By Jeff Gallatin
Discussing all the good outgoing school board member Mike Raig has helped engineer for the North Olmsted City School District was almost too much for him and other board members at the Dec. 14 board meeting.
Raig, a professional engineer who was appointed to the board in February 2001 to fill the opening left when John Dailey became a member of North Olmsted City Council, choked up several times and shed a few tears in talking about his time on the board. He wasn’t the only one affected by the moment as senior school board member Joann DiCarlo and Superintendent Cheryl Dubsky also cried. Fellow board members John Lasko, Tom Herbster and Terry Groden didn’t break down, but said they were affected by the realization that it was Raig’s last regular board meeting.
In noting his breakdown, Raig, who chose not to seek re-election this year, gave what other board members describe as his “trademark chuckle” and compared it to fellow Ohioan John Boehner, speaker of the United States of House of Representatives, who is known for going into tears during some events.
Raig said he is proud of what the district has accomplished in the past decade.
“‘We’ve passed three operating levies and turned back a recall on one,” he said. ” I don’t really look at the ones that didn’t pass, just the ones that did and what they do for the district.”
He cited the installation of several academic programs by Dubsky, both during her time at the helm of the district and as an associate superintendent prior to that.
“We owe a lot of this to Dr. Dubsky for not being willing to accept excuses and for finding a way to make these programs work,” Raig said, noting the district has received excellent or excellent with distinction marks the last six years in the annual report cards released by the state department of education at the beginning of the school year.
He also said even though the district has not been able to get two capital improvement levies passed, it is attempting to deal with facility issues.
“It’ s important to try and to get those issues out before the public,” he said.
Raig also credited the district for providing top education to his four daughters and one son, noting the strong base the district provided for the assorted master’s and doctoral degrees among the four daughters. Since his son is in the ninth grade this year and he and wife will remain North Olmsted residents, Raig said he will still be involved in the district and the community.
“You’ll be seeing me,” he promised.
DiCarlo also used humor to deflect her emotions quipping that she isn’t even a Republican, when she started to cry. She praised Raig’s expertise and knowledge in a variety of areas. She said his knowledge of building and educational issues has aided the district in countless areas.
“You have been a credit to this board and to this community,” she said.
Dubsky, who said she was going to have a hard time getting through her comments, noted Raig was board president seven years and served on many district, state and other government groups during his time.
“Mike’s care, humor and calm demeanor were assets that enabled him to successfully lead the board and district through both good times and times of challenge,” she said.
She said his blend of his personal and professional sides were an important part of his success, shortly before walking over and hugging Raig.
“The highest faith and confidence he has placed in our schools was allowing us to educate his five children,” Dubsky said. “He has been an active and fun dad, and attended numerous school and community functions beyond the official capacity of a school board member. He has patiently juggled a very busy work and family life to do what is right and best for the students, schools and community.”
Lasko, who succeeded Raig as board president, said he is “a dear friend who will be sorely missed.”
A baseball aficionado, Lasko used a baseball-like description of a double play pivot involving Raig, himself and the board to describe one action. When the play-by-play was noted after the meeting, Lasko acknowledged the baseball similarity and said, “We’re a team around here.”
Herbster said when Raig interviewed for the open board seat, he stood out.
“He was clearly the best candidate and has constantly helped us since joining the board,” Herbster said.
Groden, the newest member of the board, said Raig’s expertise has aided him.
“There have been many times I had a preconceived notion about something, and Mike would make me think about it with something he said,” Groden shared.
Board members had cake and coffee set up for Raig and the public after the meeting and said they would announce a formal reception for a later date.