There are over 40 candidates/incumbents competing for school board seats in Shiawassee County for the Tuesday, Nov. 8 Election Day.

Byron Area School Board Candidate Information

   The following is information related to the Byron Area School Board. The current board of education as listed at Byron.k12.mi.us includes Will Honke, Tonia Ritter, Andrea Schott, Jeff Vandemark, Jim (James) Anibal, Eric Sneed and Amy Lawrence.

  There are eight candidates/incumbents on the ballot for Byron and they are James M. Anibal, Jody Lee Embury, Ellen Glass, Phillip Hamilton, Krystal Howard, Dennis Killinger, Andrea Schott and Richard Lee Whaley.

   Due to having so many school board candidates in the county, a list of the same questions was emailed to each candidate with consideration given toward the Independent readership. Some candidates received a phone call if an email address was not available. Four candidates responded: Ellen Glass, Phillip Hamilton, Krystal Howard and Dennis Killinger. 

   The questions asked of each candidate were: What education/qualities do you have to make you the best candidate? What do you believe are the three most critical issues facing local school boards/districts right now? Do you endorse book banning in schools/school libraries? What local organization(s) do you belong to and have you been endorsed or received campaign finances from these or other organizations? If the candidates wanted to, they submitted a photo. 

Ellen Glass submitted the following:

   I am excited for the opportunity to run for Byron Area School Board. My husband and I are both graduates of Byron and have been married 23 years and have three girls who are enrolled in the district. Our family is actively involved in the community and I serve as 4-H Club Leader for Antrim Burns Livestock and volunteer in the school district and sports programs whenever possible. 

   I feel that my career in public service (City Manager of Linden) helps prepare me for the board member role and I am willing to put the time in to understanding the district needs, advocate for our students and work towards a better future for our district without having any personal agenda.  

     Our district has seen a significant amount of change over the past few years and is still in a time of transition and it’s important to have a strong team that can help lead through it with a positive outcome. Staff retention, deteriorating facilities, declining enrollment, continuous changes in state and federal programs and laws are just some of the issues I anticipate facing as a school board member. I see many opportunities like collaboration with the downtown development authority, village and township that would help the entire community. Additionally, I feel it’s important to make sure we are engaged and provide a partnership to our organizations like the PTA, Boosters, BAAA…etc. 

   I am currently not endorsed by any local organizations and have not received any campaign finance from any organization. 

Phillip Hamilton submitted the following:

   Our main challenge at Byron Area Schools is managing low child enrollment and tight budgets without sacrificing education. Byron Schools employs many of our neighbors and friends and we need to continue to offer fair wages and benefits to attract and retain good teachers who fit well within our village. I have seven years of work history in health and benefits consulting with a specialization in collective bargaining. I worked directly with school boards across southeast Michigan and became familiar with relevant public acts as well as common carriers such as MESSA. Benefits are an important part of teacher pay; it’s also a challenge every renewal.

    As we navigate these tradeoffs, we now must apparently also fend off attacks against scholastic curricula being built around objective truth, attacks against American civics and history and even attacks against the self-interests of our own children. Fashionable nonsense from cultural fanatics has no place in our school system. Our focus should be on getting our kids the skills and experiences, which they need to get the best opportunities they can and to live productive and meaningful lives.

    Both of my daughters are enrolled in Byron. I promise if elected to look after all our kids and not entertain any of the jargon emanating from social movements in the U.S. today. Our curriculum needs to be built around proven scholastics, American civics and history, with a focus in high school on skilled trades, STEM and agricultural studies. We need accelerated programs cooperating with local universities and businesses.

    I graduated from Byron Area Schools in 2006, received a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Kettering University and completed all coursework necessary for a M.S. in Mathematics from Wayne State University (pending essay). I am not financed by any organization in this race.

Krystal Howard submitted the following:

What education/qualities do you have to make you the best candidate?

   I am a 2006 Byron High School graduate. I attended Olivet College where I received my Bachelors in Elementary Education focusing on math and science. I taught in the Byron and Perry school systems as a long-term sub before starting my career in the automotive industry. I have been a part of the Byron Community for 23 years. My husband, a Byron graduate as well, and I currently have three children in the Byron School System. I am passionate about Byron thriving and continuing to be a place I myself want to raise my children. I feel being on the school board will help me achieve that goal.

What do you believe are the three most critical issues facing local school boards/districts right now? 

   Student retention, teacher and staff salary and traditional education are the three most critical issues for the school boards at this time.

Do you endorse book banning in schools/school libraries?

   I do not endorse book banning within our schools. Students in the public school system should have access to useful, educational and age appropriate books that in turn help them become educated, productive members of society.

What local organization(s) do you belong to and have you been endorsed or received campaign finances from these or other organizations?

