HARRISON – The Harrison Community Schools Board of Education recently undertook the solemn task of interviewing two candidates to fill the position vacated by long-serving board trustee Roger Peterson. Those candidates at interview Oct. 5 were David Hoefling, who participated virtually, and James Neff, who was making his third attempt to become part of the district’s governing body. Both men are “hometown boys.”
Board members Angie Cullen, Dan Pechacek, Chad Hathcock, Therese Haley, Courtney McCrimmon and Kendra Durga presented each man with the same eight questions, which are designed to bring out the candidate’s experience, qualifications, philosophy and perceptions as to what may be problematic/improvable circumstances within the district.
The questions asked included: 1)Tell us a bit about yourself and your background; 2)Why do you want to be on the school board? 3)What do you see as the role and responsibility of being a school board member? 4)What strengths, skills, qualities would you bring to the board of education? 5)What are the biggest challenges facing education today, in Michigan and in Harrison? 6)What do you consider the first priority in public education? 7)In these challenging times we’ve been facing, why have you decided to be a part of the decision-making process? 8)Do you have any comments or questions for us?
Neff’s answers focused on the difficulties posed by the many/continually changing regulations handed down from the state level. “I’ve got to have information,” he said. “You have to have good information to make a sound decision.” He also said he believed it to be important that his appointment would provide an alternative viewpoint. Neff’s interview lasted 17 minutes.
In his responses, Hoefling spoke to the need for ensuring a responsible balance between financial revenues and school expenditures. That, of course, reflected his recent budgeting experience in his soon-to-expire term as a county commissioner. Hoefling finished his comments with the insight: “The biggest thing schools can do is teach kids how to think.” Hoefling’s interview lasted 7 ½ minutes.
Both candidates spoke earnestly and elaborated with conviction about the importance of ensuring a quality education for HCS students, and why doing such is so profoundly important.
After the interviews, the board members discussed the merits of both candidates. Pechacek thanked Hoefling for applying; Cullen noted that both men brought different values to the board; Haley remarked on Neff’s tenacity in applying for a board position three times; and Durga concurred, noting that Neff’s application was “a unique display of persistence.”
Hearing no Public Participation, the board moved on to the Action Items portion of the agenda. There, Durga made a motion to appoint Jim Neff to the position on the board, replacing Roger Peterson. That motion was passed by unanimous vote.
Before the meeting adjourned, superintendent Rick Foote made note of the Haley’s recent award, bestowed in recognition of her longtime school board service. Haley said she has served since her December 2007 appointment.