What are Oberlin school board candidates’ priorities?


ANNE SCHAUM Occupation: Nonprofit Manager Education: B.A., Allegheny College 1) Though costly facilities are a key challenge that must be addressed, declining enrollment is the district’s biggest opportunity. With more children comes more public funding, reducing the burden on our residents to ensure the best possible future for all students of the district. We can do two things to increase the district’s student population: We can attract more students to either move to Oberlin or open-enroll in, and we can reduce the number of students who choose another educational option. I believe families should always have the choice to select what they feel is the best educational option for their child. The opportunity for the district is to make our district the obvious choice for more families. We are already advertising on local radio stations. The administration is actively following up with families who send their 138 children to other schools to determine the rationale behind that decision and to ask them to reconsider enrolling in Oberlin public schools. Residents do not actively share the good things happening in the district. I suggest we implement a marketing effort to change the narrative within the community. Every resident must be a champion of the schools. 2) I believe that candidates for public office should be dedicated to and widely involved in the community. As a graduate of the district who relocated to Oberlin to ensure my two children would have the same eclectic experience that my husband and I enjoyed, I demonstrate my dedication to our public schools. Since returning 15 years ago, I have demonstrated my community involvement as a Girl Scout leader, softball/baseball coach, finance manager for the Oberlin Weekday Community Meals program, Sunday school teacher, and participant in assorted committees at church. I am a seasoned manager, accustomed to considering complicated issues. 3) The best candidates for this important community service are those who can transcend personal interests and objectively consider every issue that comes before the board, maximizing value for children and all residents. We cannot make everyone happy, but we should work to ensure Oberlin is the best possible district.


JASON WILLIAMS Occupation: Founder/CEO of Get with the Program Inc. Education: Oberlin College B.A. Degree in Africana Studies, Education concentration 1) Our biggest issue is to address the increasing cost per pupil (which is above the state’s average) and the decreasing school-age population. I would address this by reviewing the Oberlin City Schools’ budget and financial information and making the necessary staff adjustments. We need to be more intentional with our dollars and ensure that we provide the best resources for our teachers to educate our students. 2) I am homegrown. As a lifelong Lorain County resident, Oberlin College graduate, and parent of children attending Oberlin City Schools, I am uniquely qualified for this position. No one has a sense of urgency, like a parent, to address school issues. In addition, I am the only candidate that is currently a business owner. I would use my business savvy, professional acumen, and financial wherewithal to help shape Oberlin City Schools’ landscape moving forward. 3) The truth!


ALBERT BORRONI Occupation: Director of Educational Technology, Oberlin College Education: Ph.D. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 1) In my interactions with the Oberlin community over the last four years as a board member, it is very clear that Oberlin is passionate about its schools. Furthermore, as state funding has dried up, the Oberlin community has been very generous in supporting the financial needs of our schools. It is now time for the board and the Oberlin school district to make some decisions about how to deal with aging buildings and the reduction in enrollment. While our school facilities have been sufficient in the past, they are not well-suited for educating students to be productive members in today’s economy. So the biggest challenge is how to update our physical environment to meet the demands of 21st century education while being fiscally responsible. We need to strive to create an environment where students want to come to challenge themselves and to engage with each other. That goal can only be achieved through the support of the district’s goal of fostering an environment that values respect, high expectations, and achievement, not only in academics but also in the arts, community service, and athletics. This doesn’t necessarily mean new facilities but it does mean changes to the current structure. 2) My first full-time job was as a high school teacher. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to complete a doctorate in neurobiology, serve as a school board member, work at a number of colleges in the U.S., and do research in Germany. These experiences have given me unique insights into the educational process and how to work with different types of people. My insight into the Oberlin student and parent comes from talking to people in town and the many years I’ve volunteered as a head soccer coach at the rec level, the PTO, and the local schools. 3) Everything. The community has access to all decisions and all information that lead up to the making of any decision. It must also be understood that board members are very conscientious about the financial demands that are put on the community with each and every decision we make.


KENNETH YANCEY

Candidate did not provide photo, occupation, or education information.

1) I believe the biggest problem facing the school district is the prudent allocation of funds provided through the school district tax. It has long been true that politicians and bureaucrats spend other people’s money with the greatest of ease. I believe there has to be someone keeping a close eye on their habits.

