The Grand Rapids school board voted this October to forgo
membership in the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) and the National
Association of School Boards (NASB), saving over $17,000 in district funds.
The MASB is the state's largest organization of school board
members. Membership in the MASB allows school boards to obtain membership in the
National Association of School Boards. The Grand Rapids district is one of the
few districts in the state to opt out of MASB and NASB.
The close 5-4 vote came after board member Jeff Steinport
voiced his concern over sending taxpayer funds to an organization that did
little for the board, especially in light of last year's $1.6 million school
"It is wrong for the board to spend this money while the
district cries poverty," Steinport told Michigan Education Report. "There
are better uses for $17,000."
However, opposing board members felt the association
memberships benefited the board by providing services such as legal assistance
and by offering networking opportunities. They also worried that the decision
might damage perception of the district, since the majority of Michigan school
boards participate in the associations.
Board President Jim Rinck told the Grand Rapids Press
he thought the vote was "amazingly short-sighted" adding, "I can't imagine how
it will help us to make us look like isolationists. This is going to cost us a
heck of a lot more in terms of reputation and effectiveness."
But Steinport disagreed, saying membership in the
associations provided few useful services to the board and constituted an
irresponsible use of school funding that could be spent in the classroom.
"Our legal title is 'Trustee,' and we're entrusted with
taxpayer dollars," Steinport said. "This is one of the line items the board
spends on itself, and I don't see the benefit when all the association lobbies
for is status."
The MASB is one of many resource organizations open to school
board members around the state. One alternative is the Michigan School Board
Leaders Association (MSBLA). MSBLA dues are $25 per school board member.
For more information on MASB, visit
For more information on MSBLA, visit