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.

Talawanda School Board {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Vote for 3

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  • Jody Asher (write in)

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    Rebecca Howard

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    Kathleen Knight-Abowitz

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    Chris Otto

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    Andrea Prather

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    Bryan Price

  • Lois Vollmer

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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 I have a multi-dimensional background in education and business—I’ve been a pre-K educator for over 40 years, working with a variety of families as owner of the Oxford Early Childhood Center (1986-1995 & 2005-2014) and Kidstuff, a children’s book/toy store in Oxford (1994-1998); I’m an educational consultant, providing workshops for early childhood professionals. I have a PhD in Educational Leadership, and have been an instructor at Miami for 20 years, currently working in Teacher Education.
Education PhD Educational Leadership MA Theater BPh Interdisciplinary Studies Hamilton Taft High School graduate, 1976
Twitter @HowardOhio53rd
1) Addressing deficit spending in a manner that emphasizes quality, maintains educational staff levels, and doesn’t place undue burdens on students/families. This requires critical evaluation of current/future spending, and finding ways to decrease costs while maintaining quality. This does NOT mean more taxes.

2) Providing supports for mental/physical health for students/staff, including meaningful responses to bullying/violence/hate; recognizing stressors on both students/staff. This requires commitment to innovative programs/education around issues of mental health & social-emotional development.

