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2 women join Hamilton’s school board for the first time in 13 years

For the first time in 13 years two females will be a part of the governing board that oversees the 10,000-student Hamilton Schools. The Rev. Shaquila Mathews, far left, and Margaret Baker, far right, were sworn on to the Hamilton Board Education at Thursday evening’s meeting. (Photo By Michael D. Clark/Journal-News)
For the first time in 13 years two females will be a part of the governing board that oversees the 10,000-student Hamilton Schools. The Rev. Shaquila Mathews, far left, and Margaret Baker, far right, were sworn on to the Hamilton Board Education at Thursday evening’s meeting. (Photo By Michael D. Clark/Journal-News)

For the first time in 13 years, the governing board of Hamilton Schools will have two women helping to oversee the city schools.

Both The Rev. Shaquila Mathews and Margaret Baker were sworn on to the five-member board Thursday evening during the first Hamilton Board of Education meeting of the year.

In 2007, school board members Anna Harvey and Lori Lewis completed the final parts of their four-year terms, and since then only men have won election or appointment to the board.

Both board newcomers said highest among their priorities is learning as quickly as possible the complexities of Ohio public school operations.

“I want to get up to speed and continue to educate myself,” Mathews said. “Also recruiting of teachers and diversity, those are very important to me.”

Baker is also hoping to get acclimated quickly.

“I want to first sit back and learn,” she said. “This is important work and early childhood education will be a focus for me.”

Baker and Mathews are already well-known in the Butler County city.

A former Hamilton Citizen of the Year, Mathews, known widely known as “Pastor Shaq,” is a 1998 Hamilton graduate who went to Indianapolis for 12 years, then returned to Hamilton in 2014.

She won the award, which is presented by the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, for her community work in 2019 in part for her launching of the Pastor Shaq Job/Mentoring Youth Program at the Booker T. Washington Community Center. The summer program engages youth in a variety of activities aimed at personal development.

Explore MORE: ‘Pastor Shaq,’ the well-known minister, named Hamilton’s Citizen of Year

Longtime Butler County United Way President and CEO Margaret Baker was unanimously voted by the school board last month to fill the board’s open seat, vacated by the recent passing of member Tom Alf.

Explore MORE: United Way President-CEO to fill seat on Hamilton school board

A prominent resident, former city civil service commission and local bank vice president, Baker has lived in Hamilton for more than four decades.

Baker was among six who applied for the open school board seat vacated by Alf’s passing. Board terms are usually four years, but Baker would have to be elected in November 2021 to keep this seat after her appointment.

Mathews was one of only two candidates – Alf being the other – to run for two open seats in November.

In other board action, member Rob Weigel was elected by fellow board members to a second consecutive annual term as president. Lauren Sprague was elected vice president.

And in a continuation of Hamilton school board’s long-standing tradition, the board voted unanimously to forego any financial reimbursement in 2020 for their governing duties of the 10,000-student school district.

In Ohio, public school board members can receive payments ranging from $80 to $125 per meeting.