Stephen Dobkowski is hoping some unique ideas will help him secure one of two open four-year terms on the Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education this November.
“The economic problems that we’ve had for the past several years in Michigan have been devastating to the schools,” said Dobkowski. “We need to think of new ways to counteract what’s happening in Lansing if we expect to run successful schools.”
Dobkowski said his goals, if elected, will focus on three things: Creating a regional tax to pay for local governing institutions apart from the state, increasing parental involvement in schools, and keeping the schools on a positive financial course in a difficult fiscal environment.
The key issue during the next four years all comes back to one thing, Dobkowski said: finances.
“The most important thing is the money," he said. "There are things that are happening in Lansing that are de-funding our schools,” he said. “Everything–including student achievement–comes back to this.”
Dobkowski would like to see a regional tax implemented to give local control back to district.
“None of this money would go to Lansing–none of it,” he said. “These dollars would go back into our community to pay for the things we believe are important, like schools, and none of it would be siphoned off for (state lawmakers’) projects.”
Another goal, said Dobkowski, would be to increase parental involvement by forming a joint parent-teacher training program so parents can better support classroom initiatives.
“Teachers can’t do it all alone,” he said. “Parental involvement can be difficult because most times, both parents work, but there are ways it can be increased,” he said. “Parental involvement needs to be a priority.”
Dobkowski said he believes the board procedures during meeting need to be revised to encourage more dialogue during regular meetings, and that too much information is discussed outside the actual public meeting.
“I would like to see more debate on issues for residents,” he said.
A lifetime resident of Dearborn, Dobkowski taught school briefly before turning to a sales career. Semi-retired today, he served briefly on the Dearborn Charter Commission, and on the Wayne County Social Services Board. He also ran last year to represent Dearborn on the Michigan House of Representatives.
Dobkowski said that if the parent-teacher training program is formed in the district, he will donate his entire board stipend to fund that initiative.
The candidate said he does not believe the board in its current formation is doing a bad job, but he did say that some solutions the board has implemented to cope with the district’s fiscal condition could use an infusion of new ideas.
“What’s happening (economically) is devastating to the community; it’s essentially a depression,” he said. “We are not in normal times, and we need to do things that are different.”