Election to change Dayton school board: 2 incumbents bow out, 4 men seek 3 seats

Eric Walker, Will Smith, Ken Hayes and William Bailey are running for four-year terms guiding DPS

Four people are running for three seats on the Dayton Public Schools board of education. One of them, Will Smith, is running for re-election as he wraps up his first four-year term, while the remaining three men — William Bailey, Ken Hayes and Eric Walker — would be newcomers to the board.

Two of the current Board of Education members, Gabriela Pickett and Dion Sampson, are not running again for their seats. The remaining four members of the Dayton Board of Education will be up for reelection in 2025.

William Bailey

Bailey said he became interested in running for school board during his work in the community.

He noticed a lack of parents at athletic games, which bothered him, and he said he kept asking questions about the lack of engagement from both students and families. Teachers kept telling him how frustrated they were.

“I didn’t know too much about the school board but everything that I heard about the school board was not good,” Bailey said. “So the more I talked about it, I said, why am I going to keep talking about this and not try to do something to change the situation?”

Bailey said he wants to bring more communication and programs, like arts, music and sports, into the schools.

Bailey is a county investigator for the Dayton Probate Court and a pastor at St. Peter’s Missionary Baptist Church in Jefferson Twp.

He has three grown children who graduated from Trotwood schools, though they briefly attended Dayton Public, he said. Currently, two of his grandchildren attend Dayton Public.

Ken Hayes

Hayes said he began thinking about running for school board after his two sons, who are in elementary school, began attending Dayton Public. He was a write-in candidate in the 2021 race.

“I started attending board meetings and there were just a lot of things that I wasn’t really satisfied with,” he said. “Things that I thought that given my background and experience, like I would be a good fit to help handle some of those issues that I’m seeing.”

Hayes works at Central State University as an English professor and is the chair of the faculty Senate. His job requires constant communication, he said.

Improving communication would be a priority for him, Hayes said. He wants to see more parent and community engagement. He suggested starting more town halls and community meetings to ask for parent feedback.

“Really make it a community effort to solve these problems that the community has the means to solve if they find a way to communicate and work together,” Hayes said.

Hayes noted his experience as a professor in searching for the newest Central State president may come in handy for choosing the next Dayton schools superintendent.

Will Smith

Smith is the current vice president of the Dayton Board of Education. His two oldest children are in high school at Dayton Public, and his youngest has not yet begun school.

Smith’s priorities in the last four years of his term have been working on Welcome Stadium’s renovation, getting the district through the COVID pandemic and now, the new superintendent.

David Lawrence is currently the interim superintendent, though Smith says he believes Lawrence should be hired full-time.

Smith said one of his greatest accomplishments was increasing communication between DPS staff and the board of education.

“I’ve just been real proud of the work that I’ve done as far as growing the culture and improving the culture around this district,” Smith said. “It’s still a lot of work to do because it’s not something that turns around overnight.”

Smith said he would like to see more programming for families and students, so families are able to pick up their kids in the evening after they’re done with work, but also to further engage families.

Eric Walker

Walker is the youngest person running for school board. He graduated from Thurgood Marshall High School in 2010 and works for Jefferson Twp. as a zoning administrator and an assistant task administrator. He’s also worked in Dayton Public Schools as an attendance clerk.

“I felt that it was really time for our education system and our Board of Education to really do a better job of working together for the betterment of the students in which they’re being served,” Walker said on why he chose to run for school board.

Walker said the district needs a permanent superintendent and to “stop playing Russian roulette with the students which we serve.”

“I think we need consistency in the classroom and as top leadership in the district, as well as better pay for our transportation drivers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodians, nutrition staff, mechanics, things like that,” he said.

He also wants to see better communication between the staff and administration, as well as between the district and parents. He also argues the board of education needs to do a better job of creating policies.

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