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Meet the West Bloomfield School Board Candidates: Carol Finkelstein

During the countdown to the Nov. 8 election, Patch will bring you profiles of candidates for the West Bloomfield school board.

The Nov. 8 election is drawing closer every day, but what do you know about those names on the ballot?

Patch will interview candidates for the West Bloomfield School District's Board of Education during the ramp-up to the election, bringing you the stories behind the names and the issues they think are important for West Bloomfield schools.

Six candidates are running for two open spots: incumbent Nelson Hersh and challengers Julie Beaty, Karen M. Faett, Carol Finkelstein, CharRhonda Moye and John Reed. The Board of Education oversees and sets school policy, hires and works in partnership with the district superintendent and oversees the district's budget. Board members are elected to six-year terms.

The Oakland County League of Women Voters held a last week at for those running for the West Bloomfield Board of Education. Five of the six candidates for the school board participated in the forum; Finkelstein was absent due to a previous engagement.

To watch the voters forum on demand, visit civiccentertv.com.

Click these links for profiles already published on Patch:

Carol Finkelstein

Children in district: Two currently in the district; her son, a fifth-grader in the magnet program at Roosevelt Elementary School, and her daughter, a seventh-grader at Orchard Lake Middle School.

Qualifications: Bachelor of Science degree from Wayne State University in neurophysiology; works as a manager of a medical surgical practice in West Bloomfield.

Favorite class in the district: Foreign languages beginning in sixth grade, especially Japanese.

Finkelstein is well-aware of what the West Bloomfield School District has to offer families with children. Finkelstein enrolled her daughter in kindergarten eight years ago, but by January of that school year, her daughter was reading at a second-grade level, and her teacher had exhausted available opportunities to grow, given the approved curriculum.

Finkelstein then moved her children to Roeper Schools for three years before bringing them back to West Bloomfield three years ago. "Private schools aren't perfect," she said with a chuckle. Finklelstein hopes that if elected to the Board of Education on Nov. 8, she would be able to use that experience, as well as her professional and personal background, to benefit the district.

"I come from a science and numbers background," Finkelstein said. "We know that giftedness is not something that begins at a certain time period — why not work to increase our advanced-placement options to the elementary level? There aren't very many programs like that. ... I know people in West Bloomfield who drive their kids to Livonia for that option. Wouldn't they like to stay in West Bloomfield?"

Finkelstein has gained a thorough understanding of the community's desires and the district's capabilities through an active involvement in her children's education, as well as through her work as manager of a local medical surgical practice and on the board of directors of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's Michigan chapter.

She said what she brings to the board is what is currently lacking. Finkelstein worked toward the passage of two laws in 2005 that allow children with asthma inhalers to carry their own medication, which makes her feel comfortable debating state- and county-wide schools issues such as Schools of Choice.

"I don’t just meet with legislators," Finkelstein said. "I know how to get the job done, and I think that that last step seems to be missing."

She also advocates a more open dialogue with "stakeholders," including staff, teachers, parents, media, administration and the board.

"I want to be the voice of the community, and I think some of our current board members have forgotten that they were elected to be the voice of the community," Finkelstein said. "They seem to be on their own agenda right now."

She added that an does not sway her vote on agenda items. "I’m not beholden to any individual group — not the admin, not the unions, not special interests. Your endorsement doesn’t mean that I’m going to do what you want. It’s the best decision for the district, for the kids and the community."

