Voter Guide

The counties included in the voters guide for the Nov. 5, 2019 elections are: Montgomery, Warren, Miami, Greene, Clark, Champaign, and Butler.

NOTE: Not all communities have issues or candidates on the ballot. Guide does not include uncontested races.

Lebanon School board {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Vote for 3

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  • Cathy Anspach

  • Kim Cope

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    Donna Davis Norris

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    Raye Kimberlin

  • Michael Lane

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    Esther Banta Larson

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Biographical Information

What are the 3 biggest challenges facing the school district? How would you deal with them?

What makes you qualified to be on the school board and gives you an advantage over other candidates?

What is your position on state testing and graduation requirements?

What would you do to close the skills gap that employers say is hindering their ability to find workers?

Are there any areas where you believe the school district currently underspends, or overspends?

Is the school district doing enough to ensure student safety? If not, what else should they be doing?

Are there any subjects or topics not currently being taught (or not taught broadly enough) that you would like to see expanded?

What other changes could be made that you think would improve students’ academic performance?

If you had to choose between increasing the number of regular teachers, to lower class size, or increasing the number of counselors/social workers/mental-health therapists/school resource officers to deal with non-academic issues, which would you choose?

What other information do you want voters to have about you?

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Experience 19+ year member of LCS Board of Education; 30+ year Career in Education/School Finance; Member of Ohio School Business Officials (OASBO); Board of Education member of Warren County Career Center; Volunteer- I have spent my entire working career in some aspect of supporting education. I have worked in school finance, as well as being on several committees in support of local school districts in Ohio; I have two Ohio certifications: -Ohio School Treasurer License -Ohio School Business Mgr.
Education BA Human Resource Management AA Business Many additional hours of education/training
1.School Funding: I support eliminating the artificial caps on our formula driven funding; I support efforts to create a fair funding system in Ohio; I will continue my own efforts to engage our Legislators to address funding for schools and the elimination of antiquated bills such as H.B.920

2.Diverse and changing needs of students: As I have done in the past, I will lead efforts locally to engage other Boards in my county to find innovative ways to better meet the growing social, emotional and educational needs of our students. We can no longer work in silos. There is power in collective efforts.

3.Changing workforce environment & needs, and meeting the challenges of expanding curriculum and career opportunities
Almost 20 years of experience as a Board member has provided me with the needed knowledge to successfully lead the work of a Board of Education. Board members must understand their roles, as well as be willing to give the time to support the two employees they are responsible for hiring, the Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer. I have the knowledge, experience and am willing to give of my time. I do not just show up once a month for a meeting. I am involved and constantly learning and growing as a Board member. Wherever I am needed, I am there and engaged.
I am in support of accountability for what we do in education. We should be held accountable. However, the instruments we use must be equitable and must truly be representative of the real work our districts are doing to support students. I believe whole-heartedly that most districts are providing students with more than simply teaching standards, so that they can pass State testing. Most of us are providing kids with opportunities for growth and awareness of the world in which they live, that no test or report card will ever measure, but we are doing it because we believe in supporting the “whole child” and we want them to be successful in life! I will continue to support my district’s efforts to provide opportunities to children, and at the same time will continue as a Board member to voice my concerns on changes to our State testing and graduation requirements which may better serve our students.
Districts must meet with our workforce employers to better understand the skill gaps and what employers want from workers in the future. I am willing to lead the efforts to build liaison with employers in my county, as well as with other Boards of Education. Together, we could plan and develop priorities for effectively addressing changing workforce and the assets and skills needed for our changing workforce.
My district is in the lowest 6% in the State for per pupil expenditure. While this sounds great, it means we are able to provide additional resources, which would help our students. I would like to see us spend more in the classroom to serve students and staff. The classroom is where the real work takes place to empower our students for their future. The Board and Administration are there to support the classroom efforts of empowering our children with knowledge.

Let’s invest more in the classroom to give our students more opportunities for learning. The question becomes, will our community be able and willing to support our efforts?
The safety of our students is a priority and needs are constantly changing, as new concerns arise. I am pleased to say that, yes, our district is addressing safety concerns and it is a priority. Could we do more, certainly, all of can safely say that we can do more. The needs will continue to evolve and we will have to plan for new needs, as well as find creative methods to fund them. Our district Administration has done incredible work to find money to support the safety of every student and staff member. We will continue to do so in the future and I will continue to support those needs in whatever way I am able to do so!
Our job in education is to educate children and empower them with needed knowledge. They have to be able to compete in the workforce and the world in general. I want our students to have the best of everything, so that they make informed decisions for their future. We must teach the curriculum of the future, such as technology, problem-solving skills, creative thinking, digital skills and collaboration. I support all efforts to find new ways to provide additional opportunities for our kids to have curriculum experiences of the future!

