Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Meet the WISD Board

The WISD works with the area's school districts & charter schools.

I believe that I've mentioned here before, that as the Washtenaw Intermediate School District amasses more control over county-wide projects, we ("the people") ought to be taking a closer look at just who is running the place, and exactly what they are doing. For instance--if you've got complaints in Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti about how they are running transportation, the WISD board.

You might be surprised to know that there was an "election" in June, and two board members were re-elected to six-year terms. I put election in quotes because the election is very indirect. The school districts send representatives to a group that does the electing of members who are nominated by the school district. In other words, unless you are a school district representative (an appointed position), you did not get to elect anybody. Thus it probably won't surprise you to find that all of the WISD board members previously served on local school boards--and that's not, in my opinion, necessarily a bad thing.

I do get a little squeamish when I see that several of the board members have been on the WISD board for over 16 years, and both of the board members who were elected in June were actually re-elected. . . and the terms are six years long! By the way, I'm not a fan of term limits, but I am a fan of consciously trying to bring in diversity and new blood into organizations. And right now, the shortest period of time that any board member has served on the board is six years. And the board is not a large board. So, in essence, we have a very small group of people (only five members) who have been in their positions for a long period of time, making decisions that are having an increasingly large impact on all of the school districts and students in the county. I think this should be examined, because ultimately I don't think it's a good way for an organization to function. (Sure, there are women on the board, so the term "old boys network" might not apply exactly, but I think you know what I mean.)

And that is not meant to imply that any of the board members are doing a bad job. But it is time to start paying attention to the WISD.

So, to start us off, here is the WISD board. Read closely--one is currently teaching! One served on more than one school board, in addition to the WISD! One serves on the Michigan Association of School Boards Board of Directors!

From left to right: Gregory A. Peoples, Mary Jane Tramontin, Mark Van Bogelen, Dayle K. Wright, Diane B. Hockett

Mary Jane Tramontin, WISD Board Treasurer
Current Occupation: Fourth Grade Teacher, Pleasant Ridge Elementary
Employer: Saline Area Schools
Local Board Service: Ann Arbor, for three years from 1989 – 1992
I’ve been a member of the WISD Board since January of 1994 (17 years).

Mark Van Bogelen, WISD Board Trustee
Current Occupation: General Merchandise Manager
Employer: Meijer
Local Board Service: Manchester Community Schools for four years, serving as Trea-
surer part of that time.
I’ve been a member of the WISD Board since 1994 (17 years).

Gregory A. Peoples, WISD Board President
Current Occupation: University Ombudsman
Employer: Eastern Michigan University
Local Board Service: Willow Run Board: 1987-1994 and Lincoln Board: 1996-2004,
serving as the President of Lincoln’s Board for four years
I’ve been a member of the WISD Board since 1993 (18 years).
This is also my third year of service on the Michigan Association of School Boards Board
of Directors. This year I am serving as the Vice President.

Dayle K. Wright, WISD Board Vice President
Current Occupation: Registered Dietician
Employer: Allegiance Health
Local Board Service: Chelsea from 1994-2006, having served two years as President,
along with serving as Vice President and Secretary.
I’ve been a member of the WISD Board since 2005 (6 years).

Diane B. Hockett, WISD Board Secretary
Current Occupation: Project Manager
Employer: Eastern Michigan University
Institute for Children, Families & Communities
Local Board Service: Ann Arbor Public Schools for six years, having served as Vice
President for two of those years.
I’ve been a member of the WISD Board since 2001 (10 years).


  1. Are the WISD board member paid for their service? If not, what would be the incentive to serve on the board other than community spirit?

  2. That's a good question. My guess is that if they are paid, they are not paid very much, and that part of the motivation is a feeling of civic duty.
    BUT--at this point I can't confirm whether they get paid. I did try to figure this out from the financial information and written information about the board on the WISD web site, and I could not figure it out despite opening about 20 pdfs. And that perhaps says much more about the WISD web site and the way they share information than it does about the board.
    Their former communications person has just retired and their new superintendent, Scott Menzel, promises transparency, so--I hope we see some improvements there!

  3. And the answer is--in 2010, due to budget cuts, the WISD board cut out their compensation for board service. So yes, there clearly is a motivation of civic duty involved, and not of income.