Voter Guide: Huber Heights School Board

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:

Kelly G. Bledsoe

ajc.com

Education: University of Tennessee, Bachelor’s and Master’s of music; Wright State, Bachelor’s of fine arts

Current Employment: Retired, U.S. Air Force

Community Involvement: Huber Heights Board of Education since 2010; board president, 2013, 2016, 2020; active member, Christian Life Center

Why are you seeking elected office? I’m running for another term on the school board because I believe in the life-changing power of education. I have had many exciting and unexpected career and life opportunities that would not have been possible without a good education. I cannot think of any more important responsibility than helping the students in our district acquire the knowledge, skills and thought processes they need for life after graduation. I want to continue helping them prepare for future opportunities.

Why should voters elect you? As one of the two longest-serving board members, I have experience and perspectives that cannot be achieved otherwise. During my time in office, I have worked with and learned from a dozen other board members, three superintendents and three treasurers. That experience helps inform current decisions based on lessons from the past and raises questions that might not be asked otherwise. At a time when so many issues are politicized, I work hard to make fair, objective decisions. I study divisive issues from a variety of perspectives to make sure I understand conflicting beliefs, values and assumptions. I analyze news reports to see what kind of controversies, state and federal mandates, and court rulings other school boards face and anticipate how they may affect us and what our responses might be. I think about the long-term impact and potential consequences of board actions to see if we are doing what we intend. I believe all this work is necessary to make decisions based on principle rather than personality or politics. I have voted for things that were not my preference, but to the best of my knowledge I have not compromised my core values and do not intend to in the future. While I know some have disagreed and will disagree with my views and decisions on divisive issues, I will continue to vote for what I believe is right for our students and community.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? Huber Heights City Schools recently developed a new strategic plan through a process that spanned several months and involved school board members, district administrators and staff, students, and community leaders. As one of the people who helped develop, review and approve the plan, my priorities match those spelled out in the plan: Learning excellence, culture, financial stewardship and facilities. If I had to limit these to three priorities, I would combine the first two into a broad category called student success. Since school districts exist to educate our students, it seems obvious that student success would be the highest priority. While I believe all the goals related to learning and culture are important, I’m especially enthusiastic to see deeper learning integrated into the curriculum and expanded career tech options that will prepare our students for in-demand careers upon graduation. While student success is the highest priority, we must be fiscally responsible for that to occur. The most painful experience during my first school board term was being involved in the series of personnel and program reductions to avoid state financial oversight. Each round had a greater impact on our students and their opportunities. As we invest in our students, we must make sure these opportunities are sustainable. Similarly, we must ensure our new learning spaces, whether new construction or renovations, are cost effective and appropriate for the desired learning outcomes while maintaining our current facilities to make sure they serve the needs of our students for many years.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? While implementing the strategic plan is primarily the role of the superintendent and treasurer, I will continue to work with them and other board members to make sure our decisions and priorities are consistent with and support the plan. That involves such steps as continually monitoring benchmarks, assessing whether the plan is producing desired results, enacting policies that support the plan, and aligning resources with plan priorities and goals. During nearly 12 years on the board, I have learned important lessons that can help make this process more effective. For example, I have studied district report cards for several years and know some of the past steps we have taken to address gaps in learning. I have experienced some of the learning approaches in my own studies and by observing how some of our teachers integrate deeper learning into their teaching. I understand the value of our learning goals and action steps and believe I can provide perspectives that build on past successes as we improve our teaching and learning approach. Similarly, by being involved in previous cost-saving reductions, I’m aware of some causes and impacts of these measures. This heart-wrenching experience has made me more committed to ensuring initiatives are sustainable and that we are vigilant about spending trends. Further, serving on the board during the construction of our schools increased my awareness of things to watch for in our upcoming construction projects. As with other district priorities, I believe this experience will help us make wiser decisions.

Anything else? Being a school board member is often demanding, stressful, and frustrating. It requires a lot of time and effort to study issues and evaluate and prioritize options, some of which are limited or outside the board’s control. Sometimes it’s tough to sift through the noise of competing agendas, conflicting opinions and the voices of critics. At times board members need to set aside personal agendas and partisan political views when those are not in the best interest of our students. Despite these challenges, it’s rewarding to be part of something that makes a difference in the lives of our students, their families and our city. As we continue to work through COVID concerns and embark on exciting new initiatives, we need continuity and experienced school board members, including the other incumbents. I’m committed to doing what’s best for our students and community, regardless of whether it’s popular or politically expedient. I pray regularly for wisdom to know what’s right, the courage to do it and the grace to have the right attitude. In the end, student success makes all the work, study, stress and sleepless nights worth it.

