Voter Guide: Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local SD

Voter Guide
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Voter Guide

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

The Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News invited local candidates to fill out the following questionnaire to inform readers.

VOTE FOR 3

Heidi Anderson

ajc.com

City: Bellbrook

Education: B.S. in secondary English education from Wright State University

Current Employment: Homemaker

Community Involvement: NA

Why are you seeking elected office? I have lived in this community for 32 years and am a 1994 Bellbrook graduate. I chose to make my home here because of the community. I believe the schools have a great reputation, but there are a few things that could be better. Things like community relations, funding, special education and leadership are some areas that could use substantial improvements. Instead of sitting back and complaining about how things could be better, I decided to do something about it.

Why should voters elect you? I would love the support of our community because I will stand up for the rights of parents and students, I will ensure that concerns brought to the board are acknowledged and followed up with action, and that our staff feels heard and valued. As a 32 year resident of the community and a graduate of the district, I am committed to have strong schools and a stronger community.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? My top three priorities would be assuring stable, alternative funding for the district; improving communication with the community; and a complete overhaul of the special education department.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? As a board member, I would seek out alternative ways to fund the district through additional revenue, sponsorship of programs, responsible spending, reviewing all contracts and investments for cost saving opportunities, and standing up to the state to demand our fair share of funding. I would insist on open work sessions, open financial records, acknowledgement and public follow up of concerns brought to the board, and getting administrators, board members, staff, and students engaged in projects that improve and service the community. One of the areas I am most passionate about is parental rights. This passion would lead to a complete overhaul of the special education department and all processes involved in writing IEPs, and getting kids the help they need and the inclusion they deserve.

Anything else? I am committed to this community and this district. This is my home and my children are thriving as students in Bellbrook Schools. I am teacher with 19 years of teaching experience so education is my passion. I will make fact driven decisions that are free from politics, fear, emotions, and that focus on common sense. I will invite and include all stakeholders to be part of the process as we soar into the future. We have come to far in improving things, and we cannot go back to how things used to be done.

Audra Dorn

ajc.com

City: Sugarcreek Twp.

Education: B.S, business administration; M.S., aeronautical science, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Current Employment: Senior Contract Negotiator, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Community Involvement: Member, B.S.S. Special Needs Parent Advisory Committee; Member, B.S.S. Superintendent and Financial Advisory Committee; Board Representative, Bellbrook Sugarcreek Education Foundation; Volunteer, Bellbrook Lions Club

Why are you seeking elected office? I initially applied for appointment to the board last year because I saw the damage that recurring levy failures and social media nastiness were doing to our community. I recognized that the community needed to hear more from the board and wanted to understand the “why” behind their decisions. I had been attending school board meetings for some time and realized that I had never heard any sort of real debate, dissenting opinion or split votes. Although I was sure of good intentions, to those of us on the “outside” it felt somewhat apathetic. I said this very thing in my board interview in December, and to their credit, the board selected me for the position despite the constructive criticism. Since January, especially during recent months, open discussion and civil debate have returned to board meetings. In the coming term, I hope to continue this trend of openness and honesty with our community. Parents and community members deserve to know what each of us think about important topics. Not only do I hope to serve, but I hope voters select other members who have demonstrated willingness to discuss issues without anger and intense emotion - people who can work together for the good of our schools, even when they disagree.

