Columbus Board of Education {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Six candidates are running for three seats on the board of education.Read more:It’s Democrat vs. Democrat for Columbus school boardDispatch endorsement
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  • Michael D. Cole

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    Amy Harkins Business Development Director, WBE Certified Business

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    Dominic Paretti Legislative Staff, Ohio House of Representatives

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    Ramona R. Reyes Director, Our Lady of Guadalupe Center

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    Erin Upchurch Social Worker & Educator

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    Abby Vaile teacher

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Biographical Information

Columbus teachers are upset with a new contract that gives them 1.5 percent and 1 percent raises over two years. Do you support that offer or would you have advocated altering it?

The District continues to show disappointingly low student test performance in almost all categories. What’s wrong and how would you fix it?

The district pulled a proposal to put a bond levy on the November 2016 ballot to continue its school-rebuilding plan. Do you support that decision, and should the district continue to modernize its buildings?

What should the district's relationship with charter schools be? Should it cooperate with charters on facilities and programs?

How do you view the board's role in running the district vs. the superintendent's? How much detail should board members be involved with in decision-making?

What are the biggest issues currently facing educators and students in Central Ohio?

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Age 39
Experience As a parent, volunteer, and parent association leader, I have over 10 years of experience with Columbus City Schools. My professional career has given me experience in human resources, contract review, budgeting, and supplier diversity.
Family 16 year old son, Carson Two poodle mixes, Franklin and Penny
Campaign website http://www.harkinsforccs.com
Campaign email amyharkinsccs@gmail.com
YouTube Video
The pay raises were only one part of the larger request in the new contract. Teachers also asked for reforms on student-centered issues such as caps on class size, disciplinary procedures, and grading system changes. Paying teachers a competitive salary that takes into account the challenges they face teaching in the largest school district in Ohio with a large at-risk student population will increase recruitment and retention. I understand that there were changes in the state budget that reduced funding for the district, but I firmly believe that we need to invest in our teachers and prioritize spending that directly impacts student learning and academic achievement.
The overabundance of testing is causing us to lose focus on our students as people. The preparation for testing, testing itself, and reliance on the results and data from testing has caused teachers to look at computer screens and charts to tell them what their students can do and what they need instead of being able to observe and work closely with them as the education professionals that they are. The low student test performance is troubling, without a doubt, but we need to look at the barriers to performance on the test such as poverty and access to resources in the classroom before we make the assumption that learning is not happening in our schools. We need to provide teachers with the resources to implement individualized instruction for students to insure they are confident in their abilities and capable of a deep understanding of the subject matter.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, after a recent visit to a CCS high school, said "If we want to prepare students for 21st century jobs, we need to invest in 21st century classrooms." I agree that we need to modernize our buildings to insure that our students and teachers have safe, comfortable, and appropriate learning and working conditions. Schools recently had to dismiss early due to high temperatures inside the buildings and that reduced valuable learning time for students. There are a lot of factors that go into a bond levy and community input must be an important piece of the puzzle. Before any bond levy proposals make it to the ballot, I think there needs to be extensive conversations with the community about what is included, the timeline for implementation, and the accountability measures put in place to make sure the promises are kept to taxpayers.
When it comes to charter schools, I think the district should examine the reasons families are choosing to go to a charter versus their neighborhood school. The feedback from the families could be helpful in determining areas for improvement and demonstrating a need for specialized programs within the district. It would also allow us to retain our neighborhood children and build stronger community support for our schools. I don't think district funds should be spent on charter school transportation or facilities.
Superintendents manage while Boards govern. I believe that a strong school system is created and sustained by a productive and open relationship between the Superintendent, the Board, and the constituents. Superintendents help set the tone for the district and positive, innovative leadership should be encouraged and respected. There is a need for enlightened policy making that takes into consideration the myriad challenges that our students face each day. Having a school board that includes parent and teacher voices weighing in will help the Superintendent draft and execute policies that will resonate more deeply with our students and families.
Our schools and community are linked. When our community is suffering, our schools suffer. I think the environmental concerns some of our students are facing – poverty, violence, housing insecurity – provide barriers to their success inside the classroom. One of my priorities is to work towards a wrap-around community care model where community partners can provide direct services to our students and their families within the schools. I also believe that we need to expand the trauma-informed care model throughout the district.

