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Gafa, Valente to Lead GP School Board

In heated discussion and votes Monday, the Grosse Pointe Public School Board elected officers to serve for 2012. They also made designations about what they wish to do with their compensation for being board service.

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.

Cathy Champion January 24, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Congratulations, Judy and to the other officers of the Grosse Pointe School Board. I had a chance to meet with Judy in an informal meeting of individuals from different segments of the community in an effort to see how we could best serve our constituencies in a more collaborative manner. I look forward to continuing our conversations and to seeing those dialogues result in positive affirmations and actions. Cathy Champion, Chairman Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce
LMJ January 24, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Having attended the meeting, the larger impression was that the majority of the board is committed to staying focused on doing great work for the district and most importantly, the children who benefit from what GPPS does. Dr Harwood's first report as superintendent was a breath of fresh air- both his conceptualization of the strategic plan, and his commitment to moving the district forward and continuing to be a model for education in Michigan is something we can all feel good about.
Richard Swarthout January 24, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Let's hope their commitment continues to be having the best educational system possible which then keeps our community a great place to live.
Allison Baker January 24, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Having attended the meeting I have to agree the only thing 'highly irregular' about last night was the breath of fresh air the new officers, Dr. Harwood and Mr. Dean have brought to the board. It is time to move forward and do the important work for our district and leave the sour grapes behind.
Jerry Glanville January 24, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Tom: Here is a suggestion: Watch a replay of the entire Board meeting; pay particular attention to any portion where you speak. In addition, watch AGAIN, some of the prior meetings- while paying particular attention to the portions that you speak. After your review, consider how you may improve the manner in which you verbally participate. Remember, what you will see is what EVERYONE else has seen . . . There is certainly room for improvement between now and 12/31/2013. Lastly, no one really cares what you or the other members do with your $30 meeting fee. You make a big deal (this year again) out of something irrelevant and unfortunately, your reaction is silly and borderline childish. REMEMBER, it is on tape for everyone to see.

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