Why should voters elect you? Something I’ve realized over the last nine months is parents and community members want a voice. They want to be part of the decision-making process. When they write an email or have a discussion with a board member, they want to know that member is open-minded about what they’re saying, and maybe they’ll be persuaded. School board positions are not politically affiliated for a reason - education isn’t supposed to be political. I have shown over the last nine months, and hopefully during the course of this campaign, that I make decisions about individual topics individually. Admittedly, I have my personal opinions, as we all do. I’ve also demonstrated, though, that my opinions are not stagnate. I’m an independent thinker and do not live at one polar end of the political spectrum or the other. Professionally, I work in contracts. Yes, I know that sounds boring to most people, but in reality, I negotiate big deals with large corporations and teach others the skills to do the same. Those are the same talents I bring to the board. We are all passionate about our kids, and when our kids are involved, it’s sometimes hard to see the bigger picture or the “other side of the story.” I’d like to continue to use my negotiation skills here in Bellbrook to repair some of the damage that has occurred in recent years. That’s what I do for a living. I find common ground between opposing parties and work toward the common good.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? My first priority in the short term is stability - stability for our staff and particularly our students. Between recurring levies and COVID challenges, our district has been through the ringer in recent years. Before we take on any big “change” agenda that some may be suggesting, our schools need a moment to regroup and focus on our core mission - academics. Secondly, I want to keep politics and special interest agendas out of our classrooms. Nearly every topic these days has become political - medicine, agriculture, weather, history, even sports. With each of these subjects there is potential, more than ever before, to turn an academic lesson into a persuasive appeal for a particular ideology. The focus in our schools should remain on teaching our students how to think for themselves, not what to think. Finally, I will prioritize fiscal responsibility so our district does not have to return to the voters for any further levies during this term and for as long as possible thereafter. This is important for two reasons. Many families are simply tapped out in regard to tax increases. While we were fortunate to pass the recent levy, I am acutely aware that the margin was slim, and we need to be incredibly vigilant regarding future spending. Further, Bellbrook simply cannot withstand another drawn out levy fight. The arguments and bitterness have torn our neighborhoods apart, and I’m not willing to put our community through that again.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? Regarding stability for our schools, COVID is the biggest hurdle in our way. We now know that COVID isn’t going away and we need move away from the unrealistic goal of “zero cases” and push our local health agencies toward policies that keep healthy kids in school and limit excessive quarantines. With respect to political influence in our schools, I want to emphasize that I consider our teachers and administrators to be trusted allies. I do, however, think there is room to strengthen local policy to make sure the line between academics and politics is much better defined, so our families and educators are both comfortable and protected regarding these issues. Finances - you may hear some candidates talk about a projected budget surplus. That’s true, we’re projecting there will be roughly a third of a year’s budget “in savings” at the end of five years. Well, according to how I was raised, a third of a year’s income is an appropriate amount to have in the bank. And remember, our current levy only lasts seven years before lapsing. I’m on board with some minor spending increases (like busing) if we can get a significant “bang for the buck.” But, I’m also aware prices for everything (particularly for labor, our biggest expense as a district) are going up fast. I assure you, as much as I want to restore everything that was cut during recent years, I’ll prioritize fiscal responsibility.

Anything else? You’ve likely heard a lot about “healing our schools” and “unifying our community.” I agree wholeheartedly. As you make your decision, take a look at who models the behavior you want to see in your elected leaders. Do they settle disputes with a conversation and handshake, or do they fight it out on Facebook? Do they spend their evenings at the football stadium, Sackett Wright and the Dairy Shed, or behind their keyboard? Do they approach problems with common sense and logic, or angry rants and emotion? I chose “Let’s Be the Adults Our Kids Need” as my campaign slogan. I hope most of you share in that sentiment. I’m ready to get back to being Bellbrook - the Bellbrook we moved here for. The one that’s been a friendly place to live for years. Frankly, our kids have been exposed to a lot of nastiness, rude behavior and unnecessary drama lately. I’m done with that. Yes, I have social media accounts, and I use them to find out what is going on in town and to keep up with military friends. But, that’s not where I solve my problems. I make a phone call or schedule a meeting, I don’t start a new special interest Facebook page. You have my promise that, if elected, I’ll continue to operate in that manner. We may not always agree - in fact we likely won’t. But, I promise to listen to you with an open mind, and we’ll walk away as neighbors.

Mike Kinsey

ajc.com

City: Sugarcreek Twp.

Education: Master’s of science in computer science, University of Cincinnati, awarded in 2005

Current Employment: Consulting software test engineer, LexisNexis Special Services, Inc.