Our district staff and Administration work together well to educate our students with a broad range of curriculum experiences. I will work to find ways to help their continued efforts to enrich our curriculum!
This is an area where we need our parents involvement. Support at home and school will reinforce our student's everyday efforts.
This question is difficult for many reasons. If we increase classroom sizes, we know from research this does not serve the students well and does not provide them with a quality learning experience in the classroom.

We also know that our students have more diverse needs than ever before and districts are having to provide more support for our children, in the areas of social/emotional, as well as mental health.

For districts it is a balancing act, but we cannot give up. I choose to continue to look for dollars and support our administration in doing the same, so that we don’t increase classroom sizes and we can still provide needed resources to our students. Our administration has done an outstanding job of being innovative and developing partnerships to get additional resources into our district to better serve students.
I want voters to know that I have the background, knowledge, experience, and passion to be an effective Board member, who will help to lead our district. I have no agenda, other than supporting our Administrative team, staff and our students. I will continue to work hard to bridge communication with our community and to effectively support our students so they have the best education possible and are truly ready for their own real world experience upon graduation.

I am a believer in public education and anyone who knows me, knows this!
Experience Marketing and Communications: Experienced professional with internal communication, crisis communication, communication strategy. Over 25 years of experience working in radio, television, print and cable. Higher Education: Collaborated with admissions and academic departments for recruitment and retention of students; Researched and helped with the development of the Lifelong Learning Program. Redesigned seminary website with extensive library web page. Member of non-profits organizations.
Education Franklin University, M.S. in Marketing & Communication, September 2012, Leader Scholar Ohio University , B.S. in Communication, June 1990, graduated Cum Laude Lebanon High School, HS Diploma, College Prep, June 1986, graduated Magna Cum Laude
The financial stability of our schools will require strategies that include revenue generation and cost reduction. I would work collaboratively to approve a budget that does not harm the educational experience. There should also be more transparent reporting. I would also advocate at the state level to change the public school funding policy. Improving communication is another opportunity. One example is to effectively communicate financial needs of the district. The school district must also openly share the strategies being implemented to address racism and bias. This will help demonstrate the training being done to eliminate prejudice and to improve the perception of the district. This will lead to a more diverse staff and ultimately the retention of students. Recruiting and retaining teachers is also another challenge in the district. It will be important to find ways to provide more resources and tools for teachers. Lebanon must implement a strategy to prevent future turn-over.
I grew up in Lebanon and attended Lebanon City Schools, graduating with honors in 1986. I received a B.S. in Communication with honors in 1990 from Ohio University. I also studied at Franklin University becoming a Leader Scholar and earning an M.S. in Communication and Marketing in 2012. My career includes over 25 years in the media. I also have experience in higher education supporting academic, admissions, and development departments. My commitment to supporting public education also includes the performing arts programs. As a member of the Lunch On Us project to feed students and eliminate lunch debt, this past spring we donated enough funds to pay off the lunch debt of graduating seniors so they could receive their diplomas at graduation. Recently, I was asked to be a part of the parent equity group where I worked with the staff and administration to develop equity, diversity, and culturally responsive practices, working toward an anti-harassment/anti-discrimination plan.
Districts have to find a way to balance state testing with instruction that leads to well-rounded students who are able to be productive citizens, future employees and/or college students. A test is just a snapshot of a student in one moment in time. A test does not show the complete knowledge and comprehension capacity of a student. The student may have the knowledge of the subject matter but is unable to express that during the high pressured timed test. I believe the graduation requirements are being revised because of the fact that many students across the state are not passing the state graduation tests and are failing to have the required number of points in order to graduate. Alternatives to testing such as extracurricular activities, work experience, and volunteer service are ways to show that the students are prepared to leave high school and enter adulthood. Teacher evaluations and knowledge of students should also be considered as much as the mandatory state testing.
I believe our schools have started to address the needs of employers to have a more skilled workforce. Partnerships with the career center in the satellite programs offer courses at the high school in areas of engineering, business, accounting, marketing, skilled trades, and teaching. Our schools have started STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) in the lower grades to increase interest in these areas. There is always room to improve and grow partnerships with area employers to ensure that our students are prepared with the necessary skills in order to be hirable and successful in their career paths. The high school course Career & College Readiness should be offered to junior high school students to help them explore careers and occupations. It would offer them a chance to review options, explore their strengths and interests. It could be an additional junior high course for high school credit opportunity.
