By Ed Runyan
Bob Faulkner Sr., a member of the Warren Board of Education for 23 years, is one of two incumbents running for two seats on the board in the Nov. 5 election. The other is Regina Patterson, who is running for a second term.
Faulkner said the school district has undergone a lot of change and turmoil in the past three years, but it is stabilizing under Superintendent Michael Notar.
Notar became superintendent in July 2012, shortly after Bruce Thomas resigned — less than a year after Thomas was hired. The superintendent the year before Thomas was Kathryn Hellweg.
In addition to change at the top, the district has suffered hardship within the student body.
“We’ve lost 12 students in the last three years,” said Faulkner, referring to the six Warren teens who died March 10 in a single-car accident on Niles-Warren River Road and four others who died in two Warren house fires.
Another died from gunshots intended for his sister’s boyfriend, and another died of an asthma attack, Faulkner said.
“Some people don’t understand the impact that has on the school,” he said.
Faulkner said he’s not satisfied with Warren’s showing on the state report cards this August — having one of the 12-worst scores out of 610 districts in the state — but thinks the district is improving.
“The leadership team now is able to communicate with the community,” he said. “Sometimes, you bring people in who want to change everything but not establish the relationships with the community.”
Patterson said one of the board’s accomplishments since she became a member was approval of a policy that allows students who participate in sports to receive a waiver from their physical-education class so they can spend another period of the day in another course.
She also believes the new Lincoln Interaction Program, which allows students to earn credits online to complete coursework needed for graduation, has been a great asset.
It allows students to continue to participate in athletics and other activities in the school. She said a goal of the next four years will be to improve the school district’s report-card grades.
Roderick Lewis Jr., who graduated from Warren G. Harding High School in 2009 and now runs the Boost Mobile phone store on Youngstown Road, is making his first attempt at election to the school board.
He’s been involved in an annual school-supplies giveaway for several years and also participated in a project to get a park on Burton Street rebuilt. He also mentors young people, he said.
“I am running because I know I can make a difference in our school system and in our student and parents’ life,” he said. “I would like to see higher graduation rates and more students going to college.”
Rhonda Bennett is a neighborhood-association member and was a facilitator for Warren’s Weed and Seed program. She also ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign for Warren City Council in 2009.
Bennett said the Warren schools need to implement a No Child Left Behind Act for students who are C students and their parents because attention is paid to good students and failing ones.
“We need to get the parents involved. We have these middle students who need to be focused on,” she said.