Voter Guide: Board of Education Lebanon City School District

Voter Guide
Caption
Voter Guide

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

The Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News invited local candidates to fill out the following questionnaire to inform readers.

VOTE FOR 2:

Michael Markey

Michael Markey
Caption
Michael Markey

Education: Ph.D., University of Cincinnati

Current employment: Director, Center for Genomics Research, Wright State University

Community involvement: National Institutes of Health Provocative Questions Study Section, ad hoc review for 22 scientific journals, American Association of University Professors, Warren County Board Game Club

Why are you seeking elected office? I’m running for a seat on the school board to continue doing what’s right for our students and staff. We need to ensure that our schools are providing a safe and effective learning environment. We need to attract and retain quality educators. We need to make sure the district has the support it requires to invest in the future of our students. I want to maintain focus on real problems and away from manufactured controversies and political grandstanding.

Why should voters elect you? I am a parent of two children who have been in the Lebanon City School District their whole lives. At the same time, I’m an educator myself. I’ve been at Wright State University since 2006. In addition to carrying out research projects, I teach undergraduates, graduate students and medical students. I’ve been a thesis director or committee member to over 50 students. I mentored a high school student through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Short-Term Education Program for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP) program. I’ve helped with the Translational Biomedical Training for Underrepresented Minorities (STREAMS) program, a high school STEM mentor program called Wright Scholars, and volunteered as a judge for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), Montgomery County Science and Engineering Fair, The Hour of Code, and other local science fairs.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? sFirst, provide a safe and effective learning environment. Second, invest in the future of our schools. Third, pursue equity and compassion in human relations.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? We have to continue to respond effectively to the ongoing pandemic. This includes complying with the current advice from the state on masking and testing. I’ve been encouraged by the results of the Warren County “pilot program,” which has led to the statewide “Test to Stay” program. Continuing to be on guard against symptoms, testing when appropriate and wearing masks as recommended will be important to ensure we can continue to have face-to-face classes in a safe manner. Funding is a constant worry for Ohio schools, and Lebanon is no different in this regard. We have to successfully renew levies in order to maintain the financial health of our district. I will also seek out other mechanisms such as grants and sponsorships. Ideally, we will be not just maintaining, but building for the future of the district. The Lebanon School District area is expanding housing, which will bring more families and children to our district. We have to be prepared to provide for those new students, and this includes attracting and retaining quality educators. I have zero hesitance to say equity and nondiscrimination are important in our schools. I think the current LCS equity action items set good goals and aim for continuous improvement. The board listens to the community. Everyone should have a say in the things that concern them. I want to keep open lines of communication with the teachers, families, and the students themselves.

Anything else you would like voters to know? The community entrusts the teachers with the care and education of their children, and the teachers trust the board to make informed decisions about the care of our district. It’s important that information flows in both directions so that there’s trust, between all those concerned, that we are doing our honest best for our children.

Jennifer Daulton

ajc.com

City: Lebanon/Union

Education: B.S. in business, Arizona State University

Current Employment: Whistlejacket Farm

Community Involvement: Advisory Board St. Margaret of York in Loveland; Lebanon Kiwanis

Why are you seeking elected office? The education of our children is vital. I would like to give back to my community and I have a strong affinity for education.

Why should voters elect you? As a conservative, I am confident I will do a good job representing the interest of the people of Lebanon.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? The entire board and superintendent set the priorities of the school, so it is not my role to set an individual agenda. It is my understanding that COVID protocols and finding solutions to keep students in school is one of the top priorities. As a board member, I would also be involved in analyzing and approving spending on the recommendation of the treasurer.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? After I am elected, I will be privy to budgets and data and will be able to meet with experts within the school to analyze the top priorities.

Anything else? I am a conservative. I believe in medical freedom, transparency in the classroom, a pro-American education, excellence in Lebanon schools with community and parent involvement. I will be a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

Michael E. Gliatti

ajc.com

City: Oregonia

Education: Bachelor’s of science, Ohio State University, 1993

Current Employment: Express Delivery Services, Inc.

Community Involvement: I’m serving my sixth year as a volunteer director with the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce, two of which were leading the group as the president. Additionally, I’ve volunteered and served on the state of Ohio BWC Warren County Safety Council Steering Committee the past four years. I remain active in both groups today. I’m also a platinum-level Lebanon Athletic Boosters sponsor and member.

