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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.

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