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Four candidates battle for two seats on Michigan Center School Board


By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot

It’s the rookies versus the veterans in the May 4 Michigan Center School Board election.

A pair of newcomers, Mark Curl, 42, and Dave Knapp, 49, will be challenging for the seats of Debra Kruse, 53, and Michael Edwards, 51, who are up for re-election.

All four candidates are focused on giving students a brighter future, but they have different ideas about tax increases to make that vision a reality.

What would you like to accomplish as a school board member?

Edwards: “I would like to continue to support the staff and administration of the Michigan Center school district in its endeavors to make our schools the best they can be and to educate our children and ready them for college.”

Kruse: She would like to continue supporting the non-negotiable goals for the school district, including increased student achievement, student-centered teaching and learning, technology-enhanced instruction, differentiated learning or the ability to meet students at their current knowldege level, and the effective use of multiple forms of data, timebound with measurable and increased accountability.

Curl: “As a school board member, I would like to see our district continue advancing the curriculum, keeping pace with technology and continuing to add courses to give our students the greatest opportunities in the future.”

Knapp: “To ensure decisions and finances are appropriated in the best interest of the student body and the Michigan Center community.”

Considering the budget situation, what would you consider cutting and what, at all costs, would you not consider cutting?

Edwards: “I would have to take the suggestions of our administration. They are the people who are out there every day and they have the knowledge of the systems and what is best at that time.”

Kruse: “I would not want to consider budget cuts that would affect curriculum or 21st-century learning. I (will be) a good steward who seeks ways to reduce the impact of state budget cuts by creating alternative funding sources, such as supporting the sharing of our services to generate income and the creation of a MCS Education Foundation creating long-term stability.”

Curl: “When it comes to the school district’s budget situation and cuts (that) have to be made, I would look out for what’s in the best interest for the students, currently and long-term. At all costs I would not consider cutting busing or our extracurricular activities that reveal the students’ character.”

Knapp: “With less federal and state dollars allocated to the schools, cuts will obviously have to be made. But cuts that directly affect students in the classroom should be avoided at all costs. There should be no privatization of the custodial and buses — we need to hire from within the community.”

What reason do you believe is important enough to ask voters to support a new tax or a tax increase?

Edwards:
“Anything that would allow us to better the curriculum, the technology and help our children to become better students.”

Kruse: “With the unstable funding support from the state a time may come where we need to take matters into our hands locally. In that event, I would consider an affordable tax increase that would assure our children’s success by giving them the education they need for today’s competitive job market.”

Curl: “The school facilities must always be in the best conditions for the student’s safety. If renovations or additions should be in need and the budget cannot keep up, I would ask for support with a new tax or an increase.”

Knapp: “None, not in these new economic times. Let’s work with what we have, no new millages.”

Meet the candidates:

(* denotes incumbent)

Michael Edwards* 
• Age: 51
• Family: Wife Lorrie, four children, three who graduated from the Michigan Center school district and one who is a sophomore there.
• Education: Graduate of Michigan Center High School and two years at Jackson Community College.
• Employment: Quality manager at FiTech, a division of Ashley Ward Co.
Community involvement: Michigan Center School Board member for eight years, former administrator of the summer youth baseball, softball program for 11 years and former Cardinal Club member.

Debra Kruse*
• Age: 53
• Family: Husband Jeff, four adult children and one grandchild.
• Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Lake Superior State
• University; associate’s degree in marketing from North Central Michigan College; associate’s degree in management/marketing from West Shore Community College.
• Employment: Director of marketing for Solutions 2 Wellbeing, a division of Recovery Technology.
• Community Involvement: Michigan Center School Board trustee; founding board member of Marriage Matters Jackson; volunteer for Jackson Community Foundation; and part of the leadership panel at Spring Arbor University’s 2010 Women in Leadership Conference.

Mark Curl
• Age: 42
• Family: Wife Kimberly; three children, all either attending or graduated from district.
• Education: Jackson High School graduate, attended Jackson Community College and Spring Arbor University.
• Employment: District manager for Kelly Services.
• Community involvement: Youth baseball, basketball and softball coach; Cardinal Club volunteer.

Dave Knapp
• Age: 49
• Family: Wife Susan; three children, who all currently attend Michigan Center Public Schools.
• Education: Graduate of Michigan Center High School.
• Employment: Structural welder for Norfolk Southern Railroad.
• Community involvement: Coached youth baseball.

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About rjwalters

I am what you think I am — a journalist. Actually when I was hired at my current job, which by the way is Sports Editor of the Hillsdale Daily News in Hillsdale, Mich., I applied for a position titled "Wordsmith", so at my best I'll call myself a writer attempting to be a wordsmith extraordinaire.

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