Charles Glasser is a third-generation Marion Center Area school director. His father, Ray, and grandfather, Charles F., served on the board before him.
Glasser is a lifelong resident of the school district and of Rayne Township. He graduated from Marion Center Area High School in 1978 and was first elected to the board in 2001.
Glasser, the executive director of the county’s Farm Service Agency, is a former vice president of the school board and for the past four years has served as the Marion Center district’s representative to the ARIN Intermediate Unit 28 board of directors.
Glasser said he’s seeking another term as director because he wants to continue working to keep taxes low and to provide “the best educational value … for the money we have to work with.”
Glasser is completing a term that arguably can be described as a tumultuous period for the Marion Center Area district and its directors. In April 2010, they consolidated the district by closing two elementary schools; in May 2012 they resolved a lawsuit against the district by the Marion Center Concerned Taxpayers, whose members had opposed the closing of the two elementary buildings; and in May 2012, after more than two years of negotiations, they reached a new labor contract with teachers.
Glasser said he hopes the board can now get back to “somewhat normal meetings” and spend more time and energy addressing student needs.
“We won’t have a lot of distractions that take up a lot of the board’s time,” he said. “And worse, the administration has spent so much time on noneducation issues,” especially researching background and assembling documents for the district to use in its defense against the lawsuit, he said.
Even though a new labor agreement with the teachers was reached just one year ago, Glasser anticipates the directors will need to start preparations as soon as January for negotiating the next contract with teachers.
“That’s always on our minds,” and labor agreements with all the district’s employees are something the board “needs to stay on top of,” Glasser said.
School security is the “hot topic” now, Glasser added, and the Marion Center directors, in his opinion, are close to taking steps to improve security that “parents in the district will be happy with.”
Making sure students are being educated is another issue that is a constant, he said, and the directors must ensure that the students and the teachers have what they need to meet that goal and responsibility.
The directors, too, in the future may have to deal with the district’s declining enrollment, he said.
Guiding a school district today is more challenging than it was a dozen years ago when he first became a director because there are more issues to deal with, and “funding is not there as much” even though expenses for everything keep going up.
Glasser believes a strength of the Marion Center district is its size — “We’re not a huge district,” but one that is manageable, he said.
“I believe we have a good administrative team and all the buildings are working together to do the best for students,” he said.
Glasser said he believes the skills and attributes he brings to the board that are most valuable are an open mind, a willingness to listen and be available to district residents, and the experience he has gained by being a school director 12 years.