Ross school board candidates weigh in on continuing district’s progress

The four candidates for Ross Board of Education are (from left): Edward Bosse Jr., William Buelsing, Andrew Schnell and Amy Webb.
The four candidates for Ross Board of Education are (from left): Edward Bosse Jr., William Buelsing, Andrew Schnell and Amy Webb.

Ross Local Schools’ governing board has two open seats, and four candidates are vying for a spot on the five-member board.

The rural Butler County district of 2,600 students has been a consistent, high-performing school system in recent years, according to the Ohio Department of Education’s annual report cards.

The Journal-News asked each of the four Ross Board of Education candidates — Edward Bosse Jr., William Buelsing, Andrew Schnell and Amy Webb — three questions.

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1. Why are you running and, if elected, what major issues do you plan to make a priority if you win a seat on the local school board?

Bosse: "After 36 years of experience on the Ross School Board, I believe I am the most qualified candidate for the position because of my proven performance.

As part of the team that developed the Ross Local School District into one of the highest performing districts in Southwest Ohio, my desire is to maintain as well as strengthen our performance.”

Buelsing: "As a former teacher and educational leader in the Ross Local School District, I am familiar with the what is needed in and out of the classroom for students to succeed. I can focus the limited resources and teachers' time to ensure students' success in and out of the classroom. I believe that financial resources and teachers time have been allocated unwisely. Our school district is a top performer, and we need use our limited resources on expenditures that have a direct impact on student improvement and that use our teachers' time productively."

Schnell: "My wife and I have two young children in the district and they are a big motivation for me to run for the school board. I want to ensure they receive a well-rounded education and school experience ingrained in the local community. The biggest issue I believe the district is facing is financial management through increasing enrollment and decreasing state funding. This is a direct threat to the quality of education Ross can provide, and the technology, programs and extra-curricular activities that are offered to our students. As a CPA and officer in the accounting department of a Cincinnati area Fortune 500 company, I truly believe I have the education and experience that can help lead the district through this challenge. The current board has a mix of different backgrounds and experiences, but no one has the financial focus that I can offer."

Webb: "The reasons I am running for school board is to continue the trend of our excellent schools and be progressive in areas of need. For example, enrichment programs for students who are identified gifted or earlier intervention for those special needs students to help all work to their optimal potential. I would also support some facilities improvements through community partnerships. We are the highest performing school district in the county where are kids are involved in many sports and extracurriculars and they deserve the best. I want to look at innovative ways to fund things, such as with community and business partnerships, without putting the burden on tax payers. Having two children in the district and one on the way, I hope to have a voice in the educational decisions made, be fiscally responsible when it comes to operating costs without sacrificing opportunities for our children. Most importantly, I want to continue to maintain the tradition of excellence that we have acquired through retention of our QUALITY educators and support staff."

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2. What challenges most concern you in your local schools and what proposed solutions will you champion in trying to persuade your fellow board members to join you in solving those challenges?

Bosse: "We need to maintain our strong academic performance while improving our lower state ratings. I believe we need to strengthen our services and programs with Butler Tech, and increase parental understanding of the opportunities available to our students."

Buelsing: "I have worked both in the business and education worlds. I have taught students of varying ages and abilities across a 30-year career. I was an employee in the Ross Local School district for 20 years, and have inside perspective about how our schools operate. I would use my previous experiences in business and education to make sure we are allocating our resources as a district to best benefit our students."

Schnell: "The challenges that concern me in the district include 1) serving the diverse needs of all students within the district, including those with special needs and gifted education, and 2) providing a well-rounded education with access to current technology and art, music, athletic and extra-curricular programs. Both of these challenges are reliant on fiscal responsibility and managing financial resources to best serve our students. My top priority if elected is to understand the current budgeting process and examine how the district's funds are allocated and spent. I will work closely with the Treasurer to understand the financial processes, systems and analysis that are in place and make changes in areas that need improvement. I will review the sourcing and timing of funding as compared to the districts spending and look at closely the vendor selection process. To be clear - my intent is not to cut programs or spending, but to analyze spending to ensure dollars are being spent responsibly."

Webb: "I believe one of the most pressing issues to be a growing community. Ross has always been considered a smaller district but is seeing a population boom with new housing developments. In the foreseeable future the district is going to have to be able to accommodate for this growth at the building levels and decisions are going to have to be made regarding opening usable space and possibly adding on to existing infrastructures. To support growth, I believe it is imperative to explore all means of funding and budget allocations before ever going to the tax payers."

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3. What changes – if any – in state school regulations and requirements would you like to see and why?

Bosse: "Our state senators and representatives want public education to perform at high standards, but fail to recognize this when developing the state budget. When balancing the budget, they do not recognize increased operational costs and fail to recognize performance. I would like our state leaders to fairly fund public education."

Buelsing: "The most pressing issue for the Ross School District is financial security. The state has not increased school spending to match the cost of living. Meanwhile, our district continues to grow and change. I will be your advocate in communicating with our representatives and senators to increase spending for public schools. Ross has continued to perform at the top of the county, state, and country and should not be penalized for their success by the current funding structure."

Schnell: "State testing is important to set standards and provide information for parents and district residents to understand how well a district is educating students. That said, focused measurement does not tell the entire story and can lead to propped up statistics that do not tell the full story. Too much emphasis on improving measured statistics can lead to deterioration in areas not emphasized and measured. Teachers deserve the opportunity to teach to best prepare our students for the next phase in their career, whether that be the next grade level, college or career, rather than simply focusing on the next state test. I believe the board should encourage continuous improvement in state testing, but not at all costs. The state should ease the stringent testing processes that are currently in place and re-evaluate how it is impacting students throughout Ohio."

Webb: "As it is right now I would like to see changes in state-wide testing. While accountability is extremely important, testing consumes a lot of instructional time. Many teachers feel that they are always teaching to a test and if there is a way to lobby state representatives for a different testing model that still holds students accountable and reflects mastery with the least amount of disruption to the school day, I am in favor of this. I do however like the provided alternative pathways to graduation."


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