told this would help them with college when in fact it has taken them out of their peer group and has them receiving failing grades for the first time in their academic careers. Another example is the Athletic Department. The issues with the Athletic Directors makes our school look bad. We have a very dedicated group of student athletes and parents who devote more than their share of time and their own money to keep up fields, equipment, and to transport not just their own kids to sporting events. Asking families to pay outrageous fees that don't go directly to their child's sport is criminal. The board looks foolish when they put artificial turf on a football field. I don't care what anyone says, that was not necessary. I have NEVER heard of a football game being cancelled due to field conditions. You lose credibility when you do stupid things with other people's money.
Barbara Read October 29, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Thank you, Jill. I have a great deal of respect for you and your support means a great deal to me. Thanks for the encouragement.
Chris Gordon October 30, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Pardon the pause in my engagement here, but parent responsibilities, some discussions about our looming superintendent search and a principal coffee hour interceded. When you step back and consider the overall tone of the comments on this and other related items, I think it’s easy to see how a volunteer Trustee responsible for promoting the achievement of our students and an engaged parent who chose Dexter Schools because of the exceptional academic opportunities we offer would be defensive. This is one of the challenges of public service; we hear a lot of criticism and the problems are not always presented with solutions that consider the big picture impact on all our students. But I remain committed to hearing and understanding the concerns of our community and to addressing these concerns in a constructive dialog. For example, as a member of the Communications Committee we acknowledged the public comment periods at Board Meetings did not allow for an exchange of ideas so we created an opportunity for members of the community to meet with Board of Education Trustees to talk about their issues and interests prior to the first Board Meeting of each month. Attendance has been spotty and we’re talking about alternate times and locations to address this (your suggestions are appreciated!) but overall I believe these sessions have been valuable because I’m not very quick on the keyboard and I much prefer to talk in person! www.gordon4dexterschools.org
mrd October 30, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Barbara Read wants to make things better. She answers all the questions with logic and puts EVERY different learner first. She doesn't sound tired. She knows that we don't need more avenues of communication -- we need better answers. My vote is to shake up the status quo with someone who understands it not ok to be "good" or "exceptional." We should strive to be better, for OUR kids, because we can.
Barbara Read October 30, 2012 at 08:15 PM
I have enjoyed attending the "Conversation with the Board" meetings held each month. These are a great idea, and I agree wholeheartedly that it would be even better if more people would come. Last month three non-board members attended. Next Monday at 6pm would be a great time for community members to jump in. People tend to express "major concerns" during public comment time at the meetings, whereas the conversation opportunity beforehand is really for any concerns or suggestions. The meeting will be in the Creekside cafeteria on Monday and runs from 6 to 6:45. Thanks for bringing this up, Chris.
Shawn Letwin October 30, 2012 at 08:56 PM
So there is either no willingness to answer my questions regarding the existing Strategic Plan or there is no information available what so ever that would answer my questions regarding the Strategic Plan. But we did get a "Pardon the pause in my engagement..." How rich! Couldn't find the answers on the school website and it looks like the answers could not be provided in this forum by someone who should be able to provided them. Face time is nice, but I am interested in facts. I have had plenty of face time with board members and admin and I am tired of the attitude, tone and self-righteous explanations that never address my concerns or "fact" based questions with direct answers; it always ends up a "...well everyone else thinks we are doing a great job, and the other kids are doing great..., so we really can't help you...but thanks for sharing..." Even if we had one board member who is willing to listen and vote for what the taxpayer is saying they want...4 votes to change anything...and again, only two dissenting votes in several years and they were on two separate issues.
MGOBLUE October 31, 2012 at 02:32 AM
@Chris Quick correction. You are getting paid to be on the school board. It's not a volunteer position. I think spending more time in the schools at things like coffee hour so you can get to know people better will help more with communication than inviting people to come to you. There's a guaranteed good turnout. If youre elected, I hope that you continue to visit small groups around the district and this isn't just "campaigning." It's unusual to see a board member at school.
Chris Gordon October 31, 2012 at 05:12 AM
@Mark S, your are correct, Board of Education Trustees receive an annual stipend of $420 "to cover the incidental costs of performing this service" per our bylaws. What I hoped to convey in my comment is that serving as a Board of Education Trustee is voluntary service to the community. Great suggestion about attending the principal coffee hours (I was just at Creekside yesterday). However, as a Trustee you walk a fine line between thoughtful engagement and trusting the principals to collaborate with parents in their buildings without excessive intervention (I hesitate to use the term micromanagement...) I talked about my perspectives on trust at the candidate forum, and my military career certainly informs my sense of boundaries with respect to my role as a Trustee and how I interact with our administrators, teachers, students, and the rest of our professional district team. Fortunately the nature of my U-M job gives me the flexibility to participate in the principal coffees and other daytime engagements like the Safe Routes to School walking audit, so I plan to keep these on my calendar in addition to the athletic events and other activities I attend with my 4 children after school.
