Girard school board candidates praise the hiring of a fellow candidate.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
GIRA RD -- The hiring of Don Rex by the Girard Board of Education wasn't a ploy to get him off the ballot, most candidates say.
Rather, those who could be contacted Friday said Rex was hired because he's qualified.
Rex, a former Girard teacher and administrator, was hired Tuesday as part-time director of special pupil and student assessment at a maximum salary of $33,000.
The following day, Rex informed the Trumbull County Board of Elections he was withdrawing his name as a board candidate on Tuesday's general election ballot.
Rex said he withdrew from the race because state law prohibits a board of education member's being paid by the same board.
Appearance' sake: Board member Rosemary Schmitt said there was some concern about how Rex's hiring would look to the public.
Schmitt explained that Rex approached the district administration about the job; Rex wasn't approached.
Nine candidates are running to fill two board seats.
"His best interest has been for the school," commented candidate Thomas Grumley about Rex.
Grumley said there has been ongoing discussions about hiring Rex because he's well qualified.
"I knew it would be questioned," Rex commented about his hiring.
If a special deal had been made, Rex said, the board could have waited until he won a board seat, hired him and then chosen his successor.
Besides, Rex asserted, he was the only applicant for the job, though it was advertised inside and outside the district.
Close to election: Rex said he wanted more of a distance between the hiring and the election, but there was a problem in arranging board meetings.
"I don't think there is anything funny," David Hunkus, another candidate, said.
"He's a quality person. I don't think there was an agreement," Hunkus said.
Another candidate, Nancy Ross, said that she respects Rex and that there was nothing questionable about his selection.
Candidate Peter Zeller agrees: "Don has been a tremendous educator" as a teacher and administrator.
The school administration was disappointed when Rex retired from the district, Zeller explained.
Approves of choice: Mark Zuppo, another candidate, said he doesn't know if there was a deal made, but he likes the choice.
"Don's a good man. He's done a great job in education. He has the experience," Zuppo said.
Former board member Tony Maiorana, who is also seeking a seat, said he doesn't know if there was a deal. He noted that he knows Rex as a good educator.