By Melanie Young
Grosse Ile voters will have a lot to consider at the ballot box on Nov. 6. One of the local items of interest is the battle for two Grosse Ile Township Schools Board of Education seats.
There are three challengers for the two seats up for election, including incumbents Suzanne Sassack and John Gatti and newcomer Steve LeMoine. The winners will serve six-year terms.
Suzanne Sassack is currently the president of the Board of Education. She has also held the positions of treasurer and secretary. She has been a member of the board since 2006, and has been a resident of Grosse Ile for 31 years.
John Gatti has served on the board for six years. He served as treasurer for four of those years. He is an attorney with the law firm Kerr, Russell and Weber. He specializes in corporate and tax law.
Steve LeMoine’s wife is a graduate of Grosse Ile High School and they currently have four children in the school system. They have lived on the island since 2007. He is the vice president of Clinical Operations at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn.
He is interested in running for the school board because, “I have a keen interest in the ongoing success of the Grosse Ile Schools and the curriculum that will drive our children’s future.” he said. He also stated that if you want to make a difference, you have to have a seat at the table to make sure your voice is heard.
Sassack sees the biggest issue for the Grosse Ile school district is attracting new families to the island community in order to have consistent enrollment. She cited the lack of affordable housing for young families as a possible reason. She said the district needs to do more to attract new students.
“As a district, we need to continue our efforts to attract new families. I think we could do a better job of partnering with the township to advertise and market the qualities that Grosse Ile has to offer,” she said.
Gatti sees school financing and curriculum as two issues the school district faces. LeMoine said he sees there are many issues that the district faces, and that there are multiple competing priorities that deserve the same amount of attention and discussion to ensure that the best decision is made.
If reelected, Sassack said she would like to continue working with the other members of the board to establish a five-year plan as it relates to funding, enrollment and curricular needs.
“The uncertainty of state funding and the elimination of local control has made addressing the immediate needs of the district more complex,” she said.
Sassack would also like to continue addressing the curricular needs of students, as the district has mandated different types of assessments that give them a snapshot of student achievement and progress many times throughout the year.
Gatti said that if he was elected, he would like to continue to help the district to be financially prepared if the 2022 Enhanced Millage does not pass. He would also like to continue the relationship that the current board has with Superintendent Joanne Lelekatch, as well as with new Curriculum Director Audrie Kalisz.
“The superintendent has been very receptive to our goals. We have worked well together to find common ground,” he said.
LeMoine said the first thing he would do if elected is thank those who have supported him. He’d also like to ensure that the voices of the parents and children are heard. He would like to see discussions around the curriculum and a roadmap for where the district is going with students of all age levels. He would also ensure transparent discussions with the community related to the school finances.
“I want to ensure that a clear path is outlined that drives growth and stability with enrollment numbers since that is a key to the ongoing financial status of the district,” he said.
Voters can find sample ballots and other election information by going to the Township Clerk’s page at www.grosseile.com.