Fay named to H-PT board


ownship Schools has a new board member.

Robert Fay was appointed to a partial term at the district board meeting Monday night. Fay, a project manager with GS Engineering, was one of four applicants for the position.

Fay is president of the Houghton-Portage Township Schools Foundation, and was also on the Citizens Committee that helped on the successful campaign for the district’s recent bond proposal.

Fay said he is excited to be part of the board.

“I’ve got three kids in the district, I’ve been involved in a couple of the local organizations and I thought this was where I could really make a difference,” he said.

He is also heavily involved in local youth sports, serving on the Portage Lake Little League board, and officiating multiple sports over the past 20 years.

Board members praised Fay’s community involvement and the fact that he has children in the district.

“He’s a mechanical engineer, so we know he can think logically,” said Vice President Nels Christopherson, who nominated Fay. “I really feel that of all four of them, he’s probably the most qualified.”

Fay is looking forward to getting to know the other board members and the district’s teachers.

“I don’t see drastic changes needed,” he said. “I think the board has been a very solid board. I just want to keep contributing and allow it to be viewed positively throughout the entire school community.”

Fay fills the term vacated by former Trustee Dan Crane, who left the board after 15 years. Fay will be able to run for a two-year term in the 2020 election.

For now, he intends to run in 2020, though he notes, “There’s a lot of time to make that decision between now and then.”

Other candidates were Jim Luoma, a former Houghton teacher and Houghton Middle School principal; Alex Guth, director of academic accreditation and compliance at Michigan Technological University; and Scott Leonard, a deputy with the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office.

Board President Buck Foltz praised the mix of candidates. Two — Fay and Leonard — are parents in the district. In addition to his work with the district, Luoma has had children in the district, with grandchildren on the way. Guth has experience as an “educator of educators” at a week-long geoscience institute in Houston, which intrigued Foltz.

“It’s really a nice group of folks to choose from,” he said.

Foltz, who has worked with Fay on the foundation board, said Fay had given “phenomenal” input when it looked at awarding funds to teachers.

“He’s just that kind of person who’s going to give us the time and the effort,” he said.

Fay and Foltz’s membership on the foundation board could lead to reshuffling. Having two district board members also on the foundation board could cause the district board to be overrepresented, Secretary Crystal Verran said.

Superintendent Doreen Kramer said he would seek a legal opinion on whether the district bylaws can be amended to stipulate that the board representative on the foundation can be any member, rather than president.