The lack of resources in our buildings is evident. I’ve talked to numerous teachers who are concerned about the ability to provide what they need for their classrooms.There are tax abatements being given that directly affect the funding streams for our schools. We need to be vocal against any deal that funnels money away from our schools. If the deal is inevitable, we need to look towards alternate ways the businesses can provide support to our schools.
Age 36
Education Educated in public schools from elementary through college. I graduated from the University of Cincinnati.
Experience 9 years experience of state government experience with a focus on k-12 education policy. Board member for 3 years for Columbus City Schools.
Family married
Religion Catholic
Campaign website http://electparetti.com
Campaign email domparetti@gmail.com
Twitter @domparetti
First of all, I have the utmost respect for our educators and the work they do with our children and families everyday. However, we were presented with a choice, with an 85 million dollar cut from the State, that we could either provide a larger raise to our teachers and lay off hundreds of staff and support professionals and cut extracurricular activities or provide our teachers with less of a raise and maintain the staffing levels that we were able to provide with the recently passed levy. It was a difficult decision but ultimately we have to provide for a stable and sound district and not continue to go to the taxpayers to fill the gaps left by the state.
The standard of our standardized testing changes almost every two years. As a district we have chosen to track our students progress by combining these test results with qualitative standards of learning. With that vision in mind we have boosted high-quality Pre-Kindergarten for our City’s 4-year-olds adding 22% more seats over the past five years, led a dramatic turnaround in improving elementary literacy, with our third graders improving from 42 to 91% for the third grade reading guarantee. We are proud to have been recognized as a model of success for how urban Districts should work to identify and serve more students with special needs. Additionally, we have made unprecedented advancements to bridge the gaps in achievement that have historically separated economically disadvantaged students and students of color from other students.
Despite chairing the Facilities Master Plan Committee it was an easy decision between beginning to implement that plan and providing more in classroom resources to our students. We were able to provide a drastic expansion in wrap around services for our students and in classroom support, that was necessary to advancing our students. In a perfect world we would be able to solve all of these problems at once, but we have to be mindful of taxpayers and careful stewards of their dollars. We were able to include a $125 million dollars for deferred maintenance that is addressing roofs, HVAC, boilers and necessary school repairs. Should I be re-elected I look forward to working with the Facilities Master Plan Committee to further address the needs of right sizing our district and ensuring all of our students have state of the art educational facilities.
We welcome the opportunity to partner with charter schools but unfortunately most charter schools, such as ECOT, are unaccountable and lack transparency and are failing the students they serve.
The board is responsible for oversight of the district, the superintendent is responsible for the day to day decision making for our schools. School board members should drive the vision and financial health of the district not be involved in the detailed decision making which should be left to educational experts like the superintendent and the school staff.
Poverty. With more than 53,000 students, Columbus City Schools is the largest district in the State of Ohio. Nearly four of every five of our students come from families challenged by poverty, that is why we have and will continue to add wrap around services, such as nurses, social workers, special education instructors and early childhood educators, to provide opportunities for our students to succeed regardless of the situation into which they were born.

