Meet the West Bloomfield School Board Candidates: Nelson Hersh

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:

Nelson 'Nick' Hersh

Children in district: Three have gone through the district and graduated from , with the youngest having graduated in 2010. Hersh has also hosted two foreign exchange students at WBHS; the first lived with his family in 2009, and the second is attending WBHS now.

Qualifications: Master of Science degree from St. Louis University's Department of Orthodontics; operates his own orthodontics practice with two locations in West Bloomfield and Waterford; eight-year member of the Board of Education, currently serving as treasurer.

Favorite class in the district: The medical mentorship program at WBHS.

Hersh, who has served on the Board of Education since 2003, is running for his third term. If he is not re-elected, he said, he already knows what he plans to do: support the district in the same way that he did before he was a board member.

"I think it's great that we have so many different candidates in this election because it gets more people interested in the board," Hersh said.

"But what disappoints me is, how many of these people were involved in the district before they decided to run? I donated the fine arts wing to before I was a board member. I went to PTO meetings and all the football games. ... I know what's going on, and that's invaluable," he said.

Hersh is a champion of the way the district currently operates; however, he said he also advocates keeping up wth changing times. As a 21-year resident of the township, he said that if elected, he'd like to continue positive advancements made by the district, including the possible addition of more Advanced Placement courses. He estimated that 10 have been added during his eight years on the board.

"You've got to always be changing," Hersh said. "We'd like to get more foreign languages to study for students earlier in their lives, so we would look at what classes are becoming antiquated."

The trick, he said, will be to continue given the "tighter financial reins on local control" from the state. Although Hersh may not be asked to serve as board treasurer again (if elected, it would be as a trustee) he said his term thus far has taught him that to thrive, the district has to be thrifty. He noted at the voter forum last week that the Schools of Choice program brings in $14 million in revenue to the district annually, but West Bloomfield's tight control, which allows only children in Grades K-3 to enroll in the program, could be endangered.

Hersh also expressed contrition with regard to voluntary severance incentives taken by 50 teachers and eight administrators under the 2008-10 contract, but he noted that as a result, the district's savings amounted to $2.9 million per year, every year. 

Hersh said that what is important now is for the community — including the board, working together as a unit — to come together in support of local control for public schools.

"I know the responsibilities of the board through and through, but it goes beyond that ... once you decide on something as a majority, you all have to work toward the same goal," he said. "Everyone involved contributes something valuable to the district."

