Crawford AuSable School Board member contributes 15 years of service to students
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A Grayling High School alumnus and longtime advocate for children, who has served on the Crawford AuSable School District’s Board of Education for a decade and a half, will soon vacate his leadership position with the district.
Jim Hulbert, who is currently a trustee on the school board, was first elected to the board in 2005. It was the same year his daughter, Bethanie, graduated from the Grayling High School.
His other children Amanda, graduated in 2006, Andrew, graduated in 2008, and Benjamin, graduated in 2010. Another son, Jeremy, studied at the Grayling High School, and graduated in West Branch in 2015.
Hulbert said he was prompted to run for the school board since he had worked with a lot of families in the area as a social worker and had kids in the schools.
“I just felt there needed to be some improvement and communication,” he said.
His understanding of socioeconomic conditions of a majority kids also factored into his decision.
“They didn’t take some things into consideration and that was something I was able to bring to the board,” Hulbert said.
Among the first order of business when Hulbert joined the board was finding a new superintendent. That was when they hired Joe Powers, who served as the lead administrator for the school district for 18 years.
“That was a very good decision,” Hulbert said.
The board then hired Crawford AuSable School District Superintendent Justin Gluesing, who is completing his first year with the school district, as it moved forward.
“He’s a great follow up after Joe’s long tenure and just brings some other things,” Hulbert said. “Justin hit the ground running with everything and all the COVID stuff.”
Hulbert has worked with 15 school districts in the region, and said the Crawford AuSable School District is recognized for its work with at-risk students and special education students.
“I knew what schools were dealing with and some of the limitations schools had,” he said.
During his time on the board, the school district established the Viking Wellness Center to provide health care and other services to students, and hired Samantha Rogers to serve as the Grayling Elementary School nurse.
Hulbert said the school board had a goal to serve as a standard for student achievement in the region and the state.
“Over the years, we’ve really worked toward that,” he said. “That’s been a big hallmark of our school district – always improving.”
The board of education was able to establish long-term plans for the school district, which has allowed for the investment to improve school buildings and to fund technology in recent years.
“We’ve got some of the best facilities in northern Michigan – no doubt – and even in Michigan,” Hulbert said. “Because we have really been good with our stewardship, we have really been able to do some things.”
Among the latest tasks the board has been able to tackle is purchasing propane busses to transport students, a special Viking green bus for sports outings and student activities, and the addition of the Viking Activity Center at the Grayling High School.
“It’s too bad we were only able to use it for a few weeks,” Hulbert said, referring to early closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The school district’s Great Lakes On-Line Education program has also bolstered its educational outreach.
“That has really built up,” Hulbert said.
Hulbert said he’s proud to have Nicole Persing-Wethington, Stacey Huber, and Josh Peters on the board since they have children in the schools.
“We really talked about getting younger blood into the school district,” he said.
Lori Johnson and Wendy Kucharek, former school district employees, and Lewis Madill, the current president, round out the school board.
“It’s a good mix that we’ve always had with our board and we make what we believe are the right decisions,” Hulbert said.
Hulbert’s term on the board runs through the end of year. He said he does not want to commit to another six-year term on the board.
A 1974 Grayling High School graduate, Hulbert has 14 grandchildren and will soon welcome another grandchild into the family.
“I want to spend more time with my kids and grandkids,” he said.
After retiring from his social worker job, Hulbert has worked as a substitute teacher in Gaylord, Roscommon, Houghton Lake, and West Branch.
Since he is on the school board, Hulbert has not been able to be a substitute teacher in Grayling. He plans to resign from his position on the board on August 31, which will make him available to fill in at schools in the community where there is a shortage of substitute teachers.
He can work in any class from preschool up to high school for any subject.
“I like working with kids,” Hulbert said. “I handle kids very well. I’m laid back, but I get them.”
The board of education will have to fill the vacancy through the end of the year.
However, the deadline to run for the school board on the November 3 general election is Tuesday, July 21.
A candidate could potentially be appointed to the board to fill out the vacancy, and would assume their term on the board in January, if they win at the election polls.
The terms for Hulbert and Peters, who plans to run for reelection, will be up for a vote.
Gluesing acknowledged Hulbert for his service to the community.
“To serve on the board as long as Jim did just reflects a tremendous contribution on his part to the students and the district as whole. Losing that experience is tough,” Gluesing said. “Jim has been a great board member and has been able to contribute and comment with that decade and a half of experience. That’s always tough to lose with that much time with the district, but of course I wish Jim the best moving forward and thank him for his service.”