2017-08-13 / News

Montrose school board interviews three candidates

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

MONTROSE – On Tuesday, Aug. 8, the Montrose Community Schools Board of Education held a special meeting to interview and select an individual to fill the board vacancy left by Scott Wells, who resigned in July. Under state law, the school board has 30 days to fill a school board vacancy.

Three candidates applied for the position. – Eric Lee, Paul Wade and Christopher Zolinski. Each candidate received the interview questions in advance. All three candidates were present during the public interview.

Zolinski is a professor/computer technology expert. He told the board he wants to see some policy changes, specifically with regard to helping children with dyslexia. “Ed [Graham] has a program that does work,” Zolinski said. He would like to see the program made more widely available.

Zolinski talked about wanting to “balance accounting versus what we can actually use.”

Describing his qualifications, he said he holds five educational degrees; three are in computer science.

Answering the question about his availability to attend meetings, Zolinski explained he now has more time to do things other than technology. [He previously served on the school board, but lost by two votes in the school board election.]

When asked about the role of the school board, Zolinski said, “My opinion has changed.” He now believes the school board’s role is to make sure students have the skills necessary to get on with life, whether they’re going to college, trade school or into the workforce.

The next candidate to address the school board was Paul Wade, who works in law enforcement. Wade said he’s lived in the Montrose community for 11 years and has five children in the schools. “I’m very vested. I’m very involved in the community. I coach several sports teams. As a coach, I have a lot of contact with kids,” he said. He also helps teacher Suzanne Donley’s forensics class.

Wade said, “I want the best for my kids, for all kids. I like to talk with people, find out what their needs are. There are some problems teachers have with discipline. Also, it’s hard for kids to focus on education with all the social media.”

When asked about the role of school board members, Wade said, “I think they need to be out in the community. They need to be leaders, need to do research, but most important, look out for your teachers. You need to be financially responsible.”

Wade also said he has a very flexible work schedule and would be able to attend the board meetings.

Lee was the last candidate to address the school board. He said, “I am a product of this school district. I have so much respect for the teachers here. Without great teachers, I wouldn’t have graduated. It’s a debt I can never repay.”

Lee talked about the board needing to “change our perception of needs versus wants. Things have to be balanced. Funding is limited. I’ve never made decisions based on money.”

Discussing his qualifications, Lee said, “I worked retail for the past 20 years, primarily in Birch Run. I’ve met people from around the world.” He talked about how he’s found ways to work through communicating with people from other countries.

“I’ve come to realize that everyone says they’ll represent [the voters]; but you talk for yourselves. Vote your conscience, whether it’s a staffing issue or [other issues].”

When asked about his availability for meetings, Lee said, “I work retail. Time with my kid is more important. In this case, he would learn more from me being here than anything else.”

Following the interviews, the Montrose school board went into closed session to discuss the three candidates and decide who should be appointed to the seat.

On Aug. 9, superintendent Dr. Edward Graham informed the Citizen of the board’s decision. “Paul Wade was selected by the board to fill the vacant seat. His management/leadership experience and strong involvement with school programs already were the deciding factors,” Graham said.

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