Mark A. Combs

ajc.com

Education: B.S. in aeronautics, Saint Louis University

Current Employment: Inteva Products, LLC, product line director

Community Involvement: Advancement chairman, MVC; committee chairman, Boy Scouts of America Pack 268; Sulphur Grove United Methodist Church; HHCS Cannon Man

Why are you seeking elected office? Service to students, staff and community is my priority. It is important that decisions are made that reflect who we are as a community in Huber Heights, ensuring that each decision made is with thorough analysis and discussion. We need to continue being fiscally responsible to keep our taxes down while maximizing what we get out of every dollar that comes in. We need to continue improving the quality of our education for all students.

Why should voters elect you? I have a proven track record while being a board member of the Huber Heights City Schools. Every vote has been made with validated data and ethics. After working to get us out of potential state takeover, we have been able to continue being financial responsible. No new operating taxes. We built new buildings well under budget, saving taxpayers money and additionally reduced the debt of the construction project by an additional $11.4M. Educational programs and services have been restored while working within our available funding. We now have one to one technology for all students and working to add programs requested by the community as part of our five year plan, all within budget.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? Student and staff safety, fiscal responsibility, and broader educational opportunities for our students continue to be my priorities and focus.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? Plans are in place to increase security presence, board policies are in place that require minimum financial limits and the new five year plan is already in the beginning stages of implementation with new skilled trade spaces for our high school students and “maker spaces” for special hands-on programs at our junior high and elementary schools.

Anything else? I believe that the school board and city council need to work much closer together toward common goals that benefit our community. Each have different abilities and limitations, however together most needs and desires of our community can be met.

William Harris

No response

Mark Stankiewicz

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Mark Stankiewicz

Mark Stankiewicz
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Mark Stankiewicz

Education: No response

Current Employment: Greater Dayton RTA

Community Involvement: None

Why are you seeking elected office? I decided to run for school board because I want to make a difference in our community. I have a strong passion for helping people. I want to see our children succeed and our community grow, and I will bring this passion and energy with me as a member of the Huber Heights Board of Education.

Why should voters elect you? As a longtime resident and father of school-aged children, I know that I can be a great representative of our community. I will bring with me a fresh, new view of things. I’m willing to keep an open mind when it comes to important issues, and I want the citizens of Huber Heights to have a bigger voice. We need more transparent people who will do their best to listen to everyone and keep an open line of communication with them, and that’s what I plan to do. I want to represent every student, teacher, parent and resident of Huber Heights.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. Supporting the strategic plan 2. Listening to the whole community 3. Safety of all staff and students

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? Supporting the strategic plan: The new strategic plan is full of great ideas and now we need to find ways to implement them. We need to ensure that we have the proper funding to take it to completion while still providing top notch education to our children. It’s important we work together as a board with students and faculty to find the best ways to turn these ideas into reality. Listening to the whole community: As elected officials, I think it’s important to remember that we don’t represent just one student or one opinion, but the entire school district. We should keep our minds open to new and different opinions and ideas to help identify what is best for all students. I plan to not only encourage more members of the community to attend our meetings but to also open other lines of communication using social media outlets. Everyone should be heard. Safety of all staff and students: I would be fully committed to the safety of our staff and students. I would like to review and possibly improve our procedures for different safety issues that arise. From COVID-19, to weather emergencies, to physical threats, we should be prepared for everything so that we are being proactive instead of reactive.

Anything else? I truly love Huber Heights. We are a fast growing community, and I want to help keep us moving in the right direction. I’m not a politician. I’m just like everyone else. I’m a father, a husband and a proud member of our city. I know that I can bring a new kind of perspective to Huber Heights that can help raise the bar of expectations for not only our school system but for Huber Heights as a whole.

John D. Wilson

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John Wilson

John Wilson
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John Wilson

Education: B.A. religion, California Baptist University; A.A. business management, American River College

Current employment: Retired, but work part time with the Huber Heights City School District

Community involvement: None

Why are you seeking elected office? I want to give back to my community in a way that would make the most of my experience and skill set.

Why should voters elect you? I hope I am elected because I have worked in the field of education for most of my adult life. I have the knowledge and experience, having worked in both the private and public school setting, to help guide our school district.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. Help raise our district academic ranking based our state report card 2. Support our teachers and staff by enforcing discipline. 3. Bring back busing for all or students, to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? We have a wonderful staff of dedicated educators. When classrooms are under control, teachers can actually instruct. Discipline is a major key! Our district provides a free public education for any student who wants to abide by the rules and give their best effort. Providing busing for our students will help them get to school on time and also help with the traffic congestion that clogs our neighborhood roads.

Anything else you would like voters to know? I am a citizen who holds the traditional American values of equal opportunity, but outcomes based on hard work and dedication. I care about our kids and know first hand that education is a key factor in their success.