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For Austintown schools: Mock, Schnurrenberger and Jakubec

Published: Thu, October 24, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

If you believe the new campus that encompasses the elementary and intermediate schools is a positive development for Austintown, that open enrollment has benefited the school district financially and has not affected the quality of education and that Superintendent Vincent Colaluca, while perhaps lacking in social niceties, was a good hire because he has a clear vision for maintaining the system’s high academic rating, then you, as an Austintown voter, should have no qualms about supporting incumbents Kathy Mock and David Schnurrenberger.

We endorsed Mock and Schnurrenberger four years ago and have no regrets doing so. The retired school teacher and retired senior systems analyst for Delphi Packard have been single-minded in their commitment to the students of the district. The $50 million campus — the elementary school for kindergarten through second grade and the intermediate building for third through fifth grade — was made possible with a 2.9-mill levy passed in May 2010 and $23 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. It is the school board’s crowning achievement.

Mock and Schnurrenberger are unwavering in their belief that the new schools, with all the technological bells and whistles, will give students a definite academic advantage and prepare them for the state proficiency tests that will be taken online.

A school district that carries a state designation of “excellent with distinction” and has two elementary schools recognized as “schools of promise” must be doing something right. And board members deserve some of the credit — as do the superintendent, principals and teachers.

Although there are three seats on the board of education up this year, only two incumbents are seeking re-election. The third incumbent, Dr. Tom Stellers, is not running again.

As a result, the race has attracted a slew of candidates, in addition to Mock and Schnurrenberger: Louis Chine Jr., a former board member and an employee of Morrone Mechanical; Dennis P. Hileman, a full-time student at Youngstown State University; Kenneth Jakubec, a former board member and a retired General Motors employee; Robert Kornack, an employee of Gulu Electric; Fred Marcum, a firefighter with the Austintown Fire Department; and, Jim Sobien, a self-employed salesman.

They came in for an interview with members of The Vindicator’s Editorial Board and a reporter.

Two other candidates, Dominic Delmonte and Janet Hartman, did not meet with us and, therefore, cannot be considered for endorsement.

Successor to Stellers

Given our clear preference for the incumbents, we faced the challenge — given the caliber of several of the candidates — of choosing a successor to Stellers.

After careful consideration of their answers to questions in The Vindicator survey sent to all the candidates and their appearances before the editors and writers, we believe that Jakubec is well suited for another stint on the board.

He served from 1987 through 2003, then decided it was time to give someone else an opportunity. But he has remained active in the community and the district and is especially known for his involvement in high school athletics in the region and the state.

His familiarity with the inner workings of the school system gives him an advantage because he would not need a learning curve.

As to why he wants to return to the board, Jakubec said he wants to “bridge the gap between the board and the community” and to open lines of communication.

There is another candidate who has served on the board and has a firm grasp of the issues and challenges confronting the system. Chine completed one term, from 2008 to 2011, but had trouble with his candidacy petitions when he sought re-election.

Chine’s enthusiastic support for the elementary/intermediate campus and his belief that transparency is the linchpin of any public body make him a strong contender.

Given the large number of candidates, it is not possible to focus on each of their platforms. We, therefore, offer this general observation: The residents of Austintown should rest assured that the bad old days of the school board, when chaos was the rule rather than the exception, will not return regardless of who is elected in November.

The district has made great strides in laying a solid academic foundation that promises excellence in the years to come.

The Vindicator will be publishing an in-depth news story Sunday on the school board race, with details of each candidate’s position on the issues, including the elementary/intermediate campus, open enrollment and, yes, Superintendent Colaluca.

Our endorsement of the incumbents, Mock and Schnurrenberger, and Jakubec is based on a careful evaluation of the candidates.


1Neannue624(1 comment)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

This is a crock of bull. Do a little more homework before endorsing these two. Serioisly talk to the community and parents before making this kind of decision. These two need to be replaced. The Vindicator needs new reporters and seriously do their homework.

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2chrisgaca(1 comment)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Many Parents InThe Austintown School System Totally Disagree With Your Endorsement Of The Sitting Board Members. Some Have Sent Letters To You That Have Not Been Acknowledged. We Want Change! We Ask That All Austintown Residents Vote NO For These Candidates An Any Other Candidate That Has Held A BOE Seat!

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3hornet(2 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I think you should rethink who you endorse. Unless you had children in Austintown schools or are present for board of education meetings you are being irresponsible in your endorsement. The "Crowning Glory" of their tenure on the board was ill conceived and not well thought out. We have over 400 kindergardeners. We can't do traditional kindergarden things such as a Halloween parade because there is too many children. There isn't enough books for students in higher grades. The playgrounds are so small that the children are not aloud to run on them. The model they told us they seen wasn't for a district our size it was for a district with 1200 students in K-12. We have 1200 students in the Austintwon Elementary alone. They are doing gym classes between two buildings. They decided on a menu to fit USDA guidelines that most children would never eat. They could have picked different menus but as one if then said "are we really going going to believe a 6th grader. They have to wear coats to lunch because there is no time to go back to class for their jackets. The drop off and pick up procedures are so chaotic they an accident is bound to happen soon. The current board with the exception of Porter doesn't want to hear anything the children themselves have to say. No matter what they are saying needs to be heard and handled. We have board members who don't hold the transportation director responsible for the safety of our children. Who blames residents for the mess they have made of the busing system. A superintendent that is so self righteous that after an eighth grader gave an amazing speech on bullying in the schools has the audacity of accusing a board member of bullying, basically mocking and down playing the students concerns. They don't like to be questioned they dot care about the children. I beg you to withdraw your endorsement of Mock and schnurrenberger. They ARE NOT good for Austintown, they are not making us a better school district. They ARE nOT listening to the people that voted them into office. Just because they answered your questions to your satisfaction doesn't make them good candidates.

