Software engineer is latest appointee to Bellbrook school board

Bellbrook Intermediate released their students after the first day of school Monday August 17, 2020 JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Bellbrook Intermediate released their students after the first day of school Monday August 17, 2020. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Four of the five seats on a turnover-heavy board will be up for election in November.

Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school board members appointed Michael Kinsey to fill their latest vacancy Tuesday night, replacing Karen Long, who resigned last month.

Kinsey has been a software test engineer for LexisNexis Special Services for the past 14 years, according to his application materials, “solving complex problems involving very large quantities of data.”

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Kinsey has two children under age 10 who attend Bellbrook schools, and his wife is co-director of fundraising for the PTO. His appointment is only for the remainder of 2021, as the final two years of Long’s term must be decided via the November 2021 election.

“Simply put, my strength lies in listening to all stakeholders and facilitating a productive dialogue using language that everyone understands,” Kinsey said in his application to the board. “Our fractured community is desperate for exactly this approach.”

In the past three years, Bellbrook and Sugarcreek Twp. residents argued vehemently over schools and taxes, with online exchanges devolving into angry name-calling. Residents rejected three school levies in 2019 and 2020, then approved a seven-year tax levy in May.

Kinsey, who said his father was a public school teacher for 35 years, said he felt compelled to help with “the reunification of our community.”

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“I believe that every voice needs to be respected. Every story needs to be heard. All data needs to be analyzed. Every choice must be discussed and weighed,” he said in his application. “Then a decisive and clear path forward must be adopted, communicated well, and accomplished with integrity, building the trust of our entire community.”

In December 2019, 13-year veteran Bellbrook school board member Kathy Kingston retired, citing health concerns. She was replaced weeks later by appointee Kevin Price. In November 2020, Mary Frantz died suddenly, after serving on the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school board for more than 30 years. She was replaced by appointee Audra Dorn.

After Long’s resignation, Kinsey was chosen from among 10 candidates, a list that included former school Superintendent Keith St. Pierre and vocal levy opponent John Stafford.

“Mr. Kinsey possesses a unique combination of skills and experience that will be a valuable asset to the school board and district,” board President David Carpenter said.

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Four of the five school board seats will be up for grabs in the November election — the final two years of the Long/Kinsey term, plus the seats currently held by Dorn, Price and Virginia Slouffman, which are up for vote on their normal four-year cycle. Carpenter’s term runs through 2023.