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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Who should you vote for in the Clarkston Schools school board election?



Support for Rosalie Lieblang and Dr. Donald Deering for Clarkston School Board

I would like to publicly support current school board president, Rosalie Lieblang and candidate, Dr. Donald Deering for the Clarkston school board election in November.  During Rosalie Lieblang’s leadership, the school board has been able to, not only remain solvent during the drop in school funding from the state, but to rebuild the district’s cash reserves.  This has prevented the district’s credit rating from being lowered and kept the district from being considered ‘distressed’ by the state.  All of the remaining candidates were the ringleaders for the failed school bond request in 2012.  I believe that if the 2012 bond had passed, it would have bankrupted the school district with the extra expenses related to the bond that would not have been covered by the bond. 

Please show the district that you support fiscal responsibility by voting for Rosalie Lieblang and Dr. Donald Deering for the Clarkston Community School Board (only those two).


Where do I go to vote in Michigan and how to I find a sample ballot?

If you are not sure of where you need to go to vote on November 4, 2014, there is a nice easy webpage on the State of Michigan website to easily figure that out.  You put in your first and last name, birth month and year, and your zipcode or you can just put in your driver's license number.  Easy peasy!  Not only does it give you your precinct # and address, but it gives you a map and what your precinct is (school, library, church, etc. name), and a sample ballot that looks exactly like the one you will see at the polling place that can be printed.

You can check it out at: https://vote.michigan.gov/mvic/

Clarkston School Board members tweeting during school board meetings

Clarkston School Board members disrespectfully tweeting during school board meetings

Steve Hyer, Elizabeth Egan, and Cheryl McGinnis were tweeting, in some cases very disrespectful comments about fellow board members during three school board meetings this past spring.  Please, when you vote on November 4th 2014, remember to ONLY vote for the two candidates that have the maturity to be Clarkston school board members, Rosalie Lieblang and Donald Deering.  Here is one article about the tweeting:
 
http://www.clarkstonnews.com/Articles-News-c-2014-10-29-256602.113121-sub14473.113121-School-board-candidates-talk-tweets-communication.html
By Phil Custodio

"School board candidates talk tweets, communication

  October 30, 2014 - Contentious communication facilitated by social media was a issue this past year at Clarkston School Board meetings.

This past May, the board sought the opinion of the school attorney regarding posts to Twitter during meetings ("Legal opinion sought on tweets at meeting," May 07, 2014).

The candidates were asked their opinion on the matter.

Steve Hyer, who posted about 36 tweets such as "why do we need a supt if Lieblang is going to be voted to run the district" and "it's a discussion/Spanish Inquisition" during the April 28 meeting, said board deliberations and decisions should take place at board meetings and not outside of them.

"The Open Meetings Act and Mr. Butler state this very clearly," Hyer said. "Board members should not be deliberating outside the board meetings, regardless of how it's done, personally or electronically. Board members are free to share their individual opinions, but at no times should any deliberation toward a decision occur. Deliberations and decisions should only take place at the board table in public."

Democracy only works when citizens are engaged and informed, said Hyer, who did not share the Tweets made during the April 28 meeting with other board members or the audience.

"Unfortunately, some members of the board have taken advantage of meetings that had low public attendance and were not videotaped to treat the superintendent in an unprofessional manner and discuss issues that were not on the agenda. Any form of providing transparency is positive, and it also prevents such bullying from occurring," he said.

Twitter is an excellent way to connect with our community to provide near real time updates, he said.

"I believe this increases transparency and gets more people involved in the governance of our school district. If our citizenry is engaged and educated on the issues, we will have more success as a school district and community moving forward," he said. "Twitter is also very beneficial as messages can be scheduled ahead of time. It serves a good purpose to schedule congratulatory tweets to those being recognized by the board of education. It is also a good way to let people know what actually goes on at a board meeting. I've heard personally from over 100 people that they appreciate being kept up to date."

Just like with personal conversations, emails, Facebook posts, and newspaper/media comments, board members have to be careful that they are not violating the Open Meetings Act, he said.

"If board members engage in any communication with more than one other board member that is working towards a decision of the board, deliberating, they are violating the Open Meetings Act, which states all discussions and deliberations must only occur at the board table in public at a public meeting. Twitter is no different than any other communication method," he said. "I see any communication method, including the newspaper, to conduct board discussions as inappropriate."

Posting information that is on the agenda, or will appear in the minutes and thanking people for their work are very appropriate things to communicate, he said.