   I am currently the leader of the Byron MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) chapter. I am an active member in the Byron PTA and my church. None of the organizations listed have endorsed me or donated towards my campaign.

Dennis Killinger submitted the following:

What education/qualities do you have to make you the best candidate?

    I’m a concerned parent and community member that is committed to working with our community for the future of our youth. I was active in Scouting for many years and held several leadership positions. I have been active in helping to organize several youth sports in the Byron community. I have also served as a trustee on the Village of Gaines Council and I’m a former volunteer firefighter and EMT.

What do you believe are the three most critical issues facing local school boards/districts right now?

1.     Student/faculty safety

a. Bullying

b. Training for unforeseen events

c. Security

2.     Lack of respect for teachers

a. Salaries

b. Behavior issues

Dennis Killinger   

3.     Funding

a. Technology

b. Transparency

c. Passing of millages

Do you endorse book banning in schools/school libraries?

    Although I believe books should be age appropriate, I also believe much can be learned from many types of literature.

What local organization(s) do you belong to and have you been endorsed or received campaign finances from these or other organizations?

    I’m currently a member of the Byron Area PTA. At this time I have not been endorsed by or received any campaign finances from any organization.

Durand Area School Board Candidate Information

    The current Durand School Board as listed at Durand.k12.mi.us includes Xak Zdunic, Cari Shephard, Nick Taylor, John Dennis, Darrick Huff, Jake Zdunic and Kasey Fiebernitz. The four candidates/incumbents for Election Day include John Dennis, Cari Shephard, Nick Taylor and Jake Zdunic. 

   Due to having so many school board candidates in the county, a list of the same questions was emailed to each candidate with consideration given toward the Independent readership. (See the start of this article for those questions.) Some candidates received a phone call if an email address was not available. One candidate responded: John Dennis.

John Dennis submitted the following:

What education/qualities do you have to make you the best candidate?

   I have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Master’s degree in business administration. I’m a former school technology director and current hospital technology director. I’m a parent of two children (high school/middle school), former college instructor and husband of a middle school teacher. 

What do you believe are the three most critical issues facing local school boards/districts right now?

   Finding and retaining great staff, creating a safe educational environment and supporting the mental health of our staff and students. 

Do you endorse book banning in schools/school libraries?

   No. I believe our democracy was founded on free speech/free press and strongly oppose censorship of any kind. Parents should be working with their children to be sure they are doing the “right” (as defined by them) things, whether that be in the books they read or websites they browse. I believe that my rights end where yours begin.

What local organization(s) do you belong to and have you been endorsed or received campaign finances from these or other organizations?

   I am a member of our school’s PTA, Shiawassee Mental Health Advisory Council, work athletic concessions and volunteer at lock-ins. My campaign is self-funded.

Morrice Area School Board Candidate Information

    The current Morrice School Board as listed at Morrice.k12.mi.us includes Randy Farrow, Roy Munro, Barbara Wyzga, Jerry Dennis, Kelsi Iler, Amy Workman and Stacey Nieto. The two candidates/incumbents for Election Day are Bridgett Flynn and Kelsi Iler. 

   Due to having so many school board candidates in the county, a list of the same questions was emailed to each candidate with consideration given toward the Independent readership. (See the start of this article for those questions.) Some candidates received a phone call if an email address was not available. One candidate responded: Bridgett Flynn.

Bridgett Flynn submitted the following:

What education/qualities do you have to make you the best candidate?

   I am a third generation Morrice graduate with three children in the district. I graduated from MSU with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. I have worked in the field of human services for almost 20 years with 10 years as a supervisor. I am able to approach issues with an objective lens, work collaboratively with others for resolution and strive for the best outcomes for everyone involved.

What do you believe are the three most critical issues facing local school boards/districts right now?

  Parental involvement and control over the education their children are receiving in the public school system, securing and retaining high quality teachers and support staff and keeping the focus on core subjects of reading, mathematics, science and technology so that children are better prepared to be independent and self sufficient adults.

Do you endorse book banning in schools/school libraries?

   While I support our public school libraries offering a variety of books for students to read, they should not include books that contain age inappropriate content. Declining to include a graphically violent or sexually explicit title in a curated collection for children is not “banning”, and should not be controversial.

What local organization(s) do you belong to and have you been endorsed or received campaign finances from these or other organizations?

   I have not received campaign financing from any local organization. 

Watch for your upcoming Independent newspapers for more on school board candidates in other districts. Ballot language and candidate listings can be viewed at         https://www.shiawassee.net/County-Clerk/Ballot-Language-and-Candidate-Listing.aspx

Byron, Durand and Morrice School Board Candidate Information was last modified: September 13th, 2022 by Karen Elford