• James Townsend

2022 Portland Board of Education Candidates: Question and Answer


Five candidates are running for two seats on the Portland Public School Board of Education. The top two vote getters will serve a six-year term.


The Beacon reached out to our readers for questions they wanted to ask the candidates. We received a fantastic response from our readers and received more than 80 reader submitted questions. We cut that list down to the 49 questions that we feel have the most relevance for the upcoming election and we posed these questions to all five candidates. The question is listed in bold, followed by the candidate’s response in plain text. A courtesy photo of each candidate is also included


The election date is November 8th, but absentee and mail in ballots are already arriving in mailboxes.




Linda Hoxie-Green


Personal Information and Experience

· Please tell us about your current employment and past professional experience.

I was a teacher for 33 years in Portland. In 2005 I left Portland to become a Principal/Superintendent in a small k-8 District. I retired from education in 2007. Since retiring I worked for years in retail, 4 years for Sparrow Foundation, and 7 years for 2 local businesses.


· What is your educational background? Please include high school, college, graduate schools attended and degrees/certificates received.

I graduated from Ionia High School and went on to Lansing Community College for 2 years. I received a BS in Elementary Education from Central Michigan University. I went on to MSU where I received a Master in Curriculum and Instruction. I then received an Educational Specialist in Administration.


· Do you have any specialized training or education in the profession of education?

SEE ABOVE


· Do you currently have or have you had children attend PPS? If you child(ren) currently attend, what grades are they in?

I have not had any of my own children attend PPS. As a teacher in Portland for 33 years, it seems like the students who were in my class every year became my children.


· If you had/have children and they did/do not attend the Portland Public Schools, where do/did your children attend school, and how does that impact your decision to run for this position?

No Children


· Do you have any family members or relatives employed by PPS?

No


· What is your personal experience working in our public school system? Not your education, but what has been your past involvement in classrooms, with the teachers, and with individual students.

4-8 grade teacher at Knox One Room School here in Portland

6th grade teacher at Brush Street

6th grade teacher at Westwood when Brush Street closed

6th, 7th, and 8th grade teacher of English and Social Studies at Portland Middle School

Teacher Union President for 20 years

Teacher negotiator for a number of contracts here in Portland


· Why do you want to be involved in helping to set the policies and direction of PPS?

After spending 30+ years in the field of education I found it impossible to totally leave it when I retired. By serving on the Board it allows me to be involved and give something back to the field I love.


· Describe the unique qualifications that you would bring to the school board?

Not only do I have 30+ years of first hand experience in Portland classrooms, I am also Level 6 Michigan Association of School Board Certified.


· Have you served on the board of any other companies or organizations? If so, what were those companies/organizations and when were you in those roles?

I am currently in my second term as President of the Ionia County Intermediate School District.


· Have you ever held an elected public position before? If so, what was that?

I am currently running for my third term for this position. I am also serving a second term on the ISD Board of Education.


· The PPSB manages a sizeable annual budget and is critically involved in long term financial planning. What is your financial background and how do you plan to help keep PPS spending resources wisely and for the purpose of serving the most students?

MASB offers training in school finance and I have taken those classes. As a teacher leader and bargained contracts I spent time, with the help of professionals, learning about school finance. In the years I have served on the ISD and PPS board I have been fortunate to work with outstanding Finance Directors. If I have questions they have been willing to work with me until I understood and felt comfortable with the information.


· Do you have time in your busy life activities and work to be able to research and understand past, current and future PPSB issues?

I am probably in a better position than most because of being retired and only working part time. Another advantage is I lived the past by being employed for 32 years in the district through good times and not so good times. Our current board works together to ensure understanding. If we have questions we will go to people to help us learn and understand.


School Participation and School Board Participation

· How many PPS Board (PPSB) meetings have you attended in the last school year? How many in the last 5 years?

These meetings are important to me. When the calendar comes out for the school year, they are put on my calendar. In any given year I may only miss one or two at the most either because of illness or being out of town.


· Have you volunteered for PPS activities either during or after school? If yes, what were those?

I have volunteered to work elementary book fairs, Open Houses, athletic events, school carnivals, and Trick or Treat nights at the high school.


· Explain how the U.S. Constitution and/or the Michigan Constitution is relevant to the effective functioning of the school board.

Both the U.S. and State of Michigan Constitution establish laws and regulations that must be followed by schools and school boards. We as board members do not have the freedom to pick and choose which ones we follow.


· School Board elections are non-partisan. How will you make sure that your political party affiliation does not have a negative impact on the needs of all students at PPS?

As questioned above. We MUST follow the laws set forth in the U.S. and State of Michigan Constitutions in addition to the laws passed by the state legislature. In order to become a law both parties have to come to an agreement. We don’t have the freedom to pick and choose only those we agree with.


· Do you think the current school board and administration have been doing a good job? If so, what are some of the things that you feel they have done best? If not, what are some things you want to improve?

I know the current board members and administration have spent countless hours thinking, discussing, and working hard to keep the students at PPS safe and educated. They are not only your children. We worry, think about, and want to do the very best we can as if they were our own children. Like most families we may disagree what that looks like. However, when a decision is made it comes down to “What is best for the students.” That has been and always will be my measure. To say the past couple of years have been difficult is an understatement. With the affect of COVID and the loss of students to suicide our number one priority has to be the mental health of not only our students and staff but our community as a whole.


· How do you intend to represent the parents and the students of Portland?

I will always work to do my BEST! Portland has become my home after almost 50 years as a resident. I am a member of an amazing group of people. By working together and bringing our varied experiences, we come together to make the best decisions we can.


· If elected, outside of board meetings how do you plan to make yourself accessible to the community?

Each board member has an email contact on the school’s website. What the public needs to remember is that we are a board. As individuals we DO NOT set policy. We each have one vote.


· What do you see as the board’s primary roles and responsibilities?