The unreliable funding formula for schools in Ohio. While we a district forecast the finances of the district out over 5 years, the legislature continues to change the formula and therefore require us to quickly change our forecasting based on changes is funding, this does not allow for consistent planning for the district.
Age 48
Education B.S. in Business Administration from The Ohio State University
Experience Currently serve on the Board of East Coast Migrant Headstart Program, Mt. Carmel College of Nursing, Columbus Association of the Performing Arts (CAPA) Advisory Council, and with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio.
Family I'm married, have a step daughter, and have 2 dogs.
Religion Catholic
Campaign website http://electramonarreyes.com
Campaign email ramonarreyes@gmail.com
From the beginning of the negotiations, we have bargained in good-faith fully aware of the cut in state funds which came in millions of dollars short. We must be financially responsible with all decisions that will impact the operations of the district. I support it. The contract is not only about salaries, but also includes all our investments in teacher success. In supporting it, I also supported maintaining step-increases/raises based on years of service and educational attainment and added an additional Records Day (bringing the total to four) to give teachers additional non-classroom time to correctly compile and input valuable student data, to name a few. In addition, through levy dollars we will be adding nearly 300 new staff who will offer direct student support. I hope we can work together to advocate against continued educational budget cuts.
The limited scope by which the State tries to equate those results into letter grades tends to create a misperception about the ability of the teachers and staff to deliver a quality education. The data is valuable as any metrics that help us gauge test scores and assessment measures can be used to refine our work and create new interventions. Even on the report card itself, the media and our critics tend to skip the fact that we have several successes in the district but by no means do we deserve straight A’s, at least not yet. As a community, we still have much more to do together to give all of our students the greatest opportunities to achieve higher. Instead of focusing only on the Report Card’s single grades, I believe we should ask what's being done to better address the challenges faced by our students. If we can have a consistent tool that provides us the opportunity to help students learn and achieve academic growth, we can create clear interventions to make improvements.
Yes, I support the decision and agree we must continue to modernize our buildings. I weighed several options, based on the recommendations of a community-based Millage Committee and a lengthy, transparent budget process. We were presented with the option to add additional millage, which would have been used to rebuild and modernize 13 schools over the next 6 to 8 years. The option would have added about $50 more each year to the tax bill on a $100,000 home. Respectful of a potential gap between what the District’s needs are and what the community would accept in terms of new investment, the Board and I chose not to ask for the additional millage. I do believe our community would join me in supporting a continued focus on modernizing our buildings. We have initiated the Master Facility Plan committee to review and look for recommendations on what buildings to do next. Then we will determine the costs and decisions that will be needed to make them happen.
All children deserve to have access to good schools. Often charter schools are unmonitored and fall below educational standards in learning, teacher and administrator educational qualifications, and the inability to provide the resources all students need regardless of background, ethnicity or socioeconomic level. Often they recruit students with ADA and/or language needs that they do not provide adequate services to. But, Columbus City Schools should cooperate with charters to the extent that we are prepared to serve all students in our district if a charter school is unable to meet those needs.
The Superintendent’s responsibilities required by law and his job description are to provide educational direction and supervision to the staff and to be held accountable for the performance of District’s strategic plan and operations. The bylaws and values of the Board require us to work collaboratively with the Superintendent to set goals and objectives for the district. Jointly we promote the efficient and effective use of District resources; maintain the highest standards of financial responsibility; and work collaboratively with the CFO and Auditor to coordinate organizational strategy. We need clear, transparent, and qualitative information that will help the board make the best decision for the district, students and community we serve. As a Board we have definitely demonstrated that under the leadership of Dr. Good we will hold the superintendent and district leaders accountable for executing the goals and objectives that we set together. .
Gaps in livable wages affect the quality of life of Columbus families, and they impact our school system. There is a need to close the gap in preparing children for jobs and we must increase vocational training where there is demand and the needs change. We must focus on laws that impact our programs and we need to advocate for what’s best for our students. What we encounter are continued educational budget cuts and increased testing. Programs initiated by our legislature must come with funding to be implemented and to ensure success. The safety of our district community is at the highest priority. I would increase safety for students and staff by expanding engagement with community groups, non-profits, faith leaders, business and neighborhood organizations. Also expand partnerships with organizations and individuals that are embedded in our communities.And advocate to expand safe zones within our buildings, beyond school walls and outside of the school day.
Age 40
Education Bachelor of Science, Social Work-Eastern Michigan Univ; Master's of Science, Social Administration/Social Work-CWRU
Experience My collective professional, civic, and personal experience has provided me with an understanding of the academic and non academic barriers faced by our students; and the knowledge of solutions and approaches to support them in their success
Family Parent to two children, ages 13 and 15; both students attending Columbus City Schools.
Twitter @upchurchforccs
CCS is home to teaching professionals committed to our mission to 'ensure that each student is highly-educated, prepared for leadership and service, and empowered for success as a citizen in a global community'. Our teachers play a vital role in preparing central Ohio to enhance its global competitiveness by supporting and educating the next generation of national and local leaders, social entrepreneurs, employers/employees, occupational specialists and enlisted service personnel.