Why are you seeking elected office? My dad was a first generation American who earned degrees in physics and electrical engineering. He believed you should not just live in a community but be an active part of it and help it thrive. As a father of two children in the Lebanon School District, I understand a “day in the life” in their classrooms, and I want to see more opportunity for all our students. Education is the ticket for children to live a life beyond even their own dreams. I commit to helping ensure a quality education is provided for our students. I promise to consider all opinions and weigh thoughtfully on decisions that will impact the Lebanon City Schools. I will be the advocate you and your children deserve every step of the way. My family and I love living in this community … and we love Lebanon schools. I believe the time is right for me to bring a new perspective to the board through empathy, accountability and credibility.

Why should voters elect you? First and foremost, I have two children in the Lebanon district. My son, Sal, is a sixth grader and my daughter, Isabella, is a junior. I believe in service, and now is the right time in my life for me to be present and advocate for our schools. Lebanon is my home, and our schools are an essential part of what makes Lebanon great.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? In no particular order: COVID management -- respecting all opinions while protecting our students, teachers and community. In-person learning must continue; growth -- analyzing and understanding financial, staffing, physical and other implications of imminent growth to the district; attraction and retention of talent.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? COVID-19 management currently represents our biggest safety concern. A high priority of mine will be to truly listen to stakeholders while collaborating together on possible solutions while we balance safety, respect and impacts as this situation continues to evolve. In-person learning must continue. Data held by the district regarding growth projections and their potential impacts is outdated. Resources need to be identified to perform a critical analysis related to plans to form new, larger communities in Lebanon. New recommendations including impacts must be reviewed and communicated with all stakeholders. Our district must be attractive to students, faculty and staff. We need to ensure we have the right programs, compensation, recognition, facilities, etc. to attract and retain the best talent for our schools. I will work hard to accomplish this goal.

Anything else? Besides being a dad of active students, a homeowner, business owner and manager of 30 years, I also have an extensive financial planning background, which will help me understand, analyze and plan for our financial future as a district. As a former director of finance, I accurately modeled and forecasted a wide range of business scenarios involving hundreds of millions of dollars for a Fortune 50 size company. I’ve successfully managed people in union and non-union environments delivering positive outcomes for all. I’ve helped build high achieving teams through honest communication, collaboration and leadership. Lucky for me, I’ve been blessed with analytical, people and communication skills. Knowing numbers is useless unless you can explain what they mean and help stakeholders understand they can be impacted. I enjoy doing this. In considering this role, I’ve sought out information from the superintendent, board members, teachers, parents and students. It has been a pleasure, and I look forward to learning much more with the sincere desire to help our kids and our district. I am an excellent communicator, and I relate to all kinds of people. I lead though learning. In conclusion, if you give me the chance, I promise I will not let you down. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Roy MacCutcheon

ajc.com

City: Lebanon

Education: Bachelor’s of science in agriculture, Ohio State University, 1988

Current Employment: The Black Barn Farm Market and Greenhouse

Community Involvement: Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Lebanon, West Main Street Task Force, Countryside YMCA Gala Committee

Why are you seeking elected office? I have become a candidate for school board because I believe in public education and the value it creates in a community. Education is one of the few roads out of poverty and hopelessness. Great schools create great communities, and we must as a society to continue to put emphasis on education so our future generations can become contributing members of society.

Why should voters elect you? I have lived in Lebanon for 44 years, graduated from Lebanon City Schools in 1983. My son attended K-12 and graduated from Lebanon City Schools in 2009. I am very active in the community and own a well known small business in Lebanon, The Black Barn. The Lebanon Alumni Association created the Roy & Joanna MacCutcheon Scholarship in recognition for over 25 years of Lebanon City Schools support. In 2019 awarded the Small Business of the Year Award by the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce. I am very active in the community, working with many civic organizations, schools and churches. I have a reputation as a hard working person that believes character and integrity are key ingredients in becoming a successful public servant.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? School funding and the effect of our rapid population growth, reconnecting and communicating with the community, retaining our great teachers and students.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? I will communicate with the Lebanon City Council and township trustees promoting impact fees be negotiated with developers before final approval of large housing projects are approved. It is the school boards responsibility to advocate for the schools, thinking in a proactive manner and avoiding funding and over crowding issues. We must also communicate much more effectively with our residents. Community mailers, printed sports schedules and extracurricular activity lists are easy to create and well liked by our community. All information about the schools being only available on school web pages is not an effective way to promote school functions. Emphasizing extracurricular activities and offering a diverse range of programs will set Lebanon City Schools apart. A stable and positive board of education that works in unison with the administrative team will help keep our best teachers in Lebanon. All teachers and staff should feel supported and respected at all times for the amazing and important work that they do.

