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Talbert Excited About School District's Potential

The veteran school board member is seeking re-election.

Rochester Board of Education member Beth Talbert hopes to continue to draw from her experience as a teacher, administrator and parent as she runs for re-election this fall.

Talbert, a former board president who has lived in the community for more than 20 years, said she is an advocate for public education and is excited about the future of the district.

"I am excited about our vision," Talbert said. "We have everything in place, but we need to really focus it and be deliberate. I don't think we have mastered the college-readiness component yet." 

Talbert is one of five candidates vying for three six-year terms on the board. Other candidates are Tom Malysz, Jeremy Nielson, and .

This week, Rochester Patch will profile all of the candidates in preparation for the

Working toward college-readiness

Talbert was raised in Owosso. She met her husband in high school; they have two daughters who graduated from Rochester Community Schools.  

Talbert has been an instructor at for the past 12 years and is currently the Director of the Communication Program following 10 years working in administration.

She holds a double major in English and communication from Western Michigan University. She also has a master's degree in college student personnel from Bowling Green, which Talbert explained is much like higher education administration with a couseling component.  

Her youngest daughter now attends Bowling Green University in Ohio and her eldest is a graduate of Central Michigan University.

Talbert, as a college teacher, sees the product of the Rochester School District every day.  She said she believes she can offer insight into what students need to be successful in college and life.

"I have nothing but pride in what our district does but I truly believe we can be the best district in the state.  We have all the pieces in place."

Facing challenges

A board member for the past four years, Talbert has faced making difficult decisions due to reduced funding.  She strongly believes that public education is fundamental to democracy.

"We are entering a time when there is no decision that won't impact people," she said.

"We have to make very wise decisions, and we need to make sure that public schools are adequately funded. I don't have a silver bullet ... that's oversimplifying something that's very complex."

Talbert added that she has spoken with Superintendent Fred Clarke about the need to pull employee groups together to solve problems.  

"I think we have maxed out asking from our community," she said. "If you have a public school system where only the people with means can pay for their children to have enrichment experiences, you begin to build a public school system that is organized by the have and the have-nots.  

"I really believe our community does not want that."