2) I am a lifelong learner and a curious person by nature. I was active in my union, IBEW Local 129, for over 35 years. I served on multiple boards and committees . I have been a learner, worker, teacher, and supervisor during my career. These things, I am sure, will aid and enable me to do the job if elected.

3) The most important thing to communicate to the residents is that their issues are my issues. That when I go to a meeting of the board, I do not and will not ever assume I know more than every person there. That I am totally reachable and available to any voter.

SANDRA REDD

Candidate did not provide a photo.

Occupation: Retired RN

Education: Associate Degree

1) The biggest issue facing Oberlin schools is cost. We need to evaluate the programs and see which ones that cost the most and do not benefit enough students. For example the International Baccalaureate program to my knowledge costs $17,000 to $25,000 per year per school just to stay in it. That’s not counting what you have to pay for grading of tests, continued education for teachers, etc. So is this program that costs this significant amount of money a diverse program? Are enough students benefiting from it at the high school level? This is the type thing we have to evaluate and eliminate programs that do not benefit all students or a large amount of students. Taxes is another concern. Oberlin residents pay some of the highest taxes in Lorain County, if not the highest. This continued increase does not encourage new families to come here. We have to learn how to use our money more efficiently.

2) I was a 1973 graduate of Oberlin Schools, I have had three children go through Oberlin Schools, and I stay involved with the school system. I care about our students and I want them to receive the best possible education. I think being in the system since 1973 gives me knowledge of the changes that have taken place good and bad. I think I have lots of good ideas as to how we can make our school system better.

3) The school board needs to remember they were put in their position by this community. The community needs to know that they have a voice and that their concerns will be heard. I have been to far too many meetings where the community has been told that they can not speak. As a community, that is the one place we should be able to share ideas. The board needs to always listen to the concerns and always do what is best for all students.

A six-way race for three open Oberlin board of education seats will give voters plenty to consider on Nov. 7.

School board member Rosa Gadsden chosen not to seek reelection this fall, but incumbents Albert Borroni and Anne Schaum are looking to keep their seats.

They face challenges from Isabella Moreno, Sandra Redd, Jason Williams, and Kenneth Yancey.

Laura Jones and Steven Thompson, who filed to run in August, have since withdrawn.

In September, the News-Tribune sent surveys to the candidates seeking their responses to three basic questions that may help voters make decisions on who can best serve the Oberlin City Schools over the next four years:

1) What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the Oberlin school system, and how would you choose to address it?

2) What talents, skills, and qualifications do you bring to the table as a candidate?

3) What is the most important thing for board members to communicate to residents of the Oberlin school district?

Moreno did not reply to the questionnaire.

Two other school board members have terms that expire Dec. 31, 2019, and do not appear on the November ballot. They are Ken Stanley and Barry Richard.

