Following the swearing in of the , the members elected officers for 2012. Heated discussion ensued and several positoins were voted in under split votes.
Grosse Pointe's new school board president is Judy Gafa. She has been on the board since 2008 and served as the board's secretary for 2011. This is the last year of her current term.
New board member Dan Roeske nominated Gafa to be presient. His motion gained quick support from the other new member Lois Valente. The final vote was 4-3, with dissent coming from Joan Dindoffer, Tom Jakubieca and Cindy Pangborn.
Similarly Valente was voted in as the board's vice president in the same 4-3 split. Board member Brendan Walsh nominated Valente and Roeske supported the motion, leading to the vote. Valente replaces Dindoffer in this position, who served in the capacity during John Steininger's presidency.
Roeske will serve as the board secretary. He was voted in with a 5-2 vote, the dissent coming from Pangborn and Dindoffer.
Meanwhile the board voted unanimously for Walsh to be the board's treasurer--an office he's held for a few years on the board. Walsh has been on the board since August 2005.
The dissenting members each shared thoughts and reservations about appointing such new members to positions that they believe require more experience. The heated comments came during discusssion prior to votes being taken on each nomination.
Addtional thoughts surfaced again when the board members gave their closing comments. Jakubiec described the situation as "unfortunate" and apologized to Roeske and Valente for starting their terms on the board in "such awkward position." He urged families to watch the board meetings closely this year after explaining the "highly irregular appointment process" completed Monday.
Walsh said he believes all of the changes for the board and district are a chance for a "new start with a fresh vision." He also said he is looking forward to "forward progess" rather than "being motivated by second guessing."
Roeske said he is eager for the board to work collegially and with grace.
Gafa ended the comments with her desire to have the board truly working together. She noted how each member serves in the elected position with strengths and weaknesses, all of which influence decisions.
"I intend to work with this board with my best intentions," Gafa said.
In addition to making officer elections, the board members declared what they will do with their stipened for serving. The board members receive $30 for each meeting and it has become customery that they each declare their preferences at the first meeting of the year. They are as follows:
- Jakubiec and Valente will accept their compensation with the objective of giving it back in a way each believes will be most beneficial
- Roeske and Gafa will give their compensation to the Family Center of Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods
- Walsh will give his compensation to South's Latin Club
- Pangborn will receive her compensation
- Dindoffer will not accept any compensation
This process also drew criticism and frustration from some of the board members.
With the exception of the these decisions, the board members voted unanimously to approve all of the items on the agenda. Most items did not have much discussion.