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."