The 4,500-student Boardman school system has long reigned among the largest and most academically successful districts in the Mahoning Valley. For 10 of the past 12 years, for example, the district has earned an excellent rating from the Ohio Department of Education for its academic programming, student achievement and high attendance and graduation rates.
As such, the school district serves as a proud cornerstone for the community and an attractive magnet for the Valley’s largest and arguably most thriving commercial corridor.
As Election Day nears for three seats on the school system’s board of education, maintaining those standards and protecting that taxpayer investment should be foremost in voters’ minds.
That investment can best be protected and strengthened through the re-election of the three incumbents: Mark Fulks, Kimberly Poma and John Landers.
Collectively, those three dedicated public servants bring 32 years of school policymaking experience to the table. They also bring a coherent, cohesive and connected vision of priorities for the schools over the next four years. Although Fulks, Landers and Poma are not running as a ticket, they enunciate similar goals toward ensuring thousands of Boardman students continue to receive the outstanding public-school education the community has come to expect.
We urge Boardman voters to give this winning team another season to solidly build upon the district’s accomplishments and to knowledgeably confront the many challenges befalling public education in Boardman and throughout Ohio today.
CHALLENGERS IN THE RACE
The relative lack of formidable opposition to the three incumbents demonstrates an apparent satisfaction among school district residents on how the district’s seven schools have been administered and the results they are producing. In the large contiguous Austintown Local School District, for example, 10 candidates for board of education crowd the ballot.
One of the two challengers in the Boardman race, Frank Zetts, did not attend an interview session with The Vindicator Editorial Board, a prerequisite for endorsement consideration.
The other challenger, Vickie Davis, an administrative assistant for the Boardman Fire Department, carries credible ideas and a sincere passion to serve into the race. She seeks to maintain a culture in which Boardman students come first, to encourage and support collaborative teacher/parent/stud ent relationships and to develop additional opportunities that go above and beyond state minimum requirements. She also seeks to explore why the district is losing students to charter schools and open enrollment and vows to work to lessen that exodus.
Other candidates profess similar goals but, unlike Davis, have a wealth of experience in school policy-making. We’d urge Davis to stay active in public service and consider runs in other races.
THE ENDORSED INCUMBENTS
Fulks, a Boardman school board member since 1998, says his No. 1 goal is to maintain a high quality of education in the district. As a fiscally responsive monitor of the school system’s $56 million budget, he is a staunch advocate for seeking t alternative funding sources that do not target township residents’ wallets and urges ongoing searches for additional cost-saving, service-sharing projects with other districts.
Poma, a board member since 2002, shares many of Fulks’ priorities. She vows to continue to seek creative funding solutions as well, such as negotiating effective and cost-efficient contracts with district employees so that opening Boardman schools to students from other districts becomes a last resort. She also wants the district to pursue enhanced school security, renovations to the aging Center Middle School on Market Street and close monitoring of the federal Common Core curriculum standards. She recognizes that some Ohioans consider Common Core a federal encroachment on the sanctity of local control or even “brainwashing” but is willing to give the standards a chance.
Landers, like Poma and Fulks, seeks to educate the public about the increasing privatization of education in Ohio and the deleterious impact it has on the bottom line for Boardman and other public school districts in the state. In addition, Landers, a 2000 graduate of Boardman High School, complements his two elder fifty-something incumbent challengers in bringing a more youthful perspective to board operations. As an agile initiatives leader at the prestigious Case Western Reserve University, he also brings strong technological savvy to the board at a time when technology has emerged as a critical factor in the educational equation for student success.
In sum, Landers, Poma and Fulks emerge as a talented and trustworthy triumvirate to keep Boardman schools on their path of excellence. The Vindicator endorses their re-election without reservation.