School boards derive their power and authority from the state. In compliance with state and federal laws, school boards establish policies and regulations by which their local schools are governed. The local school board is responsible for employing the superintendent.


· How much time have you spent understanding the PPSB Operating Procedures?

I have been spending my entire time on the board working with operating procedures. As a board we formalized and adopted our Operating Procedures in the past 2 years.


Views on Current District Programs

· Portland has an excellent athletic program that gives about one third of students an opportunity to succeed. There is a void when it comes to the arts, which do not receive the same recognition or financial support. They are essential to nurturing minds and dreams often being the only area where some students find acceptance or an outlet for expression. What do you see as your role in supporting and encouraging drama, art and music and how will you work to meet the needs of this student group?

In the past 2 years the administration has added choir at both the middle and high school. This school year students are being offered classes in such areas as Film Appreciation, Advanced Drama, Digital Photography, Graphic Design to name a few.


· PACE is the PPS building for alternative, virtual and adult learning. How do you feel about the alternative education building, not necessarily that it’s good or bad, but what PACE is doing to support its various programs and the students, along with the other schools in our district?

PACE offers services to a variety of students that meet their needs. I am proud of what they do and the services they provide their students. I have had the pleasure of attending the graduation ceremony each year for the PACE program. Mr. Deardorff and his staff do an outstanding job educating their students. They become, not only role models, but second parents and cheerleaders for their students. The relationship between students and staff is evident in the speeches by the graduating students. They have brought me to tears more than once.


· What are your thoughts on how Portland Public School is doing with its programming for Special Education, and how can the district improve Special Education resources?

If by resources you are speaking of the money available to pay for programs there is not much leeway. Special Education is paid for by federal grants that can only be used as stated in the law. In some instances we work in conjunction with Ionia County ISD who provides services directly. We have an outstanding staff both from the ISD and local teachers. The goal for all educators is to provide the best education possible that meets the individual student needs.


Views on Current Topics

· Merriam-Webster defines critical race theory as “a group of concepts (such as the idea that race is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system) used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States.” What are your views on critical race theory and to what extent do you feel it should be taught in PPS?

Critical Race Theory is NOT a curriculum. It was a theory that first appeared in the 1980’s as a debate that took place in academic papers. It is NOT part if the Michigan adopted curriculum that schools are help accountable for teaching.


· What are your views on teaching about gender identity?

There is a district adopted Health Education Curriculum that was adopted this past spring after many hours in committee meetings and 2 public hearings. The committee was made up of health care professionals, administrators, parents, students, and health teachers.


· How should PPSB address the transgender issues (bathrooms and sports) and does PPSB have to address these issues?

School officials and Boards must follow the law s that deal with this issue.


· School safety and security is such an important topic in today’s world. Do you have any ideas of ways PPS can combat gun violence and other attacks against students and faculty?

We are fortunate that ALL the schools in Ionia County are working together along with the ISD, law enforcement, and emergency professionals to develop a plan, procedures, and development of training. I hope no other district must face the loss of students the way Portland did this past year.


· What is your approach to dealing with discussions about potentially difficult topics, such as race, religion, politics, sexual orientation or sexual identity? Please provide a specific example.

A question was asked earlier about how the U>S and State Constitution is relevant to the effective functioning of the school board. All of the above are protected under either the federal or state Constitution. As a board we may NOT pick and choose what laws we follow.


· What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you, and how should it be incorporated at PPS?

Diversity – we all are unique, but we all have VALUE.

Equity – this does not mean exactly the same. We should all have the same/equal opportunities for achieving equal footing in life.

Inclusion – everyone should have the opportunity to belong and have value


· With colleges, corporations and various entities committing resources and focusing on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), tell us about one or two specific things that you have done to promote DEI in your current (or last) job?

No matter what job I had/have I always treat people with respect. I was always taught to treat people the way I would want to be treated.


· Public schools may not promote religion, but they must allow students to practice their faith. In a public school system with children of multiple beliefs and faiths, where do you believe religion fits in and how will this influence your position as a school board member? Please provide a specific example.

School can not, by law, discriminate based on religion. Our job is to teach state approved curriculum.


· According to the Detroit Free Press, the DeVos family backed “Let MI Kids Learn plan includes two initiatives: One would create a scholarship called the Student Opportunity Scholarship to provide grants to families of K-12 students to cover educational expenses such as online classes, tutoring or tuition. The second would create a new tax credit for those who contribute to the program. The proposal would cap tax credits for donors and businesses that contribute to the scholarship fund at $500 million annually. Opponents contend the proposal amounts to a voucher system to divert taxpayer dollars from public schools to private ones.” What is your position on the Let Mi Kids Learn initiative that if passed could potentially impact the funding for public schools in Michigan? If you support it, how can you run to be on a public school board when supporting an initiative that will hurt public schools.

This is a political question based on political views.


· Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits sex discrimination, including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity, in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. During the 9/12/22 PPS board meeting, there was a tremendous amount of focus during the citizen comments period on the "proposed" changes to Title IX and how it will impact our community. Do you feel that PPS must comply with Title IX? If not, why, and how would you make up for the loss of funding for the district?

There is Constitutional language and laws that cover these topics. As board members we DO NOT have the choice, we MUST follow the law.


· After the most 9/12/22 school board meeting, where do you stand on supporting the kids in our school district that belong to the LGBTQIA community (for those that may not know, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the abbreviation as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (one’s sexual or gender identity), intersex, and asexual/aromantic/agender)? Please provide specific examples, ideas and approaches related to participation and inclusion in school events, activities, sports and daily integration within the school.

We will follow the Constitutions and the laws that govern.


· How important is it to you that PPS support LGBTQ students and make necessary accommodations to allow them to feel safe?

I would do the same for every student. I would keep them safe an follow the laws that protect them.


· What do you see as the role of schools in teaching children about topics such as wellness, bullying, cyber-safety, AIDS, and the COVID-19 pandemic?

