By Denise Dick
Two political newcomers are challenging three incumbents for three seats on the Boardman school board.
Vickie Davis, who has been active in school district levy campaigns, and Frank Zetts are challenging incumbents Mark Fulks, John Landers and Kimberly Poma.
Davis, 47, said she’s been involved in the community for years and views the school board as the next level for that involvement.
“I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” she said.
She points to lower student participation in activities from football to band as evidence of a possible problem.
“Some kids have been on the sidelines and have gone for four years without playing,” Davis said.
Zetts didn’t return The Vindicator’s candidate questionaire or attend an endorsement interview with the newspaper’s editorial board.
All of the candidates interviewed say they want to continue the excellence the township school system has been offering students and the community.
Landers, 31, is in his first term on the board, and Poma, 56, and Fulks, 57, are in their third and fourth terms, respectively.
One of the biggest challenges facing the school system is the loss of funding to charter schools, Poma said.
“I’m not opposed to charter schools; it just needs to be on an even playing field,” she said.
Landers also sees privatization as a problem for the school district.
“We need to be more vocal on how charters are affecting public education in general,” he said.
The incumbents acknowledged lower student participation in activities.
“I don’t think the desire to compete is the same,” Fulks said.
It may also be that the district is just in a low cycle of participation that will turn around next year, he said.
With South Range schools adopting an open enrollment policy, Boardman, Poland and Canfield are the only Mahoning County school districts that haven’t initiated open enrollment.
Boardman has lost students to South Range, but Landers said many of those were students whose parents are South Range teachers and wanted to attend the same district.
None of the four candidates interviewed supports Boardman becoming an open-enrollment district in the near future.
“I don’t think Boardman is there yet,” Davis said.
Poma said it should be considered only as a last resort and the district has been able to save money in other ways.
She listed negotiated changes to employee hospitalization and buyouts for 26 teachers who weren’t replaced.
Fulks said he doesn’t think open enrollment is the most effective way to bring in revenue. He also cited the ways the district has trimmed costs.
“The only way to compete is to offer the best product out there,” he said.
Landers said the district always is evaluating its five-year forecast to ensure finances are in good shape.