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4daviddaich(6 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

This endorsement is, at best, uninformed, and at worst irresponsible. If any of the authors of this endorsement had attended a single Austintown Board of Education meeting in the past year, they would be aware that Mock and Schnurrenberger have consistently ignored serious student safety issues in this district that resulted in several serious injuries last year, the Austintown transportation department being cited for operating buses in an unsafe manner by OHP, and several other student and staff involved accidents. In the OHP incident, instead of appropriately calling for internal investigation and resolution of the exposed safety problem, these two candidates ignored the issue and stood by while the superintendent intentionally misled the public about the reason for the citation. They have consistently failed in this manner to provide the oversight to this administration, and are widely known within the community to rubber stamp Vince Colaluca’s every whim, regardless of how wasteful or detrimental to our children his decisions have been.

A number of Letters to the Editor submitted to this newspaper by multiple parents, exposing these and other serious issues, have gone unpublished. How can the editors of this newspaper possibly expect Mahoning Valley residents to trust in their reporting integrity, when they only report and publish accounts that support their own political positions?

Visit www.safebusing.com, https://www.facebook.com/groups/atown..., or https://www.facebook.com/groups/42154... to learn what’s REALLY going on in Austintown Schools. There you will find the stories that this newspaper won’t publish.

The only endorsement I agree with is Jakubec. From his answers to questions in the recent candidate forum, he seems like a well-informed, experienced man who is genuinely concerned for our children.

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5Falconstrong(1 comment)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Not everyone in Austintown is unhappy with our current BOE or our current superintendent. A very vocal minority would like you to believe that your endorsement is off track. I agree with your endorsement and am actually unsure of my third vote because I believe all the other candidates are trying to jump on the Austintown bashing bandwagon to get the complainers vote. We live in an awesome community and my child goes to an excellent school system and they are tearing it down with their constant complaints. Any school district has problems and has very tough decisions that need to be made. I had high hopes for Mr. Porter to actually help the board and from my point of view he is just a divisive attention seeker trying to pander to the people in this community who love to complain but offer no concrete solutions. Go Mock and Schnurrenberger!!

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6daviddaich(6 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

In response to Falconstrongs, comment, we spent the first 2 months of last school year meeting with the BOE, Superintendent and transportation director, offering suggested alternatives and trying in a professional manner to work out these safety issues. Needless to say, our efforts were unsuccessful. In fact, based on eye witness accounts, Mock and Schnurrenberger openly discussed continually delaying the process in the hope that we would lose interest. Are these REALLY the people we want influencing the lives of our children?

Mr Porter was the ONLY board member who made a legitimate effort to resolve these issues in the best interests of the children. Unfortunately, the "Old Guard" Elitist majority on the board would not cooperate or even put forth a legitimate effort. He is also the only board member with children current enrolled in our district. he needs help and we are hopeful that the voters will provide it to him by voting OUT Mock and Schnurrenberger and NOT voting for Chine, who is in lock-step with them.

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7daviddaich(6 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

My Letter to the Editor that the Vindicator won't publish, or even acknowledge receipt of.... Shame on you Vindicator editorial staff for failing in your obligation to help this community exercise our right of free speech...

There are many wonderful things about the Austintown Local School District. From my experience, the teachers and principals are professional, extremely competent and truly have the best interests and welfare of the children in their care as their highest priority. Their dedication and performance have resulted in extremely high academic accolades for this school district including an Excellence with Distinction rating for our district. These educators are world class, and we are truly lucky to have them. However, there are some very serious problems in this school district. And if not corrected, these problems could result in the death or serious injury of some of our children.

(omitted due to size limit)

On October 4th, a bus driver and the Director of Transportation were cited by Lt. Marvin Hill of the OHP for violating section 4511.76 of the Ohio Revised Code. They were cited for transporting students on public roads in an unsafe manner due to over-crowding on the bus. As if that weren’t bad enough, the truly disturbing events surrounding this incident are what the Transportation Director, Superintendent, and Board of Education did (and didn’t do) following this incident.