The role of PPS is clearly in the Board adopted HIV/AIDS and Sex Education Guide. The community had opportunities to share their input through members of the committee made up of school personnel, healthcare professionals, clergy, parents, and students.


· What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing Portland Public Schools, and what ideas do you have on the best way to overcome these challenges?

The biggest challenge we have, not only in our school, but as a nation, is the divisiveness. We will never solve ANY problem until we can treat each with respect and STOP the attitude of MY WAY OR NO WAY!

· Describe your position on book censorship. Do you believe schools should be censoring reading materials or is it better for these decisions to be made at home?

Why do books SCARE us? Reading is learning.


· What could we be doing better as a school district to support the mental health of students and faculty?

STOP the divisiveness! Stop screaming and accusing others of behaviors that you may not like or agree with. Mental health begins by having a feeling of being accepted, valued, and listened to. We don’t all have to look, act, or believe in the same things to be good people. School personnel would never do anything to hurt a child. They are there to do a job they love and assist student to become all they can be.


Other Questions

· How would you suggest that we keep parents involved with PPS and their students?

Talk to their student about school and activities. Ask questions without being judgmental. Take the time to respond to surveys. They are also given opportunities to come to school for presentations and programs.


· Many studies show that children from two-parent households have an easier time negotiating school than single-parent households. Any ideas on how to help the single-parent students?

I take offense at this question by the assumption this is always the true. I, myself, was raised by a single mother after my father’s death. She worked hard to support her 3 daughters. I am proud of the way she raised us. It is our job as a school to support ALL students no matter their parental makeup. Good parents take many different forms.


· Why should parents send their children to PPS rather than homeschool them?

Parents have a choice how to educate their children. I feel confident that if they choose to send them to PPS they will NOT find a more dedicated staff who continue to strive to continue to grow and progress in order to give the students of Portland Public Schools the best education that will help EVERY student reach their full individual potential.


· What do you feel are the major issues facing the Portland School District?

The divisiveness in this community. There seems to be a THEN vs US. I’m not sure who the “them vs us” are or what caused this divide. Schools should be safe for all to learn, explore ideas, and grow into their full potential.


· Teachers have a huge responsibility. Do you believe PPS teachers are paid commensurately?

I believe all educators (no matter their title) deserve more. They have from the time I was in the classroom. Salaries are a piece of a very big pie.


· Teachers are often known for spending out-of-pocket money to support their classroom. Do you have any ideas how to help them financially and therefore help the students?

We as a district purchase items in bulk based on teacher supply requests. Individuals can do what others have done and that is adopt a classroom. While you are shopping pick up supplies while they are on sale or purchase gift cards to places like Target or Meijer.


· How could PPSB and PPS better support the teachers?

One way, not only PPSB and PPS, but the community as a whole, treat ALL school staff (no matter their title) as the professionals they are. Listen and respect what they have to say. The students of PPS is as important to them as your children are to you. They just have larger numbers of them to think and worry about.


Additional Information

· Is there anything else you’d like to share with Beacon readers?

(No response provided.)






Douglas A. Logel Jr.


Personal Information and Experience

· Please tell us about your current employment and past professional experience.

I have been an Audiologist for 20 years. I am both the Owner and Audiologist of Grand Hearing Center which has been located in Portland since 2011. Also, I retired from the Portland Fire Department in 2021 after over 18 years of service.


· What is your educational background? Please include high school, college, graduate schools attended and degrees/certificates received.

I graduated high school from Portland St. Patrick's. I attended Central Michigan University for my bachelor's degree and Michigan State University for my master's degree. I have been a licensed audiologist since 2002. In 2019 I became a Michigan Association of School Boards, Board-Certified School Board member.


· Do you have any specialized training or education in the profession of education?

I am a Board-Certified School Board member through the Michigan Association of School Boards. I also have several hours of non-required continuing education credits through Michigan Association of School Boards.


· Do you currently have or have you had children attend PPS? If you child(ren) currently attend, what grades are they in?

Over the past decade, my wife Amy and I are proud to have all three of our children attend PPS. My oldest daughter is a junior, my son is a sixth grader, and my youngest daughter is a third grader.


· If you had/have children and they did/do not attend the Portland Public Schools, where do/did your children attend school, and how does that impact your decision to run for this position?

As all three of our children attend PPS, this does not apply to me.


· Do you have any family members or relatives employed by PPS?

No, I do not have any family members or relatives employed by PPS.


· What is your personal experience working in our public school system? Not your education, but what has been your past involvement in classrooms, with the teachers, and with individual students.

I am proud to say that I have had the opportunity to volunteer for many activities over the years. My wife likes to joke that I cannot say “no!” Field trips, athletic events, Athletic Association volunteer, Mileage Club, team “Parent”, provided food for teacher appreciation week, participated in PTO’s “adopt a teacher” program, I volunteer weekly for Backpacks for Bellies by distributing meals to economically disadvantaged PPS students; while school is in session, I am in PPS buildings often during the week.


· Why do you want to be involved in helping to set the policies and direction of PPS?

In the decade that I have had children in PPS, I have found it to be a great community of families. I am proud to say that I have been a part of a great team at PPS for the last 4.5 years to help keep our students educated in a positive and safe environment. Our district has great forward momentum, and I am eager to continue the positive direction we are headed in and build on the existing strong foundation.


· Describe the unique qualifications that you would bring to the school board?

As a lifelong resident, business owner, PPS parent and community-involved member, I am able to connect with many members of our community to hear their concerns and use my diverse background to problem solve. I have had children in all four building of the district including, currently at Westwood, Middle school, and High school. Our children are connected to the special education program as well as other supplemental programs. As a parent, board member, and community member, I play an active role in our schools and understand some of the day to day wins and challenges.


· Have you served on the board of any other companies or organizations? If so, what were those companies/organizations and when were you in those roles?

