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.

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

Elect 2

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  • Candidate picture

    Lydda Mansfield-write in

  • Candidate picture

    Carolyn Ricker-write in

  • Candidate picture

    Lori Sebastian

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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?

Experience I’ve worked for five years as a high school math teacher and 11 years in financial services in corporate communications, investor relations, commercial and contractor insurance, and loss prevention and commercial property safety inspection.
Education Master of Science in Education (University of Dayton); Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics (Miami University)
Three challenges facing Bethel are the rapid community growth, the resulting changes needed to the district’s facilities and staff, and the preparation of students for their next steps. I’ll use my communications training and experience to work hard to continue the tradition of Bethel’s strong community by increasing communication, especially between the district and the new subdivisions. I’ll also be a voice for our newer residential areas on the Board. I’ll use my work experience with contractors, in loss prevention and in financial reporting to help guide the district through upcoming new construction and long-range facilities planning. And as a licensed teacher, I’ll advocate for increased technology access and STEM education for students at all grade levels and for adequate and proper staffing throughout the district to ensure our students’ needs are met throughout their years with Bethel Local Schools.
I believe I am qualified to be on the Board and have an advantage over other candidates because of my education and my unique blend of work experience. I have a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics and a master’s degree in Education. I’ve worked in contractors’ insurance, loss prevention (building safety, fire and OSHA inspections), corporate communications, investor relations and financial reporting. I later moved into education and became a licensed 7-12 mathematics teacher and worked for five years at an area career-technical high school campus. This work experience means that I can help communicate the district’s message to the public and neighborhood communities, understand the numbers and financial reports, consider upcoming facilities projects from an insurance and safety standpoint, and also have a firsthand feel for what our teachers’ and students’ perspective might be as issues are brought before the Board.
I’m an educator. There is too much state testing. Federal minimum guidelines only require high school students to take ONE math, ONE science and ONE English test. Ohio tests its high schoolers more than double that amount, then ties results to graduation. Studies show districts with highest test scores are still those with highest funding (which says nothing about teacher quality). Our biggest outcome is that students are stressed out and missing out on learning how to think, and instead are learning how to test. Let’s trust our educators as the professionals they are and let them TEACH.

Ohio needs to establish consistent, fair, achievable graduation requirements. Recently, we’ve waited till well into the school year to see what that year’s graduation options would be. It’s not right to change the requirements from one graduating class to the next or to shift the rules on students or the district staff trying to prepare them to graduate.
We know students will see jobs that didn’t exist a generation ago. We know we need more technology available sooner, more math and science, more hands-on engineering, and more thinking and problem-solving curriculum. I think we begin with the technology component in place in the early grades, and we work to let our teachers teach students how to think, not how to recite, so they’re smarter than the automation they’ll work alongside. I’m already seeing more classes that encourage independent thinking and experimentation, and I believe more of this is the best path for our students.

As a CTC teacher, current employers told me new hires lack basic workplace skills like active, continuous participation, proper questioning, when and how to use a cell phone as a resource, and how to greet others in social settings. Many teachers already cover this; other district staff can possibly support their efforts through class visits and meaningful, planned student interactions.
The district is doing a better job of addressing the range of ability among our students, and we need to continue this effort. Our district recently placed more focus on the Special Education department, which is the right thing to do. We also recently changed our college credit plus partner schools, providing different options for interested students to engage with their interests as early as seventh grade. I feel strongly that we should always find a way to support our students at all abilities, including those who want to do more academically.
Our district is unique in its position on student safety by allowing teachers to be armed. We also have an SRO on campus, which is a positive step. Like other districts, after-hours access is a challenge. I would like to see this be something that is considered in the long-range and facilities planning moving forward: we need access available to students, parents and other groups, but we need to determine how best to safely and affordably regulate and monitor that access while maintaining and nurturing the strong sense of community we enjoy.
With college credit plus partnerships, students from seventh grade onward have access to a wide variety of courses not offered by the district. While it is naturally more convenient to offer courses as dual enrollment classes on site, there are strict criteria for teachers of those classes. The district is doing a good job providing dual enrollment classes as it manages continued growth and district staffing.
As a necessity of tremendous district growth, our class sizes have grown larger than was our standard. Studies consistently show smaller class size leads to improved performance, so our goal should remain to reduce them as time and enrollment allows.