(omitted due to size limit)

The transportation director wrote an e-mail to the Superintendent essentially stating “It is impossible to determine who is riding when I put these routes together. I also continue to repair bad data due to poor communication between departments” and “the State Highway Patrolman has blown this completely out of proportion.” And then…….. that’s it. Nothing else was done. The Superintendent did not reply questioning what the plan was to resolve the routing and data issues. The BOE Community Liaison, Kathy Mock, and BOE President David Schnurrenberger did not direct the superintendent to investigate this incident and resolve any issues that were discovered. The issue was completely dropped internally and nothing was done after the primary law enforcement agency in the State of Ohio told ALSD, in no uncertain terms, that we have some safety issues that need to be addressed.

The Superintendent went on TV later that day saying something to the effect of “the capacity of the school bus was not exceeded”. What he didn’t say was, and this is very clear in the citation, the citation was not for exceeding the capacity of the bus. The citation was issued because the kids were seated 3 to a seat and they were too big to fit behind the seatback barriers in front of them. i.e. If the bus had an accident or had to stop suddenly, those kids essentially sitting in the isles, would have been thrown forward causing serious injury.

See the whole letter on: https://www.facebook.com/groups/atown...)

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8FalconProud(1 comment)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I absolutely agree with your endorsement of Dave Schnurrenberger!! I see Mr. Schnurrenberger everywhere--at concerts, speech functions, sporting events--anything that highlights the students, because he genuinely cares about this community and ALL KIDS! Who cares if he currently has a kid in the district or not?....He is invested in this community and wants what is best for it, with no personal agendas. Falconstrong is correct--there is a very vocal minority! The MAJORITY of Austintown know what a quality man this guy is. I also know of his children--all educated, respected, and involved. He has raised a great family and he continues to give back to the community in a positive way! VOTE DAVE SCHNURRENBERGER

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9AFParent(1 comment)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

When the Vindy decided to endorse 2 of these candidates, where did they get their information?

Deny sounds a lot like Lie!

When Mock and Schnurrenberger and Colaluca say "We didn't know about it or We never heard any complaints about that" they are lying!

I have never seen Vince once stand up as an administrator and say this was wrong and I apologize, we need to find a better way.

Vince continues to point a finger at someone else for EVERY SINGLE MISSTEP! We need ACCOUNTABILITY!

How can we have a Superintendent that enacts things in our district yet stands in his own and says not while my children are in school here!

How can we have a BOE and Superintendent that will not look into and solve the safety issues. Crossing guard hit, students hit, overcrowded buses, improper crosswalks, bus accident, not enough guards and crossing, unsafe bus stops....

How can we have an administration that forms committees to problem solve or plan and then completely disregard what the committees suggest?

Why are we outsourcing to Rachel Wexley? And considering more?

True leaders accept their mistakes and move on to correct them not continue down a path creating lower state report card scores.

How can they continue to collect student fees after finishing the year with a surplus, yet NOT provide books for our students? They have changed the entire curriculum to go along with state testing yet do NOT provide the information parents need to help their children learn.

They crowd 3-4 classes of students into specials; art, gym, technology, one technology class doesn't even have desks, just seats where they hold laptops in their laps? How can they learn properly this way while balancing a computer leaning over it like a handheld game? Who will pay for them when broken by a student? It's certainly not their fault. Then because the specials classrooms or gyms are not large enough the students then go from building to building in search of a place to have gym class.

How many times will they say we don't have a bullying problem when so many parents have children who are being bullied?

Our administration is very good at sweeping things under the rug and we are no longer going to stand by and watch it happen!

Our teachers are forbidden to discuss any issues or concerns they have without fear of being reprimanded.

Dismissal and Drop off procedures for schools this size were not properly thought out during the planning process.

Did the Vindicator research ANY of this? Who do they think is responsible for these things? The current BOE and Superintendent!

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10AtownParent(565 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Here is why I do not believe Mock or Schnurrenberger deserve to be re-elected. Both of them have continuously voted yes to allow the Superintendent to make decisions without Board votes (which means without putting it in the public forum so the taxpayers and parents have no idea what is happening in our schools). I find that irresponsible and deceiving.

Someone commented that Porter gives out raises to his friends, Mr. Porter is not authorized to do that without a board vote, Colalucca is authorized to do that and has done it.

Let's now make some clarifications about the "facts" in the above piece. Our schools is no longer an Excellent with Distinction school, that was the 2010-2011 school year. We received grades of B, F, and F. That, to me, does not sound like we are surging forward. The new schools were not built thanks to the current board, they were built thanks to the Ohio Facilites Commission and the taxpayers who approved the bond issue, and the previous board members.

Mock and Schnurrenberger have allowed a promise of 200 Open Enrollment kids to balloon to almost 700 kids (when we were told our schools can only hold 200-250 additional children). They have let the classrooms get so big that some kids don't have enough desks and sit on the floor.

Mock and Schnurrenberger have allowed Colalucca to run a dictatorship within the schools so that not even staff can approach anyone in the main office if they have issues. He refuses to listen to anyone because our BOE have given him complete authority to make hiring/firing decisions without a board vote.

Why is it that you refuse to report what is really happening in the schools? Why is it that any negative from the ALSD is swept under the rug to the point that you would endorse incumbents simply because they are part of the regime, not because they are qualified to make decisions for this school district? Trust me, the vocal may be the minority, but the feelings about our BOE are not.

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