Community Involvement: Fearless Church, Bellbrook Amateur Radio Club

Why are you seeking elected office? I am asking for your vote to represent you on our Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Board of Education because I am an enthusiastic and unequivocal supporter of public schools. My heart breaks for the division that has been rampant in our community. I believe my unique confluence of skills will assist our district in progressing forward through the challenges before us. A divided community, future funding considerations, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are only a few of the novel difficulties added to the expected, everyday tasks and challenges presented to our schools.

Why should voters elect you? I bring a well-rounded and experienced perspective to a board of education. I am the proud product of public schools and son of a retired teacher of 35 years. For the past 13 years, I have successfully built a career around analyzing and solving complex problems involving very large quantities of data. It is a privilege to work alongside teammates who utilize communication, compromise, and bold execution to assist various government agencies in reducing risk while achieving their critical missions. Due to the nature of our customers, I understand all too well the variables that constrain public sector organizations, of which most private sector businesses are not even aware. The most rewarding aspect of my professional role is the responsibility of presenting our team’s solutions in creative ways to diverse audiences who (understandably so) are not as knowledgeable about the data or technical aspects of the proposed plan forward. Simply put, it is my job to listen to all stakeholders and facilitate a productive dialogue using language that all parties understand. Our fractured community is desperate for exactly this approach.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? My top priorities include continuing to create new and meaningful communication channels between our community and school board, working to fix Columbus’s unfair redistribution of our state tax dollars, and fostering a culture inside our schools where kids can be kids and our excellent teachers are free to do what they do best.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? I firmly believe a board of education can only function fully when every voice has the opportunity to speak, and also feels heard! School board meetings are not conducive to meaningful, back and forth conversations. Forget social media or other electronic communications. Recently, I’ve implemented over a dozen opportunities where we can meet in person and engage in real, productive dialogue. Learning families’ stories is the highlight of my week! I pledge to continue this simple, yet effective, practice. Healing the division that has plagued our community regarding local levies and school funding begins with awareness of the real problem - Columbus’s unfair redistribution of our state tax dollars. Only about a quarter of our schools’ operating funds come from the state, while other districts receive much more. For example, a projection detailing our Legislature’s “Fair School Funding Plan” results in Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools receiving an additional $145,000 in funds, while a neighboring district (almost double our size) will receive an increase in funding of more than $16 million. That disparity is anything but “fair” and is the primary reason why our property taxes are so high. We must also foster a culture inside our schools where kids can be kids and our excellent teachers are free to do what they do best. I believe every child needs an advocate. We must keep political agendas out of our classrooms and defend each family’s right to make the decisions they believe are best for their children’s overall well-being.

Anything else? n/a

Keith St. Pierre

ajc.com

City: Bellbrook

Education: Doctor of Education, Miami University

Current Employment: Retired school superintendent

Community Involvement: Bellbrook Lions Club; St. Vincent de Paul Society; former member of the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Chamber of Commerce

Why are you seeking elected office? By serving on the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek School Board, I will provide experienced educational leadership ensuring Bellbrook-Sugarcreek students have access to outstanding educational programs that serve the diverse, inclusive needs of all of our students. I will adhere to the Ohio School Boards Association’s established school board member role as a liaison between the school district and community who adopts policy, sets long range goals, is fiscally accountable and hires/evaluates the superintendent and treasurer. As a school board member, I understand our role is to hire knowledgeable, professional administrators to manage the daily operations of the school district. I plan to be a board member who listens to and respects input from students, staff, administration, parents and the community, helping all parties work together to best serve the students of our learning community.

