The Perry Community School District Board of Education was brought back to full membership Tuesday afternoon with the swearing-in of Director Casey Baldwin, who will finish out the term left vacant by the recent passing of his mother, Marjean Gries. The seat, along with that held by Board President Kyle Baxter, will be up for election this September and have four-year terms.
Baldwin, 36, and wife Kelly have three children. Reagan, 9, is currently in third grade, with Declan, 3, and Tenley, 1, still at home, of course.
A director of sales for a medical device company based in Waltham, Mass., Baldwin is often on the road, though he does not see that as an impediment to adequately serving the Perry community.
“I am on the road probably 50 percent of the time each month, and I am fully aware of the time commitment it takes to serve on the school board,” Baldwin said. “I think the business background I can bring to the board will serve our schools well.”
Baldwin said one of the last verbal communications he had with his late mother was to take dictation from her on her wishes regarding the superintendent search, which ended with the hiring of Clark Wicks.
“She dedicated much of her life to the Perry schools and the students she taught — it was, truly, her greatest joy,” he said. “She was adamant that whoever ended up being the new superintendent that the board fully support that person.”
Baldwin said he had spoken to Baxter and Board Vice President Jim Lutmer about the vacancy on the board, but that neither had recruited him.
“They just told me what was involved and the time it required to do the job right,” he stated. “They said they were confident I could handle the duties, but in no way did they say ‘you ought to volunteer.’ It was more a very short conversation about the details and that was it.”
“I thought about it for several days and decided it was the right thing to do, to step up and volunteer,” Baldwin said. “I had no idea if others had, or if a special election would be forced, or anything like that. I just got contacted Kyle and said I’d would like to put myself forward and things kind of went from there.”
Baldwin would not commit to running for the seat in September, but confessed to having researched into the paperwork requirements to be on the ballot in the event he chose to stand for election.
“In talking with others, and especially conversations I had with my mom and watching her for three years, I realize any new member is going to have a lot of learning to do when you first come onto the board,” he explained. “If I decide to run in September these few months over the summer will have served as a learning period for me and I believe I would be fully prepared come the election. That is, if I decide to run, and while I do not deny finding the option attractive, it is not a sure thing, not by a long shot.”
Plausible deniability aside, Baldwin said he believed he would bring a unique perspective to the board.
“I feel that my skill set aligns nicely with everyone now on the board,” he said. “I think I bring a business perspective to the group, and you pair that with the differing talents of the other members and I think it creates a great mix.”
“In my job you cannot be successful without listening to all points of view, to have the patience to hear differing points of view and try to bring them together,” he said. “I think that will serve the community well, and I want to assure everyone that when Clark (Wicks) takes over as superintendent (July 1) it is my intention to support the heck out of him.”
Baldwin said he was appreciative of the outpouring of support he had received from the community.
“My family has been touched by the many comments and signs of support and encouragement I have received,” he said. “My goal now is to prove that support is deserved.”
The Perry School Board meets the second Monday of each month in the Brady Library at the Perry High School at 6 p.m. The next meeting will be June 12 and will be the final monthly meeting for retiring Superintendent Lynn Ubben.