Any district can impact academic performance by showing that it values teachers and effective teaching. Bethel has already begun to take steps toward improving the kinds of conditions that improve effective teaching. Our administrators are welcoming and working with teacher leaders, providing time and space to talk with teachers and for teachers to learn from each other, and putting more resources and technology in place for teachers and students. As we grow, the more the district keeps teachers and teaching conditions in its thoughts, the more our students’ academic performance will benefit.
In our district, this question isn’t as straightforward as it is for a steady-growth district.

We truly need both given that we are the fourth fastest growing district in Ohio. It’s going to be unavoidable to add teaching staff to address growth since we can’t have students show up to a classroom that doesn’t have a teacher. However, our voters need to know that we have one Wellness Counselor who is providing support to all grades, K-12, and two Guidance Counselors who support both Middle and High School students. The district hired a School Resource Officer in 2019. It’s clear that the Board is taking action to improve the non-academic staffing to support student need, and I support this both as a parent and having been a teacher. I do believe that our district will need to increase non-academic staffing in the near future given our growth rates, but if it comes down to a choice between the two, teaching staff has to be the priority at this stage.
I am currently taking some time away from teaching to spend more time with my son and in our school and community. My husband works at the base, and this is our family's fifth year in Bethel Local School district. Our son has gone to Bethel since third grade when we moved to the Carriage Trails community. While our community and its neighbors, Parktowne and Windbrooke, currently do not have a representative on our Board of Education, it is our communities’ children enrolling at such high rates that is leading the tremendous growth of the district. I believe we need a qualified candidate to take a seat at the Board table to provide a voice from our area. I am asking to be that candidate from our communities.

I also volunteer in residential facilities, schools and libraries as a trained therapy dog handler with our dog.
Experience 14 years Homeschool parent, 7 years volunteering in various Bethel organizations, regular attended of Board Meeting over the past several years, currently The Bethel Music Boosters treasurer for the 6th year, 2 children are Bethel alum and 2 children currently attending Bethel.
Education 1994 graduate of Sky View High School in Smithfield, UT
The three biggest challenges that Bethel is facing are: Growth, integration of a different culture, and bullying. As Bethel Township is changing and growing with added housing it is the board's responsibility to be proactive in providing for the future with added building. As a full time homemaker for many years I understand how to be frugal while still accomplishing the needs of the whole. With growth comes the introduction of a different culture, with my experience in living abroad for 3 years I understand what it is like to be the outsider. I would like to see Bethel integrate programs that bring these new families that are new to Bethel, and our country, together for understanding and acceptance. Although for the most part Bethel is a good place to send our children to school, there is still bullying. Expecting the school and administration to continue to acknowledge that it happens and listening to students concerns will help keep the school a safe, happy place for education.
I may not have a secondary education behind me, but I have life. I have been a homemaker/mother for 21 years, homeschooler for 14 years. I have volunteered in The Boys Scouts of America doing various jobs. From the moment we moved into the district in 2012 I have been involved: PTO Spiritwear chair, Bethel Music Boosters Lasagna Dinner Chair, Bethel Music Boosters Treasurer, Lead Costumer for 2 Middle School Musicals, 3 High School Musicals, and 1 High School Play. I enjoy helping where is needed and I keep myself well informed by attending many School Board Meeting. I come to the school board with a little different point of view with my homeschool back ground. Children should be taught how to learn and not how to pass a test.
In my experience as a homeschooler it was my policy to not teach to the test. As long as children are taught how to learn and given ample time outside, being creative, and rest passing state tests is accomplished. There have been many studies that show children need an outlet for their energy and therefore I would like to see Elementary have 3 mandatory recesses a day. I do believe that through the arts and music programs at Bethel students have great resources to be creative. When the school day is over, so should sit down learning. Homework is not effective. The minds of a child need to rest and be given time to save the information that was given in school. It has been my experience my children passed the state testing and graduation requirements with no problems and I did not teach them to pass a test.
With the focus over the past several years on core subjects I believe teaching skills has fallen to the wayside. Working with the administration on finding ways to make sure students have the proper skills of life, i.e., typing, talking on the phone, common courtesy, filing, personal management. These may seem like old fashioned skills, but they are crucial in a student's future as they find employment and become adults. In the perfect school, I would love to see some sort of Home Economics and Shop classes added back into Bethel's education. These are life skills that help students become functioning adults in society.
I believe that the arts are a very important part in a student's education. As the district has grown over the past few years it is encouraging that a third art teacher was hired. I believe that a third music teacher is strongly needed.