Why should voters elect you? If elected to the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek School Board, I will proudly serve the students, staff, administrators, parents, and school learning community where I live and have valuable knowledge and experience as superintendent of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools for 24 years. I will bring my experienced school leadership for kids to our school board to enhance the various perspectives when addressing school issues. I plan to work with the new school board to focus on school improvement, fiscal responsibility, and board policy revisions while communicating with staff, administration, parents, and community members.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? As a member of the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek School Board, my top three priorities are to be involved in and provide input for long range strategic planning, fiscal oversight and revision of school board policies. The long range strategic planning priority should include a School Improvement Committee that addresses academic programs for all of the student grade levels. The School Improvement Committee needs to consider issues such as: lower class sizes in the primary grades, reinstating programs/courses that were cut, tutoring to assist students’ learning, and researching new programs that will further prepare our students for the future. The committee(s) should include participation and input from students, staff, administrators, parents, community members and board members. The fiscal oversight priority must have planning components for use of general fund monies, capital improvement monies and the one time Cares Act monies. The planning components for these three revenue sources should detail current and future planning for use of these dollars. The fiscal planning must address staffing to meet the broad range of students’ learning needs, technology purchases, building supplies, district maintenance, a bus replacement and a physical plant repair schedule. Staff, administration, parents, community members and board members should provide input and the long range strategic planning information must factor in the anticipated student program expenditures. The revision of board policies should have a timeline for the revision process. Those persons who will be involved shall be selected by the school board.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? All three of the priorities I am proposing are expectations of responsibilities for school board members in Ohio. Therefore, it will be incumbent upon the new board members to engage the school superintendent, staff, administration, parents and community to work on committees that must address these three priorities. As a board member, I am willing to provide experienced educational input and serve on related communities through completion of these three priorities. My years of experience as a school superintendent and as an adjunct professor of graduate education courses should provide helpful insights as we work to fulfill these three priorities. The Bellbrook-Sugarcreek students will have a greater opportunity for consistent engagement in an excellent teaching and learning process when these priorities are fulfilled.

Anything else? We have an excellent school district with talented students, knowledgeable teachers and administrators, supportive parents and a community that values exceptional educational opportunities for students. I believe my years of educational leadership experience will benefit the school board’s efforts to refocus on long range, fiscal, and policy planning that advances the teaching and learning opportunities for all of our students.

Josh Pressnell

ajc.com

City: Sugarcreek Twp.

Education: Bachelor’s in computer engineering from California Polytechnic State University

Current Employment: Chief technology officer for Penthera

Community Involvement: Citizens for Sugarcreek Schools PAC co-chair, River Ridge II Subdivision Home Owner’s Association President, Little Miami Watershed Network volunteer

Why are you seeking elected office? My wife’s mother was a teacher. My mother is a retired teacher. I have aunts and cousins who are now Ohio teachers. While I chose the path of business executive and entrepreneur, I am all too familiar with the joys and difficulties of public education. It was because of these strong ties to education that my wife and I volunteered our time during the last three election cycles to fight for Bellbrook-Sugarcreek schools as the co-chairs of Citizens for Sugarcreek Schools, the pro-levy PAC. I developed a deep understanding of Ohio’s school funding and property tax systems, and the burden that state laws have created for communities such as ours. Our state has made ensuring truly quality education for our children into a battleground. This leads to my decision to run for board of education. The children of this district deserve the quality schools that their parents chose for them by living here. Providing that to the community will require strong leadership skills and fiscal responsibility. Creative problem-solving skills will also be necessary, as well as a willingness to communicate openly with the community about what is working and what isn’t. That transparency is desired by the community and will be needed in the years to come to continue supporting the children of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek. In the end, I am running to ensure that area children and the staff that is responsible for their education have what they need to ensure educational quality, safety and diversity in the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek District.

