Kettering voters choosing between 4 candidates for 3 school board seats

Four candidates are seeking three Kettering City Schools Board of Education seats this fall.  NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

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Four candidates are seeking three Kettering City Schools Board of Education seats this fall. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

KETTERING — Voters in Kettering City Schools in November will choose between four candidates for three school board seats.

Incumbents Jim Ambrose, Toby Henderson and Mark Martin — the latter of whom was appointed last year — seek to keep those jobs while first-time candidate Lynn Quillen wants to unseat one of them.

All candidates are University of Dayton graduates who said coronavirus-related issues are an immediate priority for the district, which has the third highest enrollment in Montgomery County.

Ambrose, who has the longest board tenure of any candidate, and Henderson both said health and safety issues are key.

ExploreRELATED: Kettering updates COVID protocol: Students must wear masks in classroom

The district must “continue to take acceptable, medical measures,” Ambrose said.

Kettering initially began this school year with a parental option for mask wearing indoors, a stance Quillen supported. The policy later changed to require students and staff wear masks in classrooms.

Martin and Quillen each cited academic concerns associated with COVID-19. Martin said the district will “be challenged with trying to effectively catch students up.”

Quillen said “certain grade levels and subjects suffered more than others.”

Another priority, Henderson said, is “remaining good stewards of taxpayer money.”

ExploreCOMPLETE ELECTION COVERAGE

A 6.9-mill renewal levy was approved by voters in May 2019, election records show. Several months earlier, voters in November 2018 approved a permanent 5.99-mill additional levy.

That levy was earmarked for day-to-day operating expenses. It costs the owner of a $100,000 home $209 annually and raises $7.5 million per year, officials have said.

Meanwhile, the school district has a three-year contract with the Kettering Education Association — a 586-member teachers’ union — that expires June 30, 2024, records show.

Kettering board members are paid $125 per meeting, officials said. The following, in alphabetical order, are brief profiles on each candidate:

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Jim Ambrose. CONTRIBUTED

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Jim Ambrose. CONTRIBUTED

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Jim Ambrose. CONTRIBUTED

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Credit: CONTRIBUTED

•Ambrose, 73, is an attorney who is now president of the board. He was among a trio of candidates on the ballot for three seats in 2013 and finished second in a four-way race for those seats four years later, according to election records.

The UD undergrad said Kettering schools “must continue to monitor and observe economic trends to help graduates succeed.

“Preparing them to think critically and evaluate the results of their choices makes for a good and productive citizen and a responsible and caring adult,” Ambrose said.

“This should be the goal of a school board member as well as utilizing finances and resources in a reasonable and responsible manner,” he added.

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Toby Henderson. CONTRIBUTED

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Toby Henderson. CONTRIBUTED

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Toby Henderson. CONTRIBUTED

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•Henderson, 51, is an attorney and the current board vice president. The UD law school graduate was appointed from a field of 12 in February 2018 to fill an unexpired term and ran unopposed for election in November 2019, Montgomery County records show.

An Air Force veteran, Henderson has served on several area boards, including those involving Dayton Children’s Hospital and the Dayton Art Institute.

He said Kettering schools’ strategic plan, developed with input from more than 100 community members a few years ago, helps measure the district’s success.

“We are doing a fantastic job preparing our graduates,” according to Henderson. “Whether our students are enhanced learners, need special instruction or fall somewhere in between, we deliver exceptional education and offer excellent extracurricular activities.”

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Mark Martin. CONTRIBUTED

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Mark Martin. CONTRIBUTED

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Mark Martin. CONTRIBUTED

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•Martin, 44, is executive director of manufacturing with Community Tissue Services. He is a UD undergrad who also has a master’s degree in business administration/healthcare administration.

Martin was picked by the board from more than 20 candidates in October 2020 to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Julie Gilmore.

A Kettering resident for 20 years, both of his sons are Fairmont High School graduates.

Martin said the district should evaluate trends impacting the current economy to prepare graduating seniors.

“This behavior will allow (Kettering schools) to stay ahead of the curve” in advanced courses, he said.

Several factors are “constantly reviewed to identify areas of growth or improvement” in the district to help students “go immediately” into the workforce, the military or attend college, Martin said.

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Lynn Quillen. CONTRIBUTED

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Lynn Quillen. CONTRIBUTED

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Lynn Quillen. CONTRIBUTED

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•Quillen, 43, is small business owner with a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering from UD. She has lived in Kettering for eight years and has a son who is a freshman at Fairmont.

Quillen said she is running because it appeared the incumbents would not face opposition and “it is important that the community gets to vote and select who they want representing them.”

The district’s success is defined by “continuous improvement” and “the goal should always be to improve those metrics and create action and request feedback in areas that show decline,” she said.

“Our students would benefit greatly from more community involvement programs while learning important life skills,” Quillen said. “The students will feel more engaged and included in their community, while learning hands-on skills that will benefit them for the years to come.”

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