Harrison BOE interviews Cullen, Hughes

Erich T. Doerr | Review Correspondent

The Harrison School Board met on Monday to discuss several issues including interviewing candidates for the board, the upcoming millage and the election of a trustee as secretary.

Before the interviews began board member Doug Cobb first raised the question of if the interviews should be done at all as there as there is a chance that only one of the two candidates could be eligible when the vote comes along later this month. The other board members disagreed, although they did agree some of the prepared questions were redundant, and the interviews did take place.

“Even if there is only one applicant in the end we’d like to know their opinions,” board member Therese Haley said.

Angie Cullen and Pam Hughes were the two candidates that were interviewed for the open school board position. Cullen went first as both faced the same questions. Cullen said she is a Harrison graduate with two children currently in the district, a seventh grader and a tenth grader.

“I want to be involved as much as I can in their education,” Cullen said. “I want them to grow and become productive adults.”

Cullen described herself as active in the community. She said she often talks to other parents and often sees the effects of the board’s actions first hand.

“I feel I can bring a new light to the board,” Cullen said.

Hughes went next and said she has already worked for the district for the last 21 years as a school bus driver. She added she has already had two children come through the district and is also very involved in the community.

Hughes said she was choosing to run because she wants to support the community. She added she wants to be one of the team players in the decision-making process.

“The decisions you have to make are not easy but it is a part of putting kids first,” Hughes said. “I feel I could be of some help.”

According to the board members the vote on the position should take place on September 24.

Following the interviews the board discussed the first week of school including the student count of roughly 1,498, slightly higher than the planned count of 1,475. The board also discussed the district’s 28 alternative students, noting the number is slightly down as some transferred to other districts with lower graduation standards.

“The opening was very smooth,” Harrison Superintendent Thomas J. House said. “The principals didn’t report any snafus.”

The board then entered a discussion of bussing contracts. According to Board President N. Marie Roth the district currently has 14 routes and is going to taking bids on service for next year with the possibility of either a one year or a five year contract.

“Whoever provides our bussing I want Harrison Community Schools on the side,” Roth said with House adding magnetic name plates with the school’s name is a possibility.

House then gave a presentation about the school’s upcoming Regional Enhancement Millage showing off a packet listing Harrison’s part of the bill. The millage if passed would also effect not just Harrison but also the Clare, Farwell, Gladwin and Beaverton districts. House noted Harrison’s benefits would include amongst other items roofing repairs, electrical and technology upgrades, several energy conservation projects plus replacement and repairs to the district’s roadways and parking lots.

House then closed by showing a 10-minute video presentation. The video discussed the changes and increases in programs that are needed for the area’s ISD to stay competitive. An example he used said the Mt. Pleasant ISD has 18 programs while Clare and Gladwin’s only have nine. House estimated the millage would cost about $52 a year for each local resident.

The board’s final action of the night before entering a closed session regarding negotiations was to elect one of its trustees as secretary. Board member Therese Haley was nominated and successfully voted into the position.

On a more somber note the school board also voted to accept the resignation of teacher Jennifer Pettersch. According to the board Pettersch taught art, music and technology at Harrison’s Larson and Hillside elementary schools.