In the direction of simple truth

Here’s the simple truth about the Board of Education race in Springboro.

There are three open seats on Springboro’s Board of Education on Tuesday’s ballot.

There are five candidates.

Voters may choose any one, two, or three of the five candidates.

There are no slates. There are no tickets. Voters will choose three individuals.

Educate Springboro endorses three candidates to fill three open seats. The math is just that simple.

And we chose to endorse the three candidates who have spent this campaign talking about our students and our schools. That’s what we do. The cornerstone of Educate Springboro is putting Children First.

David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn are talking about students and opportunities our students have to learn, grow and succeed in our schools. They question the “proficient” standard. They have brought independent audits of our high school to light and proposed using these reports as well as student data to drive smart decisions and investments in our schools. They want to create new opportunities for our students to learn and succeed.

We also support Charles Anderson because of his business acumen. His business sense will serve our community well on the Board of Education. Although Mr. Anderson has shared his campaign with Dr. Malone and Mr. Stuckey, there are no slates in this race. Candidates are elected as individuals. We’ve chosen to look at the candidates rather than the camps and to support the candidates who will do the most for Springboro students.

On the other side, the MSA campaign is bickering over words on signs in a campaign that is focused on the adults more than the kids. MSA complains about the current leadership, but their campaign fails to articulate any goals or vision for the future of our schools or the success of our students. In the final moments of this campaign, they are writing press releases about campaign signs.

They still don’t get it.

There are candidates who are campaigning in the interests of students. And there are candidates who are campaigning in the interests of adults. Their campaign rhetoric is a preview of what they will do on our Board of Education. Educate Springboro endorses the candidates who will put Children First.

Please join Educate Springboro in voting

FOR DAVID BITNER for School Board,

FOR KOLTON VAUGHN for School Board,

FOR CHARLES ANDERSON for School Board, and

FOR ISSUE 14—the reduced renewal levy–for our school district.

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Extremists, Radicals, and Fanatics – Oh My

Extremists, radicals, fanatics!  Sounds like a scary Halloween tale. Add in the words “tea party” and that’s supposed to make it a true horror story.  Unfortunately, this is where some in our community have taken the dialog surrounding our school board and the upcoming election. It’s time for Toto to pull back the curtain and for us to elevate the conversation.

For the record, I do believe in limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free markets. I also believe that a free society requires virtuous people and that children need to learn these concepts.  How confusing it must be for them to watch the behavior of adults and the tenor of the debate around our schools.

What has the school board done to invite this wrath? We are trying to change things in a few areas and the system would rather not change.  Just like in Washington, opponents to change assign their targets what they believe are derogatory labels – “tea party”, “extremist”, “fanatic”.  However, if you were to ask what has been done that is “fanatical”, you’ll get nothing more than generalities that have little basis in fact and are distorted to sound extreme.

If you asked me about the school board’s record over the last two years I would tell you about holding people accountable, uncovering embezzlement that had gone on for years, raising academic standards, increasing ACT scores, advocating for kids to take classes for college credit, restoring salary increases, controlling runaway medical insurance costs, balancing the budget (and giving the excess back), providing services for gifted students, reducing pay-to-play fees and increasing student participation, upgrading technology for online learning, instituting bring your own technology, reinstating high school busing, reinstating textbook purchases, reinstating a building maintenance program, and correcting numerous other deficiencies from years of administrative neglect.

You might recognize these things are good and are already implemented in other districts and ask why has it taken so long to address them in Springboro?  I don’t know, but compared to the lethargic past, this has been a pretty “radical” two years.  And to do all this while lowering taxes you would have to conclude these two years have been “fanatically” amazing and “extremely” successful.

At this point you might ask what this has to do with the upcoming school board election.  This election will set a direction, backward or forward.  The supporters of Malone and Stuckey tell you the current board is too “extreme”.  Compared to the stagnation they are accustomed to, that is understandable.  The other candidates are David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn.  They are parents with young children enrolled in the district who are motivated to encourage our schools to continue to innovate, to offer more opportunities, and to keep children the board’s first priority.

On November 5th, we will make a decision.  Will we choose based on the record, or the labels?

In the direction of decision

With early and absentee voting underway in Ohio, we are closing in on Election Day decisions that will impact our schools and community.

Today, we’ve balanced the budget by making our students the first priority, and we are paying long overdue attention to our facilities, transportation, curriculum and technology needs.

In less than two years, much has changed. Our district once seemed unable to move past the rejection of repeated new money levies. If you are tired of looking at the bleak past, so are we. But there is a slate of three candidates for the Board of Education with a retired principal and retired teacher on the ticket. They strike a nostalgic tone, but their only plan for the future is to return to the past.