Why should voters elect you? I’ve developed a deep understanding of Ohio’s approach to public education, Ohio’s system of taxation, and how public school systems operate. As a business leader, I understand the dynamics of managing the employee/employer relationship, of working with a board of advisers, operating under a financial plan, and what the role of a board member entails. As a citizen in today’s society, I understand that accountability, transparency and communication are more than motivational posters, and that hearing and supporting the perspectives and experiences from every one of our neighbors is important to the overall community health. Ohio has shown that fully funding public education is not a top priority. Every year, schools receive additional unfunded educational requirements that increase public education costs, and every year Ohio’s school funding formulas put a heavier burden on Bellbrook-Sugarcreek’s citizens to pick up the costs for the high-quality education we expect our districts to provide. Maintaining our district’s legacy of quality education will require board members that understand organizational finance and who can clearly communicate our school’s needs with the community in order to gain buy-in for future support. Finally, as we move into the future with COVID, and whatever comes after, we need a board that is capable of processing information in a crisis and who will propose proactive data-driven plans that will guide the community’s expectations as changing situations unfold. I am experienced in the analysis and interpretation of data and how to use that data to propose action-oriented plans to drive decisions.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? My first priority is to establish a “community dashboard” for the district. It’s important for everyone to have a single place to go for data about what’s going on in our schools. The dashboard should have information about the school’s financial situation, school attendance, educational performance and (while needed) COVID information. It is important that not only data is presented, but that charts and trends are shown to provide understanding of history and future projections that can be made. In order for the public to have trust in the school’s direction, we need to present a clear vision of the school’s operational status. Second, full review of the board of education policy. This policy is meant to outline how the board operates but, upon review, I discovered that several referenced sections in the current policy do not exist or have not been followed in recent board actions. It is critical for every board member to be fully aware of governing policy, and for the board to vote to update/improve these policies as needed. Finally, expanding the board of education’s availability to the community. There have been frequent calls for scheduled public work sessions and for community communication sessions. Work sessions would allow the public to see more of the discussion about topics of interest between board members. Community communication sessions would allow for more two-way communication than is normally had during the regularly provided communications periods. These are things that have been requested by the community and need to happen.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? Without a clear plan to get from mission to strategy, and from there to tactics, and finally to execution, goals are only wishes. To achieve a meaningful community dashboard, I would plan to establish an advisory group with a diverse set of perspectives to discuss what types of information the community would find value to have reported. From there, discussions would need to be had about how to gather and store the data needed to build the reports in a way that is minimal effort for the district. Finally, the outputs would need to be socialized and advertised to the community and a process established to update the reports as-needed. A review of the board’s governing policy simply takes commitment from the board to make it happen. Board policy 8450.01 references a Pandemic Plan developed by the district’s Pandemic Response Team under policy 8420.01. Policy 8420.01 does not exist. Meetings must be scheduled with the necessary agendas to discuss sections of the policy and any proposals to change that policy, with periods for public comment. I would continually urge the board to take these steps, for the purposes of self-awareness and of community buy-in. Similarly, scheduled community meetings that go beyond standard business can happen now and simply require the consensus of the sitting board members on the format and schedule of the meetings. I would work with the school’s legal representation to determine appropriate structures and agendas and work to ensure these opportunities are given to the community.

Anything else? I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the teachers and administration in our district. Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools has a history of excellence in preparing our children to enter today’s society with the skills they need to succeed. That includes an appreciation for “lifetime learning” and social skills to successfully enter modern job markets. The opportunities and programs offered in this district are truly a blessing to this community and help ensure that our children have the best hopes for success as they leave home for greater things. I believe that some new perspectives sitting on the board of education are the best way to guarantee that our district continues to evolve for the future. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me. I hope to earn the right to represent you.

Katherine Kipling

ajc.com

City: Sugarcreek Twp.

Education: M.S. in physics, University of Texas at Arlington

Current Employment: U.S. Air Force/Air Force Life Cycle Management Center - GEOINT Acquisitions Branch Chief Engineer

Community Involvement: Citizen for Sugarcreek Schools Volunteer, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Citizens for Change (co-founding member) Bellbrook Rec soccer team mom, proud mom of two Bellbrook Fusion soccer players. Previously: Beavercreek adult rec softball, assistant softball coach. I am a full-time working mom and also actively working toward my Ph.D in applied physics through AFIT.