Rebecca Schwartz October 17, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Great that you left WB schools and came back. Not happy anywhere? Why are you NEVER at any school events or clubs or PTO or committees? Now all of a sudden? No you don't have my endorsement. Takes time to earn it. You seem to running a self serving negative campaign. MEA endorsement.....I love the teachers but MEA no way!!
Louise Cantor October 17, 2011 at 10:50 PM
I can't believe that some people think that people who volunteer often, attend school events and/or serve on district committees naturally make good school board members. Most often, these individuals lack independence and crave being accepted by the Board and Superintendent. I haven't seen any of these involved people communicate outrage over Nelson Hersh padding the pockets of administrators (VSI) at the expense of our children and violating the public's trust by making decisions ahead of community input (Green decision) and an official board vote (reduction of employee paychecks). Does he get re-elected because West Bloomfield became a deficit district. Is he considered self serving like , Ms. Finkelstein was called because he successfully promotes his business to our kids and families while getting rich. It appears that he has a great return on his investment. Ms. Finkelstein is not the first board member to get the MEA endorsement. I think board president Einstandig did as well.
Carol Finkelstein October 18, 2011 at 05:25 PM
While I appreciate Ms. Schwartz’ point of view, I would like to set the record straight. WBSD does NOT offer advanced curriculum at the elementary level for gifted children until grade 3 (Magnet). The decision to move our children to Roeper for 3 years was a tough but necessary decision to address the educational needs of our children that WBSD could not. Once they were old enough for Magnet we returned to WBSD. My longstanding record of volunteerism & advocacy for children speaks for itself. Yes I missed those PTO meetings – I was in Lansing where I have brought forth legislation, testified and been there when those bills were signed into law. I tirelessly volunteer my time to lecture to school & community groups statewide. As much as we would like, we cannot attend many school events because, like many families, we have 2 parents working full time and we are very active in the community. The commitment to run for a 6 year seat on the board is a substantial contribution to the district. WBSD needs citizens willing to bring their business and advocacy experience to the board. I am willing. I do not know what you consider to be a negative campaign on my part. Is it standing up at a board meeting to oppose advertising to our children? Is it joining many of our neighbors to oppose the renaming of a school? That isn’t a negative campaign, it’s the voice of a citizen who is not afraid to take on difficult issues.
stacy brickman October 21, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Congratulations on your success in Lansing regarding inhalers. Have you met with state legislators regarding how public schools are funded? And how they keep increasing our mandated financial responsibiliets while decreasing our funding? What are the topics of your lectures at schools and community events?
Louise Herman October 21, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Other than your kids school experience, you have never been on any committee or tried to work with the schools. Public committees have been in place to allow people to become educated and contribute. You may be a great mom and I am glad you may be. You want to be the voice of the community? Start caring for all the kids and not just your own. Special interests, yea I see it. Show some leadership. Instead of having your supporters bash the administration or board, try telling them to be professional. State your own merits. This patch has become a source for negativity and is worth the paper its written on.
Louise Cantor October 21, 2011 at 10:19 PM
The Patch is providing the candidates with an opportunity to respond to the community's concerns about West Bloomfield Schools past and future leadership. So your response to what you consider negativity from Ms. Finkelstein is to bash her and the Patch? I can point to many people that live in our community that have not been highly engaged in PTO's and committees that would make outstanding board members . Perhaps what has motivated many of the candidates to run are some poor decisions by our leaders. How do you explain our district being named a deficit district when our neighboring district's were not (same per pupil and 20j cuts? How do you explain the district having such severe financial problems when the school of choice revenue was suppose to be our lifesaver. What we have is a bruised image and the incumbent has not convinced the general population that he should be re-elected based on his record. The other candidates should give us as much insight as possible in terms of where the district has been and where the district can be if elected.
Louise Herman October 22, 2011 at 02:05 AM
I guess you have no ability to comprehend english. What does run on her own merits instead of bashing the administration and board mean? Unless your candidate has no merits?????
Louise Cantor October 22, 2011 at 02:44 AM
What you call bashing, I call accountability and a fair evaluation of the board. You and the candidates want to escape the truth and reality that our district has not been fiscally managed well. Many people in the community are very unhappy over it. Can we work hard to identify the most competent leaders running for office? You seem to be bashing Ms. Finkelstein instead of sharing positive remarks about who you are voting for on November 8, 2011.
Ann Seidl October 22, 2011 at 08:22 PM
Finkelstein is running on her merits - she has clearly done her research. Ms. Finkelstein isn't bashing the administration, she is pointing out the blatant failure of the administration and board to manage the affairs of our district. Has any other candidate taken a stand on any issue? No. I applaud her for letting us know exactly where she stands on REALissues. I don't care how many PTO meetings she attended or if she donates cookies for a bake sale. I want substance and strong leadership. It is refreshing to see a candidate speaking out so we can improve our schools. She gets my vote!
stacy brickman October 24, 2011 at 11:34 AM
Mrs. Finkelstein, any answers to my previous questions? It would be nice to hear from you.
Christy Forhan October 25, 2011 at 09:10 PM