Past practices encouraged division in our community and indecisiveness in our schools. For example:

  • PTOs were warned not to spend fundraising dollars on school projects.
  • The district failed to budget for buses and building maintenance.
  • There was no district plan for adopting curriculum or updating textbooks.
  • Communication with the community was cut off. There was little transparency for the taxpayer and trust deteriorated on all sides.

This is a pivotal school board election because it will set the direction – either continue in a fiscally responsible manner that makes kids’ educational needs the first priority, or return to the past with a union controlled school board. Just as has been the case in industry, unionization of public education is forcing more money into compensation and away from improving the product – highly educated children. The result is persistent requests for additional taxes as the school system’s resources are drained. Unlike many of our neighbors, for now Springboro has achieved a delicate, but sustainable, balance.. 

With more than 400 employees who have degrees and experience in education, our district hears the voice of educators and the unions. Who will be the voice of the community?

Springboro’s school board should represent the interests of the parents and the public. Parent and community representation provides a critical check and balance. David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn are both parents of children enrolled in Springboro Schools and have committed to making education their top priority. They support the “Children First” philosophy.

Educate Springboro supports a slate of three candidates,  Charles Anderson, David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn for Springboro Board of Education. David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn bring their perspective as parents, taxpayers and concerned citizens to provide more balance in board perspectives.   We are also confident that with the addition of the business acumen Charles Anderson has accumulated in his many years of service to the community, our district can continue to be sustainable. Keeping our students as the first priority, supporting our teachers, and being the voice of the community in public education is our goal. The addition of Anderson, Bitner, and Vaughn aid us all in accomplishing that goal.

Educate Springboro is also FOR the renewal. Issue 14 is a reduced renewal levy. In good faith, we’ve balanced the budget and met our obligations. When it became clear that the district could meet its needs with less money, the board voted to request lower millage in the renewal levy in November. Not only have we proven that we can live within our means, but now every stakeholder in this district—our students and families, our staff and teachers, and the taxpayers–will benefit.

Please join Educate Springboro in voting

FOR DAVID BITNER for School Board, and

FOR KOLTON VAUGHN for School Board, and

FOR CHARLES ANDERSON for School Board, and

FOR Issue 14 for our school district.

Click here to request your absentee ballot in Warren County. (http://www.co.warren.oh.us/bdelec/index.asp)

Click here to request your absentee ballot in Montgomergy County. (http://www.mcboe.org/)

This message has not approved by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Valentine’s Day Message

Remarks by David Petroni at the February 14th, 2013 Springboro School Board meeting …

This month is already half gone.  Tonight is Valentines Day – I move to adjourn…ok, just kidding, I would still like a few minutes. 

But before I go on, I would like to ask for a moment of silence for Lee Vincent and Troy Holtry who both recently lost their fathers……….our prayers are with them and their families. 

 It was a good day today because when I entered my home after a long week; my 4 children and my wife Kim greeted me with such enthusiasm it warmed my heart as a father and a husband.  Behind each hug was a caring message of love, joy, and respect. 

 My 2-year old is starting to talk.  He so gently pulled on my pant leg, and motioned me to follow him…then softly says ‘sit’, papa sit…. What a great valentine day.  I hope your day was also lovingly fulfilled.

 Before our annual board organizational meeting held in January, I sent a personal note of thanks to our central office team. It seemed appropriate today to share some of my thoughts about the people in central office I have had an opportunity to interact with as a board member since August 2012.

 Lee Vincent – what a professional.  I have come to know Mrs. Vincent.  The more I interact with her, the more I admire and applaud her dedication, passion, and commitment. That commitment is not just for our students.   She is always here for our teachers too – You got to respect the direct honesty she delivers – not to mention she has got a heck of sense of humor….

 Jeff Madden stepped into a big role this year.  It took guts to take this position…one, he had no experience.  Heck, it took guts for this board, ok, I speak for me, to step out and hire you.  But we all took a chance by accepting Mr. Petrey’s recommendation.  He said you were the right guy for this job.  So far…he is right.  I know you have been working hard Jeff, so thanks…. of course, we will see how your budget ends up on June 30…

 Tracy Jarvis came to town and shook up the budget process.  Her role here started before my time, so that was not my fault.  Since I have been on this board, Mrs. Jarvis has been able to manage the finances and been here for the community. She could have maintained status quo, but instead, she stepped up, so thanks for taking that risk.