Anything else? During this campaign I have not accepted any financial support from individuals or special interest groups. I will work for the schools and the citizens of Lebanon only. I pledge to all that I will listen to the concerns and ideas of the residents, and be accessible and visible while advocating for a strong Lebanon School system. I will do this with respect, professionalism and courtesy our residents deserve

Breighton Smith

ajc.com

Credit: Breighton And Basette Photography: Basette Smith II & Breighton Smith

City: Lebanon

Education: Juris Doctorate, Salmon P. Chase College of Law; Bachelor ‘s of arts in political science, University of Dayton

Current Employment: Self-employed small business owner

Community Involvement: Republican Party Executive Committee, Warren County; National Rifle Association; Elizabeth’s New Life Center; Warren County Right to Life

Why are you seeking elected office? As a conservative, I’m running for LCS Board of Education because I believe our schools are facing some difficult challenges, and I know that I have a fresh perspective and a unique experience that will allow me to work with the other board members to overcome those challenges. I have a special passion for education because I have experienced how it unlocks the American dream. From my grandparents’ humble beginnings in Jamaica, to my parents immigrating to this country in the ‘70s, to my graduation from Salmon P. Chase College of Law and having the honor of being a staffer for the Ohio Republican Party and Donald J. Trump presidential campaign, I am a product of the transformative nature of education. I’m a proud American who wants to see those types of opportunities preserved for Lebanon students. Also, my wife and I want to know that our schools, from preschool to 12th grade, from athletics to art, will provide the best opportunities to thrive for our future children and for all of Lebanon’s children, no matter who they are. I have a deep personal interest in ensuring that our school district is as strong as it can be, in every aspect, at every grade-level, for every student. As a taxpayer, I believe all who pay into our schools have an interest in the success of our students, because we all invest into this school district, and we all share in its success. We should all care.

Why should voters elect you? I believe one of my unique assets that I will bring to Lebanon’s school board is that, unlike the traditional public school board candidate, I have not been a school employee or school contractor. While there is nothing wrong with having that background, that kind of outlook is already well-represented. However, the majority of people in our district are like me: honest, hard-working people who aren’t in school administration, but just want to make sure their tax dollars are spent wisely, and make sure that our public schools and staff are strong and are doing well for our community and for our students. I have the distinct advantage of carrying a fresh conservative approach. Having gone through homeschooling, private schooling and public schooling at different stages of my life, I can appreciate what works and what doesn’t, from the perspective of the taxpayers, and the students and families who receive the benefits of education. These decisions are important because our public schools make decisions that impact homeschool students and public school students alike. As a small business owner, I believe that in order to make our public schools competitive against the other educational options that exist, we really need to harness our community’s traditional values as a foundation for new creative approaches.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? If elected, my top three priorities will be maintaining educational quality, responsible district budgeting and fostering positive community relations. An example of our challenges in educational quality includes Donavan Elementary’s status as a failing school under the Ohio Report Card system (based on 2019 report card, which has since been paused due to COVID-19). An example of why our district needs responsible budgeting and funding is our district’s projected budgetary shortfall over the next four years. According to our district’s January 2021 Financial Report, the LCS annual budget is expected to increase to roughly $69 million by 2025, with a projected budget shortfall of over $6 million. We are also experiencing a lot of growth and expansion in our district, which is a wonderful thing, but our community has to continue its good work of planning and managing that growth in a positive way. Lastly, an example of our community relations challenges is the fact that many members of our community who do not have children attending our public schools, are paying for our schools with their hard-earned tax dollars, but they feel alienated and disconnected from our public schools. That shouldn’t be the case. Our entire community should feel represented on our school board, and our public schools should be something our whole community can take pride in.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? A significant amount of students at Donavan Elementary are transitioning into our community and into our school system for the first time from other areas, and I will consult with the community, staff and other board members to focus efforts on successfully welcoming and integrating those children into our community and our schools. I will work with everyone mentioned above and with the curriculum director to help make sure our district’s curriculum reflects our community’s values and priorities. I will work with all stakeholders to determine how we can keep our schools solvent without sacrificing educational quality and without sacrificing those school programs that our community supports and relies on. I will advocate for our public schools and reach out to our entire base of taxpayers and local businesses to build support for our schools, and to increase the trust and connectedness that our community has with our schools.

