Candidate Forum

State school board candidates tackle testing and guns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   State school board candidates were quizzed Sunday about their feelings on state grade cards, teachers being armed with guns, and collaborating with people they disagree with. Six of the seven candidates running for the one open seat in the 2nd District showed up for the forum hosted by the League of Women Voters from Bowling Green and Perrysburg. They are: Jeanine P. Donaldson has been the director of the YWCA in Elyria for 30 years, was an elementary teacher, and a member of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. Charles Froehlich currently serves on the state school board. He is a retired manufacturing executive with 44 years in manufacturing employee education. W. Roger Knight has more than 40 years of experience in teaching and school administration. Sue Larimer, who has a degree in education, serves on the Perrysburg Board of Education. Vicki Donovan Lyle, who is a member of the Sylvania Board of Education, has a small business advising people on health insurance. Annette Dudek Shine, who has degrees from Washington University, Case Western and MIT, is a university professor and researcher. The first question posed to the candidates was about state report cards. Larimer said the report cards are “terribly flawed.” Perrysburg schools scored 119 out of 120 on criteria for gifted students, but yet failed to meet the state’s indicator in that category. However, Larimer said she would not like to see the state tests discarded, since Perrysburg’s high scores help with real estate sales in the community. Lyle said previous state testing was more meaningful, but the current system treats districts unfairly. “It’s not good for attracting business to Ohio,” she said. The system gives districts unexplainable grades. “I think it’s unfair,” Lyle said. Shine agreed the system is flawed. “Clearly it’s not good for attracting business to the state of Ohio.” The testing is stacked against poor districts and results are based on statistically unreliable data, she said. Donaldson said a decade ago Ohio schools were ranked fifth in the nation, but have now slipped to 23rd. The current administration is focused on more career-based education. “It pits communities against each other,” she said about the testing. But it will take Ohio voters to stop the state testing system. Froehlich said the state testing has “evolved into a monster over the years.” “What’s going on in the schools is not reflected in the state report cards,” he said. But change won’t come quickly, Froehlich said. “It’s going to take time to make those changes.” Knight said the system cannot be fixed. “It’s flawed from the beginning,” he said. “It’s highly discriminating.” Under the current system, the focus is constantly put on passing the next test – rather than on what is really important like classwork, character, GPA and attendance, Knight said. “We’re destroying our public schools,” he said. The second question asked the candidates to explain their thoughts about arming teachers in schools. Lyle said that while school safety is very important, arming teachers is not the answer. “I don’t think teachers and staffs should be armed in schools,” she said. “Nobody wants to wake up to the news of another shooting in a school,” Lyle said. And improving security in schools is important. “I don’t believe the solution…


Local candidates face questions at forum

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation was preparing for the second presidential debate Sunday evening, Wood County residents filled up seats in a Bowling Green church to listen to local candidates. Though the forum was much less contentious than the presidential debate, there were a few accusations lodged at the local level. The League of Women Voters from Bowling Green and Perrysburg hosted the candidate forum for nine county, state and national races. Questions for the forum were accepted from the audience on note cards ahead of the event. But because there were 17 candidates sharing the stage, only two questions were posed to each. The candidates were all given a couple minutes to sum up at the end. The biggest sparks flew when the candidates for the Ohio House – Republican Theresa Gavarone and Democrat Kelly Wicks – were called to the microphones. The first question asked each to identify their top two priorities. But in response to multiple flyers mailed to local residents and a television commercial accusing Wicks of not paying his taxes, Wicks took the opportunity to set the record straight. “I’m Kelly Wicks and I pay my taxes,” he said.  Several years ago, he missed the deadline for a property tax payment, but paid it as soon as he realized the error, Wicks said. He questioned why his opponent and the state Republican party were spending so much on untruths. “Why is she willing to go so ugly, so early?” Wicks said. “What are you hiding?” Gavarone said she did not review the ads against her opponent. “They were produced out of Columbus and mailed out of Columbus.” She also stated her top priorities would be the economy and education. “It’s important to keep Wood County working,” Gavarone said, suggesting the need to reduce taxes and regulations on businesses. Schools need to be funded adequately and the concerns of educators need to be heard, she said. The second question for the House candidates was about charter schools and the need to make them accountable financially and in terms of student progress. Gavarone said recent legislation is making charter schools more accountable, but added “we need to stay vigilant.” Wicks voiced a much different opinion. “I’m against charter schools,” he said. “They have done damage” by draining dollars from the public school system, he said, adding that charter schools are not held to the same standards as public ones. The state’s policies on charter schools are “failing our children and our communities,” Wicks said. In her summation, Gavarone talked about her business, law and city council experience. “I have a track record of working in a bipartisan manner,” she said. Wicks also talked of his years in business and as a community leader, and said he was someone who would “fight for real and meaningful change” for Wood County. Listed below are the other candidates who appeared Sunday evening. A wide variety of topics were covered, from deputy body cameras to water quality. Wood County Sheriff The forum’s other contentious moments came during the time allotted to sheriff candidates Democrat Ruth Babel-Smith and incumbent Republican Mark Wasylyshyn. Babel-Smith said her mantra is “public safety, not politics.” “The citizens of Wood County don’t feel safe under the current sheriff,” she said. Babel-Smith…