Yes. I served on Portland’s Chamber of Commerce for approximately 5 years. I am currently the secretary for the Portland Community Fund Association, and I am on the Board for Portland’s Backpacks for Bellies. I was also the secretary for the Looking Glass Firefighter's Association.


· Have you ever held an elected public position before? If so, what was that?

Yes. I am currently a trustee on the Portland Public Schools Board of Education. I serve on the operations, programs and finance committees.


· The PPSB manages a sizeable annual budget and is critically involved in long term financial planning. What is your financial background and how do you plan to help keep PPS spending resources wisely and for the purpose of serving the most students?

It is a $25 Million budget to be exact! As the owner of a small business I have financial expertise. With a Michigan Association of School Boards Board-Certification, I am able to apply my financial expertise to an educational setting. Currently, as a member of PPS board, I support the financial sub-committee. In that role, I am able to assess current needs verses wants, assess and provide input around the annual budget, and consider the plan for long term expenses based on PPS goals. Our financial department has done an exceptional job of finding cost savings and operating on a balanced budget all while making significant investments in our curriculum, technology, staff and facilities.


· Do you have time in your busy life activities and work to be able to research and understand past, current and future PPSB issues?

Yes. As a current board member, over the past 4.5 years I have missed 5 of nearly 100 PPS board meetings, arrived prepared to discuss the meeting agenda, I have spent hours in sub-committee meetings, worked to drive the bond proposal work forward, and responded timely to email conversation in between meetings. I have used my time management strategies to do what is necessary to fulfill my role as a member of such a great team.


School Participation and School Board Participation

· How many PPS Board (PPSB) meetings have you attended in the last school year? How many in the last 5 years?

In 2022, I have attended every single one with one exception (19). I have missed 5 of nearly 100 meetings in the last 4.5 years.


· Have you volunteered for PPS activities either during or after school? If yes, what were those?

I am proud to say that I have had the opportunity to volunteer for many activities over the years. My wife likes to joke that I cannot say “no!” Field trips, athletic events, Athletic Association volunteer, Mileage Club, team “Parent”, provided food for teacher appreciation week, participated in PTO’s “adopt a teacher” program, I volunteer weekly for Backpacks for Bellies by distributing meals to economically disadvantaged PPS students; while school is in session, I am in PPS buildings often during the week.


· Explain how the U.S. Constitution and/or the Michigan Constitution is relevant to the effective functioning of the school board.

I took an oath to uphold the Constitution when I was elected to the school Board. The US Constitution has no relevancy to the operation of a school district.


· School Board elections are non-partisan. How will you make sure that your political party affiliation does not have a negative impact on the needs of all students at PPS?

I am happy to be a member of a Board that prides itself on leaving politics aside to effectively operate a school district of approximately 2,050 students. I am also happy to say that I am not endorsed by any other political candidates/party because I am here to serve the families and students of PPS and have no political agenda.


· Do you think the current school board and administration have been doing a good job? If so, what are some of the things that you feel they have done best? If not, what are some things you want to improve?

I may be bias but, yes, I think that PPS has been doing an excellent job! The amount of mental health resources that they have brought into our schools is nothing short of amazing. From adding 5 facility dogs and multiple new counselor positions, and implementing Capturing Kids Hearts, it is clearly a passion for this administration. Additionally, aligning curriculum from PK-13 has clearly been a focus area. We have added multiple new curriculum resources at the elementary levels and continue to seamlessly align those to middle school and beyond. The new master schedule at the high school and change in the sixth graders focus to organization and relationship building has also been an area of great success. The facility projects have improved the physical security of our buildings and many of our athletic, education, and support facilities.


· How do you intend to represent the parents and the students of Portland?

As a lifelong resident, business owner, PPS parent and community-involved member, I am able to connect with many members of our community to hear their concerns and use my diverse background to problem solve. I have had children in all four buildings of the district including, currently at Westwood, Middle school, and High school. Our children are connected to the special education program as well as other supplemental programs. As a parent, board member, and community member, I play an active role in our schools and understand some of the day to day wins and challenges in order to represent the parents of PPS students.


· If elected, outside of board meetings how do you plan to make yourself accessible to the community?

You will see me all over town whether through my job, three kids' activities, numerous volunteer positions or walking on our river trail system. You are also welcome to email me at dlogel@portlandk12.org.


· What do you see as the board’s primary roles and responsibilities?

The Board responsibilities are: to hire & evaluate the Superintendent, review budget and align funding, monitor student achievement and facility maintenance just to name a few.


· How much time have you spent understanding the PPSB Operating Procedures?

I have studied them at length and refer to it often during the course of our decision-making processes.


Views on Current District Programs

· Portland has an excellent athletic program that gives about one third of students an opportunity to succeed. There is a void when it comes to the arts, which do not receive the same recognition or financial support. They are essential to nurturing minds and dreams often being the only area where some students find acceptance or an outlet for expression. What do you see as your role in supporting and encouraging drama, art and music and how will you work to meet the needs of this student group?

Our Arts are comprehensive and well taught. As a parent of children who are in band, art, and music classes, I would like to see us continue the offerings that we have in the Arts. Our classes are full of passionate students and teachers. As in many other school districts, the Portland community has shown that it supports sports more than the Arts. An example of this would be Jr. Raiders. This program has been around for 40 years and starts at a young age and there is continuity from the lower levels all the way through Varsity. This sort of program unfortunately doesn't exist in the Arts in this community; therefore, students are introduced to the Arts at a much later age. Despite that, I believe that PPS is working in the right direction.


· PACE is the PPS building for alternative, virtual and adult learning. How do you feel about the alternative education building, not necessarily that it’s good or bad, but what PACE is doing to support its various programs and the students, along with the other schools in our district?

PACE is the unsung story of our district. The programs that are offered through PACE allow students achieve their best potential in a format that fits their learning style. Whether it be support through an accelerated program, 5th year program, adult education, virtual program, or support to students that need more one-to-one instruction, PACE supports a variety of PPS students. I am proud of the work that is achieved in our PACE program.


