CHEBOYGAN — Dennis Olsen is the newest member of the Cheboygan Area Schools Board of Education.
Olsen was the only person to apply to fill the open spot on the board, a vacancy created with the resignation of Dr. John Palmer, who served several terms. Olsen will fill the position on the board through the general election in November, when someone will be elected to fill the remainder of Palmer’s term, expiring in 2026.
“I have lived in Cheboygan 20 years,” said Olsen. “I want to be on the school board to make a difference, to help children, to see kind of how the back of the workings of the school system work.”
More:Longtime Cheboygan school board member resigns, creates vacancy on board
Olsen said he doesn’t really know anything about how the school system works, but he hears a lot about what is happening in the district and he wants to learn more. He wants to help figure out what is working with the district, what is not working, how things are being introduced to the students enrolled there and maybe have a voice in it all.
In regards to the primary role of the board, Olsen believes it is to oversee the education system, handling and resolving conflicts, making decisions regarding the district and carrying out any disciplinary actions. The school board also is responsible for interacting with the community.
Subscribe:Get unlimited access to all our local coverage
Olsen has two children who have gone through the school system at Cheboygan Area Schools. His son, Jack, received his general education development certificate in 2018 and his daughter Ellie graduated in 2021 and is now attending college at the University of Minnesota.
An active member of the U.S. military for more than 20 years, Olsen currently works for the Michigan Army National Guard’s Camp Grayling facility and it is uncertain whether he will be retained, or will be retiring from service in August later this year.
Although he is still active duty, Olsen will be able to make the monthly school board meetings, as well as attend any committee meetings to which he is assigned, as he can schedule his work around them. He is also willing to attend any classes or training offered by the Michigan Association of School Board to help him become a better board member.
Olsen also has background in budgets and how government and financing work. He said he is willing to run again for the open position to fill the remainder of Palmer’s term.
“I would just like to see you stick around,” said Trustee Roger Cronk. “So I would like to see you run in November.”
Olsen is aware there may be conflicts between his personal point of view and opinion and what the policy of the board is .
“I would argue my point, but what the policy states is what has been set and has been agreed upon,” he said. “And at the end of the day, when push comes to shove and it’s my opinion against policy, we go with policy.”
The school board members voted unanimously — with Harke absent — to appoint Olsen to fill the vacancy on the board.
Contact Reporter Kortny Hahn at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @khahnCDT.