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Canfield school-board candidates talk issues

Published: Mon, October 17, 2011 @ 12:05 a.m.

By christine keeling



Two school-board candidates say communication is key to Canfield’s success.

Longtime residents Lee Fry and Philip Bova are running uncontested for two Canfield Local School Board positions. The seats will be vacated in January, after Renee Gessner and Anthony Peluso finish their four-year terms.

“I’m here to do what’s best for the district,” said Fry. “I am passionate about empowering the people you’re working for.”

Fry moved to the district in 1974 with his wife, Laura, and taught psychology at the high school. He has been head coach of the school’s soccer and baseball teams and assistant coach for basketball, softball and football. He was on the city’s council from 1990 to 1999 and Canfield’s mayor from 1999 to 2007. His three children graduated from the school system.

“I decided to run because I know the workings of the system, because I’ve experienced them,” he said.

In 1969, Bova and his wife, Rita, built their home in Canfield because of the school system, the safe community and the retention of home values. Their two children are district graduates.

He began teaching chemistry in the high school in 1972, coached baseball and later became assistant principal of the building.

He attends St. Michael Church, has been a member of the Canfield Lions for more than 25 years and was inducted into Canfield’s hall of fame. The high school’s baseball field is named after him.

“My wife showed me a copy of a newspaper poll; the response from Canfield was very negative because they didn’t think anything was going to improve,” said Bova. “It almost made me cry.”

He said he never aspired to take a seat on the board but just felt someone had to do it.

“I’ve talked to a lot of parents,” he said. “The first main issue is lack of communication.”

He wants everything out in the open.

“I think there’s a tremendous gap between the community and board,” said Bova. “I’m not putting blame; it’s just there.”

Members of the Canfield school district have been plagued by tough issues.

A 6.8-mill operating levy failed twice, in November 2010 and May. High-school busing was discontinued, clustered stops were implemented for kindergarten- through eighth-grade students, and pay-to- participate fees were enacted for students involved in sports and academic activities.

The academic fees for this year were rescinded Sept. 21, after the district received a $51,600 grant from the state for its “Excellent” rating.

The changes and $1.9 million in concessions over three years made by unions allowed the district to lower November’s levy to 4.9 mills, but the future is uncertain, and not all services will be restored.

If it passes, transportation for high-school students and free sports play would not be re-established, but bus-stop locations for lower-grade students would be changed, and five bus drivers would return to their jobs.

If it fails, 12 teaching positions will be cut.

The candidates agree the district needs new money to remain full-service but believe, in any case, they can bring new ideas to the table.

Fry expressed safety concerns for children in the community, who will walk down narrow streets without sidewalks to reach their bus stop in the winter.

“I think we have the funds to fix the busing,” he said. “Safety has to be first.”

Individualized high-school busing probably is not necessary, Bova and Fry agreed, because most students in the age group drive. But they believe a financially responsible compromise could be made for those students who rely on the service.

Their suggestion is that high-school riders could share a route with middle- school students.

The potential board members also are concerned athletes won’t be able to participate because of finances, and Fry worries the levy outcome may hinge on the cuts made.

The current fee to play sports is $100 per sport at the middle school and $200 at the high school.

“We are affecting the people who we are counting on to support the levy,” said Fry. “I’m not saying the current position is wrong; just not the way I see it.”


1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Making sure every school employee pays 15% towards their healthcare and 10% towards their pension would be a good start for Canfield in fixing their school's economic problem. SB5 is a reasonable and fair way to control school costs. Why should property owners have to foot these costs? The time has come for an end to the greedy selfish public union tax large and spend large approach to public education in Ohio.

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2lee(544 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

If you can make due with 12 less teachers do it now and stop the tax vote.. There should be only as many teachers as are needed,. How can you have 12 extra?

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3paulparks(235 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

The "Fix" is in! There is something unsavory about teachers on a school board. We all know where they are heading! Spend...spend...spend!

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4DeepThoughts(7 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I know both of these individuals, and have a ton of respect for both, but there's no way that two ex-teachers paired with an ex-teacher superintendent (whom I also know and respect) can properly understand and represent the needs of the community. The community is saying that you can't have inordinately high teachers pay, health care plans that don't have a 20%-25% employee contribution, and a retention and raise system based on longevity rather than performance. It's not the way the rest of the world operates. You also can't torture the parents into voting for a levee by playing with services that have no real impact on the budget. The majority of the budget goes to salaries, so that's where the cuts have to happen. I have children in the school system and attended the school system, but until the employee pay and benefits issues are addressed, they will not get my vote. Cutting the number of teachers is not the answer as much as cutting salaries across the board is.

