Flint, MI—Dylan Luna, the newly elected treasurer of Flint Community Schools Board of Education, will join a national program that trains school board members from diverse backgrounds. 

Luna was accepted to the fellowship program of School Board Partners, a nonprofit organization that connects board members with training, support and mentors, earlier this month. 

“It’ll be a lot of different progressive school board members across the country coming together as a cohort, sharing ideas, best practices and solutions to better serve students, and also learn about how to reduce the inequities as [they] relate to race and socioeconomic challenges our students face,” Luna said. 

Scholars at Flint Schools face various inequities, Luna explained, like students’ learning environments compared to those in suburban districts like Grand Blanc, Mich. and Flushing, Mich.

“If you look at some of our current facilities, the parking lots aren’t in the best shape,” Luna said. “The HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system may work sometimes. It may not.”

Access to drinking water is another example, he noted. Students couldn’t safely drink from the district’s water fountains for several years until February 2022, when the district unveiled new lead-filtering water fountains. 

Beyond the state of the district’s facilities, Luna added that FCS students “are already disadvantaged because they come in at a lower reading level, and there just isn’t enough resources to really help close that gap, especially from the federal and state government.” 

The School Board Partners fellowship, Luna said, will offer training on the basic roles of a school board member and the ways in which they can govern effectively to ensure that the district has necessary resources to address such educational inequities.

“Sometimes, board trustees can confuse their role when it comes to public education,” he said. “Our role is governance. It’s not operations and management. It’s giving students, staff and the superintendent the resources they need to be successful.” 

According to Luna, the fellowship will provide opportunities to learn about things like managing school finances, crafting goals and working with stakeholders like local, state and federal officials, as well as philanthropic and community organizations. 

“I just hope to gain a better, proactive, progressive understanding of what I can do to really affect transformational change for students,” he said, “and something that I can share with my colleagues and the administration.”

Luna said his fellowship will begin Jan. 24, 2023.

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...