Bill Bielas is a “get involved” type of guy, and because of that, a school district in Michigan is weathering challenging economic times better than a lot of other school districts.
A two-decade carpenter-turned-superintendent, Bielas is a third-generation UBC member who gets involved in all aspects of his life. For Local 202 of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, he is a delegate, its president, and past recording secretary and financial secretary.
This Eagle Scout also gave back to the local Scouting community by serving in leadership positions for several years.
And this year, he handed his daughter her diploma as president of the Boyne Falls Public School District School Board, Boyne Valley Township, Michigan.
“It was a month before the election, but I saw some things that I thought I could help with, and getting on the school board was the way to do it,” he said.
“I was a write-in candidate and beat both incumbents. I put out signs and leveraged my connections with the community. My wife is a pre-school teacher and involved with Girl Scouts, and we just talked to everyone they knew. The incumbents got lax - thought they were a shoe-in.”
Just two years into his six years on the board, Bielas was elected president. After spending time listening and learning, he was ready to make an impact.
“A lot of schools are having financial trouble and making large cuts that affect students. But we saw this coming four years ago and we made some cuts at that time, which put us in a position now to not have to make such drastic decisions. We have enough money put aside to weather the storm.”
Bielas said his advice to other UBC members looking to get involved is simple: Do it.
“I think a lot members don't because they don’t think they are smart enough to be a supervisor or school board member, or they don’t think they know enough about what it is about the issues. For my first 18 months, I did a lot of listening, took training, and got better. I say, what have you got to lose?"