3) Ensuring that we are committed to continuing growth in the quality and efficacy of our curriculum, and providing resources that respect the professionalism of our educational & administrative staff. This requires recognizing/supporting the challenges faced by our teaching staff, & critically evaluating the efficacy of administrative & curricular policies.
I grew up in Hamilton, and have lived and/or worked in communities in the TSD for 41 years, including as a resident of Reily Township since 1991. As a parent of a Talawanda grad (2014), I was involved in her activities in Oxford and surrounding areas, meeting families of children from all of the local schools. I’m the president of the Oxford Literacy Team, which provides the Super Summer Readers program to students in grades K-4, and have been involved with the Oxford Area Community Theater since 1989. My consulting work with teachers, caregivers, and administrators has given me the opportunity to visit many different communities, and learn about the challenges and successes of different schools and districts. I believe that this multiplicity of educational/business experiences, interactions with diverse populations, and grounding in both the theory and practical experience of education in contemporary society positions me to contribute a valuable and unique perspective.
There are multiple challenges that arise from these requirements, most notably the unpredictable nature of the expectations and rules coming from both the state and federal levels, and the questionable value of standardized tests that have never been substantively correlated with academic or career success. I believe our “testing regime” is too burdensome and stressful for both students and teachers, and it forces schools to prioritize “teaching to the test” rather than “teaching for meaningful growth and development.” For high school students, the ever-changing graduation requirements coming from the state legislature adds even more stress. We need to continue to advocate for minimizing standardized tests, and replacing them with meaningful assessments that give each school the ability to truly measure their students’ strengths and challenges.
Having owned a business, I have a good idea of the strengths and challenges facing employers looking for qualified workers. We need to continue to support the value of what students are able to access through Butler Tech in terms of career readiness outside of college for those students who would prefer that career path. We also need to make sure that both students who wish to attend college and students who prefer to enter the work force after graduation are fully prepared to do so—this means bolstering critical thinking skills, creativity and innovation, initiative and self-reliance, and also fostering practical work and life skills.
Considering that the district is currently in “fiscal caution,” we are clearly overspending our revenue. I believe we need to take a thorough look at where our funds are going to identify where those specific areas are.
I applaud the decision by the board last year to hire additional resource officers and social workers. I also believe the district is taking proactive steps to provide greater supports for social-emotional development through curriculum, programming, and counseling. I think we need to continue to work on interventions with bullying and hateful/discriminatory speech and actions.
Generally speaking, I believe the schools in the Talawanda district have maintained a basically strong selection of subject choices. Research suggests that students who participate in arts (visual arts, vocal and instrumental music, dance, and theater) and athletics as a regular part of the curriculum perform better on standardized tests and have more successful outcomes overall. I would advocate for a reasonable expansion of both of these, not just as extra-curriculars, but as an integral part of the school day, beginning in pre-K and continuing through high school.
I know that we have been told that financial considerations, particularly around transportation and after school activities, make it impractical to alter the start times for the middle and high school students. I would like to continue to strategize around this point—we know that adolescents are healthier, more engaged, and more academically successful when they are able to get adequate sleep, which can only happen with later start times, and I believe that we can find a way to facilitate that change if we are committed to it.
I don’t believe in “either/or” scenarios—there is always a third alternative, and a compromise solution is possible if we want to find one.
My entire professional career has been as an advocate for children, families, teachers, and communities. We are stronger together. I believe all members of a community should be invested in ensuring high quality public education, and that the Board of Education should conduct its business with the highest degree of transparency and accessibility that is practical and within the limitations of privacy concerns. To this end, I strongly support the recording and/or live streaming of board meetings, in order to provide accuracy and access for anyone who is interested in how board meetings progress. Meeting minutes are currently the only record available to residents who are not able to attend meetings, and those minutes do not always include all of the information presented. Transparency, respect, and accountability are the hallmarks of a responsible, and responsive, board.
Experience Founder and Facilitator, Talawanda Community Advocacy for Public Education, 2017-present. Member, Talawanda Community Advisory Board, 2015-2018 Member, League of Women Voters, Oxford, Ohio, 2000-present
Education Ph.D., University of Virginia M.Ed., University of Vermont B.A., Randolph-Macon College
Twitter @KathleenKA4
Three big challenges for us are budget, the Ohio Report Card, and district unity. Budget: In part because Ohio’s funding formula is in need of a major fix in Columbus, budgets are tight. We are in deficit spending, yet we have around $25 million in reserves. The next Board must ensure we make careful money decisions based on priorities, and that we are having clear, timely communications among Treasurer, Superintendent and Board members. Report Cards: The Ohio Report Card system is a flawed way to measure how schools are doing, for lots of reasons. But our 2018 report card grades show that we have areas that need improvement. The Board will need to monitor the plans designed to work on areas in need of attention. District unity: As we are a large, diverse district, and this has led to conflicts that sometimes make it more challenging for us to come together on common issues and problems. Our next Board must work with different stakeholders to build better unity across diverse groups.
I am qualified in that 1) I’ve been active in helping others in my district advocate for stronger public education at the local, state, and national levels, via a group I created two years ago, which makes me up-to-date on many policy issues and able to hit the ground running; 2) Both my kids are recent graduates of the Talawanda system, involved in lots of different types of classes, after-school groups, clubs and sports teams; 3) I’ve been active in non-partisan politics in my community via the Oxford League of Women Voters; 4) I have spent my career as an educator, in higher education, for the past 29 years.
We have too much testing in our schools. We test more frequently than most countries in the world. It’s making schools a stressful and unhealthy place for students and teachers, and we are seeing “Opt Out” movements across the country where parents pull their kids out of testing days. We need our state and national officials to make changes, and reduce testing requirements. As far as graduation requirements, Ohio keeps changing graduation requirements. School officials cannot meet a moving target. In addition, the most recent graduation requirements were written by a group of non-profit educational lobbying groups who are heavily influenced by business interests (Ohio Excels among others). The legislature chose this plan instead of the one recommended by our own Ohio Department of Education, developed after a year of public meetings. That seems like a problem to me.
Talawanda is extremely fortunate to have Butler Tech as a regional partner. Our affiliation with this campus means our students have access to high quality credentialing programs in a wide array of fields, including those in health care, public safety, arts, business and industry, and a new program in aviation exploration. We need to keep our affiliation with Butler Tech strong and secure so that our students can continue to take advantage of these opportunities.
I do not know of any obvious areas of overspending or underspending. The last levy passed in our district was for our high school campus, passed in 2008, and since that time, we’ve built a terrific high school campus, completely rebuilt one of our elementary buildings, and are now starting much-needed renovations on another elementary school. At this point, projections say that we are good at least until 2025 for funding, and hopefully we can stretch that out much longer by careful budgeting. The Board has authorized a Performance Audit with the State to help identify where we might be over-spending, so the next Board will have that audit report to consider.
I strongly support the action taken by the Board in 2018 when they authorized hiring three new school safety officers and three new social workers in our district in response to the safety and mental health issues that teachers and staff are facing. This was a terrific move – addressing building safety while also addressing underlying causes of some of the violence and problems that can be brought into schools.
No. The Board’s role isn’t really to set curriculum or make recommendations of this nature; it is more focused on broader policy issues and budget matters.
I hope we can consider ways to help our teachers grow and develop in their subject areas and as engaging teachers who inspire, challenge, and nurture students. The teaching (and coaching) staffs in each building are our most important resource in helping students grow and do their best in school. Professional development is critical for teachers to stay on their game.
I think a better question is, what do our citizens want? Our district has, in a way, made this choice by hiring more personnel to boost safety and mental health concerns, as described above. So given that choice, can we encourage our Superintendent and principals to use any available funds to strategically, and selectively lower some class sizes in content areas and grades where class sizes are most critical for student engagement? That would be my approach with our district, if citizens seemed supportive of this direction.
I’m honest, transparent, and responsible. I’m a uniter and not divisive. I’m hoping to help make a good district better.
Experience I have served on the Talawanda School Board for the last four years. I have over thirty years of experience working with budgets and I am a licensed school treasurer.
Education BS in Business Administration
The three biggest challenges facing our school district are providing a safe environment for our students, providing quality education, and providing a quality education while operating within our budget. While I have served on the school board we addressed school safety by partnering with local law enforcement to hire a resource officer for each of our schools. Our district also has a safety committee that meets regularly to discuss security and procedures. To help provide a quality education for our students I would like to continue the school district's plan oft routinely reviewing and updating our district’s curriculum to keep it current. The school district has created a master plan to guide the school district and included in this plan is a fiscal component that will help guide the school district.