ANNE SCHAUM Occupation: Nonprofit Manager Education: B.A., Allegheny College 1) Though costly facilities are a key challenge that must be addressed, declining enrollment is the district’s biggest opportunity. With more children comes more public funding, reducing the burden on our residents to ensure the best possible future for all students of the district. We can do two things to increase the district’s student population: We can attract more students to either move to Oberlin or open-enroll in, and we can reduce the number of students who choose another educational option. I believe families should always have the choice to select what they feel is the best educational option for their child. The opportunity for the district is to make our district the obvious choice for more families. We are already advertising on local radio stations. The administration is actively following up with families who send their 138 children to other schools to determine the rationale behind that decision and to ask them to reconsider enrolling in Oberlin public schools. Residents do not actively share the good things happening in the district. I suggest we implement a marketing effort to change the narrative within the community. Every resident must be a champion of the schools. 2) I believe that candidates for public office should be dedicated to and widely involved in the community. As a graduate of the district who relocated to Oberlin to ensure my two children would have the same eclectic experience that my husband and I enjoyed, I demonstrate my dedication to our public schools. Since returning 15 years ago, I have demonstrated my community involvement as a Girl Scout leader, softball/baseball coach, finance manager for the Oberlin Weekday Community Meals program, Sunday school teacher, and participant in assorted committees at church. I am a seasoned manager, accustomed to considering complicated issues. 3) The best candidates for this important community service are those who can transcend personal interests and objectively consider every issue that comes before the board, maximizing value for children and all residents. We cannot make everyone happy, but we should work to ensure Oberlin is the best possible district.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_Schaum-Anne-1.jpgANNE SCHAUM Occupation: Nonprofit Manager Education: B.A., Allegheny College 1) Though costly facilities are a key challenge that must be addressed, declining enrollment is the district’s biggest opportunity. With more children comes more public funding, reducing the burden on our residents to ensure the best possible future for all students of the district. We can do two things to increase the district’s student population: We can attract more students to either move to Oberlin or open-enroll in, and we can reduce the number of students who choose another educational option. I believe families should always have the choice to select what they feel is the best educational option for their child. The opportunity for the district is to make our district the obvious choice for more families. We are already advertising on local radio stations. The administration is actively following up with families who send their 138 children to other schools to determine the rationale behind that decision and to ask them to reconsider enrolling in Oberlin public schools. Residents do not actively share the good things happening in the district. I suggest we implement a marketing effort to change the narrative within the community. Every resident must be a champion of the schools. 2) I believe that candidates for public office should be dedicated to and widely involved in the community. As a graduate of the district who relocated to Oberlin to ensure my two children would have the same eclectic experience that my husband and I enjoyed, I demonstrate my dedication to our public schools. Since returning 15 years ago, I have demonstrated my community involvement as a Girl Scout leader, softball/baseball coach, finance manager for the Oberlin Weekday Community Meals program, Sunday school teacher, and participant in assorted committees at church. I am a seasoned manager, accustomed to considering complicated issues. 3) The best candidates for this important community service are those who can transcend personal interests and objectively consider every issue that comes before the board, maximizing value for children and all residents. We cannot make everyone happy, but we should work to ensure Oberlin is the best possible district.

JASON WILLIAMS Occupation: Founder/CEO of Get with the Program Inc. Education: Oberlin College B.A. Degree in Africana Studies, Education concentration 1) Our biggest issue is to address the increasing cost per pupil (which is above the state’s average) and the decreasing school-age population. I would address this by reviewing the Oberlin City Schools’ budget and financial information and making the necessary staff adjustments. We need to be more intentional with our dollars and ensure that we provide the best resources for our teachers to educate our students. 2) I am homegrown. As a lifelong Lorain County resident, Oberlin College graduate, and parent of children attending Oberlin City Schools, I am uniquely qualified for this position. No one has a sense of urgency, like a parent, to address school issues. In addition, I am the only candidate that is currently a business owner. I would use my business savvy, professional acumen, and financial wherewithal to help shape Oberlin City Schools’ landscape moving forward. 3) The truth!
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_Williams-Jason-1.jpegJASON WILLIAMS Occupation: Founder/CEO of Get with the Program Inc. Education: Oberlin College B.A. Degree in Africana Studies, Education concentration 1) Our biggest issue is to address the increasing cost per pupil (which is above the state’s average) and the decreasing school-age population. I would address this by reviewing the Oberlin City Schools’ budget and financial information and making the necessary staff adjustments. We need to be more intentional with our dollars and ensure that we provide the best resources for our teachers to educate our students. 2) I am homegrown. As a lifelong Lorain County resident, Oberlin College graduate, and parent of children attending Oberlin City Schools, I am uniquely qualified for this position. No one has a sense of urgency, like a parent, to address school issues. In addition, I am the only candidate that is currently a business owner. I would use my business savvy, professional acumen, and financial wherewithal to help shape Oberlin City Schools’ landscape moving forward. 3) The truth!

