Warren school board race should pivot on education


Although he isn’t on the ballot this year, Warren School Board member William Faulkner offered the most poignant observation about the ongoing controversy over the site for a new K-8th school: Location has overshadowed education.

We agree. While bricks and mortar do provide a psychological lift, it’s the learning that occurs — or should occur — within the buildings that is most important.

And in that regard, we believe the three incumbent school board members who are on the ballot in the Nov. 6 general election have shown a commitment to the education of the district’s young people and should be rewarded.

In separate appearances before Vindicator editorial board members, Linda Metzendorf, who is completing her 16th year on the board, and Edward Bolino and Nedra Bowen, who are at the end of their first four-year terms, talked about the challenges that confront the urban school district, but also the initiatives that are now in place to give Superintendent Kathryn Hellweg the ability to meet the academic goal set by the board: improve the school system’s state proficiency test ranking.

As Bolino noted, programs such as America’s Choice, aimed at students who need an academic boost, curriculum maps that meet testing standards delivered consistently across the district, a new dress code, enforced discipline across all schools, lunch programs and a new and expanded gifted curriculum are all designed to ensure that learning is Job One in Warren.

Likewise, Metzendorf and Bowen made it clear that they have given the superintendent whatever tools she has requested to accomplish her chief assignment.

Challengers

The incumbents are being challenged by Patricia Limperos, who has run twice before and who is campaigning as enthusiastically today as she did the first time, and Kevin D. Stringer, whose community involvement has been heightened by the death of his brother, pro football player, Corey.

Also on the ballot is Clyde Wilson, who did not accept an invitation to meet with the editorial board. Therefore, he cannot be considered for endorsement.

Given that the Warren City School District is enjoying financial stability — it has a $15 million carryover — has made significant progress on the school building front, and has adopted an academic improvement blueprint, we believe that the incumbents, Metzendorf, Bolino and Bowen, deserve the chance to see the initiatives through to completion.

Indeed, while Limperos is articulate and well-schooled on district issues, she declined to back up her call for a change on the board by saying which of the incumbents should be replaced.

As for the controversy over the location of the fourth K-8th school, voters should view the debate and the subsequent vote as democracy in action. Public input was sought, opinions from just about every quarter were given careful consideration, and then the elected representatives of the people made the decision.

On a 3-2 vote — Bolino was in the majority, Metzendorf and Bowen the minority — the defunct McGuffey School site on Tod Avenue Northwest was selected.

The Parkman Road Northwest site lost out.

While some residents have been passionate about the Parkman Road site, the decision of the board is now final. It is instructive that neither Metzendorf nor Bowen expressed any personal animosity toward their colleagues who voted for the McGuffey location.

It is also telling that the three incumbents were eager to move forward with the new school project and focus on what will take place inside the building once it is open for business.

We endorse the re-election of Metzendorf, Bolino and Bowen and urge voters to look at the big picture as they make up their minds.

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