Shawn Letwin October 31, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Chris Gordon's responses and lack of response to real issues-do they speak more of who Chris is or of who the 7 board members that unanimously who picked him? To me, the latter. One more thought, 9 people sought the single vacant seat of Kim Covert, yet only two of them are seeking just one of the three seats (and one of those was selected). Why would 7 people not seek running for almost half of the open seats available on the board. Hmmmmm. 4 votes is a majority. One vote...well. Still waiting for answers to my questions regarding the Strategic Plan. Finally, too bad that Daniel Lai would not commit (let alone comment) to the request by Laura Jones to follow-up on the Dexter school district issues. According to the Patch weblink "About Us"-What is Patch? "Simply put, Patch is an innovative way to find out about, and participate in, what's going on near you. We're a community-specific news, information and engagement platform driven by passionate and experienced new media professionals. Patch is revolutionizing the way neighbors connect with each other, their communities, and the national conversation. We want to be the most trusted, comprehensive, and relevant news and information resource in your community..." I would Wikipedia edit that with a big "Kinda".
mrd October 31, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Rude or not, he's right about a lot of stuff. That means something. He shouldn't be made to stand by himself when surely others agree with him. Avoiding the tough questions and calling "foul" relies on apathy. Unfortunately, that strategy works all too often. And we give the kids less.
Laura Jones October 31, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Sorry Daniel, but if you are the editor / chief reporter / sole reporter of a local news outlet, your retort is simply unacceptable. You have lost the high ground as a reporter. I believe being called on the carpet by Shawn Letwin may be uncomfortable, even uncalled for, but retorting with personal invective is unprofessional. While Shawn Letwin's comments may have a tone to them that some do not care for, I would not say they cross the line to rude, at least here. Confrontational, yes, but I am unaware that such a position is out of bounds. It displays his or her passion, which others are free to discount, accept or simply ignore. Your response, however, goes immediately to the personal and indefensible; slinging others anonymous commentary of Letwin forward with whatever corporate authority you possess. Worse, it's is impossible for Letwin or anyone else to respond since there is no way for anyone to ascertain the validity of your statements attributed to anonymous others - and you essentially "own" the pulpit. If you want to go after someone, use you own backbone and your own words. This is a real breach of journalistic ethics. Not sure The Patch can continue to be successful with this type of misuse of position.
Daniel Lai October 31, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Thanks for the input, Laura.
Daniel Lai October 31, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Patch encourages a healthy dialogue about events in the community. Unlike traditional newspapers, Patch believes this site is a place for conversation. I encourage any of you interested in exploring your topics further, to blog for free on Patch. Here is the link to sign up: http://dexter.patch.com/blog/apply
Daniel Lai October 31, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Thanks for the input, Shawn. Patch encourages a healthy dialogue about events in the community. Unlike traditional newspapers, Patch believes this site is a place for conversation. I encourage any of you interested in exploring your topics further, to blog for free on Patch. Here is the link to sign up: http://dexter.patch.com/blog/apply
Barbara Read October 31, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I think the board members spending time at the schools is a great idea. Here's an example of why. The Wylie playground was lumpy and rocky after the bus loop construction. The 600 Wylie kids did not have a flat field to play on where the teachers could see them. I asked the board about this and they said, "Wasn't there supposed to be a soccer field behind Wylie?" Mary Marshall confirmed that it had been part of the plan, but for some reason had not been completed. She said that since the earth movers were at Creekside anyway, it would not be a problem to grade the field as planned. If a board member spent any time at Wylie getting to know the parents or peeking out at recess, it would have been obvious that the field was not finished. I don't see this as either excessive intervention or micromanagement. The board has been scheduling building visits again, and I think that's great. I'd like to see the board members at school more often. The high school gets lots of attention (and it should) but the younger grades are important, too. Please go to the coffee hours, go to the PTA meetings if you like, attend family events maybe especially if you don't have a child at the school. You are expected to know what's going on and that's a great way to keep in touch. You don't need to go to everything; but when convenient, go ahead and visit at the schools. People will open up to you more if they see you as a community member, which you are.