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5carago11(44 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

This is a shame!! I too am a Canfield resident and will vote NO in November. How can teachers only run for these offices? Communication is the issue? Yes, we are communicating our issues and the unions and Canfield School Board are ignoring us. There is a bigger issue here. The private sector is hurting more than ever and the teachers of Canfield are not being affected at all! My son's teacher is making double what she was making 5 years ago. I dont blame her, I blame the system. Name one profession out there where you can double your salary in 5 years? The public system of Canfield is not working! They are wasting money paying overpriced teachers AND THEY KNOW IT!!! Paying 10% more to their healthcare would equate to $500,000.00 a year towards the revenue which is 1/4 of what the proposed levy would bring ($2 Million a year) in November. This levy is not helping the students...ie. books, improvement of schools, computers etc. Nothing!! Until the Board makes hard core changes to the system, the levy will not and should not pass. If I could run for the board right now, I would! and for FREE. Its a shame that the residents of Canfield are not being represented. Until this occurs and Zambrini is gone, our communication will be ignored.

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6republicanRick(1736 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

You mean there are 2 openings on the Board and there are only two candidates running - and both are teachers?

Sounds like the fox guarding the henhouse. This could prove interesting.

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7streetsmartt(127 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago


Taxes will have to eventually go up so the school systems can continue to "soak" us.

They want their bucks for all the over-inflated salaries, perks and bennies the hard-headed teachers get.

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8lumper(301 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

these are two shills for the teachers and administration. i'll bet both fry and bova will "feel really bad " when thy announce how the pupils and parents are going to be made to suffer since we all know teachers and administrators have to have their high pay and benefits. do you really think these two guys could address a reduction in employee benefits when they got theirs for free ?

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9Shoooooo(14 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I took a survey of the neighorhood's black squirrels, & they have all said, "vote NO on the Canfield school levy"!

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10meagain(85 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Apparently it’s not a job everyone is interested in or you’d have more candidates. If you don’t like either of the people who decided to run get out there and run yourself.
Again – if your teachers are sooo overpaid why isn’t every district in Ohio in the same boat as Canfield? It has to be more than the simpleton knee jerk reaction of over paid/ over paid benefits of teachers. That’s the easy answer and only a fraction of the bigger issue. Are you willing to find and work to deal with the harder answers? Apparently not since these are the only two candidates.

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11lost4code(4 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Canfield residents~ all of you had the opportunity to run for office. If you do not like the two individuals who are going to fill the 2 vacant spots, then you have no one to blame but yourself. It is easy to sit behind a computer screen and cast judgement. It is a hard thing to put yourself out there for criticism. I think that Bova and Frey have far more experience than just being former teachers. They have been coaches and administrators. Mr. Frey was the former Canfield Mayor. I think that their experience shows that they can wear many hats. They will know the ins/outs of the school system, but above all, they themselves are community members. They want to see the school system succeed. Just because they are former school teachers, does not mean that they will be door mats for the present administration. They have nothing to gain by wanting these positions. They must have felt that they could make a difference or they wouldn't have signed up for it. They say that communication with the community and new ideas are needed. We should hope that they are successful. It will only benefit the students, our home values and pride in our community.

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12lost4code(4 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Also, if the benefits and pensions are what gripes you, then vote "yes" on Issue 2. It's time to fund our school system so that we can continue to educate our kids. I'm voting "yes" on Issue 2 and "yes" for the Canfield School levy.

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13carago11(44 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago


Its not funding the schools, its the teachers that will get funded! Their yearly raises are higher than all teachers in this area and their health benefit contributions are crazy low! I think you really are lost!

I will run next time....lets see if the politics come into play as I have a Bachelors Degree in Business and have worked for national companies. Running the money aspect is a business not a charity event! I know teachers in Brookfield and Youngstown who have been teachers for 25 years making $50-55K a year. Teachers in Canfield are going from $30K to start to $60K a year in 5 years. Teachers making $70K a year with $2-3000 a year raises? Under these hard economic times? These 2 running are avoiding the discussion of the problem. Canfield wants a voice represented with their hard earned money being spent and its being avoided. New ideas...please....they need a wake up call! Other schools..ie Struthers, Poland stadium, Austintown, Hubbard are having new schools, new this, new that. Canfield has the highest property values. We contribute the most tax dollars. We also contribute 1% of our earnings. This is what we get??? Lets get smart and vote NO in November!

Thank You!

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