jeff sakwa October 29, 2011 at 05:54 PM
I think it is more of a conflict that board members have spouses that work in the district and negotiate contracts that they benefit from, not donating money from a non-paying board position that promotes their business.
Louise Cantor October 29, 2011 at 06:02 PM
So should Einstandig and Chase resign their positions? Who are you? Board member Sakwa's what?
jeff sakwa October 29, 2011 at 06:25 PM
I think they should not be able to vote on compensation issues that affect their family. It is a complete conflict of interest. A board member in a unpaid position donating money is not a conflict. The board has the right to not take any donations. Don't Ford, GM, Chrysler etc donate and promote their businesses? As far as who I am, I am the proud parent of two WB school students Ian and Blair. Who are you, Louise? Do you have kids in the district? My sister-in-law is on the board if that is what you are referring but I do have my own opinions.
A west Bloomfield Resident October 29, 2011 at 08:47 PM
I do appreciate donations but by him being a board member ..it just looks like a conflict of interest. Not only does it appear that he has first dibs on advertising and the audience is potential customers. I have been told by my husband's fellow teachers that time he spends in the classroom include handing out material with his business on it. Why donate water bottles and they have his business name on it. Just donate the bottles! Might even cost less money! I wonder if the IRS has laws on donations that are advertising? Not accusing just wondering what the law states. Jeff...Dr. Hersh votes on fundraisers that he supports and he is a board member. When you look at his record on the board (VSI, bus ads, no rainy day fund, not involved in contract negotiations) and add in this issue, I feel resignations are in order. I would ask Dr. Hersh to offer up some signs of support from the teachers/administrators in the district. They, in my opinion, do not respect his leadership. The fact of losing teachers and principals and students all point to poor management that is at best reactionary not proactive.
jeff sakwa October 29, 2011 at 09:25 PM
All the teachers and administrators I know support him. fully. Leaders sometimes make tough decisions. Dr. Hersh's mother was a school teacher and cares about them. His efforts are unparalleled. The old saying is "Be careful what you wish for". Thank god for his contributions. He gave money before he was ever on the board. THANKS NICK!
Louise Cantor October 29, 2011 at 09:46 PM
That's what I have been communicating. If Nelson Hersh is re-elected, "be careful what you wish for". We know his record of leadership; money and event appearances. Ms. Forhan won't even name her criticisms of the board because she doesn't want to hurt Hersh. So, I guess we should stop beating a dead horse. Let's move on.
jeff sakwa October 29, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Agreed! I was killing time visiting a relative in the hospital. Thanks for the company, Louise. Thanks for not saying your name and representing the community but you will only have one vote. This is still a great country that permits these crazy debates where you can fake a name and criticize people and candidates.
West Bloomfield School District Alumnni October 29, 2011 at 10:11 PM
I recently watched the West Bloomfield School District Student Run Board of Education Candidates Forum. I was deeply upset by Dr. Hersh's suggestion that the residents of West Bloomfield "do research" and find out which candidates have donated money to the West Bloomfield Educational Foundation. I do not believe that whether a candidate has donated money to the foundation or not should have anything to do with this election.
A west Bloomfield Resident October 29, 2011 at 11:10 PM
Jeff.....I know many teachers and admin and they DO NOT support Dr. Hersh. They are shocked when he sells his services to small children. If he knew what the teachers think of him, and say about him..he would not run for reelection. If he loses, he is still welcome to donate to the schools. However, leadership is not about having money.
jeff sakwa October 29, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Nobody including Nick ever mention money except his detractors. He gives discounts to teachers etc. Don't ask or take his money if it is so bad. My teaching friends support him big time and are happy we will be getting a new member but wish Ms. Tie err well . You are another person who is not transparent. Nobody will hurt you if you give your opinion. We obviously know different staff members. The good thing is our staff is second to none.
stacy brickman October 29, 2011 at 11:25 PM
So much discussion on Nick and the board's mistakes over the last couple years. Wouldn't it be nice if we start discussing real ideas to make our district the best it could be? We should be looking at all our candidates to see who can help lead us there.
Louise Cantor October 29, 2011 at 11:55 PM
I understand that Ms. Beaty shared at the student's forum that she would like to look at Apple Island to generate revenue by adding Zip Lines. I guess like a skill building recreation opportunity. Shouldn't we be concerned that Apple Island is sacred ground and a historical site?
A west Bloomfield Resident October 30, 2011 at 12:59 AM
Stacey that is a very tired and old argument. We need to look at why we are where we are...all of our neighboring districts are in better shape....why? Failed leadership. Make the district better by moving in a new direction. Mr. Sakwa, I asked about you and got a laugh....you are a big man in your own mind.