Within this context, there is no question in my mind that the CCS Board of Education (BoE) must ensure that quality teaching and learning professionals are able to be retained and recruited if we are to continue our objective of being socioeconomically competitive as a region. This requires that our support be made evident in a variety of ways which includes fair, equal and equitable compensation. The recently executed CEA contract was NOT fair, nor equitable. I do support a fiscally sound alteration.
In addressing ‘low student test performance’ there are no easy or simple fixes. Making assumptions that low test performance is an ‘either/or paradigm’ ignores the complexity of the matter and is further unappreciative of the non-academic barriers impacting student success as measured by standardized testing. Among the ‘what’s wrong’ factors to consider are those non-academic variables that emanate from generational poverty, scarcity of living wage employment and career opportunities, the increased impact of social injustice and the now illuminated impact those instances (trauma informed student /family engagement) have on our students and their families. It has been and will continue to be my commitment to tirelessly advocate for our students and families. It is our obligation to assist in the removal of the academic barriers impeding student success and to work in conjunction with others in our community (public/private partnerships, etc.) to ensure an equal and equitable landscape.
Over the past four years, it has been evident that the current CCS BoE has experienced some challenges balancing obligations to external stakeholders (private industry, other municipalities, etc.) with their obligations to the important internal stakeholders (students, families and employees) of our District. We must ensure that our students have what they need to excel. This includes a commitment to our buildings being fit for 21st century teaching and learning. I support efforts to modernize our buildings, thereby eliminating the inequalities that geographically exist in our district.
My support for changes related to charter school management and how mutually beneficial relationships can and should be formed with native school districts, is a priority. With regard to cooperating with charters on facilities and programs, CCS should partner and collaborate where we can, and lead where and when we must. I am absolutely open to engaging partnerships that are mutually beneficial to our students and families. Our role should also be one of advocacy in addressing concerns related to the legislature, which includes, but is not limited to the following: equality regarding charter/community school’s compliance and reporting requirements; requiring charter/community school students to meet the State Board of Education’s minimum standards to be granted a high school diploma; and requiring that charter/community schools be subject to full fiscal and administrative oversight by a locally elected board of education.
Understanding that this question assumes the legally required and policy defined separation of powers between the governance responsibility of the BoE and the operational charge of the administration (Supt., Treas., IA), I view my role in running the district within the context of what the statutes and my oath of office empower me to do. My role in the day-to-day operations of the district is defined by ensuring that our internal stakeholders have the resources they need to execute their charge. This at times may require a level of detail that is within the scope of my duty, and at other times may require stepping outside of that scope if compelled to do so by duty. As a member of the Board, I will begin and sustain my term in support of the above. I will maintain an open-door policy for our team, and be open to working with our administration and labor leadership in the achievement of our mission. My commitment will always be to place families and students first.
Although the challenges faced by CCS are multidimensional, and in many instances aligned with the those impacting the socioeconomic status of the region, the top challenges facing CCS’s BoE, administrative team, its students and families are situated in efficacy, accountability and transparency. CCS is charged with providing a quality product/service. We are faced with preparing the future human resources of the region, and as a leader in our industry of public education, we must ‘own our part’ of the business. Our ability to be an open and inviting organization is paramount. The basis of our existence is predicated upon our ability to sustain community support from our families, voters, business partners, etc. We cannot be a strictly forward-facing District/ Board of Education and ignore the needs and well-being of our internal teams. Accountability is not only applicable to our external stakeholders but to our internal stakeholders as well.
Age 62
Education BA Elementary Education and Music Education- Wittenberg University Graduate work- OSU, Capital University
Experience I have been a teacher in Columbus City Schools for 29 years. During my career as an educator, I have worked on numerous boards. Currently, I am on the board of A Good Start, a kindergarten preparatory program.
Family I owe much to my father and my mother, a Columbus teacher. I'm the proud guardian of my two nephews, Cory and Tyler.
Religion Methodist
Campaign email abbyvaile@gmail.com
A large portion of the increased general fund expenditures to Columbus City Schools for the 2016-17 school year went to fund charter schools. State revenues don't pay completely for charter schools. Making up the rest of their revenue rests on local school districts. Columbus City Schools paid out over $140 million dollars to charter schools last year. Yet, our Columbus City School Board has no authority over any part of the operations of any charter school, nor do tax payers. Local school boards are elected by their district constituents to make sure all public schools are accountable to the community. No such accountability exists between the citizens of Columbus and charter schools. Charter schools transparency and efficiency has come into question by many:an example, the recent ECOT scandal. Columbus City Schools should remain cordial with area charter schools, as it does with other private and parochial schools. It should not, however, partner with them on programs or facilities.
State report cards are losing support of Ohio educators. For twenty years, schools have been measured by scores that change annually, have no merit in guiding instruction using outmoded measures, such as value-added, a procedure so convoluted, it cannot be explained by professionals.