"I personally believe this board should follow the practices and principles of effective boards of education, and other boards, and appoint a board spokesperson," he said. "Detractors from this proposal have said this would keep them from sharing their views. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When the board meets in public at the board table, each and every item that comes before the board requires every board member's comments and discussion on that item. All board members have an equal chance to share their thoughts and opinions in public. Once the board has voted on that particular issue, however, board members should support the decision of the majority and communicate on that issue with one voice."

When the board speaks as individuals after a vote has been taken, the debate happens all over again, either in the print or social media, he said.

"This circumvents the transparency of having those discussions at public board meetings, and it usually leads to confusion as to which direction the board or district is really headed," he said. "I will continue to push for a single board spokesperson so that one consistent message is released to the public. This will still allow each individual board member to speak her or his opinion during discussions at board meetings."

Elizabeth Egan, who posted about a dozen tweets during the April 28 meeting with comments including "this is ugly behavior" and "how many education experts are sitting at this table? I see only one #rodrocks," said the school attorney's opinion should not be interpreted as an individual's right to free speech is forfeited because they sit on a public board.

"Mr. Butler's legal opinion was a response to a false accusation from one community member that the board had violated the Open Meetings Act during a board meeting," Egan said. "He specifically stated that three criteria must be met to violate this statute and none of those three were met. From my perspective, the tweets were intended to provide public transparency from a non-broadcasted five hour board meeting that ended with a few board members behaving in an overtly hostile manner towards our superintendent."

Last year, the board reached an agreement with the Independence Township Board to share PEG resources and cable television equipment, she said.

"I expected all school board meetings would be taped with an improved quality of viewing for our community," she said. "In February 2014, I made several requests to the board president to tape all board meetings and my requests were ignored. Video taping supports transparency to the public since many interested citizens cannot attend our School Board meetings."

Board members must communicate with the public, she said.

"Some walk the streets or give statements to the press, but our multi-generational society taps into LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram to name a few social applications," she said. "A printed newspaper or cable broadcast may not connect with busy working parents and younger voters."

The issue of board members using social media is the same as meeting face to face in public, she said.

"The content of a conversation or information shared in a public forum must not violate the Open Meetings Act," she siad. "Specifically this means, three criteria must not happen at once: we cannot create a quorum for discussion, four or more trustees; we cannot deliberate future decisions of the board, content of discussions should be social or information gathering in nature; and if a board member expresses an opinion in a public forum, whether it is a main street or social media location, we must disclaim the board, and declare ourselves as a free speaking person with an opinion. As expressed in our Operating Procedures, the board should have one spokesperson to speak on behalf of the board."

For Rosalie Lieblang, Twitter can be a good information source, but it is not appropriate to use Twitter during a board meeting.

"As Mr. Butler mentioned, tweeting during a meeting gets dangerously close to violating the Open Meetings Act," Lieblang siad. "The School Board is a public body, and as directed by the Open Meetings Act, all deliberations must take place in a public meeting. Having a discussion of board business over Twitter or through other social media avenues conflicts with the direction provided by the Open Meetings Act. The district's attorney is paid to advise the board on legal issues and it is in our best interest to heed his advice."

Many community members told her they were disturbed to hear/read about certain board members tweeting disparaging comments toward other board members during board meetings, Lieblang said.

"It is unprofessional and disrespectful behavior. We are teaching students through Cultures of Thinking to participate in discussion and be respectful and open to the views and opinion of others," she said. "This behavior of tweeting disparaging comments is contrary to what we teach our students. It sets a poor example and is sending the wrong message to students that this type of behavior is okay. I expect board members to be a role model for our students and making disparaging and disrespectful remarks on social media is not the type of behavior I want my children or the other 8,000+ children in our district to model."

Challenger Kelli Horst said it is her responsibility as a board member to be available and responsive to community members who want to discuss her position on any vote or issue discussed at the board table.

"Members of the board should refrain from actively opposing a majority decision once the vote is taken, no matter the communication channel," Horst said.

The board's credibility has been hurt by their own missteps and lack of leadership, including failing to act in a timely manner on the superintendent's and teachers' contracts; delaying their own evaluation; selectively taping meetings for broadcast; undermining the superintendent in public; and failing to heed the counsel of expert advisors, she said.

Challenger Donald E. Deering said he cannot speak to attorney Butler's comments or intentions behind the recommendation to "refrain from communicating about board business and websites at all times."

"However, I'm confident in saying that communication is the foundation for all collaborative efforts that have led to our country's greatest accomplishments," Deering said.

