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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."

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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