TRAVERSE CITY —
Traverse City's seven-member school board will have new members in January.
Six candidates are vying Nov. 2 for two open seats. Incumbents Alice McNally and Fred Tank are not seeking re-election.
The candidates are: Jennifer Schell Bonifacio, a pediatrician at Kids Creek Children's Clinic in Traverse City; Erik Falconer, president of Traverse City financial advisory firm Falconer Group; Cynthia Glines, a retired physician; Scott Hardy, a project manager and former Traverse City commissioner; Mary Marois, former director of local Department of Human Services offices; and Mary Jo McKay, a Munson Medical Center registered nurse and respiratory therapist.
All six filed petitions declaring their candidacy Aug. 10, the deadline to do so for the general election, Grand Traverse County clerk's records show.
Incoming board members will have to tackle funding challenges that prompted budget cuts in each of the last two years, and oversee the board-initiated "TCAPS Tomorrow" future study.
Jennifer Schell Bonifacio
The Grand Traverse region is not an apathetic community, Bonifacio said.
People who live here want to be heard, she said, so it's important that organizations — including school districts — make sure they listen.
As a TCAPS school board member, Bonifacio, 44, said she would be visible and accessible to the public. She sought a board appointment in January 2009 that went to Gary Appel.
"If we're asking for their opinion, we need to listen," she said.
Bonifacio was a member of a 2006-07 steering committee that discussed a number of changes for the school district. She mostly worked on grade reconfiguration.
Her children's school, Bertha Vos Elementary, was closed as a result of that process.
She said she understood the reasons for the committee's work, but knows a sense of mistrust surfaced. A number of Bertha Vos families left TCAPS after the vote, but Bonifacio didn't.
Information from the district needs to be clear and accurate to quash rumors, and asking questions is "imperative," Bonifacio said.
"You could look at the data and draw two different conclusions," she said. "Just looking at a number isn't the whole picture."
Bonifacio also co-leads the District Advisory Council parent group and sits on the district's sex education advisory committee.
She participated last fall in a citizens' budget committee that recommended spending cuts to the school board.
The latter brought ideas to the table, but it wasn't as effective in forming cohesion, Bonifacio said, adding that would be important in future groups.