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Meet the candidates running for Athens City School Board

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In 2017, three spots are up for vote on the Athens City School Board. There are seven candidates running to fill these spots: two current board members and five outside candidates.

Here are the seven candidates’ positions on the biggest issues facing local schools now, including their thoughts on the proposed “Mega-school issues,” special needs and advanced education.

All the following information is taken from the Oct. 17 school board candidate forum. Footage of the full event is available here.

Kim Goldsberry

First time running? No. Goldsberry has been on the school board for four years and is currently running for reelection.

A little about the candidate: Goldsberry attended and graduated from Morrison Gordon Elementary School, Athens Middle School

Kim Goldsberry. Photo via Facebook.
Kim Goldsberry. Photo via Facebook.

and Athens High School, and is an Ohio University alumni. She currently has three children who attend Athens City Schools. She is a board member for the McClure Foundation and is part of the ACS Farm to School project, the ACS Nutrition Committee and the ACS Food Pantry.

Thoughts on the mega-school: Goldsberry has not stated a hard line on the issue, but is in favor of a “warm, safe” environment for students and maintaining ACS’s current strengths in staffing and programming.

Priorities going forward: Maintaining community and parent involvement, encouraging more socioeconomic, racial and cultural integration among students and introducing more disability services to the schools.

Solutions to the socioeconomic problems in the schools: Balancing and encouraging more interactions between students of all socioeconomic statuses as a method to improve education for all students

Solutions for special education issues: Goldsberry would like to create smaller and more balanced environments that would benefit all students, but particularly those with special needs.

Thoughts on gifted and advanced education: Goldsberry is in favor of allowing gifted students to find enrichment in their own classrooms rather than separating them and taking them to a new location. She would also like to look at advanced and gifted programs in other school districts for possible solutions going forward.

Solutions for financial issues: She is in support of the newest taxpayer levy and wants to encourage more taxpayer input that would help fund programs at the schools like AP classes, arts programs and sports.

Thoughts on teacher input: She encourages open communication with teachers, but also respects the teacher’s union and privacy issues for individual educators.

Bruce Nottke

First time running? No. Nottke has been on the school board for the past 16 years and is currently running for reelection.  

A little about the candidate: Nottke previously served in the Navy and has lived in Athens for 40 years. His children are alumni of Athens City Schools.

Bruce Nottke. Photo via Facebook.
Bruce Nottke. Photo via Facebook.

Thoughts on the mega-school: Nottke has presented no hard line on the issue. However, he has commented on current issues with outdated facilities, low enrollment and poor socioeconomic integration, and he believes that the school facilities cannot remain as they are.  

Priorities going forward: Improving school building conditions and boosting enrollment.

Solutions of socioeconomic issues: Nottke would like to focus on helping students of all socioeconomic statues and would like to encourage different students being introduced to each other before middle school.

Solutions of special education issues: He currently has no solid solutions for special education issues, but is aware that special education in ACS needs to improve.

Thoughts on gifted and advanced education: Nottle encourages more class-based enrichment rather than separating gifted students in a different class from their peers.

Solutions to financial issues: He would like to encourage and improve taxpayer input and levies, including the upcoming levy.

Thoughts on teacher input: Nottke wants to work together with teachers to provide students with the best possible education.

Jenny Klien

First time running? Yes.

A little about the candidate: Klein has lived in Athens since 2005 and has three daughters who have all attended or are currently attending Athens City Schools. Klein works at Ohio University as the Assistant Dean of Student Persistence and Success.

Thoughts on the mega-school: Against. Klein has pointed out that students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds usually struggle

Jenny Klien. Photo via Facebook.

the most in large environments, and believes poor students would struggle the most in a mega-school. She wants future solutions facility issues to be “passionate, innovative and creative” and believes programs and education are more important than the facilities themselves. She is also in favor of helping working class families, particularly in terms of providing them with student transportation.  

Priorities going forward: Creating transparent and inclusive leadership, creating innovative and creative solutions within the school board, assisting students with disabilities or special learning needs and encouraging more community input.

Solutions to socioeconomic issues: Klein is in favor of redistricting and introducing solutions that are based on the needs of each child, as opposed to sweeping improvements that may be “equal but equitable,” so that students receive the exact amount of support they need.

Solutions to special education issues: Klein wants to implement special needs aides and sensory rooms in every school and to work with board-certified behavior analysts and trained teachers and staff in order to allow more accommodations to students with disabilities.

Thoughts on gifted and advanced education: She is in favor of allowing kids from all schools to have access to advanced programs and wants to encourage teachers to educate students of different learning levels at the same time instead of fully separating gifted students.

Solutions to financial issues: Klein is interested in consulting with peer cities and their school funding. She also wants to focus on fixing the current system and facilities before spending more money on building new and larger campuses.

Thoughts on teacher input: She is in favor of having conversations with teachers and using transparent leadership that seeks out more information from teachers about what works within the schools.

Sean Parsons

First time running? Yes.

A little about the candidate: Parsons is the father of two third graders at Morrison Gordon Elementary School. Both of his parents were public school teachers. He is a Music Studies professor at Ohio University and teaches mainly first year students. Parsons has previously been on the school district’s facility committee and believes that education is “the cornerstone of society.”

