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New Program Seeks to Improve Public Education with Help from Business Leaders

Media Contact:
Kelly Weatherwax
kweatherwax@detroitchamber.com
313.596.0360

New Program Seeks to Improve Public Education with Help from Business Leaders

February 8, 2019, Detroit, Mich. – To identify and prepare local leaders to serve on the governing boards of Southeast Michigan public charter schools, the Detroit Regional Chamber has partnered with Central Michigan University (CMU) and Grand Valley State University (GVSU) to create the Detroit Board Leadership Program.

The board leadership program aims to connect business leaders who have the right mix of skills and a desire to help Detroit’s kids succeed academically, with open seats on public charter school boards.

“The goal of the Detroit Board Leadership Program is to be intentional about improving the quality of these public charter school boards, and we are seeking leaders who have a passion for education who can be ambassadors for a school’s accomplishments and challenges,” said Dan Piepszowski, senior director of Community Leadership Development for the Chamber.

Public charter schools educate approximately 80,000 children in Southeast Michigan and are responsible for $730 million in state and federal funds. Unlike school districts, whose board members are elected, public charter schools are governed by volunteers who are publicly appointed to their position by the board of trustees of the authorizing body that has chartered their school. Each board member is vetted to ensure that they are free from conflicts of interest and will govern in the best interest of the students their school serves. Their actions are overseen by their school’s authorizing body.

CMU and GVSU, the largest public charter school authorizing bodies in the state, collectively authorize more than 43 percent of the public charter schools in southeast Michigan.

“Great public charter schools all have one thing in common: They are governed by effective boards that operate with integrity, focus on community and, most importantly, are committed to academic excellence,” said Rob Kimball, associate vice president for charter schools at GVSU.

“We’re excited to partner with the Chamber on the Detroit Board Leadership Program. It is an innovative way to connect the exceptional skills of the region’s business leaders to schools in a role where they can have an immediate impact on kids and families in their very own neighborhoods.”

In addition to providing ongoing training and leadership for potential board members, the program is designed to create a pipeline for those who are prepared to fill the vacancies that can occur on public charter school boards.

“These individuals play a vital role in addressing educational inequities and making key decisions that will determine educational outcomes for thousands of children,” said Corey Northrop, interim executive director for CMU’s Center for Charter Schools. “When a vacancy occurs, that particular school and board are serving with one less leader, so the cultivation process and development of a direct channel to have potential board members ready, and waiting to serve, is a real game-changer.”

The comprehensive training provides interested board applicants a deep-dive into board governance and responsibilities; a broad understanding of the current education landscape; insight into how public charter school boards work with their school authorizers and operators, and; the importance and value of boards being connected to the communities that they serve.

Leaders who complete the training will be introduced to local public charter school boards that are seeking new members and will receive support in advancing through the public appointment process necessary to be considered to serve on that board.

Interested candidates can apply by visiting www.detroitchamber.com/dblp.

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About Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. As the voice for business in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the Chamber’s mission is carried out through creating a business-friendly climate and value for members, leading a robust economic development strategy, and convening Michigan’s most influential audience at the nationally unique Mackinac Policy Conference.

About The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University

CMU is a state and national leader in the charter public school movement, with over 20 years of experience launching, supporting and overseeing charter public schools. CMU created The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools to support the schools it charters. The University currently authorizes 58 schools serving more than 28,000 students throughout the state.

About Grand Valley State University

GVSU currently authorizes 78 K-12 charter public schools that serve more than 36,000 Michigan children. GVSU’s schools are diverse and innovative in their programming as each are designed to meet the unique needs of the communities and families that they serve.