Editor’s Note: Haven't heard candidates mention the issues you are most interested in? Join us on Oct. 14 for “Talk the Vote,” at 7 p.m. at Mill Street Nature Center to voice your priorities. The issues you raise will guide the questions we pose to candidates for future coverage.
Knox Pages will also use information from “Talk the Vote” to create a Citizen’s Agenda, to present those who are elected a report of citizen priorities to consider as they transition into office.
Election day is one month away for Fredericktown residents, who will have the opportunity to cast votes for a contested school board race.
While election day is a month out on Nov. 2, early voting begins Oct. 5. The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming election is Oct. 4.
Voters will choose three out of seven candidates for Fredericktown Local Schools school board: Nathan Bellman, James Blanchard, Jennifer Bostic, Donald Falk, Stanley Miller, Paul Napier and Charles Streby.
Two candidates — Charles Streby and Jim Blanchard, who is the current vice president — are incumbents, both having served 12 years on the school board thus far.
The candidates have previously worked in a range of fields including education, mental health counseling and accounting. Several are parents or grandparents of students, and teachers, in the district.
Common aspects of current district operations the candidates aim to improve if elected include communication and transparency in decision making processes.
Paul Napier and Nathan Bellman declined Knox Pages’ interview requests.
What in your background qualifies you to serve on the school board?
Jim Blanchard: “I am an incumbent board member with 12 years of experience. I have worked in private business for 35+ years, and previously was co-owner of a small business. I am very active in the community and on various boards. I know how to collaborate and compromise as a board member. I take all facts into consideration prior to making decisions, and remain as unbiased as possible.”
Jennifer Bostic: “I believe my educational and professional background qualifies me for this position. I have a bachelor’s from Bowling Green State University and master’s in mental health counseling from The Ohio State University. I spent four years delivering school-based mental health services. For the past 11 years, I have been a research project director studying the field of education within elementary schools. In this position, I manage multi-million dollar budgets, supervise staff, create timelines, meet deadlines, follow applicable university, state, and federal regulations and ethical guidelines, and work with school administrators, principals, teachers, and students. Through these positions, I have knowledge of the educational field and fiscal management.”
Donald Falk: “I received my bachelor's degree from Ohio University in 1973 in secondary education. I received my Master's from Ohio State in 1978 in Secondary School Administration. I specialized in school finance. I have also earned my certification in elementary education. I taught Jr. High math for 34 years in the same building and classroom in Fredericktown. I also coached. I have served as President of my church and have served on the Knox County Red Cross Board and the Fredericktown Fire Board. For 20 years, I also owned a small business in Mt. Vernon. I have lived in Fredericktown for over 40 years.”
Stanley Miller: “My career and retirement roles have encompassed working with or serving students and the community through the school system in some capacity. At age 21, I began a 30 year teaching career in Fredericktown; and while teaching, earning a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Ashland University. I am completely comfortable interacting with classified and support staff as I am with faculty and administrators. As the former Band Director, I am also comfortable working with members of booster and community organizations. Since my retirement in 2006, I have remained actively involved in the community and with our schools, using my talents and abilities as a volunteer, serving in a variety of ways to support staff and students of Fredericktown Local Schools.”
Charles Streby: “My background consists of twenty-two years as an administrator in an accounting firm. This has given me the ability to work with people in a variety of situations, as well as the organizational and work flow skills to process complex scenarios. I approach issues with common sense and an open mind. I have a strong desire to fully understand each situation and investigate all sides of an issue before reaching a conclusion. In addition, as a life-long member of the community, I have a deep level of commitment to help Fredericktown Local Schools maintain their excellent reputation. The qualifications that I bring come from the past twelve years of being on the Board, and my present career which includes business administration, business accounting, and business finance.”
Why are you running for school board?
Blanchard: “I feel that the schools are doing very well overall and the board leadership is strong. With 3 open seats, I felt the need to run again to give an option to voters for an experienced member. While I agree some turnover is good for fresh ideas and perspectives, too much turnover at once can cause disorganization.”