An area where our district underspends is cost per student. We are below the average compared to schools in our region. I believe that the district has done an excellent job of stretching the funds from the previous levy and have pushed the budget to its limit. Over time, I would like to see a district priority on raising per-pupil spending so that our students’ educational experiences can be improved. After examining the financial reports of the district, it appears the school has been very frugal in their spending. Salaries and benefits are the largest expenditures but they do not seem to be excessive. As the district continues to grow, as more homes are built and more families relocate to the area, the schools will need to increase staffing for these new students. The district has recently placed a salary freeze in order to better manage the district’s expenditures. As programs are enhanced and new offerings are introduced this will be a natural area that will increase.
The Lebanon school district works diligently to keep the students safe. The schools have improved communications with parents with the alert system. It is unfortunate that there is a need for a hyper-focus on safety and security. The partnership with the Lebanon Police Department is a positive safety measure. Resource officers have demonstrated their quick responsiveness to situations. I believe the school must find ways to continue to work with staff and parents to support students and prevent any incidents in the future.
The school system currently offers the curriculum that is required by the state. My recommendations would be to expand college prep courses to ALL students at lower grade levels. Every student should be prepared for any path he/she may choose. Students who decide to go directly into the workforce may one day need to obtain a college degree to be promoted. All Lebanon students should be prepared to take college level writing and math classes. In addition, work readiness skills should become a standard course prior to graduation. Students should have a trade or skill as well as basic workplace skills such as how to use email, how to speak professionally on a phone call, how to interview, and how to conduct meetings. Electives are also important, allowing students opportunities to explore subjects and topics of interest. Expansion of Life Skills courses into the lower grades would also be a great option. A strong k-12 arts program needs to remain an essential part of the curriculum.
A school should cultivate a positive motivating environment for students. Finding a balance between teaching for test preparation and instruction for career and college readiness would boost performance. In addition, understanding that all students learn and comprehend information differently is one way. Developing a variety of strategies to provide instruction on subjects as well as devising other methods to evaluate students’ recall and comprehension would help to understand true student academic performance.
Class size is very important and increasing the number of teachers would be ideal. It is also important to have the appropriate student services provided by counselors, therapists and resource officers to help with non-academic issues. One way to achieve this would be to explore alternative programs such as a curriculum of social and emotional intelligence which would also be beneficial to all students in the district. Montgomery County ESC has partnered with a national program called SELLA that offers required language arts credits while providing instruction and tools to help students learn self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness.
Supporting students is important to my family. My late cousin, Ethel Sims, was the first African American school board member in Lebanon. My aunt, Johnnie Kimberlin, served on the Jefferson Township school board for many years. I believe that getting involved at this level will allow me to bring a fresh perspective and unique skills to the district. Lebanon is my hometown and my family’s hometown. We have had over 4 generations of students in Lebanon City Schools including my parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, and my son. I am asking for your vote as a school board member. There are many positive things that are going on in our district. But I know there are challenges. I am willing to tackle difficult issues including student achievement, school resources, equity and diversity, as well as the budget. I am willing to fight to serve ALL of the students, parents and teachers in our district. I am a Lebanon Warrior and proud of our schools.
Experience Six years of public education along with 21 years of private sector experience and owning two small businesses. I've managed groups as large as 150+ people and have led many growth and expense reduction initiatives over the course of my professional career.
Education Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education (Mathematics) from Miami University, '92
Transparency and Communication: Almost all of the parents and community members I've had conversations with bring up this topic. To them, they never seem to know why certain decisions are made. Several times, people have indicated they have sought out answers to either not receive a response or the response is limited and doesn't address the entire inquiry. Funding: Local schools are dependent on the community to support them as both Federal and State dollars continue to decrease. The schools need to better justify or explain the cost increases which occur due to outside factors, such as inflation and standard salary increases. We need to ensure the schools retain the talented teachers and staff they have today. Future Growth: Lebanon appears to be poised to be one of the next districts which will experience quick growth in the near future as open land in other districts continues to diminish. A comprehensive plan with a vision of this growth must be established.
I have been both inside the classroom and managed large budgets in the private sector. Several of my positions in the past have included responsibility for finding ways to reduce expenses while still maintaining high performance. I have managed groups in excess of 150 people, including managers who are held to a standard of producing high results for our customers. In the case of a school district, we need to understand our students are our customers, and we must deliver the highest quality product possible to meet their needs.

