PIQUA — A familiar face will return to the Piqua City Schools Board of Education, along with two newcomers who were voted in during Tuesday’s election.
According to unofficial election results, incumbent Andy Hite made a successful bid for his fourth term on the board, garnering 35.27 percent of the vote, while Kelly McMaken surpassed him with 42.5 percent. McMaken received 2,881 votes, while Hite got 2,391 votes.
Write-in candidate Sean Ford will fill the third open BOE seat, having received 1,172 votes — or 18 percent.
The other write-in candidate, Nicholas Alexander, received 247 votes — or 4 percent.
Hite, a past president of the BOE, is well-known in the area as the site manager of the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency, and has been involved in education at various levels for more than 40 years. Prior to the election, he stated that he has “a great desire to be able to play a part in assuring 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.”
Hite also said one of the greatest challenges the district faces is finding “a workable balance” between the needs of the students while still preparing them to perform well on state tests.
The morning after the election, Hite said he was “obviously pleased” to be returning to the BOE for another term. “We’ve got a lot of work to do yet,” he said. “There’s a lot of unfinished business to do and I hope to be a part of that.
“One thing we’ve got to do is work on the academics. We have a lot of things in place that are moving our kids forward and we’ve got to keep that momentum going. There’s a lot of things that, on the surface, people don’t see, but if we stay the course, they’re going to see some good results here shortly.”
Hite added that he was pleased with the passage of the school district’s renewal operating levy, which was approved by 65.4 percent of voters on Tuesday.
McMaken, a CT Technologist at Kettering Medical Center, said her family’s positive experiences with Piqua City Schools fueled her desire to serve the district in a larger capacity.
“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,” she stated.
McMaken also cited encouraging parental involvement and supporting early literacy as two of the district’s greatest needs.
A graduate of Piqua High School, Ford is the executive director of the Piqua Area United Way and the father of children currently attending Piqua schools. Ford said that while test scores are important, he believes the district’s 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.”
Because of the lateness of the write-in results, Ford admitted with a chuckle that he was “in the middle of dozing off” while waiting Tuesday night to hear whether or not he had won a seat on the board.
“At about 11:45 p.m., I was just about to call it a night when I got a text,” he said. “In my tired state, I was really excited, and I’m really happy to begin this next venture in my life.”
Ford said he is looking forward to helping PCS continue to grow, to work with the district’s community partners and learn the inner workings of the school system.
“I hope they will see my dedication to the community and the students of the community,” he said. “I want to do right by students so they can get the best education possible.”
Of the newly elected board members, Hite noted that, as parents of current PCS students, they will bring a fresh point of view to the BOE. “They’re going to have a learning curve, obviously, but if they didn’t care about the schools, they wouldn’t have run,” he said. “They will bring a parental input which we haven’t had for a while; there’s going to be new perspectives from both of them.”
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3341