Sean Parsons. Photo via Facebook.
Sean Parsons. Photo via Facebook.

Thoughts on the mega-school: He has not presented a hard line, but is in favor of integrating students of different socioeconomic backgrounds before seventh grade. However, he also emphasized that this does not require a mega-school. Parsons is also in favor of finding a community-supported option for new facilities and wants to focus on the programs within the education system before the campus itself.

Priorities going forward: Improving old buildings, improving socioeconomic issues, finding more community-based solutions and working within challenging parameters like decreased funding and more state testing.

Solutions to socioeconomic issues: Parsons wants to help students individually and focus on any institutional issues within the school district that may prevent students of lower socioeconomic status from succeeding in school.

Solutions to special education issues: Parsons wants to increase less restrictive learning environments and introduce more specialists and sensory rooms alongside assistance with reading and schoolwork.

Thoughts on gifted and advanced education: He wants to ensure that children from all the elementary schools have more equal access to advanced programs at all schools.

Solutions to financial issues: Parsons is open to looking to peer cities and outside sources for new financial solutions.

Thoughts on teacher input: Parsons encourages teacher input on strengths and challenges within the classroom, but also respects educators’ relationship with the teacher’s union and whether teachers want to offer their input to the school board.  

Laura Alloway

First time running? Yes.

A little about the candidate: Alloway is passionate about local education and community-based schools. She is the Director of Marketing for Ohio University’s Voinovich School and also has children in the school district. She has never run for public office before.

Thoughts on the mega-school: Against. Alloway is in favor of maintaining small classes and schools and believes that redistricting elementary schools is a better solution to socioeconomic integration. She also believes that a mega-school will become a more competitive and less welcoming environment with less opportunities for students.

Priorities going forward: Maintaining intimate schooling and small class sizes and providing support for working class or single

Laura Alloway. Photo via Facebook.
Laura Alloway. Photo via Facebook.

parents with limited child care resources.

Solutions to socioeconomic issues: Alloway has emphasized a need to redistrict and focus on student integration, and also to improve busing and transportation that will fit these solutions and help parents with less resources.

Solutions for special education issues: She encourages individual instruction for students that need it, and wants to introduce more special needs staff members and improve special needs programming.

Thoughts on gifted and advanced education: Alloway would like to use small classes to improve teaching evaluations of gifted students and wants all advanced students to receive the attention and challenges they need.

Solutions to financial issues: She would like to look at peer institutions and other outside solutions and also to encourage more tax levies to fund school programs.

Thoughts on teacher input: Alloway encourages an open door policy for teachers and other community members to make sure their voices are heard.

Paul Grippa

First time running? Yes.

A little about the candidate: Grippa has lived in Athens for 32 years. He was the principal of Athens Middle School for 28 years before retiring in 2014, and he has nine children who have gone through Athens City Schools.

Paul Grippa

Thoughts on the mega-school: Against. He agrees that repairing dropping enrollment, encouraging socioeconomic integration and improving old buildings are important goals but is not in favor of introducing a single campus to do this.

Priorities going forward: Focusing on improving old buildings and focusing on socioeconomic integration.

Solutions to socioeconomic issues: Grippa is interested in improving opportunities for all students and is in favor of redistricting.

Solutions to special education issues: He is in favor of following state regulations appropriately to achieve the best solutions for special needs students.

Thoughts on gifted and advanced education: Grippa would like to introduce enrichment programs into regular classes rather than separating gifted students completely.

Solutions to financial issues: He is focused on paying close attention to proposed levies, finances and facilities to make sure they are handle correctly.

Thoughts on teacher input: Gripp is concerned about possible conflicts with the teacher’s union but is interested in talking to teachers.

Dave Hayden

First time running? Yes.

A little about the candidate: Grippa has lived in Athens for 12 years. He has children who attend Athens City Schools and is never happy with the education his children have received. He grew up in rural upstate New York with good public schools and has felt connected to community schools ever since.

Thoughts on a mega-school: No hard line. However, he has stated that the current system and keeping four elementary schools is not sustainable.  

Priorities going forward: Setting better goals for improving the school budget, improving the condition of the school buildings, and

Dave Hayden. Photo via Facebook.
Dave Hayden. Photo via Facebook.

engaging more with the community.

Solutions to socioeconomic issues: Hayden would like to balance the inequity of poor students between all the schools, rather than maintaining one school that has a higher concentration of students with lower socioeconomic status.

Solutions to special education issues: He is in favor of paying attention to the opinions of education and special needs specialists for input, and wants to increase funding for special needs programs and staff

Thoughts on gifted and advanced education: Hayden wants to enrich regular classrooms and allow different paces of learning in one classroom, rather than tracking and separating advanced kids so early.

Solutions to financial issues: Hayden is most interested in working with the challenges and limitations of current funding rather than searching for increased funding.

Thoughts on teacher input: He wants the school board to become an intervention between teachers and administrations, and is interested in negotiating with teachers and the teachers’ union effectively in order to continue to talk to teachers to find the best solutions.

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