If the context of Twitter/social media was used negatively during a board meeting, there would be few, if any, exceptions to the rule for this being constructive, he said.

"However, if the context was somehow meant to be positive and/or constructive, perhaps there is a place for this mode of communication," he said."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dr. Donald Deering's League of Women Voters statement     Fall 2014




Question 1 (150 Words or less)
Please provide biographical information and explain why you are running for School Board and relevant qualities and skills you would bring to the position that you are running for.

Dr. Donald Deering was born on August 16,1974 and raised in Southeast Michigan by a single working mother.  During his childhood, education and work ethic were emphasized as an important ingredient to success. Dr. Deering moved to Clarkston 4 years ago with his wife Dr. Sandra Deering (doctoral prepared nurse practitioner) and two boys, Andrew 7 and Ethan 6, both of whom attend Bailey Lake Elementary (BLE).  Dr. Deering is choosing to run for the Clarkston School Board in an effort to be more active in the decisions that will impact his children and the children of his community for years to come. As an educator himself, he is well equipped to understand the dynamics involved in making these decisions.  Dr. Deering is trained as a professional counselor and psychologist. He is logical, compassionate and results oriented. More information on Dr. Deering’s qualifications are available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/donald-e-deering-ph-d/14/13b/357

Question 2 (150 Words or less)
What are the top three (3) Priority Issues facing your school district and what actions would you take to address them if elected to the school board?

As is the case for most school districts, careful consideration of the factors that result in solvency and sustainability are paramount. This is often an emotionally charged issue because the resources available to meet everyone’s needs and wants are almost always lacking. Collaborative communication, prioritized problem solving and timely results are the key to achieving success in this area.

Another issue that faces most school districts is updating, implementing and/or maintaining technology that demonstrate proven desirable outcomes. This also requires a collaborative effort due to the complexities and costs associated with such a complicated task.

Finally, people are at the core of all success achieved in our society. To that end, administrators, educators, parents and students alike are equally responsible to govern themselves accordingly toward achieving that success. As a result, fair and objective evaluation should lead to results oriented remuneration within the parameters of available resources.


I support Dr. Donald Deering and Rosalie Lieblang for Clarkston Community School Board election, November 2014

Rosalie Lieblang - League of Women Voters statement

      Rosalie Lieblang's League of Women Voters statement         Fall 2014



"Question 1 (150 Words or less)
Please provide biographical information and explain why you are running for School Board and relevant qualities and skills you would bring to the position that you are running for.

I am seeking my second term as School Board Trustee because I value education for all students and value Clarkston’s reputation as a premier district within Oakland County and the State. I am a Michigan School Board Association certified board member and take annual classes to ensure I stay current on District/Board - related issues and changes. I hold a BSA (Information Technology) from U of Michigan and have 25+ years of work experience, including 15 years in upper management. I have served on the CCS Board as President, Secretary, Treasurer, and on the Finance, Policy and Reinstatement Committees. I have also served as BLE PTA President, Treasurer for the Clarkston PTA Council, a mentor at both, SMS and CJHS, Treasurer for the Clarkston Optimists and a volunteer at many school and community events. I am married with two daughters who currently attend Clarkston Schools and have lived here for 17+ years.

Question 2 (150 Words or less)
What are the top three (3) Priority Issues facing your school district and what actions would you take to address them if elected to the school board?

Student Achievement.
Achievement and growth for students is what it’s all about!  During my term, I have focused on collaborating on a Strategic Plan where Student Achievement is a cornerstone. We are progressing in evaluating our programs and performance against internal and external measures to ensure students reach their potential and are prepared for the next phase in their life, whatever they dream it to be!

Budget
Clarkston is one of the lowest funded districts in Oakland County, making it challenging to address all needs as we would like. We should continue to be fiscally responsible, fund our educational priorities and look for alternative/additional funding such as our Shared Services Program which has provided an additional $1M for Clarkston Schools.

Class Size
Studies show lower class sizes have a significant, positive impact on student achievement. Let’s have our teachers teach in an environment that has proven to increase achievement!"


I support Rosalie Lieblang and Dr. Donald Deering for Clarkston Community School Board election, November 2014

Steve Hyer - Claimed Two Homestead Exemptions Illegally

Steve Hyer is running for re-election for the Clarkston Community Schools School Board.  This is the same person who claimed two primary homes for the Michigan Homestead Exemption at the same time while he had renters on one of the homes...  See the article below with my comments in red and bold. In my opinion, this is not the the kind of person that should be re-elected to the Clarkston School Board.

http://www.theoaklandpress.com/general-news/20120419/clarkston-school-board-treasurer-cant-legally-claim-two-primary-homes

"Clarkston school board treasurer can't legally claim two primary homes


Steve Hyer
It is illegal for a married couple to claim two homesteads, or places of residency, when they both only live in one of the homes.