A west Bloomfield Resident October 30, 2011 at 01:01 AM
Stacey..just heard we are losing another teacher. One of the best and very highly acclaimed. Do you have any idea how rare it is to lose a teacher in a school year? Losing our best and brightest is not a method to make us the best we can be.
A west Bloomfield Resident October 30, 2011 at 01:05 AM
Mr. Sakwa, Can you please tell me examples of Dr. Hersh leading our district? If you want to say he is doing a good job please support those statements with facts. Not just your opinion. Unless your opinion carries more weight then mine.
jeff sakwa October 30, 2011 at 01:34 AM
West Bloomfield Resident, Nick is only one vote. However if your spouse is a teacher which makes your position a little tainted, Nick was President during the worst economic crisis in our lifetime. The board balanced a budget while not closing any schools, maintained academic excellence, kept block scheduling, AP classes, bond construction on schools on budget, kept all sports and extracurricular. Yes, the teachers took a paycut like most other businesses and districts. Maybe our is more severe and I am very sorry about that. If anyone can make more money teaching somewhere or in another profession that is there perogative. Check out the Patch and see what is going on in Farmington, Bloomfield is trying to recall all of their board members. Every school in Oakland County is school of choice except for Birmingham, Bloomfield, and Novi. Birmingham and Bloomfield have a higher foundation allowance. You seem to have all the answers because I am not complaining, you are. Maybe next time you can run as "West Bloomfield Resident." Again Nick was the President and was only one vote. I liked his voting. Nobody likes a paycut. November 8th will be your day to make a change if you see fit. Do not forget to bring your ID! He paid for a wing at Abbott for the Arts, do you think that helped the district. Fun run monies etc. He is a great leader and I will support whoever wins and I urge you to do the same.
Louise Cantor October 30, 2011 at 02:54 AM
Under his leadership, contracts were not dealt with responsibly, especially healthcare. This is what everyone has been saying for years. The board gave steps as well knowing the ship was sinking. No school closing. They said that out of district kids perform better when accepted at younger ages and then they approved "Choice" for six grade. It was a disaster. Where did all of that "Choice" money go after the empty seats were filled? They spent every dime and then one day they had to impose the most severe wage cut imaginable. Walled Lake and Waterford do not get more money than West Bloomfield and neither of those districts had to file a deficit elimination plan with the State of Michigan. That embarrassment alone caused a lot of residents to leave and lose confidence in the board.
jeff sakwa October 30, 2011 at 03:16 AM
Dr. Hersh was one board member. I would rather have my kids at WB than WL or Waterford. Check choices of classes and test scores. The Suoerintendant of Walled Lake sends his kids to WB. What I find most amazing is you are not campaigning for anyone else and are a coward. These will be my last words. There are about five or six people with fake names bashing Nick. You will need a lot more votes to win. When you figure out who your candidate is get busy.
Morgan October 30, 2011 at 03:45 AM
I am happy these are your last words. Your comments filled with rage and sarcasm are damaging to our school district's reputation. I will not vote for anyone supported by you, including Dr. Hersh.
Fact-Checker October 30, 2011 at 03:01 PM
You miss the point. Corporate sponsors are great; but there are ethical concerns with a Board member's businesses names all over the district, campaigning 24/7 to our kids. There are ethical issues with ads of a Board members on our busses for 4 years without anyone knowing about them or the district getting paid. Hersh will give money even if he isn't on the Board; he said so. You act like without Hersh the PTOs will all go bust. There are other donors, both families and businesses. What about the private money raised to change the signs at Green? Did Hersh pay for that too? Wouldn't that money have been better spent on our kids?
A west Bloomfield Resident October 31, 2011 at 08:19 AM
Jeff, If I may, I asked for leadership not a wallet. Our district has no rainy day fund. Compare that to Farmington or to Royal Oak and you see a major issue. No planning! As for my name Jeff, because of this district and the new legislation coming from the Capitol I would fear for my husband's job. And with your connections and reputation I think it is justified to be afraid of you tossing your weight around. I will guarantee that Dr. Hersh does not have our support and that he does not have the support of the appox 100 teachers and spouses that live in West Bloomfield. Have him run a poll of the teaching staff. There is no support for him. Of course you would then tell me that that does not matter as it is the children. A leader is someone that has the trust of all of their stakeholders.
A west Bloomfield Resident October 31, 2011 at 08:26 AM