Barbara Read October 31, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Of course Mary Marshall could have noticed the field, but it's hard to imagine a busier person in the district than the superintendent. There are larger issues to deal with. My point is just that board member visits are a good thing. Go for it.
Daniel Lai October 31, 2012 at 05:54 PM
MRD: your comments have not been deleted. There is a problem with our service provider right now because of the hurricane. Intermittent interruptions have occurred on Patch sites.
Daniel Lai October 31, 2012 at 06:01 PM
MRD: Which comment are you asking about? Your comment to Barbara has not been deleted. If you left a comment for me, I have not seen it come through yet. ~Daniel
Laura Jones October 31, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I believe MRD is speaking of my comment to you and their comment about your post that you removed directed at Shawn Letwin. I don't have a problem with the entire lot being removed - or not. That said, there has been problems all day with comments posting correctly / timely. Understandable given the current status of the storm damage.
Barbara Read October 31, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Everyone, If you are logged in you can see new comments. If you get logged out, they are no longer visible. Same all over the Patch today. Just log in to see everything. It's still here.
Daniel Lai October 31, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Thanks for your patience everyone. Our parent company is dealing with issues across the country due to the hurricane. I'm told IT folks are working as quickly as possible to fix the problems. ~Daniel
Shawn Letwin November 01, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Daniel Lai had posted a response to my comment made at 6:53am on 10/31 sometime between then and 12:30pm. The following comment was made about Daniel Lai response, a comment which has been removed by Patch. Hi Shawn Letwin, mrd also commented on Race to Watch: Gordon, Read Face-Off for Dexter School Board Trustee. "Rude or not, he's right about a lot of stuff. That means something. He shouldn't be made to stand by himself when surely others agree with him. Avoiding the tough questions and calling "foul" relies on apathy. Unfortunately, that strategy works all too often. And we give the kids less." Hope the IT folks get the glitch taken care of that has caused some posts to appear, disappear and maybe reappear.
Shawn Letwin November 01, 2012 at 10:41 AM
Same situation as stated in the prior post... Laura Jones also commented on Race to Watch: Gordon, Read Face-Off for Dexter School Board Trustee. "Sorry Daniel, but if you are the editor / chief reporter / sole reporter of a local news outlet, your retort is simply unacceptable. You have lost the high ground as a reporter. I believe being called on the carpet by Shawn Letwin may be uncomfortable, even uncalled for, but retorting with personal invective is unprofessional. While Shawn Letwin's comments may have a tone to them that some do not care for, I would not say they cross the line to rude, at least here. Confrontational, yes, but I am unaware that such a position is out of bounds. It displays his or her passion, which others are free to discount, accept or simply ignore. Your response, however, goes immediately to the personal and indefensible; slinging others anonymous commentary of Letwin forward with whatever corporate authority you possess. Worse, it's is impossible for Letwin or anyone else to respond since there is no way for anyone to ascertain the validity of your statements attributed to anonymous others - and you essentially "own" the pulpit. If you want to go after someone, use you own backbone and your own words. This is a real breach of journalistic ethics. Not sure The Patch can continue to be successful with this type of misuse of position."
Shawn Letwin November 01, 2012 at 11:10 AM
I would have posted what Daniel Lai had posted between 6:53am 10/31 and around 12:30pm or so, but Patch does not send out notifications of what the Patch staff comments are to the articles. This reader stands by what I have posted, the information contained and the soundness of my queries. Some may be uncomfortable, disagree, etc., but we live in a country that is founded on the First Amendment. An amendment meant to protect organizations such as Dexter Patch, let alone the citizens of this country; actually, anyone who is in this country: legal, illegal, visitor, named enemies such as the Iranian president. It is unfortunate that Dexter Patch has chosen to selectively sensor what the readers sees. I can live with that. I can also live with what the Patch is and what it isn't. Another example of those who choose to be disagreeable when there is a disagreement. Even in Dexter...well, especially in Dexter. Take note to those with contrary views with the powers to be. They will attempt to make you pay a price. Mary Marshall (then Creekside Principal) attempted such when my daughter was in Sixth grade. My daugter was subjected to an in school suspension for some alleged incident two weeks prior to the suspension. An incident that we were not aware of until we got a call the day of the suspension; occurring at a time when I just started asking questions and speaking out almost 10 years ago. Enjoy, take care and be well.
Daniel Lai November 01, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Thanks everyone, for a spirited conversation! We are closing the comment stream.

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