· What are your thoughts on how Portland Public School is doing with its programming for Special Education, and how can the district improve Special Education resources?

Special Education has been an area of particular focus over the past few years and particular interest to me as one of my children is served by the program. We have a very robust Special Education department and that is evident in the school of choice students that come to us for their education. We have moved all para-pro positions to be district employed positions. This has allowed us to recruit, retain and train staff so that positions are filled with quality staff. As a parent, this has provided for more consistent staffing and support to my child. Para-pros and beyond, the staff are the stars of our PPS Special Education Department who meet children where they are at and build a supportive environment!


Views on Current Topics

· Merriam-Webster defines critical race theory as “a group of concepts (such as the idea that race is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system) used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States.” What are your views on critical race theory and to what extent do you feel it should be taught in PPS?

Though I believe in providing our students with an education that exposes them to the diverse history of all communities, PPS currently does not teach CRT. I would anticipate, similar to other curriculum, unless it is mandated to us by the MI Department of Education, CRT will not be added to PPS curriculum.


· What are your views on teaching about gender identity?

There is no curriculum in PPS that teaches gender identity. I see this as a bit broader and believe that the job of educators is to prepare our students for life beyond high school. In our world, there are many things that we may not fully understand. Having an open mind as new information and perspectives present themselves is an important skill. PPS should continue to build a safe environment that provides space to address the variety of issuing facing our children.


· How should PPSB address the transgender issues (bathrooms and sports) and does PPSB have to address these issues?

Sports-related decisions are handled by MHSAA. Each year we elect to join their organization and therefore, adhere to the rules they set forth. It is not a local level decision.


· School safety and security is such an important topic in today’s world. Do you have any ideas of ways PPS can combat gun violence and other attacks against students and faculty?

As a district we have invested substantial resources in making our buildings more secure. Secured entryways, restricted entry to buildings, additional cameras, door latching systems district wide, advanced training of staff and students and improved lines of sight are just a few improvements. With an eye on prevention, we also cannot overlook the district-wide initiative that staff work to form healthy relationships with students. PPS staff connecting with students and families while providing opportunities to peers to connect is a great way to avoid any crisis situation.


· What is your approach to dealing with discussions about potentially difficult topics, such as race, religion, politics, sexual orientation or sexual identity? Please provide a specific example.

I believe that we should create an environment where ALL students are able to thrive and achieve their fullest potential. In our world, there are many things that we may not fully understand. Having an open mind as new information and perspectives present themselves is an important skill. PPS should continue to build a safe environment that provides space to address the variety of issuing facing our children.


· What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you, and how should it be incorporated at PPS?

I believe that we should create an environment where ALL students are able to thrive and achieve their fullest potential. In our world, there are many things that we may not fully understand. Having an open mind as new information and perspectives present themselves is an important skill. PPS should continue to build a safe environment that provides space to address the variety of issuing facing our children. Our ultimate goal for our students should be that they go out into the “real world” to become a contributing member of society while displaying their Raider PRIDE!


· With colleges, corporations and various entities committing resources and focusing on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), tell us about one or two specific things that you have done to promote DEI in your current (or last) job?

I treat everyone with kindness and respect. When I do that, including everyone no matter who they are, it is simple to do. Everyone has “a seat at the table.” In my line of work, I work to support many older adults with various backgrounds and perspectives. I meet everyone where they are at. I also attend required DEI training through my National Accreditation Organization.


· Public schools may not promote religion, but they must allow students to practice their faith. In a public school system with children of multiple beliefs and faiths, where do you believe religion fits in and how will this influence your position as a school board member? Please provide a specific example.

We provide public education and therefore, maintain a separation of church and State inside our walls. It is important that we not impeded a student to express any religious beliefs that they may have. Both of these can happen when PPS students and staff create an environment of mutual respect.


· According to the Detroit Free Press, the DeVos family backed “Let MI Kids Learn plan includes two initiatives: One would create a scholarship called the Student Opportunity Scholarship to provide grants to families of K-12 students to cover educational expenses such as online classes, tutoring or tuition. The second would create a new tax credit for those who contribute to the program. The proposal would cap tax credits for donors and businesses that contribute to the scholarship fund at $500 million annually. Opponents contend the proposal amounts to a voucher system to divert taxpayer dollars from public schools to private ones.” What is your position on the Let Mi Kids Learn initiative that if passed could potentially impact the funding for public schools in Michigan? If you support it, how can you run to be on a public school board when supporting an initiative that will hurt public schools.

I do not support pulling any funding from our public-school systems.


· Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits sex discrimination, including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity, in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. During the 9/12/22 PPS board meeting, there was a tremendous amount of focus during the citizen comments period on the "proposed" changes to Title IX and how it will impact our community. Do you feel that PPS must comply with Title IX? If not, why, and how would you make up for the loss of funding for the district?

We have an obligation to comply. The reality is that government, be it State or Federal, controls 93% of funding for our schools, we have absolutely no choice but to comply.


· After the most 9/12/22 school board meeting, where do you stand on supporting the kids in our school district that belong to the LGBTQIA community (for those that may not know, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the abbreviation as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (one’s sexual or gender identity), intersex, and asexual/aromantic/agender)? Please provide specific examples, ideas and approaches related to participation and inclusion in school events, activities, sports and daily integration within the school.

I stand with PPS in employing LGBTQIA+ staff and support our LGBTQIA+ students. LGBTQIA+ youth have a significantly higher rate of suicide. One example of that value in action is that PPS has increased counselors for all students so that they may have a trusted adult to seek out. PPS should be a safe and supportive place for all.


· How important is it to you that PPS support LGBTQ students and make necessary accommodations to allow them to feel safe?

Safety is our top priority. Every child should feel safe at school regardless. We are committed to the safety of all staff and students.