Why are you seeking elected office? I am running for board of education because I believe we need proactive leadership that makes data driven decisions. I believe that any form of government should be representative of all view points within the community. The current make-up of the board does not reflect the views of the entire Bellbrook-Sugarcreek community. I want to repair the strained relationship with the teachers union and restore faith in the BOE’s ability to listen to the community’s input and react in a way that focuses on education. I want to work to ensure all students feel included and their needs are met, regardless of their background or physical capabilities.

Why should voters elect you? This community has been through a lot over the past two years and the current school board has not taken any steps to correct the issues important to our community. I know how to be proactive and make data driven decisions. I believe it is important to address the concerns of the community and find ways to correct items that impact our district. We need individuals on the board that will listen to the inputs from the community and staff, and then work to discuss and address their concerns in an open forum. If a community member takes the time to address the board during open communication, I believe that item should be added to the agenda for that board meeting. I will work to create actual forums where the community can have a real conversation with all board members and ensure board meetings are supported with public work sessions so the community has insight into the thinking of each board member. I will be completely transparent with all of my stances and will work to make data driven policies with clear criteria for any decision that has potential health impacts on our students. A vote for me is a vote for transparency and active communication.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? My top three priorities include making updates to the following three board policies: Board Policy 3112 Board-Staff Communications, Board Policy 8450.01 Protective facial coverings during pandemic/epidemic events, and Board Policy 86000 Transportation. All three of these board policies are out of date and need to be updated to reflect the current climate of our district. Currently our staff feels as though the BOE does not have their best interests in mind. We did not have a plan in place regarding when masks should be mandated during current COVID-19 outbreaks, and we still do not have a real plan. Many students in our community still do not have busing, even with the passage of our seven year emergency levy. I mean to address all three of these items at the first opportunity, if I am elected to the board. I have already worked to address community concerns. I took it upon myself to circulate a petition around the community this summer to advocate for additional busing with the passage of the most recent school levy. I collected over 300 signatures in the span of one month. The current school board has been slow to respond to this petition. If elected, I will find a fiscally responsible way to bring back additional busing to the community by next school year.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? Board Policy 3112 limits board-staff communication. The basic line of communication is through the superintendent. This policy needs to change. The staff of this district need to have an avenue to address the board with their concerns. I would personally advocate for a change to Board Policy 3112 so two board members at a time could meet with staff throughout the year to ensure their voices and concerns are heard in real time. I am not sure what the right frequency of these meetings should be, but I would welcome input from the SEA on how often they would like to meet with board members. The school board is currently in direct violation of Board Policy 86000 with its current exclusion zones. I intend to update this board policy to require all students that live more than 1 mile from the school or in a non-walkable portion of the community to receive busing. I believe with the passage of the seven year emergency levy, we have the funds available to reduce the current exclusion zones. There are cost effective ways to ensure all students have bussing available and it is important that we work to address this. Board Policy 8450.01 discusses facial coverings during a pandemic. The current board has not given a plan with trigger points on when masks should and should not be required. My plan would only require students to wear a mask in times of high community transmission as defined by the CDC.

Anything else? I am a mother to three wonderful kids, and we moved here to ensure they’d be able to grow up in a district that values education but also one that was small enough that they’d have a chance at really knowing the kids they grow up with. For decades, saying you graduated from Bellbrook meant something to others in the area, and I want to ensure it continues to mean something positive well into the future. I want to help enable the school district to be more forward-looking as to where we want to be and not just focus on the immediate issues. It is time that we set our future goals and map out our plan on how we will achieve those goals. We need community involvement and proactive thinking to help move us toward the future Bellbrook we all want to see. We need a forward thinking board to ensure our past problems do not become our future issues. It is time for new representation that will actually listen and encourage community involvement.

