3 seeking 2 seats on Madison Local School Board

Only one of two incumbents bidding for re-election.

Madison School Board will see at least one new face next year as only one incumbent is seeking re-election.

Member Pete Robinson, who was appointed 12 months earlier to fill a vacancy due to a resignation, chose not to seek to retain the seat.

Incumbent Dr. Paul Jennewine and candidates Brandi Crim and Aaron Lawson are seeking one of the two open seats on the board that guides the 1,400-student district. A fourth name will appear on voters’ ballots, but Norman Trenum had withdrawn after ballots were made.

Jennewine was first elected to the school board in 2013, and subsequently re-elected in 2017. Both times he was the top vote-getter.

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Jennewine said he’d like to see the district continue to make strides in preparing students beyond Madison. He said “for years” there has been a lot of “emphasis on how they scored on the test ... but it doesn’t really get them ready for what’s next.”

“I think teaching them how to have those skills that will make them successful in the future is important,” he said. “Education becomes a part of that, an important part of that.“

Just like all schools, Madison Local saw a decrease in its performance index ― a measure of achievement of a district’s students ― on the state report card. On the 2018-19 report card, the district had a 76.7% performance index. Two years later (there wasn’t a report card in 2019-2020), it dropped to 68.4%.

Being in the 60th percentile is “absolutely not acceptable,” said Jennewine.

He said when he first got onto the school board, Madison Local had a reputation of being “good enough for our kids. That is not acceptable to me. Good enough is never good enough.”

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Some changes were implemented, and though some were not liked by the public, Jennewine said the district improved. The district’s performance index has continually increased since the 2015-2016 report card.

Crim also did not think this year’s report card was acceptable and wants to “raise the bar.”

“Middle of the pack to me is never where I want to be,” she said. “I want the district to be at the front of the pack.”

Her goal is to not only retain quality teachers but hire quality teachers and improve the morale at the school buildings “and to make this district a district that people want to come to work in.”

“I’d like to see us come together more than what we’ve had,” Crim said. “For whatever reason, over the past several years there’s been a divide in this community. I think that we need to work really hard to be, again, a little more transparent. I think we need to involve students in more decision-making.”

Lawson also said transparency is key for the district.

“We must be advocates for our students and community (and) ... we should have the approachability and the transparency skills that are vital to be successful,” he said.

Lawson said as a small community, he doesn’t want to see Madison Local “be consumed into a bigger district” and believes that “a strong community with strong relationships” needs to be built.

“With an open dialogue and a transparent board, we can work together to serve the needs of the students in the community,” he said.

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Butler County voters can cast early votes 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at the Butler County Board of Elections, 1802 Princeton Road.

Voters who want to cast a ballot on Election Day can do so at their polling location from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Visit elections.bcohio.gov to find polling locations.

Anyone with a vote-by-mail ballot must have them postmarked by Monday or they can hand-deliver them to the Butler County Board of Elections by 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Polling locations cannot accept vote-by-mail ballots.

For more information, such as finding where to vote on Election Day, visit elections.bcohio.gov.

SOURCE: Butler County Board of Elections

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