East China school board has workshop for new trustees

Charles Andrews of the Michigan Leadership Institute leads a workshop with members of the East China School District board of education. (Tony Wittkowski | Times Herald)

Charles Andrews of the Michigan Leadership Institute leads a workshop with members of the East China School District board of education. (Tony Wittkowski | Times Herald)

By Tony Wittkowski | City Reporter | The Times Herald

Members of the East China School District board of education met for a special workshop to go over what it takes to be a trustee.

The workshop was meant to help the two new board members acclimate to their new roles.

Charles Andrews of the Michigan Leadership Institute led a discussion that ranged from the roles, responsibilities and communication between board members.

“The goals for this evening are simple,” Andrews said. “This workshop is meant to define your role on the board.”

Trustees Patricia Biebuyck and Todd Distelrath — who recently won seats on the board — took part in the discussion.

“Sometimes you don’t always have to talk,” Biebuyck said. “You need to listen.”

Andrews told the board it is important to ask questions and to have a logical base for decisions when presented with an issue.

Andrews said board members have a crucial job because they make decisions that affects families.

“If you make a decision as a board there will always be a reaction,” Andrews said. “But as a board, if your decision is made on facts and expertise it is easier to handle.”

Members spoke about issues that come with serving on the board of education, including community pressure and poor meeting management.

Board members, some of whom have served more than a decade on the board, shared stories from their experience.

“The pressure can get pretty tough during contract time,” said James Biewer, board president.

Trustee Alan Reichle said one of the main stresses a board can face is the lack of resources it is given to work with.

“We wouldn’t be having debates if there were more resources,” Reichle said. “Now the fund balance has been dwindling, so we have to be wise.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 29, 2015)

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