Four candidates running for three full terms on COOR ISD Board of Education
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Four candidates are vying for three seats on the Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw and Roscommon Intermediate School District (COOR ISD) at the Nov. 6 general election polls.
Kathryn Fuelling, Melissa G. Hayes, Lynda M. Marek and Kara Mularz are running for six-year terms on the board.
Fuelling currently served as the principal for the Roscommon Elementary School and Roscommon Middle School. She said her purpose for running for the board is to better serve local school districts with the needs identified in school improvement plans.
“I think we need to first look at our service model, then our instructional services and career services to strengthen our service to local school districts,” Fuelling said.
Hayes is currently employed as a facilitator helping school districts in Michigan to install district-wide systems.
She served 20 years as a teacher and administrator at Crawford AuSable School District and Houghton Lake School District in addition to four years as the general education director at COOR ISD, which Hayes said gives her a unique insight into the needs of local districts and the operations at the ISD.
Hayes has resided within the COOR ISD district for over 25 years, where she raised her now adult children, who graduated from Roscommon Area Public Schools. Her husband graduated and retired from Crawford AuSable School District.
“We are committed to this area and want the best for all of the students attending the schools served by COOR ISD,” she said.
Hayes said she is running for the board to offer her experience as an educator.
“I believe that while the current board members are knowledgeable, the perspective of a person with an educational background would strengthen their leadership,” Hayes said.
Hayes said a top issue currently facing the board is the transition to the new COOR ISD Superintendent Shawn Petri, who started with the district on Oct. 1.
She also said the board has the need for trust building and transparency with the local districts.
Finally, Hayes said there is a significant difference in funding for the COOR ISD compared to other ISDs, which impacts all of the districts and students in the area.
“My intention as a board member would be to listen, ask questions, and provide an educational viewpoint to the board,” Hayes said.
Marek spent 20-plus years in middle management at AT&T, chairing project and product management teams. She has her name on two patents – one for Caller ID. After an early retirement, she spent 11 years as an educator with L’Anse Creuse Public Schools in Macomb County teaching English in the high school.
“I fell in love with education and believe every student needs the best possible chance to succeed,” Marek said. “I am currently retired and have the time and the dedication to spend serving the school board. Our current representative from Grayling, Bernie Dosch, is retiring after 15 years on this board. It would be my honor and my privilege to replace her.”
Marek has a bachelor’s of arts in education in English and Journalism from Eastern Michigan University. She is halfway through earning her master’s in business administration. She has three adult sons and five grandchildren.
Marek is a member of the Grayling Promotional Association, the Grayling Eagles, and the Grayling Moose.
Marek said she can bring a lot of experience to the board.
“I believe the most important thing we can provide students is the opportunity to discover, grow and succeed in order to meet maximum potential. We need to make sure that state literacy requirements are met or exceeded. We need to be the best we can be in a society where one size does not fit all,” she said. “We need to focus on safety and investigate ways for alternative funding. Our students deserve the best chance to succeed in a global economy and I’m prepared and excited to help make that happen. I believe my industry management skills, along with the educational experience, will help me make positive contributions.”
Helping Petrie transition into leading the COOR ISD and funding are issues Marek said the board should address.
“We have a new superintendent for COOR, and I’m excited to begin this journey with him. We need to meet and exceed state literacy requirements. We need to focus on best practices to meet these goals. We need to identify success stories and apply these to struggling districts. We must provide the best possible chance for individual success,” Marek said. “We need safe schools, alternative funding sources, and we need to make sure we train to the future to maximize opportunities for our children. Our up north community is growing and we need to make sure we are prepared to handle this growth. Above all, we need to be financially responsible.”
Mularz, from West Branch, is an incumbent on the COOR ISD Board.
Mularz is the director of the Ogemaw and Roscommon County Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
She graduated from Marion High School in 1990. Mularz graduated with a bachelor’s of science in Criminal Justice from Ferris State University in 1998 and received a Master’s of Social Work degree from Grand Valley State University in 2007.
Mularz started her career at the Roscommon County Probate Court as a Diversion Worker and Community Based Intensive Treatment Counselor in 1995. She moved to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in 1997, and has worked in multiple child welfare and administrative positions over the years. She has worked with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in Roscommon, Ogemaw, Crawford, Iosco and Alcona counties.
“Through my work experience, I have come into contact with all of the school districts COOR covers,” Mularz said. “I have served on multiple community boards and committees in the counties where I have worked, allowing me to be familiar with the services and collaborative partners in each.”
Mularz has been married for 22 years, and has two grown daughters, who are currently attending college.
Mularz has served on the board since March of this year. She would like to continue to serve on the board.
“I felt that my experiences have helped familiarize me with the school districts in question and put me in a unique position of having knowledge, not only of the communities I would be serving, but also of the collaborative partners and services available in each,” she said. “Since my children are now out of high school, I feel that it is a perfect time for me to be able to spend some time giving back and serving on the COOR School Board allows me to do so on a large-scale than a local district board. I was involved in the strategic planning for the ISD prior to joining the Board, and felt that the opening was an opportunity to help put that plan in action.”
Funding is a key issue which Mulraz said the board must address.
“COOR ISD is the second largest ISD in the state, serving four counties and multiple school districts on a very limited budget. One of the main issues that I see is how to most effectively utilize the budget that they have to maximize services and provide the most support to the districts they cover,” she said. “Helping to identify opportunities to expand on service availability while maintaining support for the current programs that serve some of the areas most vulnerable students is a priority.”
Voting locations for the Nov. 6 general election in the Crawford County area include Bear Lake Township Hall, Beaver Creek Township Hall, Frederic Township Hall, Lovells Township Hall, Maple Forest Township Hall, Grayling Charter Township Hall, Grayling City Hall, and the Otsego Lake Township Hall. The voting polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.