It has been my observation with the new Treasurer that he does not spend more than is needed. The Treasurer will give a thorough explanation of expenditures during meetings.

The district has been vigilant in hiring a SRO full time, having cameras in all areas of the school, and making sure there are teachers ready to protect the students at all costs. With these measures put in place I believe the school is doing all that it can for the student's safety. As these policies are in place the most important aspect of student safety is teaching students how to be kind, thoughtful, responsible, and respectful to each other and teachers. In many of the school instances around the country, they were caused by students. If we don't make sure that those within the walls of Bethel are being taught morals then all of the outside protections will be useless.
The subject of "LIFE". I have heard from many high school students and alumni that have expressed that learning core subject did not prepare them for life. Schools have lost sight that these students need to be functioning citizens of society when they have completed their education. Bringing back some sort of "Life Skills" classes is essential to the future.
I am also passionate about student's health and nutrition. I believe that our kitchen staff should be using all of the wonderful equipment in the new kitchen to produce healthy, brain charging, food for the students. If a child is not properly nourished it is hard for them to focus and be ready to learn.

Giving the students the ability to be at their best is a responsibility of the kitchen staff. With real, fresh, nutritious food students have the chance to increase their academic performance by keeping their bodies healthy.
Increasing the number of regular teachers to provide lower class sizes would take care of a lot of the problems that counselors would be needed for. Teachers would have the time to be more personable with students, making them feel important and give them the encouragement to be better. Counselors are an important part of the school system, but having more teachers for education is more important.
We moved into the school district in 2012. With two of our children Bethel Alumni and our other two children currently attending Bethel I am very vested in the success of Bethel Local Schools. I have been a Homemaker for 21 years, with 14 of them as a homschooler. I come to the Board with a different point of view on education. With my experience living in Germany for 3 years I know what it is like to be the outsider. Bridging the gap in our community is very important for Bethel to continue to be a great place to raise a family.