Jeff....Ask yourself why was it the worse crisis in West Bloomfield history. Bad leadership. My view is tainted by my husband'd position. He is a good teacher and to watch the disrespect of this board towards a valuable resource is watching an accident in slow motion. Jeff, Dr. Hersh supported the VSI buyouts that cost this district $600,000. The board was given a method to contest those buyouts and it was ignored. The district then rehired retired administrators as a cost saving measure. Those were people collecting retirement checks, VSI checks, and a FULL salary from West Bloomfield. A simple offer of say 20% less would have saved tens of thousands of dollars if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dr. Hersh, I am sure is a good man and his donations are appreciated, however, he is not a leader.
A west Bloomfield Resident October 31, 2011 at 08:30 AM
Jeff...another last word..Jeff Steward ..a West Bloomfield school district president that Dr. Hersh worked with...sent his children to a private school. Yet another example of what is wrong with our district's school board. A country club of good old boys ( Sorry ladies) making choices on the fly.
jeff sakwa October 31, 2011 at 11:24 AM
West Bloomfield Resident, you should change your name to" Wife of West Bloomfield teacher". It would be much more accurate. Like I said, do not vote for Dr. Hersh. I am sure your husband is an excellent teacher and I appreciate his work. I have never harmed a teacher or employee of this district and for you to think I have connections to hurt him see a little odd. You and he are entitled to your opinion and I have no power. The real issue is for you is your husbands pay. I have not heard you make any comments as to the education, curriculum, etc. our students are receiving. Believe me, I feel bad for the pay cuts as well. If he can make more money somewhere else he should take it. It seems every time a teacher leaves, the position is filled with qualified staff. It is just tough times and I appreciate your husbands work and respect the teaching staff. Maybe your problem is with the union, guiding teachers not to stay after school to help kids, not go to graduation, not make recommendations and wear red shirts all year. That really helped get parents on their side. In fact a lot of teachers I know are beyond upset at the union. I respect you for your views but disagree with your view points. Like I said, November 8th all the voices will be heard. I feel bad that you cannot attach your name to your comments but it does not matter since you have identified your self as a spouse of a teacher in the district. Check out our districts ratings etc.,
A west Bloomfield Resident November 01, 2011 at 12:54 AM
Jeff how dare you make those statements. My family took a 10% pay cut and as I also work we will be okay. I help with his grading and projects. I am a resident that cares about our district and for my daughter who will be at Gretchko in 2 years. But Jeff, because of the mismanagement of this board I see our friends now with second jobs. I even know administrators that work second jobs because of the cuts. So Jeff, if the question is to care for one's family or to give extra time to the students....which would you choose? How can these teachers be devoted to a classroom full of students when they need to go after school to punch a clock? Jeff it is easy to throw stones but without facts I wish you would not weigh in on these matters. Your silver spoon is well known among teachers.
A west Bloomfield Resident November 01, 2011 at 12:57 AM
There are teachers in the district with 6 or more years and they do not make $40,000 per year. Oh, and they get money taken out for benefits. Jeff, I am sure that does not even cover your family's yearly meals. So Jeff stop sounding like you know everything....because you do not!
jeff sakwa November 01, 2011 at 01:09 AM
My money is none of your business and I earn every dime I make. Your personal attacks mean nothing because you are a coward. My comments about teachers not working after school, were the union telling all the teachers not to stay period. If some have second jobs no problem. Writing recommendations and not going to graduation have nothing, nothing to do with money or a second job or pay cut. It is just punishing the kids. If you or your husband can make more money somewhere else you should take it. NOBODY IS STOPPING YOU. Many people would settle for a 10% cut let alone keep their job. I will say it again, I am not happy about your husbands pay cut. You never mention another candidate. Is there someone you support? I am not running and you are wasting your time.
Christy Forhan November 02, 2011 at 12:07 AM
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? >>> If you want to give Hersh a chance to answer these ?'s, keep the dialogue direct, but civil.
Judy Herman November 03, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Below are some samples of what happens when our board members, like Dr. Hersh, sit by silently and rubber stamp backroom Board decisions. Our new Board members must have the backbone to stand up for our kids and taxpayers. 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
Louise Cantor November 05, 2011 at 12:06 AM
It appears that Hersh is teaming up with Moye and Beaty to get second votes. He can't turn to the other candidate's supporters because the other candidates are running on fiscal responsibility (not Hersh's version) and respect for open dialogue and public decision making. He can't vote for Moye and Beaty so my guess is that he will not chose Moye because she is running on rebuilding trust and restoring credibility. Beaty is the safe selection because she is easy going. He may cast only one vote. I am still very interested to know who the candidates will give their second vote and why?


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