Anything else? I’m passionate about education because educational opportunity has been one of the most transformative influences in my life, and I believe it can also do the same for others. My parents immigrated to America from Jamaica for work and educational opportunities. Then they got married here and started their family. I wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the promise of the American dream and the opportunities of the American educational system. I’ve personally benefited from private education, homeschool education and public education, each at different stages of my life. Those experiences helped shape me into the man I am today. There are other young men and women, like I was, whose lives can be transformed through the power of knowledge and learned-skills. I believe the American educational system can be great. However, I believe that system is at very serious risk, especially here in Lebanon. Our educational system is suffering from self-inflicted wounds and the threat of emerging rivals, like China, who are threatening to overtake us in areas such as STEM fields and basic fundamentals, like reading and writing. Thankfully, America’s educational system is not centralized, and here in Lebanon our community has an opportunity to come together and unite all of our stakeholders around a locally-controlled, high-quality, American PK-12 public education that is tailored to the needs of our city and prepares our students for success in the modern world. On school board, I will work to help make that happen.

Matthew Woehrmyer

Matt Woehrmyer
Caption
Matt Woehrmyer

City: Lebanon

Education: United States Naval Academy, B.S.

Current Employment: General Mills

Community Involvement: Congressman Chabot Service Academy Review Board, LHS Booster Treasurer, LJHS Asst. Football Coach, LJHS Head Lacrosse Coach, LWYFL Board A.D., Lebanon Youth Lacrosse Board Member, Varsity4Veterans Parent Representative, Lebanon Elks Lodge, Lebanon Masonic Lodge, Lebanon Chamber of Commerce

Why are you seeking elected office? My wife and I are graduates of LHS and our four children currently attend Lebanon City Schools. I have a vested interest in representing this community and district in an effort to make decisions to make LCS a more competitive district in regards to comp, education, facilities and growth. I am not looking for a career board of education role and feel it is very important that those that represent our district have skin in the game.

Why should voters elect you? I am a product of this district. My four kids currently attend, and I have a passion and desire to add to the success of this district. I want our residents to know they are in a top notch school district, and we can offer their child a top notch education and not have to send their kids to other schools or move out of this district.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. Be visible: I see a lot of “I’m all in for the schools” yet rarely see anyone at current LCS events supporting our kids. If you want to be on the BOE, remember who your customer is and support them. 2. Make LCS a competitive district: We have a great system but is not reflective in the latest U.S. News rankings for 2021 of Top 100 schools in Ohio. I want to know why and more importantly, put a comprehensive plan together so that we are offering our kids the best opportunities and setting them up for success in college, trades or whatever they want to do post high school. 3. Diversity and Inclusion focus: There is a BOE Master Plan on Equity from 2019, but you don’t hear much about it and I have heard quite a bit from the community that they want to see more action behind this. I lead the Veterans Network for General Mills and worked with all our diversity leaders for various events.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? I know everyone wants a laid out plan, but in my experience I’m not going to come into this role with my agenda. I will take these ideas and work with our staff, administrative leadership and fellow BOE members to lay out a road map. I am a continuous improvement manager for General Mills. Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum and then “pushed” out. This is a LCS board, not a Matt Woehrmyer show.

Anything else? We are very vested not just in the schools, but in this town. My wife, Barbie, runs a real estate company, the Woehrmyer Team with Comey & Shepherd, that reaches into Cincinnati and all the way to Dayton, as we have agents that focus on military moves and have lots of experience. We feel as part of our team culture, it is important to give back and invest in those that are investing with in us and trust us. We have proven that over and over. I go back to my original comment of looking at all the candidates. My family didn’t just start to volunteer for things as the election has come up. We’ve been here, and we’ve been here for awhile supporting this town and school, not just when it fits the voting time frame to show up.