VOTE FOR 1:

Kevin Price

ajc.com

City: Bellbrook

Education: Bachelor’s degree, English, Spanish, math minor/secondary education, Lee University; post graduate course work, space studies, University of North Dakota

Current Employment: Government civilian, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Community Involvement: Member of the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek School Board since 2020; safety officer/board member, Caesar Creek Soaring (Glider) Club; high school student mentor, Dayton Foundation College Promise Program

Why are you seeking elected office? I was appointed to my Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools school board position in January 2020. I want to continue serving on the board since I am at a phase in life where I am able to give back. The Bellbrook community and its school system have served my family very well over the 12 years we have lived here. Our six children attended BSS and were afforded educational opportunities they did not have in other places we lived as we moved around the country and world. The district has faced unprecedented challenges over the last few years - financial, COVID, etc. I believe as a father of a large family and through experiences gained from a long military career, living other places in the U.S. and abroad, traveling extensively worldwide and working in a very diverse array of jobs, I am very well prepared to serve on the BSS school board to address our challenges, keep this school district great, and find ways to make improvements.

Why should voters elect you? I worked very hard and successfully to address BSS’s severe financial challenges brought about by several consecutive levy failures. Fundamental to this was communicating honestly and clearly to the community about the district’s dire financial situation, explaining in a simplified manner the extremely complex topic of Ohio K-12 school funding, countering false/misleading information, and finding a compromise on the type, amount, and duration for a levy that would gain community support. Recognizing the negative impact another permanent property tax levy would have on our retired elderly, I strongly advocated for a limited period levy. A seven year emergency levy finally passed in May 2021. I want to continue in my board position to help inform and guide efforts to migrate from near exclusive local property tax based school funding to alternative sources. The seven year levy clock is ticking - work on alternative(s) to property tax based funding must begin. (More on that in a response below). As a board member I have also advocated and will continue to advocate for transparency and open engagement with the community. Those who have attended or watched our school board meetings online would have heard my frequent calls as a board member for improving two-way communication with our community. Examples of success: I called for complete meeting minutes to be posted on the school’s website to include how individual board members vote. Those are now posted. I have also advocated strongly and successfully for community meetings - the first is on Oct. 19!

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. Fiscal stability for the BSS District 2. Safety and well-being of our children 3. Transparency and openness with the community

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? 1. Fiscal stability for the BSS District: I will lead efforts to find alternatives to our district’s current overreliance on property taxes. Possibilities: An Ohio income tax kickback to the district; challenging the state to redefine its Fair School Funding Plan formula to obtain more state funding for districts like ours; introduction of a local earned income tax for our schools. The elderly would not pay EIC taxes on their retirement income and some/many of the current school property tax levies could be removed. 2. Safety and well-being of our children: Safe pathways to school are a passion of mine. I have visited crosswalks before school to make observations, identified issues with crosswalk light configurations, made reports when crosswalk lights have failed and advocated for additional crosswalks. I have called for busing restoration, which would alleviate the need for children in unsafe areas to walk to school. For COVID, I have taken and will take a balanced approach. I currently support K-6 masking due to a lack of a vaccine for those children. To date I have not supported 7-12 masking since vaccination is an option. My positions are subject to change based on government and health provider guidance/recommendations. I will also strongly consider parental concerns, school administrator/teacher/staff inputs, and local realities (e.g., infection rates). 3. Transparency and openness: As a board member I have repeatedly called for the district/board to be more transparent and open with the community. I will continue this push.

Anything else? Brief biography: BSS Board member since 2020; Bellbrook resident since 2009; with Joyce, parents of six children, all attended Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools; retired Air Force lieutenant colonel (29 yrs, fighter pilot, program manager); taught middle/high school; civilian employee at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. I was raised by wonderful parents and taught by teachers who modeled and instilled in me a deep love and appreciation for my country. I served my nation in the military for 29 years as a combat ready fighter pilot, as well as in staff positions to include managing a five nation European F-16 program with budgets of millions of dollars. I have had the fortune of traveling the world. I believe ours is the greatest nation on earth, and I want our district’s children to know that and to be well-prepared to become informed citizens, voters and leaders in the future. I will do my best as a BSS school board member to make that happen. Please visit my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Kevin-Price-for-Bellbrook-Schools-102330121627694 I would be honored to continue serving my community and its children by being elected to the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek School Board. I would appreciate your support and vote!

