Streng selected to serve GH school board

Krystle Wagner • Jul 6, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Grand Haven Area Public Schools’ Board of Education has selected someone to fill a vacant trustee seat.

After interviewing three candidates on Wednesday, the board voted to recommend appointing Chris Streng to serve the vacancy created by Mike Cramer’s resignation last month.

The board will take formal action on its own recommendation during its July 10 meeting.

Cramer said he resigned to focus on his personal and professional life. If formally appointed, Streng will serve out Cramer’s term through the end of 2018.

Streng, Brook Bisonet and Mike Ver Duin were interviewed by the board during a special meeting Wednesday night. The candidates were asked about challenges they see facing the district, how they would interact with other board members and administrators, what changes they would like to see in the district, and other questions.

Streng attended Ferry Elementary School and graduated from Grand Haven High School. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy before serving six years in the Navy. He works for Izzy Plus and has seven children.

During his interview, Streng told the board that he applied for the vacant seat for his kids and the community’s children. Having educators in his family and coming from a large family, Streng said taking care of children has been engrained in his life.

Streng said it was humbling to apply for the opportunity to serve the district and community. He said he believes having lived in other communities in the U.S. and serving abroad during Operation Iraqi Freedom helps give him a good world scope.

Streng is a Grand Haven Rotarian, soccer coach, Greater Ottawa County United Way member, Leadership Connect participant and Watch D.O.G. volunteer at Mary A. White Elementary School, to name a few of the ways he’s involved in the community.

Growing up, Streng said he saw firsthand that not everyone has the same home life and school isn’t just an education for some children, it’s their family. He said that if they can remove the obstacles for children, they will be given options and not be left behind.

When asked if he would seek election to the school board seat in November 2018, Streng said he would enjoy the opportunity to continue to serve.

Initially, 12 people applied for the vacant seat. Board President John Siemion said the board narrowed down the field of candidates by considering criteria such at applicants who have children in the district, are active in the community and are public education advocates. Siemion said they’ve never had a turnout with such “high quality” candidates as they have had with this appointment.

Board Secretary Christine Baker said the three interviews Wednesday night were among the best “cold interviews” she has heard in a long time.

Siemion noted that, for the first time, all of the candidates used nearly all of the time allotted for their interviews.

“All of the candidates were amazing,” Trustee James O’Neal added.

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