If voted into the School Board I will do my best to serve the community and listen to concerns there might be. We are all in this together, always striving to make Bethel better.
Experience Current School Board Member; Miami County Planning Commission Board Member; 2014 bond issue and 2012 levy chair (all successfully passed); Athletic Booster Treasurer (2014-2015)
Education Bachelor of Science Mathematics, Computer Science Minor University of Dayton; Post graduate work; Additional coursework and internship for Ohio School Treasurer's license
Growth. Our district is the fourth fastest growing district in the State of Ohio. In October we will be hiring an architect who will create a master facility plan for our district. That facility plan will help determine what we need to do in the immediate term (1-2 years), short term (3-5 years), and longer term (10-20 years and beyond. Strategic plan. Our district has no current strategic plan. In September, the board hired IMPACT group to help us develop a strategic plan. Once a plan is created, we will use this to guide us in areas like facilities, student instruction, staff, finance, and communication/community engagement. Rebuilding Trust. I believe in openness, transparency, and collaborative leadership. 2016-2017 was a difficult time in our community. In 2017, three new school board members were elected. In April 2019, we hired a new superintendent; with an administrator who listens, delegates, and involves the community, trust is now being rebuilt
I have attended Bethel School Board meetings regularly the last 8 years, 4 of which I have served as a board member. I have been involved with PTO, Music Boosters, and Athletic Boosters (served as treasurer). I have relationships built with many people in those groups and can understand how they interact in the overall school structure. I also have an Ohio school treasurer’s license, which helps me better understand the school’s finances.
There must be some way to monitor student progress. I would prefer seeing a nationally normed test, rather than Ohio’s state testing which seems like it is constantly changing (at least the last several years). I am pleased with allowing students to have alternative paths for completing graduation requirements. This ensures that students who have different aptitudes or skills can still get requirements accomplished in a way best for them.
In our American culture, career tech and college preparation and are often perceived as very separate pathways. Continuing to explore ways to offer career tech classes in regular high schools is one way to expose students to different paths. Students in some northeast school districts are required to job shadow at specified points in their middle school and high school careers. This enables students to better understand what jobs are out there; it also exposes employers to skill sets of current students.
We underspend in technology staff (we currently employ one technology director for the entire 1,650+ student K-12 building) and communications resources. Bethel continues to need additional teaching staff, but until we have more space, it’s a big challenge to keep class size in line with what is best for kids and teaching staff while being respectful of the taxpayers. We have systems in place to prevent overspending, including belonging to a purchasing cooperative and monitoring utility usage and pricing fluctuations, to ensure we are getting best rates. Further, one of our treasurer’s current annual goals is to establish a finance committee. Having a committee of knowledgeable and expert people from our community will also help us find efficiencies.
In my opinion, Bethel has been attentive to safety and security issues. In 2018, we hired a wellness counselor; in 2019, we hired a full time SRO. We are trying to address behavioral and emotional issues before they become problematic; further, we have resources on hand if something unexpected occurs on our campus. Our buildings have secure entrances, unlike 5-10 years ago, when most districts’ doors were unlocked, and anyone could walk in. Compare that to today’s strategies: on top of locked (buzz in) doors and secure entrances, anyone unknown to staff entering campus completes an identification process. There are additional protocols in place as part of the district’s confidential security plan. While no strategy is 100% effective, we have tried to address safety with a multitude of approaches.
Curriculum is one area in which we have made leaps and bounds of progress the last 5 years. We offer computer programming and engineering technology / design courses at the high school. We offer several Advanced Placement classes including a newly added section of chemistry (2018). At the 8th grade level, students can take art, Spanish I, and algebra for high school credit. In addition to specials at the elementary (music, art, and gym), we also offer a rotation of technology for students grades 3-8. Our 1st and 2nd grade students are learning Spanish. One area we could explore further is bringing some of the more hands-on electives back for our students but without additional space and funding, that will be difficult.
Give students ample time to explore with hands-on learning. In elementary especially, allowing students ample time to play and go outside and for unstructured activities. Kids, even at a young age, need to learn to think and find different solutions to problems instead of focusing on a single right answer. That being said, certain math facts and English skills are rote learning. Computerized practice problems and assessments can also help identify weaknesses and ensure students are getting additional practice in areas where they struggle. We are using computerized practice in mathematics at the middle school and are piloting a similar language arts program to enhance what is being taught in the classroom this year.
Yes. This is every board member’s dilemma – trying to manage equally important topics with finite resources. I was part of the board that unanimously added a full time wellness counselor in 2018 and a full time SRO in 2019. We intend to add classrooms and teachers in the coming years.
My husband James and I have been married for 24 years and lived in the district for 17 years. Our oldest child is a 2019 graduate and our 3 younger children currently attend Bethel Schools. We have a lot of challenges ahead with Bethel Schools as a result of past and future growth, and I’m qualified and excited to continue to be part of the team working to solve these challenging issues.