4 candidates running for 3 seats on Springfield school board

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Springfield City School District's Board of Education candidates

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Springfield residents will select from four candidates for three open seats on Springfield City School District’s Board of Education in the upcoming November election.

The four candidates who will be on the ballot for the Tuesday, Nov. 5 election, include two incumbents, Jamie Callan and Chris Williams. Also on the ballot are Joan Elder and Reid Tackett.

The Springfield City School District is the largest school district in Clark County with over 7,000 students currently enrolled, more than over 1,000 staff members and around a $96 million budget, according to data from the Ohio Department of Education.

More from Springfield City School District: Springfield City Schools wants Ohio to stop taking over schools

In addition to Callan and Williams’ seats opening on the board, the third vacancy will come from current board president Ed Leventhal’s departure.

Leventhal has served on the board for 12 years, but said he is moving outside of the school district limits and because of that is unable to run for another term. His term will come to an end on Dec. 31.

“I will continue to be a major supporter of the district. It’s been a good ride and it’s bittersweet that I’m not able to run again,” Leventhal said. “But we have some great people running that I am happy to support.”

Here is more information the candidates running:

Jamie Callan

Callan is running for re-election to the board. He has served as a Springfield board member for the last 12 years and a Springfield-Clark CTC board member for the last 10 years, where he has been president for five years.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Xavier University and a master’s degree in finance from Wright State University. He has been Chief Financial Officer of Valco Industries in Springfield for the last 40 years.

“If re-elected, I plan to continue providing the administration and staff with the necessary resources to maintain and expand the curriculum and programs to provide students with the best opportunities to meet their individual educational needs,” Callan said.

Callan said one significant challenge at Springfield is the number of students that enter Pre-K or kindergarten at academic development levels substantially behind their classmates.

“Research and historical data tells us that those students struggle for years to catch up and many, never do. Students that aren’t learning at grade level by the 3rd grade will most likely struggle significantly throughout their educational experience,” Callan.

One way the district is working to combat this challenge is by implementing a new educational, “system”, Callan said, which will also help to raise Springfield’s failing state report card grade.

Springfield City School District dropped a grade to an ‘F’ overall on state report cards which were released in early September. Springfield was one of only four districts in the state to receive an overall failing grade.

More from Springfield City School District'I refuse to let the report card define us': Springfield superintendent after 'F' grade

“Dr. Hill and district personnel have spent the last few years constructing, training and implementing a system that enables staff to educate students to meet the state guidelines that the legislature continues to change,” Callan said. “I will support that system and their efforts in whatever way is necessary to make students successful.”

Joan Elder

Elder is the program coordinator at Community Health Foundation in Springfield, Scholarship Chair and Past President of the Springfield Branch of the American Association of University Women and board member of the South Fountain Neighborhood Association.

She is a graduate of Springfield North High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and elementary education from Wittenberg University.

Elder said she has more than 15 years experience working with non-profit organizations in Springfield, including making grants and awarding scholarships to graduating high school seniors.

Previous Springfield News-Sun coverage on Joan Elder:Health foundation awards $225,000 to nonprofits in Clark, Champaign counties

“If elected, I would work to be sure every child receives the support they need to be successful,” Elder said. “Children are this community’s greatest natural resource and the Springfield City Schools have a responsibility to develop the talents and skills they need to earn a decent wage and live a fulfilling life as adults.”

Elder said she believes the biggest problem the district faces is related to the high poverty rate in Springfield, which is also the reason behind Springfield’s failing state report card grade.

“Poverty impacts the ability of students to learn and succeed,” Elder said. “Homelessness, lack of food and clothing, and little access to out-of-school programming can expose children to traumatic events. People who experience trauma have a hard time believing in hope for a better future.”

Teachers and staff within the district see these children everyday, Elder said, and for some students they are their only resources.

“Children and families need support and resources outside of the classroom so they can perform their best academically,” Elder said. “When children are surrounded by caring adults at school and in out-of-school programs they can learn the skills needed for academic success.”

Elder said in her experience working with non-profits, she has seen the lives of children turned around by, “a caring adult or organization.”

“Children in every income level benefit from a community that values them and programs that help them succeed in school and life,” Eleder said.

Reid Tackett

Tackett is a regional maintenance planner and scheduler at C&W Services in Dayton and holds an associate degree in paralegal studies from National Paralegal College.

He is a Springfield City School District alumni and PTA President. If elected, Tackett said his priority is to continue to seek resources and input from the Springfield community to assist, “with addressing outside obstacles that interfere with the learning environment at our schools.”

“Our staff is often faced with many more jobs when in the classroom than just teaching our students. We need to be able to equip our staff with the necessary tools to efficiently perform their jobs and part of that is making sure they can dedicate the entirety of their class time going over a lesson plan,” Tackett said.

Tackett said while the district has taken a “genuine initiative” to address mental health and physical health issues students face ever day outside the classroom, the district still has a “complexity of diverse issues that we face in the community.”

“We do not have just one or even two issues that impeded the learning and growth process of our students. We face issues of poverty, hunger, student homelessness, drug addiction, absent parents, crowded schools,” Tackett said. “The fact is that there is not one single solution and we are not equipped to handle these issues as a school district or community at this time.”

Tackett said one of the first things he would do after being elected is to just “listen.”

“I would be new to the board and I would be doing a huge disservice if I were to come in there telling everyone how it is. And listening, at the end of the day, doesn’t mean anything if you are not validating the messages being conveyed to you,” Tackett said. “Validation occurs through action and consistency in what it is you stand for as a human being.”

Chris Williams

Williams is also running for re-election to the board. He has served on the board for the last four years and is also senior manager of Yaskawa Motoman in Miamisberg.

Williams holds a marketing and business management degree from Clark State Community College.

Prior to serving on the board, Williams said he was a volunteer within the district for 15 years.

“I was a coach for both baseball and football and involved in a number of different parent groups. I have two kids who were both graduates, and I myself am a Springfield graduate,” Williams said. “So, my heart has always been in this community.”

Williams said he originally felt drawn to run for the board because he saw a need, “to provide a voice for those who don’t have a voice and those who aren’t being heard.”

“I want to be that voice and bring those concerns to someone they can trust and that has their best interests at heart,” Williams said.

Some examples of things Williams said he has done to assist students since being elected include establishing a district-wide hygiene drive and partnering with his church, the Greater Grace Temple, to provide free haircuts for students.

Previous Springfield News-Sun coverage on the hygiene drive:'Springfield helping Springfield': District's hygiene drive sheds light on teen homelessness

If re-elected to the board, Williams said his top priority will continue to be, “address the unique needs of our very diverse student population.”

“There are 400 students in the district that identify as homeless and have no permanent address, and to provide the necessary resources to those students that so that every student has the same experience, it’s important to me,” Williams said. “To be able to provide those kids those small things, like a haircut before the first day of school and basic hygiene products, we try to take advantage of that whenever possible.”

Early voting for the Nov. 5 election is already underway.

VOTERS GUIDE

Check out our voters guide at springfieldnewssun.com/votersguide.