Diane Balcerzak And Mike Wiley Are Each Recognized For Service To Maumee City Schools Board Of Education

Maumee City Schools Board of Education members Diane Balcerzak and Mike Wiley served for nine and eight years respectively on the school board. The two were recognized for their years of service at the final board of education meeting of the year on December 11. MIRROR PHOTO BY KRISTI FISH

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — The Maumee City Schools Board of Education will welcome two new board members in January, and with that comes the exit of board members Mike Wiley and Diane Balcerzak.

The two both sought appointment to an open board seat in 2014, with Balcerzak being chosen for the position, a win that Wiley was happy to see go to Balcerzak.

Subsequently elected to a seat in 2016, she has served over nine years on the board while Wiley has served eight.

“Around the time of my decision to run for school board, my church asked the question to its members ‘What skills do you have to make your church better? What skills do you have to make your community better?’” Wiley said. “At that time, I had over two decades of employment in education, so I thought serving on the school board would be a good use of my experience as an educator.”

Balcerzak had children in the schools and knew becoming a member of the school board would allow her a chance to serve her community, too, while laying a good foundation for a bright future for the students of Maumee.

Balcerzak relied on her experience as a volunteer along with her degree in business and experience from the private sector while working for the board of education.

“I read policies and learned a lot from our former board members, Bob Righi, Jane Durham and Jen Campos, along with current board members. The same goes for our former superintendents, Dr. Smith and Dr. Cramer, and our current superintendent and treasurer. I also learned by listening to our administrators, teachers, staff, students and their parents,” Balcerzak said.

Wiley used his previous experience as a teacher and principal who had attended board meetings in another district when he first joined Maumee’s board of education.

He also relied on the expertise of fellow board members, including Stephanie Piechowiak and Janet Wolff, who have more than 50 years of combined experience on the board.

Nothing, however, could have prepared the board for having to serve during a worldwide pandemic.

“During the pandemic, I used to joke with Dr. Cramer that at no point in his preparation to be a superintendent did he take a class on How to Survive a Worldwide Pandemic. We relied heavily on the advice of local, state and national health experts,” Wiley said. “At the end of the day, our goal was to keep kids, and to a lesser extent their families, safe.”

The district, including the board members, used the advice from officials of all areas to form a plan and then execute it to the best of their ability, Balcerzak noted.

It was a hard time for many, she added, as people throughout the community lost loved ones during the pandemic, which is why it was important to stay as informed as possible and make the best possible decisions for the employees and students.

At the end of the day, that was all she wanted to do throughout her time on the board.

“(The board has) different backgrounds and therefore I believe we bring a broad spectrum of views to the boardroom. We respect and value each other’s opinions. We don’t always agree, but we do agree to disagree and move on and always keep our students’ best interest in mind,” Balcerzak said.

The work behind the scenes – committee meetings, executive sessions and more, which can be filled with debates and long conversations – is something the public doesn’t often see.

It is vital work, however, and keeps the board of education running successfully, Wiley noted.

It also has led to several accomplishments, the two said.

For Wiley, the work that went into the 5.9-mill levy in 2018 was one of his proudest accomplishments for the board.

“We hadn’t passed a levy at that rate since 1982. There was some hesitation from the board, but we went ahead with it anyway. I’m glad we did because we are still in the black five years later,” he added.

Choosing one of the most important accomplishments from her time on the board is hard for Balcerzak, as there have been many highlights, but one of her favorites is watching the students excel and cross the stage each year at graduation, she said.

She’s also proud of the creation of the Panther Pride Foundation, the enhanced facilities and programs for students over the past nine years, the move to the Northern Buckeye Conference, new electronic signs and the creation of the makerspace for students.

Over the years, the two have helped the schools grow and change, but they have reached the end of their terms. The district recognized their accomplishments at the final board of education meeting of the year on December 11.

Superintendent Steve Lee told the two their service and leadership in the district has made a significant impact and will not be forgotten.

It’s time for them both to move on, though, they said.

As Balcerzak’s son is a senior now, she said it is time for her to leave her position.

“It’s a good time to have new people, personalities and perspectives on the board,” Balcerzak said.

With her extra time, Balcerzak’s next steps are to prepare to move her son away to college and spend more time with family and friends. She also plans to continue her community service work at Penta Career Center.

“I certainly enjoyed my service and I want to thank everyone along the way that has supported me and our school district. I wish you all the very best,” Balcerzak said.

For Wiley, the decision to leave after this term was not one he made lightly.

“I will miss my fellow board members and all the personnel who work for MCS. I plan to continue to help MCS in different ways,” he said.

The death of his mother, though, in April of 2022, forced him to make some changes in how he plans to spend his life, and moving away from his time on the board will allow him more opportunities to try even more new things. For now, though, he will be kept busy by his wife and her business, along with whatever involvement he can have with the district.

“Maumee City Schools is a great organization. We have amazing teachers who work to make your children’s lives better each day … we have a real diamond in MCS and I’m glad I got to be a part of it these past eight years,” he said.

In January, Allison Fiscus and Andrea Ankenbrandt will take over their positions as members of the board of education, joining current members Janet Wolff, Stephanie Piechowiak and Matt Bush.

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