STEVENSVILLE — Four candidates are competing for three open seats on the Lakeshore Board of Education in November.
Board Vice President Kevin Bushu and Trustees Griffin Ott and Jay Meeth will face newcomer Tonya Jahnke for the six-year seats.
Scott Allan is running uncontested for a partial term, which will end in 2022.
Not seeking re-election is Trustee Mark Whitwam.
Vice President Bushu, 49, of St. Joseph said he wants to be re-elected to a third term so he can continue giving back to the community he lives in and supporting “the amazing educators within our district.”
He said managing the school district’s budget is the biggest challenge, as state funding keeps falling further behind the cost of educating the students, which includes maintaining the facilities and paying the staff.
“Safety is always a priority, and we are in unprecedented times currently with the additional precautions and challenges presented by COVID,” he said.
Besides being on the school board, he said he has served on the boards and committees of several nonprofits for years.
“I believe my time on the school board in various committees, along with my experience in finance, non-profits and multiple volunteer boards, give me a great perspective on many of the issues we face on the board of education, and it would be my honor to continue my service to the district,” he said.
Bushu is an indirect national sales advisor at United Federal Credit Union.
He and his wife, Kelly Bushu, have two adult children who graduated from Lakeshore High School and two children currently attending the school.
Tonya Jahnke of Stevensville said she is a former business/marketing teacher at Lakeshore High School, the parent of a child at Lakeshore Middle School and a Lakeshore alumni, class of 1987.
Because of her diverse experience with the district, she said she would be able to look at situations facing board trustees from different points of view.
“As a former teacher, I understand how decisions made can translate into the classroom,” she said. “As a parent, I am able to relate how things affect the families of our district. And as a Lakeshore alum, I truly understand and appreciate the school’s motto, ‘Grounded in Tradition, Committed to Excellence.’”
In addition, she and her husband, Mark Jahnke, have a adult son who graduated from Lakeshore High School in 2018.
“I know that I still wish to contribute to a school district that has been a big part of my life,” she said. “It is my hope that I can continue to serve the Lakeshore School District as a member of the school board.”
Jay Meeth, 44, of Stevensville was appointed to the board in June. He said he wants to continue serving on the board to give back to the community.
“The role of a good educational system is critical in preparing our children for not only advanced education but adulthood in general,” he said.
He said the top issue facing the district is getting through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID creates a unique set of challenges and has forced a fast evolution of how we teach our kids,” he said. “The ability to teach remotely, in-person and the flexibility to transition between the two models is extremely important.”
And he said this needs to be done while keeping the students and staff safe.
“Getting as much in-person learning that is safely possible is critical,” he said. “... Our educational system is meant to level the playing field for all students and if the playing field transitions to the home, not all homes are level and each home has unique challenges.”
Meeth is a regional manager of Watchman at Boston Scientific.
He and his wife, Elizabeth Meeth, have two young children ages 10 and 12.
Griffin Ott, 41, of Stevensville was appointed to the board in October 2019.
He said he has a unique perspective with the district due to being a Lakeshore alumni with two daughters in the district, who are in kindergarten and eighth grade.
He said one of the toughest decisions the board made this past year was whether to return to in-person learning this fall.
“As a board member, we considered all sides of the argument,” he said. “Ultimately, I am proud to say that the board made the tough, but correct decision to return kids to the classroom, with an education option for those who couldn’t or did not want to return in person. The data has shown that the protocols put into place have worked and Lakeshore Public Schools is a safe place to work and for children to learn.”
Ott is an insurance agent at Ott Insurance Agency in Baroda.
He and his wife, Katherine Ott, have two daughters.