PIQUA — Four hopefuls are vying for three open seats on the Piqua City Schools Board of Education, the candidates ranging from a longtime board member and past president to newcomers with no previous political experience.
Andy Hite is vying for his fourth term on the BOE in the Nov. 7 election, when he will face off against Kelly McMaken, and write-in candidates Nicholas Alexander and Sean Ford.
In a questionnaire, the candidates shared their biographical, professional and educational backgrounds, as well as their goals if elected, among other information. Below are their responses.
• ANDY HITE
Family (including children/grandchildren): Wife Carolyn; son Nicholas (Tasha) and Chandler; son Nathaniel (Ellen) and Andrea and Natalie
Occupation: Historic site manager, Johnston Farm & Indian Agency
Previous political experience: Completing third term on the Piqua board (12 years)
Qualifications: I am a graduate of The Ohio State University, holding a degree in Social Studies Education with additional graduate credit from the University of Dayton in Educational Administration.
Following graduation from OSU, I have had a wide range of experiences that all come together to give me a unique perspective into decisions that are required of a board of education member. I was a classroom teacher (U.S. history, Ohio history, and U.S. government) for 14 years, as well as four years teaching adult education. From 1995-1997, I served on the Newark City Schools Social Studies Curriculum Committee while employed at Moundbuilders and Flint Ridge State Memorials.
I have been the site manager of the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency since 1997, during which time I have helped develop programs that enhance the work of area classroom teachers as it relates to standards set forth by the Ohio Department of Education, as well as working with our staff to create programs and events that bring the history of this area more to the forefront for visitors. Throughout the year, I present a variety of programs to groups highlighting the history and individuals who have touched this site and impacted our history.
Reason(s) for seeking office: Having been involved in education at many different levels for over 40 years, I have a great desire to be able to play a part in ensuring that the students of Piqua City Schools have the opportunity to have access to strong academic programs to prepare them for success in whatever career path they choose.
Goals if elected: I will work hard to help create a state-of-the-art academic program to go along with our state-of-the-art buildings that the Piqua community has granted us. I have no other agenda than to do what is best of the students of Piqua City Schools.
What do you see as the greatest need/challenges to be addressed in the position you seek? The biggest challenge that is faced today locally is to find a workable balance between the unique needs of Piqua students while still preparing our students to do well on the assessments required by the Ohio Legislature and the Ohio Department of Education. The second challenge is to continue to provide those educational programs within the financial means made available to us by Piqua voters.
• NICHOLAS ALEXANDER
Family: Ruth, wife of 14 years, children Mark and Enzo, seventh and fourth grade.
Occupation: Sales at Harbor Freight Tools (Troy), Consultant at Charley’s Philly Steaks (Piqua)
Qualifications: I have a background in both business and education, and have lived in Piqua for most of my life.
Reason for seeking office: I grew up with Piqua being listed as one of the best districts in the region, known for having a strong Science Olympiad team, and strong programs. Having moved back to Piqua, and having children in the schools, I see a district in decline. We are ranked at the bottom of the county, with the worst graduation rate.
Goals if elected: I want to see the district on top of the county and the region again. I want to know that my children’s education is of quality, and that priorities are in the correct place.
What do you see as the greatest need/challenges to be addressed? There have been years of erosion of public trust due to misdirection from various leaders over the last decade, and it has to change. It hurts our children, and it makes the city look bad to potential outside business interests.
• KELLY MCMAKEN
Family: My husband, Jim, is a Piqua native. I have lived in Piqua since we were married in 2004. We have two children, Jack, 10, and Preston, 9.
Occupation: CT Technologist, Kettering Medical Center
Qualifications: As a parent of two children in the district now, I have an interest in seeing the school system succeed. As a longtime Piqua resident, I also understand how important the school district’s success is, not only for students, but to the community in which we live.
Reason for seeking office: My family’s positive experiences with the schools led to my desire to serve in a larger role. As a board member, I will bring a supportive parental voice while striving to continue the district’s focus on developing and providing an education that ensures success for every student.
Goals if elected: My top priority will be to work toward making decisions that meet the district’s mission to promote the growth and success of all our students and staff.
What do you see as the greatest need/challenges to be addressed? Encouraging parent involvement in student academics and supporting the board’s initiative for early literacy are critical.
• SEAN FORD
Family: Married for 12 years to Angela Ford. We have four kids, Spencer, 10; Addyson; MaKenzie, 7; and Trevor, 4.
Occupation: Executive director of the Piqua Area United Way
Qualifications: Having served as past president of Chamber of Commerce Board, president of the Piqua Rotary Club (in charge of the educational partnership with Piqua City Schools), Grow Piqua Now, and Tecumseh Woods board member makes me qualified to serve on the board of education. Also, my full-time position as the executive director of the Piqua Area United Way is a position that is managed by a board of trustees; therefore, I understand both sides of working for a board.
Reason for seeking office: I am fully invested in Piqua City Schools. I graduated from there and I will have children in the PCS system for the next 14 years. I want to make sure all children receive the best education possible.
Goals for office if elected: To help continue the upward momentum that we are now seeing in the school system. PCS is involved with a lot of community collaboration and that is very exciting. Another goal is to make sure that all PCS students have all the tools available to them to make them successful in school and competitive in the ever changing and growing work force.
What do you see as the greatest need/challenges to be addressed? While test scores are important, my biggest challenge is convincing the community that Piqua City Schools’ ultimate goal should be to teach the whole child and to see growth. If students feel that they are accepted and families feel comfortable having conversations in those schools then PCS IS serving their community the best they know how and eventually those test scores will follow.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341