Lake Fenton School Board Election Preview

The May 3 election is approaching; here are the candidates.

On May 3 Lake Fenton voters will go to the polls to elect three new members to the school board.

The three seats available are  for two four-year terms and one three-year term. Former board member (trustee, 2004-2008) Kristi Ocenasek is running unopposed for the partial term.

Here are your Lake Fenton School Board candidates.

David Foerster

Age: Undisclosed

Currently: He is currently filling the position of trustee that was vacated last November by Stan Bragg.

Family: Divorced, with four kids: Spencer and Andrew attend Lake Fenton Middle School, his daughter, Katelynn, goes to Torrey Hill Intermediate School, and his other son, Carter, goes to West Shore Elementary School.  

Qualifications: Foerster served on the Lake Fenton School Board from 2005-2009.

First Order of business: “The biggest issue,” he said, “is balancing the students and the financing.” He says that the most important task ahead will be finding the best ways to educate the kids in the district, while managing the resources available to the schools. To do this, he said, it will be very important to review all of the data they can get about the programs that are currently in place, including how well they may or may not be working. Making sure that programs are efficient is key, he said. He said that he wants the budgeting of the district’s finances to have as few negative impacts as possible.

Also important to Foerster are extracurricular activities – specifically the maintaining of them. He coaches baseball, basketball and football in Lake Fenton, and said that cutting programs such as sports and arts sends kids a negative message. “The fact is that we push kids to participate in extracurricular activities,” he said, “and data will show that those who do these things average a grade higher than those that don’t.”

Larry Godlewski

Age: 40

Currently: He is an engineer at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn. He is also the president of the Lake Fenton Little League Board.

Family: Wife, Kim. Kids: Son, Gavin, who is in sixth grade at Lake Fenton Middle School, and daughter, Taylor, who is in fourth grade at Torrey Hill Intermediate School.

Qualifications: He believes his engineering background qualifies him well in the area of data analysis, which he said will be vital when it comes to discerning how to manage the district’s funding. He also said that his brother-in-law is on the school board in Byron, which he said will give him a good idea of what nearby districts are doing.

First Order of Business: “It’s very important to have a curriculum that challenges kids,” he said. “It takes dedication and a strong will to succeed.” He feels that the MEAP scores really go toward preparing kids to succeed, but also that after eighth grade (the tests are not required in high school) kids run the risk of losing focus. He hopes to help “make sure we offer our kids a sound education,” well beyond middle school. He said that for any of the measures taken to help students succeed through grade school work for them, they have to be able to sustain that support for them through high school. In other words, he said, they won’t be prepared for college.

Kristi Ocenasek

Age: 50

Currently: Ocenasek is the clinic coordinator for pediatric dentistry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Family: Husband, Bill; Son, Joseph, age 14, who is a freshman at Lake Fenton High School.

Qualifications: She served on the Lake Fenton School Board from 2004-2008. She was the PTA president when her son went to West Shore Elementary, and said that this kind of community experience is important so that people “have an idea of what’s expected of board members.”

First Order of Business: She said that all of Michigan will be facing cuts in some form and that “those are what will be best to monitor.” She also said that it’s difficult at this point to say with any degree of certainty how she would propose dealing with any kid of budgetary cut-backs because it’s not exactly known what areas will specifically be effected. “He’s such a guessing game right now,” she said of Governor Rick Snyder. “It’s really difficult to speculate as to what we’ll face.”

She also said that she is very much looking forward to working with Lake Fenton Community Schools Superintendent Wayne Wright, who she says she has a great respect for. “I am looking forward to working with him,” she said. “I am very excited. I think he is honest and fair.”

Christopher Fletcher

Age: 38

Currently: Director of Engineering and Technical Service for Ironco, a steel manufacturing company.

Family: Wife, Sarah. Kids: Caleb, 15; Jacob, 12; Abigale, 10, Matthew, 7.

Qualifications: He and his wife, Sarah, have four children, one in each school in the district, which he believes gives him an inside edge, because he’ll “always know what’s going on in each school.” He said he would bring strong trouble-shooting and mediation skills to the job, and that these attributes would serve him well in “trying to effect more communication between board members and the community.”

First Order of Business:  In the short term (the next 1-3 years), he said  it would be important to focus on the curriculum in the district, building communication among all members of the school community, as well as teacher advancement. He said that continuing to help the younger teachers in the system advance is vital. “If the teachers get better,” he said, “we get better.”

In the long term (the next 3-5 years), he said it would be in the best interest of everyone to figure out how to control class sizes. He said that if Lake Fenton continues to see increasing enrollment, larger class sizes are only going to make it tougher on educators.

Carrie Dershem

Age: Undisclosed

Currently: She and her husband own Fenton Family Car Co., an automotive dealership. She also keeps records for onlineauto.com.

Family: Husband, Luke. Kids: Joshua, 20; Samantha, 19; Mitchell, 15; Hannah, 15; Savannah, 6.

Qualifications: She has been a Fenton resident for 23 years. She runs her own business, which she says should help her organizationally and when it comes to budgeting. “Not only am I a business person,” she said, “I’m a mom. I am accessible. I feel like it’s my turn.”

First Order of Business: She says she hopes to foster a solid working relationship with the other board members. “I have a huge desire to do it,” she said. “I work well with others.” She said that at the top of her list of priorities will be the new budget, and the cuts to it that are likely. “That hits hard,” she said. “That hurts more than just the students, it hurts the community.”




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