Sarah Williamson

ajc.com

City: Bellbrook

Education: Columbus State Community College

Current Employment: Owner Sign Gypsies Dayton South

Community Involvement: Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Chamber of Commerce, Volunteer Citizens for Sugarcreek Schools

Why are you seeking elected office? The current state of our board compelled me to run. Each sitting member that is running in this election was appointed. We have the opportunity to make our voices heard and change the board to better reflect community values. It is imperative that board members communicate their priorities and values. No matter what you think about my viewpoints, I promise transparency, so you will always be informed as to why I make the choices I do. We cannot allow parents to be unsure of what to expect from the school system. I want to contribute my time to pursue these goals and bridge the gaps in communication with the community. As a mother of three children who will be growing up here, I am deeply committed to helping Bellbrook schools grow.

Why should voters elect you? After managing residential and commercial properties for 10 years, I now own a small business here in Bellbrook. Through these experiences, I have developed an understanding of how to work with diverse communities, craft policy, maintain financial discipline and use creativity to solve problems. Because of my professional experiences and my passion for my community, I think I would be an excellent board member. You should choose me in this election if you want a board member that will: prioritize actual progress in the ongoing fight for transparency; take appropriate responsibility for actions and decisions; seek out and listen to the advice of experienced experts on any difficult topics that arise; listen to our staff/students/families and advocate for shared values in a financially responsible way; be invested in the long term health of this district regardless of how this election turns out.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? Transparency means accountability. The current board missed many opportunities for improving transparency over the years. We deserve clear communication about issues that are important to us. My mission is to foster this essential communication with the community. I believe that transparency, robust dialog, and accountability will build confidence in our district as we heal in the future. Fiscal responsibility means effective action within our means. I am committed to meeting the needs of this district in the most fiscally responsible way possible. We need to continue to strive for unique ways to save money and preserve the programs that make this district special. We need to start planning now to meet our financial needs since our most recent levy was not permanent. I will use my time on the board to listen to our staff/students/families and advocate for these shared values in a financially responsible way. Rebuilding community trust by bringing everyone to the table. I believe we should invite parents, teachers, administrators, business people, and other community members to share their views to help guide our school district. Our work on the board will be complemented by the knowledge and experience the stakeholders bring. All of us, listening to each other and each playing our role, will be critical in our efforts to raise the achievement levels of all students, including second language learners and students with special needs.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? My goal is to improve transparency by taking three decisive steps. First, set up a regular community discussion or town hall with the administration. This will provide a forum for community members to voice their concerns. Secondly, the school board must hold work sessions. This is long overdue and necessary for a body bound by the Ohio Sunshine Laws. Decisions made by the board need to be discussed and debated. Finally, I would advocate for fiscal transparency by adopting an open checking service similar to our peer districts. Fiscal responsibility is particularly important for our district at this time. Recently, we passed a non-permanent levy, renegotiated contracts and received federal pandemic funding, which resulted in a surplus. This is the time to discuss investments in efficiency. I will advocate for careful restoration to previous cuts evaluated against the long-term resources of the district. We will need a mechanism to keep our schools funded. Property tax levies consistently place a burden on the residents of this community, especially on our senior citizens. For school funding to be sustainable, we need a long-term solution that comes from our legislature. If we want change, we must hold our representatives accountable. Transparency and financial responsibility will be the foundation for bringing everyone together. This will allow us to have better schools for all children. We can have a school system that works for everyone. When everyone’s at the table, when we put our children first, we can accomplish great things.

Anything else? A board member is a community advocate to the administration. I think that we largely want the same things and I want to highlight this as we heal from the divides in our community. We all want top tier education for our students, outstanding extracurricular options, robust special needs resources, a safe/healthy environment, and dramatically improved transportation situation among other things. I think we also understand that our school and community resources are finite and they need to be managed responsibly. Balancing these priorities into the future is a large part of what we are voting for in a board member. I believe I am that board member.