· What do you see as the role of schools in teaching children about topics such as wellness, bullying, cyber-safety, AIDS, and the COVID-19 pandemic?

Health, wellness, and behavioral health support (anti-bullying and cyber safety) have been offered as part of PPS curriculum since before my time on the board. I believe that it is our obligation to support the education of the whole child which includes these various topics. As a parent, I have appreciated that PPS encourages lots of communication between parents and teachers which allows parents to have an understanding of what classes, books, topics, or lessons are being taught allowing parents to “opt out” as requested.


· What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing Portland Public Schools, and what ideas do you have on the best way to overcome these challenges?

Lack of research, sharing misinformation, and lack of communication can lead to divisiveness between home and school. At moments it seems like there are have been some misconceptions of what happens inside our walls and what PPS administration and the School Board has control over. I encourage anyone, especially parents and caregivers, to look at our budget, curriculum, attend or review Board meeting minutes all of which are available on our website: www.portlandk12.org


· Describe your position on book censorship. Do you believe schools should be censoring reading materials or is it better for these decisions to be made at home?

In partnership with a teacher, parents can make the decision if they feel a book is not appropriate for their child. All materials used in PPS curriculum have been approved and meet educational standards.


· What could we be doing better as a school district to support the mental health of students and faculty?

Continue the wonderful work we have already began! The amount of mental health resources that we have brought into our schools is nothing short of amazing. From adding 5 facility dogs and multiple new counselor positions, and implementing Capturing Kids Hearts, it is clearly a passion for this administration.


Other Questions

· How would you suggest that we keep parents involved with PPS and their students?

I would encourage parents to reach out to your student’s teacher and/or extra-curricular coach/director and ask how you can help. Reaching out to school principals or front office staff may open up volunteering opportunities. Many Oakwood and Westwood teachers use communication tools like Class Dojo or Remind which are great ways to stay connected and get involved. For all grades, using Skyward to monitor your child’s grades and communicate with their teachers is a great way to bridge the home/school gap.


· Many studies show that children from two-parent households have an easier time negotiating school than single-parent households. Any ideas on how to help the single-parent students?

All families have challenges and a single parent household can certainly add to that challenge. I would encourage all parents to keep an open line of communication between themselves, their child’s teacher(s), and building leadership particularly as barriers arise. Create a community of supports for their own family. This can be neighbors, other parents, church members, teachers, school counselors, friends or co-workers.


· Why should parents send their children to PPS rather than homeschool them?

What school a parent chooses for their child is a personal choice, individual to the child and family needs and goals. At PPS, we can offer multiple supports such as different teaching styles, socialization from peers, counseling services, extracurricular activities, and role models for all children.


· What do you feel are the major issues facing the Portland School District?

Lack of research, sharing misinformation, and lack of communication can lead to divisiveness between home and school. At moments it seems that there are have been some misconceptions of what happens inside our walls and what PPS administration and the School Board has control over. I encourage anyone, especially parents and caregivers, to look at our budget, curriculum, attend or review Board meeting minutes all of which are available on our website: www.portlandk12.org.


· Teachers have a huge responsibility. Do you believe PPS teachers are paid commensurately?

Our staff and teachers are PPS’s greatest resource! We have been diligently increasing compensation packages for several years. As with every employer, there never seems to be a large enough budget for employee compensation. This is the single largest line item in our budget and continues to increase as we retain quality staff, recruit new staff and add new positions district wide. I am happy to say that with the passing of our most recent PEA contract, all teachers will receive an average of an 4% raise in salary. The most recent contract puts them competitively aligned with teachers of similar sized districts in a geographically similar area.


· Teachers are often known for spending out-of-pocket money to support their classroom. Do you have any ideas how to help them financially and therefore help the students?

As we all know, budgets are not endless! Thanks goodness PPS’s PTO does such a wonderful job organizing fundraisers and other supports for our teachers. Many teachers have “wish list” items that they ask for from families so just ask; that is a great way for parents to get involved and lessen the financial burden on the teachers.


· How could PPSB and PPS better support the teachers?

As a member of PPSB and a parent, I find many ways to support our teachers. PPSB continues to build a safe environment through increased security measures and trainings. PPS administration provide staff and teachers with many quality continuing educational opportunities. We have added staff to support teachers in the classrooms not only to add additional academic support but also behavioral health support. Also, teachers have access to increased technology capabilities and support.


Additional Information

· Is there anything else you’d like to share with Beacon readers?

I would be my honor to have your vote on November 8th so that I may continue to serve the community that means so much to me. GO RAIDERS!!!








Susan L. Moyer


Personal Information and Experience

· Please tell us about your current employment and past professional experience.

I am employed by the State of Michigan. I project manage the moves, renovations, and the construction of new buildings for the Department of Health and Human Services. I also do the design work and space planning for these buildings.


· What is your educational background? Please include high school, college, graduate schools attended and degrees/certificates received.

I graduated from Portland St. Patrick’s High School, I did participate in the Portland Public School trade program during my high school experience and took their dental assistance program. I then went on to get a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University in Interior Architectural Design.


· Do you have any specialized training or education in the profession of education?

I do not have training in the profession of education.


· Do you currently have or have you had children attend PPS? If you child(ren) currently attend, what grades are they in?

I do not have any children who attended PPS.



· If you had/have children and they did/do not attend the Portland Public Schools, where do/did your children attend school, and how does that impact your decision to run for this position?

My two children attended Portland St. Patrick’s. My husband attended PPS. I have lived and been involved in the community of Portland for over 53 years. I have several relatives and friends who have children who attend PPS. I have always supported PPS and been grateful to have both schools in Portland.


· Do you have any family members or relatives employed by PPS?

I do not have any family members or relatives that are employed by PPS.


· What is your personal experience working in our public school system? Not your education, but what has been your past involvement in classrooms, with the teachers, and with individual students.