Bostic: “I am running for school board because I want to ensure that the school board of Fredericktown Local Schools makes decisions that promote the success of every current and future Freddie. I envision education as collaboration between teachers, students, parents, administrators, and the school board. I want to increase the amount of collaboration that exists. I am a parent of a student in the district and believe that the school board membership should include qualified parents to decide what is best for current students. Over the past year, I have attended board meetings and publicly participated, and I feel that I can best serve the school community if I move from public participant to school board member.”
Falk: “I am running because many people have asked me to run. My children graduated from Fredericktown, my daughter teaches in the system and I have a grandson attending Fredericktown Schools. I care about the school and what is best for the system. I believe it is time for a change. I believe the community wants a school board that will truly listen and cares about their comments and puts the students first. When I say that I do care about the schools, I believe many of my former students can attest to that statement. We need to look to the future and I hope to be part of that!”
Miller: “I am running for the Fredericktown Board of Education because I believe an individual my age, with varied experiences and conservative values, will contribute a great deal to the governance and oversight that the board provides the district. I hope to serve as a bridge between the community and the district and serve as a representative of all those within the district. Priority areas for my candidacy include: working with all stakeholders; ensuring the highest quality education possible for all students; providing oversight to make sure our tax dollars are being spent in a way that serves the needs of the students and community; and gaining knowledge and understanding of legislative issues impacting all stakeholders in Fredericktown School District.”
Streby: “It has been and always will be a pleasure to serve the people of the Fredericktown Local School District. I have lived in the community for sixty-one years and consider it an honor to invest my time to assure the students will receive the highest quality education possible in central Ohio. We, the Fredericktown Local Schools have done and are doing a great job educating your children. I am blessed to have had the trust of the parents and the community these past twelve years. I hope that trust will continue for the next four years.”
What are the strengths of Fredericktown Local Schools, and what would you work to change if elected and why?
Blanchard: “The district is fiscally sound, and the 5 year forecast remains strong. Academically our district performs well as reflected on the state report cards. I would continue to work with the superintendent and treasurer to look for ways to keep our district solid. I truly believe our schools are doing well overall, and don’t need drastic changes.”
Bostic: “The teachers, students, parents, staff, and building administrators are the biggest strength of the district. The supportive community and businesses are another reason the district thrives. In addition, our students receive an excellent education and have the opportunity to participate in athletics, music, and other extracurricular activities that contribute to their education outside of the classroom. If elected, I would work to increase the communication and transparency of the school board. Everyone within the district should be able to know what’s going on within the district. When big decisions are being considered and made, board members should be discussing their perspective on the topics so that those outside the school board understand the why behind the members’ votes.”
Falk: “We have a very good school system, but I want to help make it great again. We have a caring community and can be very active at times regarding the school. We have many dedicated educators in the system. The school has a caring and dedicated support staff as well. I would like to see more transparency between the administration and community as well as with the entire staff. I want to see a change in the working environment so the entire working staff enjoys coming to work. I want to have an environment where community members who speak with teachers, administrators and school board members feel their opinions are taken seriously and are respected. I have heard too many negative comments over the past several years and hope to change that.”
Miller: “Fredericktown Local Schools are exemplary due to the talented and dedicated people working in the district. Fredericktown provides a high quality education to our students, including offering a wide variety of extracurricular options, such as, athletics, dramatic and musical theater, band and choir. I am committed to keeping and expanding rich opportunities for all students so they find a niche in which to build relationships and expand their talents beyond the books. Fredericktown Local Schools wouldn’t be the exceptional district it is without the support and commitment of strong, caring Freddies – a community of people standing with our students and staff. I will always cast my one vote on each agenda item based on the decision I believe best serves our students, parents, staff, and taxpayers.”
Streby: “We as a district have set very high standards for the quality education that every child needs and deserves. This district consists of compassionate administrators and staff that makes every child feel supported and loved. The district is financially sound and responsible. If I am re-elected to the Board, the biggest challenge I see immediately is the ever-evolving question of how we communicate. This will be a high priority for us as a board to bring people together as a community and communicate with each other.”