Clarkston Board of Education Treasurer Steve Hyer found this out the hard way.

Springfield Township Deputy Treasurer Karen Binasio said the township sent Hyer a letter informing Hyer that he cannot claim two homesteads. Hyer then rescinded the homestead status on his Bluewater condo on Feb. 6 of this year.

Binasio said, "If you own and occupy your home, you have a homestead exemption. And that forgoes them paying 18 mills to the school operation. By law, you can only have one. Some people just don't rescind the homestead; they try to keep both homes homesteaded."

Hyer said he did not intentionally forego his taxes.

"If there are taxes I owe, I will pay them. I'm not trying to get out of any property taxes," he said.
Hyer and his wife lived in a condominium on Bluewater Drive in Springfield Township from 2003 to 2011. Hyer said he purchased the condo before he was married.

 In 2011, his wife Kelly purchased a second home on Lost Pines Drive about two miles away from their first home. Hyer said he is listed on the deed. In 2011, they claimed both of these homes as their homestead, although they lived on Lost Pines Drive and rented out the condominium, according to the Springfield Township Assessing Department."  They have been married since 2003.  They both moved into the Lost Pines Dr address and began renting out the Bluewater Dr condo.  However, his wife, Kelly Hyer, solely bought the Lost Pines Dr home and they kept the homestead exemptions for both homes?  Sounds like there was intent there...  
 
"Binansio said that's not legal. "There's not many tax breaks for married people. This is one of them," she said.

A resident contacted The Oakland Press because he was concerned that Hyer was not paying this school operating tax while the board of education was, at the same time, proposing a $20 million bond, or 1 mill property tax increase, in an upcoming special election.

Hyer said, "We were informed (by Springfield Township) I had to change the filing on my current condo, which I did. I don't know why there's an issue. If there are any taxes I owe or have ever owed, I will pay and have always paid. The way my taxes are paid is a personal thing. I don't owe any back taxes, and if I owe something that I get billed for, I pay it."

Non-homestead residencies or businesses are charged an additional school operating tax that primary residencies are not charged.

If the condo was listed as non-homestead in 2011, Hyer's summer taxes would have gone up by $462.60, according to Springfield Township's property records. The condo was the least expensive of the two homes.

"That's money that goes to the school. That doesn't come here to the township," said Binasio. "Oakland County has to send him a bill for the difference now."

Binasio explained that even people who own one house in state and one out-of-state, like Florida, only have one homestead. The home lived in for the majority of the year, six months and one day, is considered the homestead.

"It's the address you file your income taxes under or what your driver's license says. Those are ways to check," she said. "The way they find this stuff is by running same names to addresses."

Deputy Assessor for Springfield Township Arlene Badgley said the only exemption to this increase in taxes is if one of the houses is for sale.

"It's called a conditional rescind. If they bought another house, and they moved in and occupied it, they're allowed to get a homestead on that. The house that they're trying to sell, if they want a homestead on that, it has to be listed for sale and vacant. They have to apply for that every year," said Badgley. "But because it's a rental, (Hyer) wouldn't qualify for that."

Contact Monica Drake at 248-745-4687 or email her at monica.drake@oakpress.com. Find her on Twitter at monica_adele.

Dr. Donald Deering, candidate for Clarkston Community Schools School Board




Clarkston PTA Council's Question: "Why do you support our school district's vision and direction?"
In an effort to best provide an overall answer to this question, I have prepared the following information about myself and my thoughts on this matter.


Dr. Deering is running for the Clarkston School Board to be more active in the decisions that will impact his children and the children of his community for years to come. As an educator himself, he is well equipped to understand the dynamics involved in making these decisions.


Careful consideration of the factors that result in solvency and sustainability are paramount. This is often an emotionally charged issue because the resources available to meet everyone’s needs and wants are almost always lacking. Collaborative communication, prioritized problem solving and timely results are critical to achieving success in this area.


Children are our future and we have an obligation to prepare them for success in this world. CCS is an outstanding example of this.


Dr. Deering is trained as a professional counselor and psychologist. He is logical, compassionate and result oriented. More information on Dr. Deering’s qualifications are available at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/donald-e-deering-ph-d/14/13b/357