ALBERT BORRONI Occupation: Director of Educational Technology, Oberlin College Education: Ph.D. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 1) In my interactions with the Oberlin community over the last four years as a board member, it is very clear that Oberlin is passionate about its schools. Furthermore, as state funding has dried up, the Oberlin community has been very generous in supporting the financial needs of our schools. It is now time for the board and the Oberlin school district to make some decisions about how to deal with aging buildings and the reduction in enrollment. While our school facilities have been sufficient in the past, they are not well-suited for educating students to be productive members in today’s economy. So the biggest challenge is how to update our physical environment to meet the demands of 21st century education while being fiscally responsible. We need to strive to create an environment where students want to come to challenge themselves and to engage with each other. That goal can only be achieved through the support of the district’s goal of fostering an environment that values respect, high expectations, and achievement, not only in academics but also in the arts, community service, and athletics. This doesn’t necessarily mean new facilities but it does mean changes to the current structure. 2) My first full-time job was as a high school teacher. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to complete a doctorate in neurobiology, serve as a school board member, work at a number of colleges in the U.S., and do research in Germany. These experiences have given me unique insights into the educational process and how to work with different types of people. My insight into the Oberlin student and parent comes from talking to people in town and the many years I’ve volunteered as a head soccer coach at the rec level, the PTO, and the local schools. 3) Everything. The community has access to all decisions and all information that lead up to the making of any decision. It must also be understood that board members are very conscientious about the financial demands that are put on the community with each and every decision we make.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/10/web1_barroni-1.jpgALBERT BORRONI Occupation: Director of Educational Technology, Oberlin College Education: Ph.D. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 1) In my interactions with the Oberlin community over the last four years as a board member, it is very clear that Oberlin is passionate about its schools. Furthermore, as state funding has dried up, the Oberlin community has been very generous in supporting the financial needs of our schools. It is now time for the board and the Oberlin school district to make some decisions about how to deal with aging buildings and the reduction in enrollment. While our school facilities have been sufficient in the past, they are not well-suited for educating students to be productive members in today’s economy. So the biggest challenge is how to update our physical environment to meet the demands of 21st century education while being fiscally responsible. We need to strive to create an environment where students want to come to challenge themselves and to engage with each other. That goal can only be achieved through the support of the district’s goal of fostering an environment that values respect, high expectations, and achievement, not only in academics but also in the arts, community service, and athletics. This doesn’t necessarily mean new facilities but it does mean changes to the current structure. 2) My first full-time job was as a high school teacher. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to complete a doctorate in neurobiology, serve as a school board member, work at a number of colleges in the U.S., and do research in Germany. These experiences have given me unique insights into the educational process and how to work with different types of people. My insight into the Oberlin student and parent comes from talking to people in town and the many years I’ve volunteered as a head soccer coach at the rec level, the PTO, and the local schools. 3) Everything. The community has access to all decisions and all information that lead up to the making of any decision. It must also be understood that board members are very conscientious about the financial demands that are put on the community with each and every decision we make.

KENNETH YANCEY

Candidate did not provide photo, occupation, or education information.

1) I believe the biggest problem facing the school district is the prudent allocation of funds provided through the school district tax. It has long been true that politicians and bureaucrats spend other people’s money with the greatest of ease. I believe there has to be someone keeping a close eye on their habits.

2) I am a lifelong learner and a curious person by nature. I was active in my union, IBEW Local 129, for over 35 years. I served on multiple boards and committees . I have been a learner, worker, teacher, and supervisor during my career. These things, I am sure, will aid and enable me to do the job if elected.

3) The most important thing to communicate to the residents is that their issues are my issues. That when I go to a meeting of the board, I do not and will not ever assume I know more than every person there. That I am totally reachable and available to any voter.

SANDRA REDD

Candidate did not provide a photo.

Occupation: Retired RN

Education: Associate Degree

1) The biggest issue facing Oberlin schools is cost. We need to evaluate the programs and see which ones that cost the most and do not benefit enough students. For example the International Baccalaureate program to my knowledge costs $17,000 to $25,000 per year per school just to stay in it. That’s not counting what you have to pay for grading of tests, continued education for teachers, etc. So is this program that costs this significant amount of money a diverse program? Are enough students benefiting from it at the high school level? This is the type thing we have to evaluate and eliminate programs that do not benefit all students or a large amount of students. Taxes is another concern. Oberlin residents pay some of the highest taxes in Lorain County, if not the highest. This continued increase does not encourage new families to come here. We have to learn how to use our money more efficiently.

2) I was a 1973 graduate of Oberlin Schools, I have had three children go through Oberlin Schools, and I stay involved with the school system. I care about our students and I want them to receive the best possible education. I think being in the system since 1973 gives me knowledge of the changes that have taken place good and bad. I think I have lots of good ideas as to how we can make our school system better.

3) The school board needs to remember they were put in their position by this community. The community needs to know that they have a voice and that their concerns will be heard. I have been to far too many meetings where the community has been told that they can not speak. As a community, that is the one place we should be able to share ideas. The board needs to always listen to the concerns and always do what is best for all students.