Mike Reno September 29, 2011 at 12:27 PM
What does "adequately funded" mean? I believe the district is currently spending more than it has EVER spent... some $160+ million. Yet the district is also laying off learning consultants and media assistants, raising pay-to-play costs, and deferring technology/building maintenance. At the same time, the board approved on a 6-1 vote a 3-year union contract giving teachers raises and bonuses, ultimately pushing the board to deficit spending to the tune of some $11 million. The talk about the difficult/wise decisions, and about pulling employee groups together, all sounds good. Seriously... at face value it really does sound good. But it doesn't jive at all with the real-world actions of the board over the past few years. What is different now?
Judy September 29, 2011 at 12:47 PM
Beth Talbert is an amazing asset to our school board. The level of expertise and committment to our district make her the best possible choice. She is honest, hard working and creative in solving big challenges in today's schools. Please support Beth so she can continue to move our district forward.
Steven A. Kovacs September 29, 2011 at 03:58 PM
"We have all the pieces together?" So a gargantuan, looming deficit of $10 Million to $15 Million (I do not have the exact figure, but can guess that it is large based on Mr. Mull's figures from several years ago), does not bother you? You are a well-education, nice lady, but in my opinion you are doing a disservice for the community with such nicety, Pleasantville language, while the Board is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Regards, Steven A. Kovacs
Joshua Raymond September 29, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Of all the current school board members, I've probably had the most discussions regarding gifted education with Beth Talbert. I believe she is trying to understand the needs of advanced & gifted children. I also believe it is incumbent upon the incumbent to detail what they have done with their time in office. I would like to know what specifically Mrs. Talbert has done to distinguish herself as a board member. What can she point to as having proposed that was implemented? What stands has she taken against the majority of the board? Where has she stood against or challenged the school administration past or present? Over the years, what has she done for the advanced students? These are honest questions. My involvement at board meetings began only a year ago, so I missed many years of her term. Judy, since you've raved about Mrs. Talbert, perhaps you could help answer the above questions. Thanks!
* September 29, 2011 at 10:00 PM
LOL! I guess Mr. K, who doesn't live in this state anymore, knows a thing or 2 about rearranging the ships on the Titanic. Thanks to Senior GM advisors like him I'm left without a job, worthless stock certs....I'm sure he got out when we were told "bankruptcy is not an option." Thanks Mr. K!
* September 29, 2011 at 10:02 PM
The difference is that you get a healthy tax cut Mr. Reno! I'm sure you will use that to hire more people and diversify your business, right?
Mike Reno September 29, 2011 at 11:23 PM
You must not live in the community, Willis. There was no tax cut here. If you lived here, you would know that the school board raised your tax millage rate by 30%! It went from 5.18 to 6.7... in a single year!
* September 29, 2011 at 11:31 PM
Millage to make up for the shortcomings of a policy put in place by Mr. Engler. I may not have a college degree like you Mr. Reno but I know how the schools are financed.
* September 29, 2011 at 11:35 PM
You must live in a castle! That increase doesn't seem too bad to an average Joe like myself. Schools are clean, teachers are smart and purty!
Steven A. Kovacs September 30, 2011 at 01:19 AM
Mr. Tooig: You sound like you have a chip on the shoulder regarding your lack of a college degree. Are you certain that you are not Martin Rosalick in disguise? My advice to you is that you confine your comments to the topic at hand (and not to the commentators) rather than Uriah Heep-like comments on tangential matters. If it makes you feel better, I lost 25% of my pension, dental and vision, wiped my rearend with stock options and certificates before a severe haircut on my valuable asset (house), and I did get an opportunity to rearrange the deck chairs (not ships) on the Titanic, before leaving for greener pastures. I left freely and thereby saved a young lady her job, which she would not have been able to keep if I had elected not to take early retirement. Not knowing your particular circumstances, I can only surmise that I had nothing to do with your job loss (in general, those that lost their job were invariably the poorest performers, those vis-a-vis the most overpaid performers, or ones without the requisite educational qualifications). Overall, I feel very good about my decisions. Having endured that scenario, I can assess that the School District is on a similar unsustainable path as the REA consumes and destroys as much as possible. Feel better?
Clara T September 30, 2011 at 02:03 AM
“Talbert added that she has spoken with Superintendent Fred Clarke about the need to pull employee groups together to solve problems.” A little late in the game for those district employees who lost jobs, salaries and benefits so that teachers union bosses wouldn't have to sell compromise to their own rank and file. But not for Talbert's 2011 campaign. Why didn’t Mrs. Talbert speak with (former) Superintendent Dave Pruneau “about the need to pull employee groups together to solve problems” over the past four years? The REA – MEA teachers union whose enthusiastic endorsement ushered fellow public union member Beth Talbert onto the Rochester school board, has been organizing Rochester’s school system by the haves for years. Just ask the paraprofessionals and other employee groups whose pockets don’t deliver the same political clout as the MEA.
* September 30, 2011 at 11:54 AM
Mr. K, Having watched several of your board meetings (year and years ago) I'm quite familiar with your personality; you are not a gentleman. You and Mr. Reno should take a page from GW Bush book of etiquette and stay out of the current affairs of our educational system. You pose as conservatives but your behavior reminds me of our salty former president, Jimmy Carter. I feel sorry for the both of you and your significant others.
Marty Rosalik September 30, 2011 at 08:19 PM
Mr. Kovacs: please leave me out of this. As usual YOU lead yet another assault upon ME by breaking from your own advice. "My advice to you is that you confine your comments to the topic at hand (and not to the commentators)". Got lots of class Steve... ALL low!
Wendi Santavicca October 01, 2011 at 09:28 PM
I have personally known and worked with Beth Talbert on numerous committee's and causes. She is truly an asset to our school district and community. I think during this difficult financial time in our state, our current board has done a great job trying to balance cuts with making sure our kids are still getting a great education. All of us have had to make adjustments in our own budget and our current board has had to do the same. Being on the school board for Rochester Community Schools is a demanding, time consuming and at times very stessful job that is strictly volunteer. That is right none of the school board in our district is paid to help run our district, I for one want to thank them all for all of their time, energy, enthusiam and effort in making Rochester School Districts one of the best in the state! I would really like to see comments that are positive in nature as well constructive. Beth Talbert is and continues to be a wonderful person, teacher and creative mind for our district!
Joshua Raymond October 01, 2011 at 09:49 PM
Wendi, I do agree that this volunteer unpaid position is often thankless for the commitment required. I'm glad to see we have five citizens willing to make this commitment and it can be difficult to choose who would do the job the best. As you know her and her work so well, perhaps you can help with some of the unanswered questions above. I would like to know what specifically Mrs. Talbert has done to distinguish herself as a board member. What can she point to as having proposed that was implemented? What stands has she taken against the majority of the board? Where has she stood against or challenged the school administration past or present? Over the years, what has she done for the advanced students? I believe any of the candidates could be raved highly about. What actions and specific beliefs set Mrs. Talbert apart? I don't believe that just being part of the current board should be a reason for re-election.
Mike Reno October 05, 2011 at 12:35 PM
At the LOWV forum, some talked of leadership, and tried to claim responsibility for the success of our district. The College Readiness Benchmarks simultaneously used as examples of our success AND shortcomings are available publicly because of former supt. Pruneau. It wasn’t a board suggestion to measure those numbers… it was his. I still have the documents he distributed to introduce the concept to board members. The current ACT CRB’s that we cite as being “twice the state average” were taken by juniors/seniors. Exactly what did this board do that impacted those scores? Most of the board was not even serving when these children entered high school! And, any improvement was in large part due to State Superintendent Mike Flannigan, the driving force behind increased state requirements for graduation. School boards – ours included – whined incessantly about the loss of local control, and bemoaned the loss of electives – the fun stuff – for our children. Seriously, let’s hear some specifics about what this candidate – or this board – has done. Both Joshua and Wendi asked for comments. A week later, and we have not seen ONE. Quite frankly, this isn’t about Talbert, who is no doubt serious about education, but is instead about a school board this is largely ceremonial and to put it bluntly, irrelevant. If we want to talk about leadership (or even relevance), then let’s hear how would our schools differ if Talbert had not been on the board?
Clara T October 12, 2011 at 06:59 PM
How timely that in today's Patch, Tiffany Dziurman-Stozicki offers an excellent historical review of Rochester's very own "sanitarium" - The Haven. Included is a particularly insightful revelation about how the Rochester School District (circa 1946) through the action of its school board, acting on the recommendation of its superintendent, partnered with its neighborhood sanitarium to implement a Problem Behavior Program. Eager parents and students were swept up in a bizarre and over-the-top privacy intrusion foisted upon families by school “experts” who also undoubtedly cared about kids. http://rochester.patch.com/articles/on-walton-the-haven-once-thrived-as-mental-hospital-school-behavior-program Good reason, if you still need one, to remain vigilant about who sits on your local board of education and to be highly skeptical about their affiliations and collective wisdom. Independence counts on local school boards!

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