As a local business owner (Whit's Frozen Custard) I also know how important it is to be a active community member in terms of establishing and maintaining a trusted relationship with our customers.
I am not a fan of state testing, especially when it comes to the amount of classroom time taken away for specific instruction and test taking. However, we must have some kind of barometer to compare the quality of education between districts. Like I mentioned previously, our students are the customers of our school district, but our community members are the shareholders.

I believe the graduation requirements on a whole are in line, but we need to prepare students better for their post-graduation choices. Is college the right choice for everyone? No. So let's not forget those students too. Prepare students for daily lives as well as post-secondary education.
As mentioned earlier, find a way to teach the whole student. Educate each student on daily living skills, including personal finances and better study skills. One of the biggest challenges students will face is the ability to problem solve issues which happen every day.
Yes. I believe our classroom ratios of students to teacher are too high, especially in the younger grades. There are multiple skill levels in each classroom presenting a challenge to even the best of teachers to meet the needs of all students. This has to be (and should have been) a long term strategy. For example, even if additional funding for more teachers became available, the lack of space would make it nearly impossible to hire more teachers are certain grade levels. Donovan recently went through a major renovation, but classroom sizes are already around 28:1 with no extra classrooms to help alleviate the crowded classrooms. The cost of adding those classrooms would have been substantially less if considered at the time of the renovations.
I believe they are preparing as well as can be expected. As a parent, we often receive notices of safety training and given notice of drills being performed on school property. Unfortunately in today's world, there is an ongoing concern for safety in the schools. The first line of defense will always be our teachers, and their ability to notice something out of the ordinary. Our community and students should always be vigilant as well to detect potential threats.

Getting more students involved in the community of the schools drastically reduces the chances of something happening, and we should continue to find more ways to reach all students.
Gifted programs in grades K-8 are lacking. This presents classroom teachers with the challenge of meeting the needs of a broad band of students during instruction. This impacts all students. The gifted students aren't getting the challenge they need, while the kids needing more assistance or guidance aren't given the additional instruction they may need to properly understand new concepts. The current model takes away resources from students at all skill levels.

As mentioned before, I believe there also needs to be some basic life and job skills taught.
I've mentioned these in previous questions: classroom sizes and the opportunity for more specialized instruction. In addition, I feel there are always opportunities to assist the staff by providing additional resources for them to excel at their positions. I haven't spoken to a teacher yet who hasn't expressed a vested interest in seeing all of their students reach his or her potential.
Teachers first and foremost. Having more teachers on site would lessen the need for the other positions. Given larger classroom sizes, they may not see the emotional distress a student is experiencing and won't be able to reach him or her on a more personal level. The teachers in any school district are THE most vital resource. On the contrary if the teachers are able to spend more time individually with each student, he or she will succeed sooner and more often, instilling more confidence and pride in his/her work and a bigger sense of being a part of the school community.
My wife and I moved into the district about 12 years ago when our daughter was 2 so that she would have more opportunities, including better chances to be involved in multiple school activities as opposed to the larger district we moved from. Now with two children in the district, being a small business owner in Lebanon, and wanting to see all students achieve their maximum potential, I have a vested interest in seeing Lebanon City Schools excel.

I grew up in Mason, and one of the things I remember most about Lebanon was the sense of community and pride in the schools. I don't see the same degree of that community and pride today and hope to be part of the solution to making it happen again.
Experience Taught 5 years in Baltimore County, Maryland and 32 years in Lebanon, mostly in Kindergarten. Also managed the family Swimming Pool Maintenance business for 15 years.
Education Graduate of Lebanon High School. Bachelor in Elementary Education from The Ohio State University. Master Degree in Early Childhood Education from Wright State University.
Twitter @Larson45Esther
#1 Passage of the 4.99 mil levy to keep the schools operating at the level they are now. The district has not asked for any additional money in 8 years while costs have gone up – electric, heating, gasoline, bus maintenance, technology, salaries and health benefits, etc.

#2 Communication – It is difficult to reach everyone in our community. The district and each of our buildings share news on FB and Twitter. However, many people are not on social media. Mailings to every residence is very expensive. Possibly see if there are grants to help defray costs.

#3Meeting the needs of ALL students. Given that our budget is in the lowest 6% in the state for per pupil spending, it is difficult to provide the challenges needed by the gifted students, the extra support for the struggling learners, and recommended class sizes . Organizing and training a strong volunteer force can lead to additional instruction in small-group settings.
I have lived in Lebanon almost my entire life. I understand our community. I taught for 37 years – 5 years in Baltimore County, Maryland and 32 years in Lebanon. I managed our family Pool Maintenance business for 15 years. When I retired I wanted to give back to my community and have been fortunate to serve on the Lebanon School Board and the Warren County Career Center Board for 12 years. I would appreciate the voters' support to continue in these roles.
If used properly state testing can help a district realize their strengths and weaknesses. Analyzing the results helps the district notice gaps in curriculum. However, the state test should not be the main emphasis of a school district. There is much more to a child's education than the results of one state test on one given day. Every student should be given a well rounded education to help them be a better citizen in the future. Respect, responsibility, organizational skills, kindness, and empathy will serve the student well as an adult.

