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PHONE: (313) 593-5518
DATE: Feb. 19, 2004

UM-Dearborn program will help new school board members make the transition from private citizen to public-policy maker

DEARBORN---New school board members in southeast Michigan will get help learning how to understand their roles and better serve the educational needs of increasingly diverse communities through a new program being launched at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

The new program, called the Institute for Local Government, will launch a year-long series of classes and seminars with a kick-off event at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 10 at UM-Dearborn's Fairlane Center, located at 19000 Hubbard Drive in Dearborn.

The event will feature a presentation by Earl Ryan, president of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, who has studied the roles school board members must play and the challenges they face. Ryan will be joined by a panel of state and local school leaders.

The Institute for Local Government was founded by UM-Dearborn and plans to offer a variety of programs to help develop stronger civic leadership in the region. "The five classes and seminars planned over the next year are designed to support new school board members as they make the transition from private citizen to public policy maker," according to former state Senator Pan Godchaux, who has helped to develop the program.

The series has been designed to help new board members learn the basic skills of successful board service, and allow them the opportunity to explore issues with others serving in southeastern Michigan. There are more than 650 elected school board members in more than 80 school districts in the region. The series was developed in collaboration with the Michigan Association of School Boards.

"The mission of the Institute for Local Government is to increase the participation and capacity of citizens participating in local government within the tri-county area of southeastern Michigan," according to Godchaux. "As the problems local government is asked to solve become more complex and economic times tighter, those serving in local government need more skills than most bring to office with them."

To register for the March 10 program, or for more information about the the Institute for Local Government, contact Susan Rowe at (313) 593-5140.

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