Newcomer appointed to school board vacancy

Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE – After interviewing several candidates, Southgate Community School District officials last confirmed the appointment of the newest member of the school board, a law enforcement veteran and community native.

Patrick Owen, whose career includes serving as project leader for the Wayne County Jail transition team, was sworn in to complete the term vacated last month by Amanda Kremer, which expires in December 2016.

Owen was the unanimous choice among board members, who’d interviewed two prospective board members during a special meeting Monday. The appointment confirms the board that – barring future resignations – will monitor the district’s five-year debt elimination plan.

The ballot for next month’s general election includes unopposed choices for four board seats – two each of four- and six-year terms – held by Jason Craig, Darlene Pomponio, William Kirk Hayhurst and Rebecca Reed-Hall.

Supt. Leslie Hainrihar said she was encouraged to see several candidates who’d submitted applications to replace Kremer, and encouraged community involvement as the district works to maintain financial progress after several deficit-laden years.

“I’m always pleased that people are willing to put themselves in that position,” Hainrihar said. “There’s a lot to learn about areas of education that most parents don’t know, and they’re on the hot seat to make tough decisions.”

Hainrihar said the 2014-15 academic year marks a turn for the better. Recent years have seen the closures of three buildings as the district worked to balance a budget against reclining revenues.

Now stabilized with facilities and staff, Hainrihar said that results from the recent count day – one of two annual student attendance reports that determine state per-pupil funding — seemed to reveal a loss of about 200 students from this time last year. District projections had anticipated a decrease of about 250.

“We’re in better shape than the worst case scenario,” Hainrihar said.

(James Mitchell can be reached at