In these years of a testing culture, the one constant found is the correlation between poverty and academic scores.

Our district must always work to insure all students can succeed. Students must first come come to school prepared to learn, Those experiencing health concerns, hunger and/or trauma, must be able to access services that create solutions to these problems. Columbus schools must work hand-in-hand with the many excellent organizations already in existence in Columbus to produce wrap-around services available for every Columbus student.

Students must have access to quality, researched programs, by expanding current successful programs and promoting programs that have proven effectiveness.
The levy increase passed in November of 2016 was the lowest in mills considered by the levy task force. It has been shown that Presidential election years are best for school levies, as more voters come out to the polls. This would have been the best time, I believe, to have added a bond levy for school renovation and construction. An increase of of 1.7 mills would have only added about $85.00 per year to the average homeowners property tax. This school-rebuilding plan is necessary for equitable facilities, up to date resources and safety of our students. This bond issue should be brought back for reconsideration as soon as possible.
A large portion of the increased general fund expenditures to Columbus City Schools for the 2016-17 school year went to fund charter schools. State revenues don't pay completely for charter schools. Making up the rest of their revenue rests on local school districts. Columbus City Schools paid out over $140 million dollars to charter schools last year. Yet, our Columbus City School Board has no authority over any part of the operations of any charter school, nor do tax payers. Local school boards are elected by their district constituents to make sure all public schools are accountable to the community. No such accountability exists between the citizens of Columbus and charter schools. Charter schools transparency and efficiency has come into question by many:an example, the recent ECOT scandal. Columbus City Schools should remain cordial with area charter schools, as it does with other private and parochial schools. It should not, however, partner with them on programs or facilities.
I believe that the Columbus City Schools Board ultimately brings a vision to our district, while the superintendent implements this vision. Their work, however, must never be done in isolation. It is imperative that the school board, superintendent and the community jointly work at realizing this vision. The school board must be the mediator between city, state and federal officials. It is increasingly important that the school board take a more vocal position in this role. The superintendent should be the facilitator between local agencies, bringing information to board members implement partnerships and resources available to the schools. While overseeing curriculum is primarily the job of the superintendent, board members must have sufficient knowledge in child development and education research to be able to approve new curricular and educational materials. The school board must also take a more active role to address parents, students and teachers concerns.
The Columbus City School Board greatest priority is to make certain our school budget is benefiting every student in the Columbus City Schools. To accomplish this we must expand communications with parents, teachers, students and community on the front line of education, creating an open door for working relations between the citizens of Columbus and the school board.

We must have equitable schools and programming for all students. We must insure that each student is receiving the staffing and resources, academic and social, to insure they can achieve on their highest level.

The Columbus schools revenues have been repeatedly cut by state legislators. All local revenues earmarked for Columbus schools must remain in the schools. Tax abatement giveaways to corporate developers should be able to be scrutinized by Columbus citizens as well as school board members. Developers using tax abatements have had little accountability or transparency in the past. This can and must be changed.
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