There are various ways that a student can meet graduation requirements. The main concern is that the state keeps changing the requirements frequently which makes it difficult for a district to assure that the students are meeting those requirements for graduation. The students must be prepared for the next chapter of their lives whether it is college, skilled labor, going into the work force or joining the military.
The school board should confirm that the superintendent is aware that a skills gap exists. It is the role of the superintendent to operate the school district and determine what steps need to be taken to alleviate this gap. Lebanon's superintendent has a business advisory board that helps him stay informed of the needs of the workforce. Opportunities have been made available for high school students to tour local businesses and complete internships with employers to experience the work place first-hand. The superintendent has built relationships with various businesses and continues to have conversations with them to discuss their needs. The superintendent shares this information with the board.
Lebanon Schools has been frugal with spending and is appreciative of the financial support our community provides. The district entered into an energy savings plan that cut utilities expenses. A partnership was formed with Premier Health to cover most of the cost of new artificial turf and a refurbished track. Parents of high school students were contacted to see if their child would be using the bus or providing their own transportation. Bus routes were shortened accordingly, saving gas and bus maintenance. Every aspect of the school operations is evaluated for savings. If the budget allowed, it would be a relief to the parents to have reduced student fees, pay-to-participate sports fees, band fees and choir fees. These need to be more reasonable and affordable for all students and their families. Extra-curricular activities are an important part of a student's educational experience.
Keeping our students safe is of utmost importance. There is always more that a district can do. We currently have one resource officer and a trained dog. A safety plan is in place and practiced. Adjustments have been made to the entrances of each building to make them more secure. Adding more resource officers could be beneficial if the budget could handle it. Forming a partnership with Children's Hospital has made it possible to have a therapist in each building to talk and work with students who need professional counseling. Students with positive mental health are less likely to be a threat to themselves or others.
Young children need basic skills to be ready for Kindergarten. Public preschool for all students could help make this possible. With more academic demands being placed on younger students, Kindergarten needs to become a full-day program to ensure enough instructional time.

The high school offers a life skills elective, Possibly this should be a required course – basic cooking, learning to use basic tools, understanding a checkbook, taxes, credit cards, loans and interest rates, making basic home repairs, etc.

Classroom space and additional personnel prohibit these from becoming a reality.
Music is good for the soul and can make learning easier. Art opens the door for self expression. Drama allows students to experience different places and times and characters. It is important to develop the whole child. Having many experiences in the fine arts is very important. Field trips to concerts, museums and dramatic productions could give them more knowledge in these area. Having assemblies and inviting professionals to the schools in these areas would also be beneficial.

Sports and extra-curricular activities are very important to some students and often encourages them to do better in the classroom and have better school attendance. Adding a sport such as lacrosse as a team sport or a club focusing on a group of students' interests could be beneficial but would be limited due to the financial responsibilities tied to them.

Both choices are so important! Having the experience of being in the classroom for many years I understand the benefit of having smaller classes. Instruction and success for all students is our main concern. Smaller classes allows the teacher to spend more time with each child. There can be adjustments to instruction to meet each child's needs. The teacher builds a closer rapport with each student and the student is more willing to confide in that teacher. Many times that relationship can reduce the need for additional intervention.

Providing social workers, mental-health therapists and school resource officers can sometimes be provided by other means. Partnerships with health providers and local police departments can increase these services at lower costs to the district, which defers funds to be used for additional teaching staff.
I am greatly concerned about the way schools are financed. It is a burden to the tax payers, including myself. Changes must be made at the State level. Contacting our legislators and expressing our dissatisfaction is vital to change occuring.

I am devoted to our schools. I want the best education for ALL of our students that our community will support. My husband and I were graduates of Lebanon. My parents taught in Lebanon. My children are Lebanon graduates. Three of my grandchildren are Lebanon graduates and 2 grandchildren are current Lebanon students. I will always be a Warrior For Kids!

Yes, I want the best schools possible and I want to help make those decisions by staying on the board. Donna Davis Norris and I have worked very hard as board members and take our positions seriously. I hope that the community will allow us to continue to serve our Lebanon schools.