Kettering picks attorney for school board vacancy

Kettering’s school board members have selected Toby Henderson from a field of 12 candidates to fill a two-year vacancy on the board of education.

Henderson is an attorney focusing on business law with Sebaly, Shillito + Dyer. His wife is a special education coordinator for Kettering schools, and they have three daughters in the district, ranging from second through sixth grade.

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“The candidates each brought unique backgrounds to the discussion and they all were well-qualified,” said school board President Jennifer Kane. “Ultimately though, we chose Mr. Henderson because we were impressed by his commitment to the district, and the family-centered nature of his community volunteer efforts.”

Henderson said he has served on boards of trustees or associate boards for the Boonshoft Museum, the Dayton Art Institute, the Ronald McDonald House and the Children’s Hospital Foundation. He said he has been an active parent, but the school board role will be his first foray into a school leadership role.

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“This seemed to me to be an opportunity to continue to do what I like to do, which is to help kids,” Henderson said. “Health has been a primary focus of mine for several years – with the Ronald McDonald House and the hospital board. So you throw in an education component to that, and it’s just consistent with what I think is important.”

Henderson also said some strengths that he brings from his work as an attorney should be a natural fit for the school board, citing parallels between business clients’ financial challenges and the budgetary concerns that a school board faces. He said his work with employers and employee decisions fits with the human resources issues school boards must handle.

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“Much of what I do as an attorney is trying to understand issues and obstacles, and figure out what the best solutions are,” Henderson said. “When you’re on a board, you have to work with the other board members. I think one of my strong suits is being able to work with others to try to build consensus.”

This school board spot came open when Edward Breen, who was elected in November, decided not to serve, citing time conflicts with a family business. Henderson has been appointed for two years, and said he does intend to go on the ballot in late 2019 to run for the remaining two years of the term.

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He said one area of focus is making sure students have pathways to good options after high school, including vocational training, community college and military, in addition to just four-year colleges.

Kane said Kettering school board’s current priorities include continued work on the district’s strategic plan, dealing with state mandates such as House Bill 410’s required changes in attendance tracking, and making sure ongoing facilities projects keep moving forward to meet student needs.

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