Serving on the Talawanda School Board for the last four years and given me an appreciation for the dedication of our teachers and staff. My four years of experience has allowed me to learn how the school district operates, the challenges our district face, and the many strengths our district has. I have over thirty years of work experience dealing with budgets and I am a licensed school treasurer. The knowledge I have gained serving on the school board for four years, my work experience, and being a licensed school treasurer make me a strong candidate.
I feel that that there is too much testing and the state graduation requirements need to be reviewed. Measuring the success of our students would be better determined by the teachers and administrators who work with the students and who understand the student’s needs. Graduation requirements should also be determined by the local schools.
The job market is continually changing and we need to provide our students with an education that will allow them to learn the skills that will be needed.
The school board and the administration should continually look for ways to save the school district money. To help realize savings, I voted to have the State Auditor’s office review our finances and identify areas where savings can be identified.
In my last four years on the school board, we have hired a school resource officer for each building and we have hired additional counselors. When designing new schools, there has been an emphasis on incorporating student safety in the design. The school district has a safety committee made of school administrators, local law enforcement and first responders. This committee meets regularly to assess the safety of our schools and to review procedures. We need to continually review our policies and procedures for keeping students safe.
The school district should continue to review the curriculum to insure it is current and meets the needs of our students.
We can improve the academic performance of our student by attracting and keeping quality teachers and administrators.
Before making a choice, I would want to get the input of the community, teachers, administrators, and parents. Reviewing their input would be important in deciding which choice a school board should make.
Our school district should always be guided by what we feel is in the best interest of the students.
Education 1996 graduate of Talawanda high School
The three biggest challenges are: the drop in the report card, the deficit spending and the future budget. I would work with the teachers and administrators to make sure that we are providing the highest level of education and preparing our children for the future. I want to help ensure the district report card does not drop in the future but rather improves each time. I would address the district spending and help make the needed adjustments to resolve the deficit. I want to support the district by maintaining a budget to avoid a future levy.
I am a mother of 5 children in the district. I am a concerned parent with an interest in their education at Talawanda. I am also a resident of the district and concerned about district spending.
I am for testing and requirements that hold us accountable for the education we are required to provide. I do not support testing that is designed to make our students and district fail.
I am for providing our students with a level of education and hands on skill development that sets them up for success in the future.
The budget definitely needs addressed. We are in deficit spending and cannot continue to spend in this manner.
I believe our district has student safety as a top priority.
I believe our district offers a wide variety of subjects that enables our students to expand their interests.
I want to see our community and school district come together to support our children in their education.
I am interested in supporting our district in a way that maximizes education while minimizing unnecessary spending.
Candidate response is not yet available.
Experience A father of children currently in the district. Small business owner who understands checks/balances and fiscal responsibility. A leader who is not afraid to ask hard questions and make decisions that represent the entire district. A proven leader in the community. Leading by example, volunteering to mentor our youth and fill the void.
Education Talawanda Graduate
Fiscal Responsibility - For the first time in 14 years, Talawanda closed the books last year at a $1.3 million deficit. This year we are projected to end with a $2.6 million deficit. The State of Ohio has our district on "Financial Watch". The past leadership of Talawanda has made the difficult decision to make moves within the budget that kept us in a surplus position. These decisions can be made without effecting the child in the classroom.

Academic Success - This year the state dropped our districts grade to a C. I've heard in many different presentations that this is okay, it's "average". I disagree. We spend "above average" money per student to educate our children. I believe we have above average students and I believe we can achieve above average results. We'll do this by making sure teachers have what they need and petitioning the state for clear direction on the report card.

