PLEASANT HILL — Residents of Pleasant Hill and Newton Township will select three candidates out of four vying for the Newton Local School District Board of Education on the Nov. 7 general ballot.
The follow candidates are running for the office:
• Zane Fessler
Family Information: Parents, Tony (deceased) and Carol Fessler; wife, Dana Fessler; and children, Dean and Zoey Fessler
Occupation: Agriculture instructor
Previous political experience: None
Qualifications: I have been an educator for the past seven years, I did my student teaching at Newton, I’ve worked in three different states and have been active in curriculum writing in each one. I have helped with item writing for the majority of the state’s end of course assessments for Agriculture classes.
Reason for seeking office: I want to be involved with the school and I would like to give back to the community that raised me.
Goals for office if elected: To keep our academic standings in the county moving in a positive direction and strengthen the schools elective programs to make sure our students are career ready as well as college ready.
What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek: Increase and strengthen the lines of communication between Newton Local Schools and the community.
• Matt Downing
Family Info: Wife, Nicole; daughter, McKenna, 13; and son, Brady, 11
Occupation: Purchasing, American Honda Motor Co. Inc. Troy
Previous political experience: None
Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in Business Education from Wright State University, 2000; master’s of Business Administration degree from Brandman University, 2015
Reason for seeking office: The staff and administration of Newton Local Schools work hard to ensure that our students have a bright future. I am seeking this office to support the district’s goals for academic excellence and positive culture of learning for all students.
Goals for office if elected: Ensure all students are receiving the best possible education at Newton; work as a team member on the district’s vision and improvement plans; commitment to a fiscally responsible district budget.
Greatest need to be addressed in this position: The greatest need is to keep our community engaged with the school and the students, and to share in the successes and mission of the district.
Family Information: Wife, Sherry; three children, Jenna, 12, Sarah, 14, and Morgan, 16
Occupation: Reliability engineer, UTAS Aerospace Systems, Troy
Previous political experience: 2 Terms, Newton School Board
Qualifications: Eight years on the Newton School Board. Additionally, I’ve been active more than 10 years with either coordinating, serving on the board, or coaching youth sports.
Education: Bachelor of science degree in engineering physics, Miami University; master’s degree in Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering, The Ohio State University
Reason for seeking office: The things that have happened at Newton over the last eight years in my opinion is unprecedented and comes only due to the passion of both the board members and administration. Newton school has become a facility and learning institution I think the community and tax payers should be very proud of. I would like the opportunity to serve another term and be part of the continued success anticipated over the years to come.
Goals for the office if elected: My goals for the office if elected would be to continue supporting the administration for maintaining fiscal responsibility and continued academic excellence. Additionally, I would be an advocate for new extra-curricular activities related to leadership and potential STEM opportunities.
Greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek: I believe that some of the biggest challenges facing school districts in Ohio are uncertainties at the state level. State funding is increased one year and cut the next. It’s difficult to forecast with the uncertainty in funding. Additionally, the chaos associated with state testing is a challenge. Teachers are spending too many hours teaching to the test and administering test over multiple days. Not to mention, results are not provided until well in to the new school year. The administration will need to continue being proactive with spending and maintain a healthy carryover. At the same time, balance that carryover with opportunities for improvements, whether it be capital expenditures or implementing new extra-curricular activities. As board members, we need to support the administration and provide our input on those tough decisions.
• Lisa Hildebrand
Family Information: Husband, Ken Hildebrand; two children in the district, Madison and Dawson
Occupation: Administrator at Vandalia-Butler City Schools, Special needs preschool supervisor and district special education coordinator)
Previous political experience: Four-year school board member for Newton Local, 2013-2017
Qualifications: Bachelor of science degree in Elementary and Special Education, Slippery Rock University; master’s degree in the Art of Education, Marygrove University; principal license, University of Dayton; and 22 years experience in education as a coach, teacher and/or administrator.
Reason for seeking office: I feel that with my background and experience in education, I bring a plethora of knowledge regarding today’s educational challenges and concerns; as well as firsthand experience to be able to relate to the staff and students of Newton Local Schools.
Goals for Office if Elected: Newton staff and administration are doing an outstanding job of providing a solid education which includes endless extracurricular actives to our student body. My goal is to provide positive leadership to ensure that these opportunities, values and traditions continue.
What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek: Remaining compliant with new ESSA requirements, new attendance requirements from House Bill 410 and the never ending insanity of state testing.
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