 Tammy Stritenberger, I see why you were able to excel as a NCAA coach.   Such competitive drive and dedication, which yield results, achieved through a management style you only find on the court.  You stepped into a big role and with this position; you agreed to take on great responsibility.  Thanks.

 Superintendent Petrey.  When I first interviewed Mr. Petrey, I asked him about education trends in Florida. …He had some sort of answer that was close to my target.  It just proved he was paying attention to things outside of his environment, which was important when picking a leader for this district. 

 He then delivered a message that exemplifies his passion and drive for student achievement.  The 2 discussions sold me.  The students and this entire community should be as appreciative as I am for all your hard, often, emotionally draining, work you are doing for kids and community.  Thanks.

 On August 1, 2012, this district hired a great team, and it was a very good day for education in Springboro; it was a very good day for our city; and it was a very good day for our employees.   Your hard work executing the policies of this board is starting to shine.  No matter what, remember our mission – it is about educating children and preparing them for their futures. 

So in January, I shared with central office my entire agenda for 2013.  My agenda is focused on student achievement and curriculum….  It’s just that simple.  So everyone playing politics these days and in the days to come…. remember whose lives you are really impacting.

 In the end, this board has worked pretty hard to make a difference.  Most of our votes have been unanimous.  For the most part, this board did good work in 2012.  It was a good year for education, and educators in Springboro.

 Let me close with a quote from Henry Ford,

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

 Thanks for listening.

David Petroni

Why consider a conversion school?

Why Consider A Conversion School?

The Springboro School Board is examining the opportunity of re-opening the Jonathan Wright building as a Conversion SchoolA Conversion School is Ohio’s term for a charter school sponsored by a public school. The Springboro School board and the Warren County Educational Service Center are the only entities that can sponsor a Conversion School in the Springboro School District.  A Conversion School is not a private school. Its existence and funding comes from the public school system.

So why do it? We have an excellent school system already.

Let’s answer that with some questions. Why do we allow Springboro HS students to attend the Warren County Career Center? Why do we suggest some kids attend the Warren County Alternative school? Why do Miamisburg and West Carrollton School Districts sponsor conversion schools?

The answer in each case is those schools offer either a different curriculum or a different environment than the traditional public school, and the parents believe the alternative is better for their child. So even in an excellent school district like Springboro, some students and parents are looking for alternatives. One size doesn’t fit all.

What might this school offer?  That’s a matter for an extended discussion with the community.  One possibility that intrigues me is to create a classical education program as some private schools offer.  Another idea might be to move away from traditional grade levels and promote children to the next level once they have mastered the skill or subject.  After all, kids don’t all learn and develop at the same pace. There are many other possibilities and considerations.

Would a Springboro conversion school drain resources and put our excellent system at risk? We simply can’t allow that to happen. The conversion school concept only works if 1) it is cost neutral, 2) it meets a need that can’t be better addressed by a change in the traditional school, and 3) it does no harm to our already outstanding schools.

Can it be done? At this point we don’t know. Initial indications are that it may be financially feasible, but many questions remain. Perhaps Springboro Schools will be able to offer another alternative for students and parents without increasing taxes. We need a thorough evaluation and that would be the purpose for establishing a committee and hiring a consultant if the board is inclined to do that. We won’t know until somebody looks at it, and I believe it is worth a look!

I’ve heard the rumors about shutting down half of the high school curriculum to fund the conversion school and allegations that a board member might financially benefit from a conversion school. These are nonsense. There is a big state and national debate around charter schools and school choice. However, the decision about this school is a local one and our focus needs to be on our schools, community, and our kids.  We can’t be afraid to investigate a change that could potentially benefit many students and parents.

Jim Rigano
Board of Education Member
Springboro Community City Schools

Welcome to the Educate Springboro Blog

Hello,

We’re glad you’re here. This blog is the place for authoritative information directly from Springboro School Board Members Jim Rigano and David Petroni.

This last year has been exasperating for both of us. We’ve been dealing with unfounded rumors and harassment since the day we took office. While some of it was expected and goes with the territory, our political opponents – inside and outside the school district – are using social media to spread half-truths and outright false information designed to make people question our motives and character, and with it our colleagues on the board and our schools. Speaking directly with the media on issues hasn’t helped either. They seem to be more interested in hype that will get attention instead of a balanced and factual report.

After a year of it, it’s time to put our message out to the community, in our own words. That’s the purpose of this blog. Here we can explain our philosophy, actions and thoughts, field your questions, and have an honest discussion.

We’re well aware that our detractors will be here also. That’s OK. We’ll take that opportunity to answer their criticisms – something we haven’t had an adequate opportunity to do in the past year.

Thanks for being here.

Jim Rigano
David Petroni