Unity - Currently we have a district that needs rallied and unified. "We are Talawanda"
I believe it's a big advantage that I have children currently in the district. I personally see the effects on our children, of decisions made by school leadership. Candidates who don't currently have children in the district have to wait long periods before they understand the consequences of their decisions. As a business owner I understand what it takes to run a profitable business. These skills will help us look at the current deficits and find ways to save money without effecting our children's learning and overall experience. As the pastor of a church in the inner city, I mentor young children throughout the week that are experiencing extreme social and economic challenges. These challenges can be overcome through love and care, The easy decision is to throw money at it and hope it changes. We will not use social or economic excuses as a reason for less than above average results. We are Talawanda! I am for you!
My family has lots of teachers in it. Some new (my daughter) and some 30 year veterans. They constantly struggle with state testing requirements that don't allow them to teach the whole student. Currently there is a State of Ohio system in place that all districts have to adhere to. Until these things change, we will do the best we can do and we will compete to be above average. Our children are above average and we have above average tools so the results should be there. I believe the local school boards should be in talks with the state about funding and testing. The better we understand their requirements, and they understand our challenges locally then we can plan and incorporate.
Talawanda is very blessed to have Miami University and Butler Tech in our communities. We must spend time with our students and their families to find the best path for them. The days of students being stigmatized because they choose a trade over a college degree has ended. Students that want to pursue a trade must be encouraged. They shouldn't feel like this choice alienates them. They must be embraced and still included in all the activities with their friends they've went to school with since kindergarten. These children will return to raise families in the Talawanda district. Children who choose to pursue a degree at Miami or another institution, we must work hard to find ways for them to obtain this without loads of student debt.
We are currently running the district at a deficit. We spend more money per student than the surrounding districts. When I'm elected we will dig into the budget and see where money is being wasted and where it can reap better results for our children.
The student safety has to be the number one priority. It's our job as a district to return a families children back to them safely at the end of each day. To ensure this in these changing times we must have an open mind and have conversations continually about student safety. We must learn from past experiences of other districts and incorporate necessary changes.
I don't believe currently the state puts enough emphases on history. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. If we do not teach our children history, then they will make the same mistakes again. Today's academic world focuses more on how things make people feel rather than truly teaching historical facts. When you remove history you remove love of country. When you remove love of country and the prices that were paid by those before us you raise up a generation who feels entitled with no clear direction.
It's love and accountability that will change academic performance. Children don't care what you know until they know that you care. There's a lot of teachers who are emotional invested in our children. We have to give teachers the tools to teach these children as a whole child and not a number. I will fight to make sure they have what they need.
Somewhere along the way the lines have become blurred. It has always been the job of the school district to educate the children of the community. Today big government has thrown money at everything rather than addressing home and heart issues. The tax payers deserve for the school leadership to look closely to see where we are spending money at the school level, that social services at the county level is paying for. There needs to be some clear lines. What is the school districts responsibility and what is the county responsibility. We will fight for the children to get the best education and experience they deserve. Part of that fight is defining responsibilities and not throwing money in a hole but addressing the problem.
I am for Talawanda! The school board is supposed to be non partisan yet the unions back a certain party affiliation. I will represent all 3000 students. I will support the teachers and administrators. This means making sure you have all the tools you need to educate our children. This also includes asking hard questions and holding people accountable. Talawanda is a great school district. We have lost focus these last couple years, and it's reflected in our spending and report card. It's time for us to unite and work together to make Talawanda the best it can be!
Experience 12 years on Talawanda Board 14 Years on Butler Tech Board
Education 12th grade graduate
1.) Deficit Spending 2.)Report Card is to low 3.)Making sure every student learns to the best of his/her ability. I am one member of the board. It will take the entire board to deal with them.
I have served 12 years on the Talawanda Board and 14 years on Butler Tech Board,.

Having Lived in the district all my life and being very involved. 3 children, 5 grandchildren graduated and a great grandson is elementary.
Things are changing in the State to decrease the member of tests mandated. This is an action that needs to take place.
Having served 14 years on Butler Tech Board and working with business employers understanding what they are looking for in their employees.
Over spends in the use of subs. Heavy in the leadership area.
Talawanda has RSO in every Building. One way in after students arrives.
No! we have quite variety of subjects taught plus the availability of Butler Tech. Which Talawanda does not use efficiently.
I do not know. I know that our report card was very disappointing. For the amount of money Talawanda spends, we should do better than a C.
Since I believe we have good class sizes already, I would increase Counselors/Social Workers/Mental-Health therapists. The board increased the number of RSO last year.
I have experience. I believe in being fiscally responsible. I believe in a strong academic performance. I strongly believe it is important to preserve the history of Talawanda!