Dear New Buffalo Voters, I’d like to address a topic that I touched briefly on during the Candidate Forum on October 4th. My intent in writing this is to hopefully give you pause before casting your votes on November 8th.
Our district, as well as numerous other districts throughout Michigan and across the nation are in a precarious position. The movement on the national stage by special interest groups, wealthy private individuals and corporations who invest millions in far-right political causes are funding and endorsing school board candidates around the country.
I encourage you to do some research from reputable, unbiased news sources so you understand exactly what is at stake.
Todd Tanksley, Patrick Kennedy, Ashley Grzywacz, and Justin Baney claim to run on a “No Politics” platform, or at least their marketing says so … yet they are each backed, endorsed, and/or funded by several PACS (Political Action Committees) and special interest groups. The candidates running on these political platforms are beholden to those PACs, and they are expected to carry out their agendas if elected. Furthermore, recent comments on the We The Parents Facebook Page responded to a question about being apolitical with “Those days are gone.” How is this “No Politics”? As I stated at the Candidate Forum … my only agenda has been and continues to be the students of this district.
I am proud to say that I have run a grassroots campaign and aligned myself with three other candidates who are also grassroots with their campaigns. We each agreed to decline all official political endorsements and/or politically tied contributions because school boards need to remain local and non-partisan. I am running on my name, and my word that I will do everything in my power to serve and represent this community and the students of the district in a fair and equal manner.
New Buffalo has and will continue to do a remarkable job in providing transparency, familial involvement, respect for Parental Rights, and a focus on educating the WHOLE child.
To be clear, public schools serve the public. They represent ALL students, not just a particular demographic, or those of a particular religious/moral belief system. It is important that public schools serve all students. While all types of school systems must meet certain state and federal criteria in how they are structured and operate, private, charter, and parochial schools have more flexibility and can cater to a targeted audience if they choose. Public schools do not have this same flexibility, nor should they, as they exist to serve all students.
What about a public-school board? Public school board members cannot change state or federal laws, and blatant disregard or rejection of the law not only creates liability, it will have grave consequences to state and federal funding of vital programs in our district. While NBAS is an “out of formula” district, and we don’t receive as much funding as other “in-formula” districts do at the state and federal level, we are still reliant on the funds we receive to keep vital programs in place, such as our Building Trades Program and Free and/or Reduced lunch. School boards serve to provide oversight and governance. They work to ensure school districts are operating within the realm of educational policies set at the state and federal level, and are fiscally responsible in the acceptance, distribution, and management of funds.
There is so much divisiveness in this election, from the national level all the way down to our school board election here in New Buffalo. We need to work together, no matter the outcome of November 8th, for the sake of every member in this community. School Board members cannot be self-serving, to be a successful school board and a successful school district, its board members must serve in a manner that represents the community as a whole.
I am confident in my ability and those of Brad, Lisa and Vanessa to come to the NBAS school board with a non- partisan, unbiased, inclusive, and transparent approach to address the issues of our district while remaining in line with our legal authority. We will keep your child’s best interests at heart.
Written by Denise Churchill in partnership with Brad Brunner, Lisa Werner and Vanessa Thun