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Candidate Q&A: Bill Gatewood for Hartland Consolidated School Board

Bill Gatewood seeks re-election to the Hartland School Board in November.

Bill Gatewood is one of two candidates competing for one of the open seats for a partial term seat on the Hartland Board of Education. 

Family 

I am married. My wife Julianne and I have three children, Cody (8), Hayla (11) and Grif (21)

Education 

Graduated with a B.A. in Communication from the University of Central Missouri.

Employment 

National Director of Product and Sales for Burns & Wilcox LTD., headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan. I was honorably discharged from the US Army after serving three years, including two years overseas in South Korea.

What groups/organizations are you involved with in the community?

  • I have been a member of the Hartland School Board since November of 2011, when I volunteered and was appointed to fill a vacant seat. 
  • I also volunteer weekly at the Detroit Technical Academy in their “Reading Buddy” literacy program, working with students who are behind in reading skills and comprehension. 
  • My family attends and serves at the River Community Church in Hartland.    

Why are you running for school board and what relevant qualities and skills do you bring to the job?

I want to ensure that all our children have a first rate educational experience and that Hartland is the premier school district in the area.  After a rigorous review of neighboring schools districts, my wife and I chose Hartland solely because of the quality of the schools.  One year ago when Hartland had a vacancy on the school board, I was honored to be appointed.  I have spent the past year meeting our teachers and principals, learning the challenges they face; becoming familiar with the complex funding and financial constraints placed on the district and searching for ways to make school more enjoyable and challenging for our children.  The past twelve 12 months have prepared me to better serve the students, faculty and tax payers of this district.                    

My prior volunteer activities include serving on a planning and zoning commission, police advisory board, youth athletic coach and nonprofit board member.  These experiences have taught me the value of working side by side with other volunteers building consensus on issues that enhance quality of the community for its citizens.  As an elected official I had the privilege of representing my friends and neighbors for four years.  I saw firsthand the awesome responsibility that comes with elected office and gained a full appreciation for importance of being a thoughtful steward of public tax dollars.     

During my military and professional career, I have been given the opportunity to hold a variety of leadership roles where I have been responsible for large numbers of people and significant budgets.  My success in coaching and developing people, goal setting, executing on strategy and financial management has equipped me with the skills necessary to serve on the Hartland School Board. 

What are the top three priority issues the School Board should address and what actions would you, as an elected official, take to address them?

  •  Represent the best interests of our students and families.  No matter what other issues come before the board, we can never forget that one of our chief roles is to serve as an objective advocate for all the students in our district.  All district policies and actions should have a single purpose:  to provide our children with an educational environment that recognizes their individual needs and allows them to prepare for future success in whatever endeavors they choose.  As a board member I will uphold this duty by avoiding any potential conflicts of interest, either real or perceived.  I will not align myself with any special interest that may promote an agenda that compromises the interests of our students and families.  I will be accountable only to the children, parents and taxpayers of Hartland.  Before any decision is made, one question must be answered, “is this good for our kids?” 
  •  Take care of our teachers.  The upcoming year is critically important for our district as our teacher contracts come up for renegotiation.  The new contract will impact our district for years to come.  Unlike other districts, mired in labor disputes and financial crisis, we are blessed to live in a district where the school board, administration and teachers have come together for the greater good of the district.  Because of their leadership, we enjoy both quality teachers and financial solvency.  As we craft a new agreement I believe it’s important that we recognize and reward the past sacrifices of our teachers and balance it against the financial realities of the district.  More than ever, we need school board members who understand the financial issues facing the district and posses the skills and willingness to maneuver gracefully in negotiating a creative contract that allows Hartland to attract and retain the best teachers and finding the means to pay for it.   If elected, I will utilize my experience in this area to successfully accomplish this critical goal. 
  • Make the most of our money.  The Hartland School District is a $50 million dollar operation.  This money comes from the community who entrusts the school board to spend it wisely.  As a trustee, I will continue to challenge myself, our staff and my fellow board members to ensure our spending actions are prudent.  As a member of the finance committee, I will push for an open and transparent budget process.  I will remain vigilant in reviewing “non classroom” hiring decisions and spending that does not support academic achievement.  I will work with staff to increase “non tax” revenue dollars and seek out innovative ways to generate new revenue for the district.  

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