I was asked by a past student to present my occupation to a 7th grade PPS class. I was able to talk with that teacher and class about my career and answer any questions that they had. I have taken two of the high school students that attended PPS on separate occasions to have them shadow me at work. I also was the team mom for the Portland Jr. Raiders team when my children participated. My husband’s business has been an active sponsor of the athletic programs at PPS for many years.


· Why do you want to be involved in helping to set the policies and direction of PPS?

I think it is important to have a group where all kinds of ideas can be discussed, and different perspectives looked at. I am in a time in my life where I have the time and energy to devote to this and I care about this community. I think PPS is a good school but feel there could be some improvements made to make it an even better school.


· Describe the unique qualifications that you would bring to the school board?

I base my decisions on facts and data rather than impressions of the role. I am good at research and think it is important to look at both sides of the situation to come to a reasonable solution. I would offer a new perspective coming in from the community rather than an elected position. I have a philosophy to always raise the bar and to not just get by, but to thrive and improve.


· Have you served on the board of any other companies or organizations? If so, what were those companies/organizations and when were you in those roles?

I have served on a committee that handled putting together a request for proposal for a multi-million-dollar modular furniture bid and I am currently working on a committee to handle a carpet proposal for the entire State of Michigan.


· Have you ever held an elected public position before? If so, what was that?

I have not held an elected public position before.


· The PPSB manages a sizeable annual budget and is critically involved in long term financial planning. What is your financial background and how do you plan to help keep PPS spending resources wisely and for the purpose of serving the most students?

In my current position at work, I help budget and handle large multi-million dollar building projects. I do estimates for the project, help decide how the money would best be spent, and keep track of the budget. The PPS spending should be prioritized so that the children can have the best education and teachers have all the resources that they need.


· Do you have time in your busy life activities and work to be able to research and understand past, current and future PPSB issues?

My children are grown and on their own, it is not a matter of having time, but making the time to research and understand PPSB issues.


School Participation and School Board Participation

· How many PPS Board (PPSB) meetings have you attended in the last school year? How many in the last 5 years?

I have attended approx. 8 board meetings in the last 2 years.


· Have you volunteered for PPS activities either during or after school? If yes, what were those?

I was very involved in the Portland Jr. Raiders program. I was the team mom and organized several events such as the family team get together, helped with the trophy event, and handled working with the parents on volunteer opportunities within this program.


· Explain how the U.S. Constitution and/or the Michigan Constitution is relevant to the effective functioning of the school board.

It is a means for the official to make a public commitment to the duties, responsibilities, and obligations associated with holding public office. As public agencies created by State legislative mandate, school districts and the officers thereof are obligated to abide by several provisions of the United States Constitution. School boards can reduce many of the sources of current student and parent unrest by complying with these provisions. Most importantly, it protects people’s rights.


· School Board elections are non-partisan. How will you make sure that your political party affiliation does not have a negative impact on the needs of all students at PPS?

This is about the education, curriculum, and policies that are implemented and making sure that they are in the best interest of the children and teachers. This should be a common goal and not affiliated with a political party.


· Do you think the current school board and administration have been doing a good job? If so, what are some of the things that you feel they have done best? If not, what are some things you want to improve?

From what I have witnessed, the current school board members have done a good job with building maintenance items and allocated funds to help get the school structures and grounds up to par. I would like to see improvement and emphasis put on education, curriculum, and compensating the teachers so that PPS can offer the highest quality education. Also, to not only listen to parent concerns, but to provide a response to those concerns, at some point, needs to be made a priority.


· How do you intend to represent the parents and the students of Portland?

By making sure that the Raider school kids get a good education, have a safe learning environment, and that the parents are encouraged to get involved.


· If elected, outside of board meetings how do you plan to make yourself accessible to the community?

I will make sure to have an email address and phone number where I can be reached if there are concerns or ideas that need to be communicated. I may also create a Facebook page to add information to about each board room meeting so that parents and students could access this information easily. This would allow and welcome questions and communication with the community.


· What do you see as the board’s primary roles and responsibilities?

Making sure that not only is the school maintained well and that the school is providing good athletic programs, but to get back to the basics of education: arithmetic, writing, speaking and communication, reading, science, and history. I feel that competitive compensation to attract and retain good teachers is important and is key to giving these children the best education that they can have. Also, making sure that parents have a say and are offered feedback and a response from the school board.


· How much time have you spent understanding the PPSB Operating Procedures?

I have learned a lot from attending several PPS school board room meetings, have done online research, and I am attending a training event in October about school board procedures.


Views on Current District Programs

· Portland has an excellent athletic program that gives about one third of students an opportunity to succeed. There is a void when it comes to the arts, which do not receive the same recognition or financial support. They are essential to nurturing minds and dreams often being the only area where some students find acceptance or an outlet for expression. What do you see as your role in supporting and encouraging drama, art and music and how will you work to meet the needs of this student group?

Create more events that highlight the drama, art, and music students and their talents. Also, have a dedicated space within the school for displaying and recognizing the many talents of these children.


· PACE is the PPS building for alternative, virtual and adult learning. How do you feel about the alternative education building, not necessarily that it’s good or bad, but what PACE is doing to support its various programs and the students, along with the other schools in our district?

I have heard good feedback on PACE and anytime there is a source for someone to finish or enhance their education, it is a good idea.


· What are your thoughts on how Portland Public School is doing with its programming for Special Education, and how can the district improve Special Education resources?

Special education is a critical aspect when it comes to giving these students a quality education. I think the current program could improve by having additional resources.


Views on Current Topics

· Merriam-Webster defines critical race theory as “a group of concepts (such as the idea that race is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system) used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States.” What are your views on critical race theory and to what extent do you feel it should be taught in PPS?

I view Critical Race Theory as part of a thought process that divides people rather than bringing them together. It puts people into separate categories rather than looking at who the person is as an individual. It trains people to treat others based on their category.


· What are your views on teaching about gender identity?

