By all accounts from those who now have the jobs, it is not a pleasant time to be a member of a board of education in Michigan.
State funding for education has been reduced or frozen in each of the last three years, and a promised increase this year of $175 per student - if it appears - already seems to be headed toward offsetting increases in health care and pension liabilities.
Many districts have had to repeatedly cut their budgets for the past several years, eliminating programs and letting open positions remain unfilled in a desperate attempt to save money.
Yet, despite years of bad news and financially trying times, there appears to be no shortage of candidates interested in serving on their local school boards, if this year's school election in Michigan is any indication. In all, 14 of 23 open seats on local school boards will be contested during the May 3 school election in portions of Monroe and Lenawee counties.
Airport Community School District incumbent board secretary James Geiermann, 39, of Monroe Street, Carleton, is seeking re-election to one of two open seats also being sought by Allen Burger, 43, of Armstrong Street, South Rockwood; Patricia Malvitz, 46, of Grafton Road, Carleton; and John Griffith, 55, of Burns Road, Carleton.
Incumbent Elaine Hollister is stepping down.
Dundee Community School District voters will choose from among four candidates to fill two open seats.
Incumbent board treasurer Patricia Dempsey, 46, of Penfield Street, will face off against fellow Dundee residents Penny Louise Guitierrez, 50, of McBride Street; Dick Boldt, 50, of Van Nest Street; and Ken Papenhagen, 36, of South Custer Road. Incumbent Vince Goff did not seek re-election.
Ida Public School District voters have a choice to make among three candidates to fill the board seat being vacated by Jeff Weemant.
Dale Heil, 38, of Strasburg Road, LaSalle, will compete against Jody Hoffman, 46, of West Dunbar Road, Monroe, and Jeff Hoffman, 42, of Lewis Avenue, Ida, to fill the seat. Jeff and Jody Hoffman are unrelated.
Jefferson School District has quieted considerably since a tumultuous recall election in 2003, although the district, like those elsewhere in the state, continues to struggle financially.
Voters will choose between 18-year-old Anthony Carroll II, of Oakwood Avenue, Monroe; and Zebbie Probst, 49, of South Street, Newport, to fill the seat being vacated by current board president Richard McDevitt.
Monroe Public Schools, Monroe County's largest school district, seems to have inherited Jefferson's mantle for contentious school board meetings of late as board members have struggled to deal with more than $3 million in cuts that will be felt district-wide.
Three Monroe residents, Brian Sexton, 35, of East Eighth Street; Aaron Mason, 34, of Oak Knoll Drive; and Charles Randall Watkins, 53, of Windsor Court, will vie to succeed outgoing board president Wendy Barth.
Next month's election is likely to be quieter across the rest of Monroe and Lenawee counties, where seats are uncontested:
Bedford Public School District has Reggie Monday, 58, of Wiltshire Drive, Lambertville, as the only candidate seeking the seat being vacated by John Mohr.
Blissfield Community School District voters will be asked to return incumbent Norris Klump, 52, of Ridgeville Road, Blissfield, for another four-year term.
Mason Consolidated School District voters will also be asked to return two incumbents, Bill Saul, 61, of East Stein Road, LaSalle and Pamela Cousino, 39, of Wilson Drive, Erie, to the school board.
Summerfield School District incumbent Clinton H. Ford, Jr., 73, of Forest Avenue, is being joined on the ballot by fellow Petersburg resident Bruce Kitchen, 40, of Saline Street, who is seeking the seat being vacated by Michael Goodin.
Whiteford Agricultural School District incumbent Dan Martin, 44, of Consear Road, Ottawa Lake, is unopposed for the board's single open seat.