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School board race to be decided May 8

By Karen Rouse
May 03 2007;  Oscoda Press

OSCODA — Two candidates are vying for one open seat on the Oscoda Area Schools (OAS) Board of Education in the upcoming election on Tuesday, May 8.

Opinion Community Calendar Links Classifieds Online Sections National News Financial News Health News Entertainment Town Hall Guestbook Discussion Board Archives News Index Iosco moms earn degrees without leaving county School board race to be decided May 8 Proposed Oscoda zoning changes could impact all The Dot Photo feature will go here. School board race to be decided May 8 by Karen Rouse OSCODA — Two candidates are vying for one open seat on the Oscoda Area Schools (OAS) Board of Education in the upcoming election on Tuesday, May 8. This will be the only issue on the ballot for voters in the Oscoda school district. Incumbent Mark Poland and newcomer Beth Swales are campaigning for the four-year term, which will begin on July 1. It is the only school board race to be decided in Iosco County.

Mark Poland

Poland, 43, is currently serving as board president, having been vice president for three years after he was elected in 2003. He is a life-long resident of Oscoda and graduated from Oscoda High School in 1981.

Running again was a decision Poland made because he said he feels passionate about the work the OAS board does.

"I think the role of each school board member is important - one that goes beyond the school district itself and out into the community," he remarked.

Poland said he wants to continue efforts to make the district the best in the state by offering students the best educational experience the district can give. He said he feels the schools can be partners with the entire community, getting everyone involved.

The goals would be accomplished, he said, by the district continually offering opportunities for professional development to district staff and constantly looking for and implementing better ways to strengthen and deliver curriculum.

He says he brings with him a pretty good knowledge of working on a school board, along with his experience. "I also have a pretty good understanding of the role of the school board as far as what our job really is in serving as leadership for the district," he said.

Poland is certified as a school board member through the Michigan Association of School Boards and has served on the county school board association for four years.

Poland attended business education classes at Northwood University and Central Michigan University and is vice president at B&B General Contracting, where he has worked for the past 22 years.

He is married to his wife of 21 years, Dorothy, a Cedar Lake Elementary School secretary. Together, they have three children, Allison, 20; Adam, 18, and Alan, 17.

He maintains there is no conflict of interest in continuing as a voting member of the board with his wife as a district employee and with his company, at times, bidding on district building projects. Poland says he will continue to abstain from voting when conflicts pertaining to those areas come forward.

"I’m excited about another four years," he said.

Beth Swales

Swales, age 28, has lived in Greenbush for four years. This is her first run for school board and is doing so, she said, to speak for student rights.

“I have learned that nearly each and every staff member employed by the OAS district has a collective bargaining agreement; however, who do these children have to bargain their terms and conditions?” she asked

Her priorities, if elected, are to change how state assessment scores are used in the classroom - using them to try to evaluate individual student progress. She wants to offer incentives to educators who perform extraordinarily and to ensure strict oversight of the budget to make certain the board knows where the budget money is allocated.

"The children need every opportunity they can get," she pointed out.

According to Swales, she will use her ability to communicate and her ease in working with a diversity of people to accomplish her goals. She wants to encourage more communication among the board and community, as well as between teachers and parents, she said.

Swales’ experience with the school board began earlier this year with her concerns about the district’s head lice policy. Swales contended it needed to be changed to prevent the several outbreaks she had witnessed.

She was invited to participate on a committee to address the issue and was named chairman of the newly-formed “Lenny Committee”.

The committee was successful in developing a new, more effective policy, they say. She has been trained to perform head lice checks and will do so at Richardson Elementary School beginning in the 2007/08 school year.

She is married to Corey Swales and has two daughters, ages four and seven. She previously lived in Alpena, where she graduated from Alpena High School in 1996. Swales attended Alpena Community College from 1996 to 2002 and transferred to Kaplan University in Iowa, where she earned her Associate Degree in Applied Science and Paralegal Studies in 2005 and her bachelor’s degree in the same major this year.

Future educational plans are to attend law school to become a mediator in family law or in an educational setting. She is presently employed by Kenneth J. Myles, P.C., having worked for the attorney for more than a year.

Swales has developed a Web site for voters who may be interested to read more about her platform. It is www.swalesforschool board.com.