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OPINION: Tough Decision Looms for 2-Year BHS Board Seat

This writer believes Rob Herner is the right choice at this critical time for Bloomfield Hills Schools. Do you agree?

The Bloomfield Hills School District community has a difficult decision to make regarding the single open two-year School Board Trustee seat.

Two incumbents, Joan Berndt and Rob Herner,  are running, along with a third candidate.  Both incumbents are excellent candidates.  However, the next two years will be focused on getting the new Bloomfield Hills High School built, on time and on budget.  Because of his extensive background as the owner of a business that integrated technology into classrooms and because of his ability to ask the tough questions regarding the new high school, I feel that Rob Herner is the right candidate to help facilitate this project.  Rob believes that instruction should drive construction.  In addition, he will work to ensure that the district's resources are put toward educational goals.

This is a critical time in the Bloomfield Hills School District and I ask that you vote for Rob Herner for the two-year School Board Trustee seat.  He is the right candidate at the right time.

Julie Garcia,

Bloomfield Hills

The viewpoints in this letter are those of the writer, and Patch is not responsible for any ideas portrayed as facts. For questions and clarifications, please leave a comment below or contact editor Art Aisner at Art.Aisner@patch.com.

Joan G. Berndt November 02, 2012 at 09:12 PM
May I make a few comments, since previous ones seem to be far afield from what school board trustees are responsible, by law, for doing? School Board members are charged to set policy, hire a superintendent, and approve the annual budget. Period. We are not micro-managers. Therefore, Rob's expertise is nice to have to help us better understand the problems that might occur in the high school construction, but it is not crucial in determining how the project is completed. That is the job of the experts the District has hired to build the school. Likewise, it is not my job to micro-manage curricular decisions. That is the job of the experts our District has employed. However, since we have three businessmen and one engineer already on the Board, and no one other than myself who understands k-12 public education from the inside out, and since our mission is educating children, not constructing buildings, it makes sense, given the choice, to choose an educator to oversee the future of our children. We need to have a vision for our school district that is far bigger than just the next two years of a building project. What about the rest of our students--the pre-k to 8th grade kids? A Board trustee's major concern must be to set policy that will identify and then meet the needs of all our kids. And that is why it is important to have an educator on the Board.
M. Belden November 03, 2012 at 02:26 AM
And that's why we're voting for Joan! She's a very effective speaker and advocate.
Margaret Bloom November 03, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Julie, you are so right. This is a tough decision. As a musician and educator myself, I admire Ms. Berndt and would love to see her on the board. However, I have decided to vote for Mr. Herner for the following reasons: 1) While her specific expertise as a music educator is unique to the board, the voice she brings is not. Dr. El-Sayed is a highly regarded educator and, more importantly, all of the board members have generally been strong advocates for education. Beyond that, we have an entire staff of expertise in this area (not just a contractor). We need board members who make decisions in the best interest of our students, but as has been proven, they don't have to be educators to do that. Arts education is a passion of mine as well, and fortunately, our district has already made it a priority, so while Ms. Berndt's voice in advocating for the arts is great, it isn't a critical issue right now. 2) Mr. Herner's background is a great asset to the board because he has a very specific skill set that will allow him to help the board do what Ms. Berndt identified as a key responsibility: approve the annual budget. In some ways, I feel as though we get the best of both worlds with him because his business expertise is in the field of education. He knows exactly how contractors work with districts and will help to analyze the budget in ways no one else can. I think having more than one person on the board with deep financial expertise provides a good balance.
Margaret Bloom November 03, 2012 at 02:46 AM
(continued).... 3) And, I guess, the final issue for me is making sure a great board member gets seated. This tough decision for all of us could lead to an outcome many of us do not want, so I have to cast my vote in a way that I think best protects against that. Mr. Herner seems to have a lot of support and momentum and I think we need to stop arguing between two fine candidates so that we don't split the votes. Based on what I'm seeing as a look around and listen to my neighbors, Mr. Herner has the edge so I think a vote for him is the safest option.
Joan G. Berndt November 03, 2012 at 05:20 PM
To Margaret, We've never met but I appreciate your calm and very civil remarks in disagreeing with my opinions. Thank you. With all due respect, I need to disagree with some of your conclusions. First of all, Dr. El-Sayed is a university professor and talented engineer. Wonderful BUT not the same at all as being a K-12 public school educator with all the insight and expertise that experience brings to the Board. Secondly, Mr Herner's area of expertise is duplicated by the backgrounds of Mr. Baron and Mr. Ford. Balance on the Board is not achieved by having 3 business experts and zero public school experts. I believe this was one of several reasons that the ECCENTRIC and DOWNTOWN BIRMINGHAM papers endorsed me. Finally, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and I see the momentum definitely headed in my direction. I would ask people not to vote for "the safest option" but the best option for the future of all our students.

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