To both of the MEA-endorsed candidates: the fact that you have the endorsement means you are opposed to outsourcing (i.e. privatizing) school district jobs under any circumstances. There's so much chatter around this campaign about past "financial mismanagement" committed by the school board and administration. If you become a school board trustee, how can you rationalize disregarding the possibility of outsourcing -- and not commit financial mismanagement yourself? Shouldn't a school board consider ALL options for managing the budget, even the unusual, the creative, and even the unpopular ideas? How is a "never privatize" policy not a form of financial mismanagement?
Ralph Moder October 27, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Ms. Finkelstein mentioned at the High School forum that her idea of generating additional dollars for the schools would be to have corporations sponsor the schools. An example she used was to have a corporate sponsor for a school playground. How is this any different then having a corporate sponsor for a school bus? I understand there was two parts to her concerns for the ads in the busses. I agree that the school district should have known and removed the signs earlier. However, her other point was that she is against advertising to children in the schools. Ms. Finkelstein - Please clarify how you rationalize the difference. Both are forms of advertising and brand exposure.
red shirts hurt kids November 01, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Ms. Finkelstein, I beleive in honesty and full disclosure. I heard that you are a direct cousin of a board member who has a teacher as a spouse. So if you get on the board, and Mr. Reed does also, then we have 4 persons (a majority) who are related to teachers. Will you (as the others should) disclose this and abstain from voting on teacher issues? Who will represent the kids? not the teachers. They have shown their colors...red. Is it coincedence that the teachers union endorsed you and Mr. Reed, both related to teachers? More important, why have you never disclosed your relation? Let the voters decide if this is relevant.
Christy Forhan November 01, 2011 at 02:11 PM
Carol, I'm hoping you'll speak to this issue so we can understand your ideology regarding outsourcing. It's an important question in today's world of tight budgets and related to the Best Practices funding. Please share your position before election day.
Christy Forhan November 01, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Here are my questions to the candidates that remain unanswered. There's one more week until election day. Hopefully each candidate will find the time to reply before then. • What are your feelings about SB624, and the Parent Education Reform Act package that just passed the Senate. Please be specific since these are super important to the future of public education in Michigan. • What will you personally do to ensure that the language of collective bargaining agreements is consistent with your understanding of the agreement? • If you are related to a member of a labor association in contract with WBSD, how will you ensure your objectivity in discussions of that association's collective bargaining agreement? • What is your feeling about outsourcing as it relates to public education? • Would you consider revisiting a parent-paid tuition program for WBHS? • Would you advocate for restoring the role of Parliamentarian in the Board of Education bylaws? • Do you intend to serve out your 6 year term? • As much as I like her, I assume Dr. Andrees will retire sometime in the next 6 years, which means this new trustee will be part of the board that hires her successor. What will you look for in our next Superintendent? Will you advocate for a national search?
Active Citizen November 02, 2011 at 12:14 AM
I do not support Carol and neither should you. She will be contentious on the board, support the views of Carol, create more drama and disention. She has no history of involvement in a positive way. Everything she says is defensive and without thought or merit. We have enough issues on this board I don't see where or how she will help our district. It's not her DNA. She is an opposer not a leader.
Louise Cantor November 02, 2011 at 10:05 AM
We now use words like "opposer" instead of "divisive" or "politically motivated" as Ms. Torbert pointed out. This board does not need another woman on the board that follows the lead of the two dominate men (Einstandig and Tobin). What is the current drama about ....VSI money gone that could have gone to our kids, no school closing, declining enrollment so choice was not the answer, Green School name change, and bruised district image (named deficit district)? So, Ms. Finkelstein, what is your leadership style? Can you be persuasive without giving a rhetorical speech about Hartwell Green who can't answer back? Where is that video of that board meeting?
Judy Herman November 02, 2011 at 04:44 PM
Below are some sample of what happens when are board members, like Dr. Hersh, sit by silently. Our new Board members will have to have the backbone to stand up for our kids and taxpayers. I am confident that Carol Finkelstein will not be another rubber stamp. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn2atiN5tl8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZhfV9je7wQ And of course, the deleted minutes from the June 13th meeting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KbZRXUCmGU
Jeff Alan November 06, 2011 at 11:39 PM
I sat through almost all the board meetings and saw both sides and most of the respective good and bad - and there was more than a bit on both sides. I do not see how being a "red shirt" and having a legitimate concern for your own economic welfare is automatically contrary to the best interests of students. What happened in our district was unfortunate, difficult and neither side's unilateral fault. Read "victim of the times and circumstances." A number of teachers were willing all along to make sacrifices detrimental to their own positions and livlihoods out of concern for the students. That should not be overlooked by anyone being critical. And it is an unfair generalization to presume that being concerned for one's own economic welfare precludes having concerns about students. West Bloomfield needs a school board that is capable of finding the courage to deal with a difficult immediate situation while keeping a vision in focus for the long term. That is not easy and whomever is elected should fit that bill !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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