By Jeff Gallatin
When you add it all up, colleagues and retiring Bay Village city school board member Mike Boeckman said his years on the board were a success.
Fellow board members lauded Boeckman at his last regular school board meeting Dec. 12 for his contributions, which aided the district during his six years on the board. Boeckman also was presented with a a crystal/glass sailboat, like the one displayed prominently in one school board logo present in the board’s meeting room.
Boeckman, who is chief financial officer for Cohen and Co., was appointed to the board six years ago. He chose not to seek re-election earlier this year.
During his six-year tenure, Boeckman said he was pleasantly surprised that many of the business decisions brought to the board demonstrated a well-managed and well-run district.
“I had always looked at public institutions as being run differently from business,” he said. “And while there are certainly accommodations that must be made due to the nature of school funding and long-term planning, we have a good budget process and good people who look for efficiencies all the time. We’ve been able to to do some ongoing improvements to our facilities within financial limits. For example, thanks to applying for grant dollars, donations, and using our in-house labor, our recent bleacher upgrades were possible.”
With his finance, accounting technical management and board background, he felt he could be of service to the school district. “I had lived here since 1982,” he said, “and I felt Bay Village is a wonderful place to live. I felt with my background, I could contribute.” His father had also served on a school board in rural Ohio, so Boeckman had some perspective and admiration for the role.
“The board role is one of oversight,” he said. “It’s not our job to run the schools on a daily basis or step in on decisions made by administration. Sure we ask our questions, but I have always felt very confident with our administration.”
Fellow board member Bill Selong recalled how a chance meeting between the two men while both were out shopping with their wives led to Boeckman’s service.
“First, he helped us with getting the new middle school going by serving on a (bond counsel) committee and said ‘if I can do anything else.’ Well, here he is several years later and I’m proud to have worked with him,” Selong said. “He’s brought common sense and practical knowledge to the board.”
Boeckman said he’s proud of the Bay Village community for approving two operating levies on the first request during his terms.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “But our community members and leaders come forth and say they believe our taxes are worthwhile. We don’t have a lot of businesses to help pay for services. It’s on the backs of residents, many of whom are retired. But we’ve seen home values holding up better here than most places. It’s very important that the community works hand in hand with the schools.”
The coming challenge, he said, is clearly how to continue funding schools. “The recession, high unemployment and stagnant wages are all real problems, but school districts will see expenses grow.” He notes that the district has made progress in developing how it develops and evaluates staff. “Senate Bill 5 heightened awareness regarding evaluating teachers, and we must continue progress in this area.” He predicts there may need to be a balance between using real estate taxes and income taxes in the future. “It’s something we need to keep looking at,” he said.
Board president Amy Huntley thanked Boeckman for his service. “You brought a lot of knowledge to the board,” she said.
Board member Gayatry Jacob-Mosier also thanked Boeckman on behalf of the Bay Village community for all his time and effort.
Boeckman was happy to see that the school board openings drew strong interest during the last election with four good candidates vying for two open positions. “On balance, it’s good to see we keep a variety of interests and skills on the board,” he said. “That’s one reason I decided to step aside and let someone else have the opportunity to make their own, personal contribution.”
Boeckman said his board tenure has been a great experience.
“It’s been wonderful to meet so many people and to have the opportunity to work with all the other board members through these years. I do hope community members appreciate the sincere effort and amount of time contributed by school board members. I’m confident that the new board will continue to meet its challenges and that the Bay Village Schools will continue to enjoy great success in the future.”