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Members debate board downsizing

The Holland School Board, rarely in agreement on any issue, grew more divisive at a board meeting Monday when debating whether to reduce its size from seven members to five.

Supporting the idea and successfully advancing it to a public vote in May were School Board President Joseph Levesque, Stephen Welk, Lawrence Krzeminski, and Kelleen Kensey. Opposing the move were Steven Marom, Ronda Strauss and Judith Geer.

Levesque said he placed the issue on the board's agenda to help "create efficiency" but conceded that cost savings would be minimal because board members are not paid for their services.

Geer, however, suggested the motive behind the vote was more political than financial, allowing for the eventual weeding out of the minority bloc on the board over a few years.

"Next year, Ronda and Larry's seats are up; the following year, it's Steve [Marom]; then it's me. You do the math," Geer said.

Strauss supported the larger board saying, "The more voices you have up here, the better it is for [residents] out there." She also questioned the need for a smaller board when, historically, Holland has not had a problem finding board candidates, a reason some districts drop seats.

When the motion passed, 4-3, Marom commented that the public should note who voted "yes" on the issue, at which point Welk called Marom's comments "out of order." Welk's seat expires June 30, but if the proposed five-seat board is passed by voters in May, it would not take effect until the following year.

After the meeting, Superintendent Dennis Johnson supported the five-member proposal, agreeing with Kensey, who said it was difficult for the seven current board members to coordinate their schedules. Levesque has been absent from several recent meetings due to work-related obligations.

Petitions for the five-year seat expiring in June will be available March 19 from the district clerk and must be returned with at least 32 signatures by April 16.