Gender identity should not be a school subject, but something that should be discussed at home with parent involvement. The school should be teaching basic fundamental skills and things like how to invest and save money, how to do applications and resumes for college and a career, or teach skills of certain trades.


· How should PPSB address the transgender issues (bathrooms and sports) and does PPSB have to address these issues?

The board involvement with these types of topics should be to ensure that decisions are made so that children are able to keep academics as a priority. It would also be important to base decisions on these types of things as to offer a safe environment for all students.


· School safety and security is such an important topic in today’s world. Do you have any ideas of ways PPS can combat gun violence and other attacks against students and faculty?

It would be important to monitor the wellbeing of the students and look for signs that may be of concern. Proper incident training could be helpful and having a procedure to monitor who is coming in and out of the school buildings.


· What is your approach to dealing with discussions about potentially difficult topics, such as race, religion, politics, sexual orientation or sexual identity? Please provide a specific example.

My approach would be to respect and be good to all people. It is ok to discuss things if it is done in an appropriate manner and kept respectful of the age group. Example: If a teacher is pushing his or her political views on the students, this situation would need to be remedied.


· What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you, and how should it be incorporated at PPS?

Much like Critical Race Theory, this thought process divides people into categories. I feel it is important to treat all people with dignity and respect no matter what their beliefs are, or culture is. I feel you should look at people as individuals and not put them in separate categories.


· With colleges, corporations and various entities committing resources and focusing on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), tell us about one or two specific things that you have done to promote DEI in your current (or last) job?

DEI puts people in certain categories. With my current job, I get along with all kinds of people from many different cultures and backgrounds. I treat each one of them with respect and treat them as an individual rather than placing them in a certain group.


· Public schools may not promote religion, but they must allow students to practice their faith. In a public school system with children of multiple beliefs and faiths, where do you believe religion fits in and how will this influence your position as a school board member? Please provide a specific example.

Some people confuse believing in God as a religion. They are two separate things. I do not think a specific religion can be pushed onto anyone. Children, teachers, and board members may all believe in different things. Example: If one person believes in God and another believes in something else, then I am sure that each of these people base their decisions on what they believe, but it has nothing to do with pushing a religion.


· According to the Detroit Free Press, the DeVos family backed “Let MI Kids Learn plan includes two initiatives: One would create a scholarship called the Student Opportunity Scholarship to provide grants to families of K-12 students to cover educational expenses such as online classes, tutoring or tuition. The second would create a new tax credit for those who contribute to the program. The proposal would cap tax credits for donors and businesses that contribute to the scholarship fund at $500 million annually. Opponents contend the proposal amounts to a voucher system to divert taxpayer dollars from public schools to private ones.” What is your position on the Let Mi Kids Learn initiative that if passed could potentially impact the funding for public schools in Michigan? If you support it, how can you run to be on a public school board when supporting an initiative that will hurt public schools.

I do not look at the “Let MI Kids Learn” plan as a negative thing for the public schools. This would help the Public School System to improve its policies and programs to keep its students. I feel the Public School System needs improvements and changes. The public school system is dependent on federal dollars and are held hostage to do certain things and to pass certain policies even if it is not in the best interest of the Children. If the “Let MI Kids learn” initiative goes through, this would force the federal government to make improvements and to give the Public School System more flexibility on how to spend these funds.

If someone feels like this would hurt the public school system, then the school should be questioning the decisions they are making.


· Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits sex discrimination, including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity, in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. During the 9/12/22 PPS board meeting, there was a tremendous amount of focus during the citizen comments period on the "proposed" changes to Title IX and how it will impact our community. Do you feel that PPS must comply with Title IX? If not, why, and how would you make up for the loss of funding for the district?

The Title IX amendment would put at risk every girl and woman in America of their protections under the civil rights law by changing the definition of “sex” to “gender identity”. It would also allow the school system to not have to involve a parent when a child is questioning their identity.


· After the most 9/12/22 school board meeting, where do you stand on supporting the kids in our school district that belong to the LGBTQIA community (for those that may not know, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the abbreviation as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (one’s sexual or gender identity), intersex, and asexual/aromantic/agender)? Please provide specific examples, ideas and approaches related to participation and inclusion in school events, activities, sports and daily integration within the school.

I feel everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. I would like to think that we do not have to be separated into groups or separate communities. We are all one people of different races, cultures, and ideas.


· How important is it to you that PPS support LGBTQ students and make necessary accommodations to allow them to feel safe?

I believe that ALL students should have the accommodations to feel safe. Every student should have a safe environment to learn in.


· What do you see as the role of schools in teaching children about topics such as wellness, bullying, cyber-safety, AIDS, and the COVID-19 pandemic?

I feel that the schools need to teach and enforce common sense wellness techniques, like washing your hands, getting enough sleep, fresh air, and that taking care of yourself is important to your overall wellbeing.

Also, that there will be NO tolerance for bullying.


· What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing Portland Public Schools, and what ideas do you have on the best way to overcome these challenges?

I feel one of the biggest challenges is how the federal government forces the Public School system to push certain policies to get funding. The best way to overcome this is to ensure and help with things like the “Let MI Kids Learn” initiatives.


· Describe your position on book censorship. Do you believe schools should be censoring reading materials or is it better for these decisions to be made at home?

The reading material in the library should be appropriate to the age groups of the children. A child should not be exposed to certain material if they are not age appropriate.


· What could we be doing better as a school district to support the mental health of students and faculty?

This all starts with what should and should not be taught in our schools. It also has to do with making sure the curriculum is appropriate for each age group. It is important that we back our teachers so that they are allowed to have a class free from distraction.



Other Questions

· How would you suggest that we keep parents involved with PPS and their students?

I believe making the parents feel welcome to ask questions or to bring up any concerns that they have. This may be as simple as reminders of board meetings or sending home the schedule to let them know that their concerns and feedback are welcome and needed.