By Travis Smola
The Schoolcraft school board appointed Wade Rutkoskie to fill the board vacancy opened by the resignation of former board President Darby Fetzer last month.
The board interviewed two other candidates, Michael Wilson and Dr. Lloyd Peterson for the position. The three candidates were interviewed for about 10 minutes ahead of the regularly scheduled board meeting. Each answered the same series of seven questions and board members scored the candidates answers on a rubric.
The questions varied. One asked about the relationship the board and district should have with their stakeholders. Another asked about the challenges facing education in Michigan, both at the local and state level. The board also questioned the candidates what they believed were their strongest personal traits that would make them ideal for the position. “I don’t like to lose, that is something that has driven me my entire life,” Rutkoskie told the board. Prior to filling the vacancy, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for election to the board last November.
At the conclusion of the three interviews, Rutkoskie had tallied the highest score and was sworn in to fill the vacancy.
Rutkoskie is a 1990 graduate of the district and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from WMU. Currently he works as the Senior Member of Business Integration at Tekna. His wife works at Stryker. Their son currently attends the middle school.
He has also been involved with the district already as president of the Athletic Boosters, an advisor for Junior Achievement and as a coach for Rocket football and Little League. More recently he has also been involved with the facilities planning committee looking into options for the district’s aging elementary and middle school facilities. He said the facilities are one of the biggest challenges the district is currently facing. “Assessing is one thing, making a long-term plan is another,” Rutkoskie told the board members during the interview.
He also said he’s talked to some parents who are upset in the belief that out-of-district students attending Schoolcraft schools through the school of choice program don’t pay property taxes to the district. All Michigan property owners pay school taxes to the state. The state pays foundation grants to districts based on the number of students enrolled, whether or not they live in the district. Rutkoskie said that communicating that will be a big goal during his term.
“My goals as part of the board are to be a conduit from the folks that are accustomed to the inner workings of the board and understanding what they do,” Rutkoskie said after the meeting. “I appreciate the trust that they put in me in appointing me to the board.”
“I want to say thanks to everyone who came out and threw their hat in the ring,” Board President Jennifer Gottschalk said. She also extended invitations to both Peterson and Wilson to become a part of the ongoing facilities study committee.