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As the Board President of PrepNet Virtual Academy, Kristin Beltzer understands there can be some misconceptions about charter schools.
Charter schools are public schools. After more than 25 years of chartering in Michigan, these schools have become institutions in the communities that they serve. However, there is still too much of an “us versus them” in public education” Beltzer said.
With many years of leadership experience, Kristin was ready to step into the role as Board President at PrepNet. Kristin currently serves as an Administrative Commissioner to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and previously served as the Director of Appointments in the Executive Office of Governor Rick Snyder, as well as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Kristin said her passion for education led to her being asked to join the PrepNet board.
I was approached by the team at the Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Charter Schools Office as I had previously served on the Haslett School Board in Mid-Michigan for 13 years. I was relocating to Grand Rapids, so it seemed like an ideal fit for me and aligned with my passion for education.”
PrepNet Virtual opened in 2020 as an additional public school choice for students during the pandemic. Kristin said even though the school started small it has only continued to grow over the last three years.
I first heard about the creation of PrepNet when GVSU was partnering with National Heritage Academy (NHA) to offer a virtual option for students during the pandemic. It has grown tremendously and serves students all over Michigan. Starting with 33 students, it has now grown to well over 1,500 students statewide. PrepNet Virtual is very nimble, just like other charters, where we can innovate quickly.”
Some people may not realize virtual public school board members and traditional public school board members operate in the same way. Kristin said as a board member, her role is truly making sure their school is accountable and transparent.
Our role on the Board is to have oversight of governance and to set good policy so we can continue to operate at a very high and successful level. We must be good financial stewards and to make sure that the dollars are being spent effectively and efficiently. We are very diligent with our budgeting process and have many conversations about our finances so that we can keep everything on track.”
For Kristin, she said she is proud of the accountability and transparency she and her board members hold the school to.
I’m proud of the work that we do at PrepNet to be accountable, transparent, and straightforward about our programs and all that they offer. Charter public schools are part of Michigan’s public education system, and they are different by design. Charters can try new types of programs to diversify educational choices for families and find new and individual ways to connect with them to keep kids learning.”
Why has she spent so much time serving on school boards? Kristin said it is because students are the foundation for the future and encourages others to get involved.
Getting involved in school boards and serving your community is a great way to be involved in building the workforce of tomorrow. We must keep an eye on what we are trying to accomplish and that is to lay the foundation for students to be educated and graduate with the skills that prepare them to enter the workforce and to be productive and compassionate citizens.
Kristin said the work is worth it to see students reaching their full potential.
We know that we are changing lives, by working together we are transforming public education into a self-improving system where we learn together, get better together, and help kids achieve at their highest potential.”