Saline Board of Education Considers Reverting To Four-Year Terms

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 01/02/2020 - 13:37

Those looking to serve on the Saline Area Schools Board of Education in the future could be looking at a lighter time commitment than the current six-year terms.

The board reviewed a draft policy that would shorten the length of terms for school board members to four years, which is a decision that the board is considering after receiving feedback from potential candidates during the last several rounds of elections.

"Over the course of probably the last three election cycles we have heard back from potential candidates that six-year terms were a lot for them to handle," said Board of Education President Paul Hynek, who added that some potential candidates have indicated they were hesitant to run for a six-year term due to the possibility of having to resign early.

The Saline school board last considered term lengths in 2014 and decided on six-year terms. During the most recent discussion, it was noted the previous decision was accomplished with a split vote due to concern even then about lengthy terms.

Currently, two members are up for election in even-numbered election years only during major elections in November. This would change to the board cycling three and then four seats every two years.

If the policy is changed three Saline school board seats will be up for election next November.

Board Trustee Heidi Pfannes served on the board of another school district in the past, during which she said the sentiment of her colleagues and community members was that six-year terms are too long and in many cases deterred some members from running for a second term.

Board Trustee Michael McVey expressed skepticism that six-year term limits were a problem from where he sits.

"Last year we seemed to have six candidates for two positions," McVey said. "We didn't seem to have any trouble then. How many should we have? What's reasonable?"

Hynek responded that he doesn't think that any number is "reasonable" and that the more candidates "the merrier."

Trustee Jennifer Steben said she would prefer there be an opportunity for the public to weigh in on the issue, either during a public hearing or a community forum, but the decision would have to be made by the first school board meeting in January so the Washtenaw County Clerk could be notified promptly in time for the election next November.

In an online poll in the Saline Posts Facebook group, a user surveyed people about their preference. 180 people voted for four-year terms. Five people supported six-year terms.

Sean Dalton's picture
Sean Dalton
Sean Dalton is a veteran of the Washtenaw County journalism scene. He co-founded and and also worked for Heritage Newspapers.