Marietta City Schools Board of Education

Zane Lazer

¯ Age: 47.

¯ Address: 382 Arends Ridge Road.

¯ Occupation: Eye Surgeon.

¯ Previous public offices held: Marietta School Board, serving currently.

1. Do you support a plan that involves passing a levy to help pay for new school buildings within the next few years?

Yes. If we don’t pass a levy and get our fair share of matching state tax dollars, our state tax dollars will go instead to support building projects in the districts around us, like Warren. As a school board member, I have toured the buildings with the superintendent and it is clear to me that Marietta desperately needs new buildings. These old buildings have served us well for over 60 years, and the administration has been an excellent steward of our public property, but the buildings are not adequate for the 21st century. Many of the buildings are not handicapped-accessible and may pose a disability lawsuit risk to the district. The current electrical wiring is unable to handle the loads needed for modern energy-hungry educational technology. We cannot install air conditioning because of the outdated wiring. It is unwise to spend taxpayers’ money trying to repair aging structures in the flood plain.

The buildings also represent a major recruitment problem for the district. When a new family moves to the area, they see the condition of the Marietta school buildings and they choose to live in other nearby districts. We cannot recruit high quality teachers when the buildings are so antiquated. When they see the poor working conditions, including the lack of air conditioning, they choose to work elsewhere.

Worn-out old buildings are also a drain on school spirit and a drain on grades. When our students travel for sports or band trips and see the school buildings in nearby districts, they wonder why they don’t deserve better. Dr. Glen Earthman, an education professor at Virginia Tech, has studied the relationship between building condition and school performance. Substandard buildings result in 10 percent lower scores on statewide tests and the effect is compounded yearly.

2. The school district budget is expected to run short beginning in 2018 and growing to a near $1 million deficit by 2020 according to the May financial forecast; what should the district do to address that deficit?

I reject the premise. I refuse to discuss the conditions of our surrender and concede defeat. We are one nation, and every child in this nation needs a quality education. Struggling school districts like Marietta cannot afford to pay for this entirely by themselves, and shouldn’t be expected to. The entire nation benefits from the education of the young citizens of Marietta, and the entire nation needs to help pay for it. Those educated young citizens may leave Marietta and never return, but they will always be Americans. If we don’t provide them with a quality education, we will only be stuck paying the bill for their welfare check or incarceration.

We need the vocal support of our state and federal representatives, and we need to demand more money from the state and federal government. We should demand that our representatives stop serving as accomplices to our starvation. They are voting for lower state and federal taxes, which means fewer dollars for struggling communities. I am not naive, however. The nation is still under the spell of the “low tax = growth” fantasy. That fantasy may have produced jobs in Columbus or Cleveland, but it only left Marietta with a severe cut in funding. Our state and federal legislators are trying to force us into an impossible situation, but I am not willing to go down without a fight. This may mean firing our current representatives and electing ones that will put the needs of Marietta first and fight for equitable school funding.

3. What qualities would you bring to the board that would benefit the students and employees of the district?

I represent what is possible in a rural public school. My parents were not doctors or rich; in fact, my father was a public school teacher. I was able to climb to the very top of the academic ladder, starting in a modest rural public school. I was an overachiever in school. I took the SATs in ninth grade, and left school after the 10th grade to start college. When I graduated from medical school at the University of Virginia, I was the youngest doctor in the state. I completed my eye surgery training in New York City and moved to Marietta 17 years ago to start practicing medicine. I have the utmost respect for the power of education to take you anywhere in life.

I can imagine what is possible. Think of the things that have given you hope about the future of Marietta, and my wife and I have been intimately involved in every one of them from the beginning: the bike path, the aquatic center and the Peoples Bank Theatre. I have also served on the board of Ely Chapman for many years. After every school day, we provide hot meals and homework tutoring to over 90 needy students in the Marietta school system, and we provide transportation daily from each of the schools. We make a real difference in the lives of these kids by having high expectations, holding them to rigorous standards and showing them that we care. I know we can improve our schools and our community. I’ve been quietly doing that for 17 years. We just need imagination.

John Lehman

¯ Age: 56.

¯ Address: 177 Stanleyville Road.

¯ Occupation: President, Alliance Industries, Inc.

¯ Previous public offices held: Trustee at Washington State Community College.

1. Do you support a plan that involves passing a levy to help pay for new school buildings within the next few years?

I support an intelligent and thoroughly vetted plan to construct the proper number of strategically-sized and sited new school buildings. It is highly likely that some of our existing school buildings can be restored and upgraded to serve our community for many more years. The location of any newly constructed buildings is key to community visibility and community support and to decreasing the cost of operating and maintaining them. A few years ago the concept of building, at least, a new high school on Washington State Community College’s 140-plus acre campus was bandied about. Speaking as a common citizen and not as an official trustee of the college, I really like this idea. The opportunities to share resources between the high school and the college would be many and unique. As a newly elected school board member at Marietta City Schools, I would form an ad hoc committee of experienced and wise taxpayers and communitarians to proffer support and guidance throughout the entire process of considering all of our options going forward.

2. The school district budget is expected to run short beginning in 2018 and growing to a near $1 million deficit by 2020 according to the may financial forecast; what should the district do to address that deficit?

The school system is operated day to day by an administration and is governed by a board. Neither have been doing their job properly as is evidenced by the recent publication of yet another dismal “report card” — mostly D’s and F’s. Again! Stupid test. Stupid test scorers. That pretty much sums up the current administration’s and the current board’s excuses as to what went wrong again this time. These scores inure to the financial plight that is about to befall Marietta City Schools. The current administration and board is running a jobs program, not an educational system. Their primary concern is to puff up their own compensation and contracts as quickly and quietly as possible before anybody notices. Witness Superintendent Will Hampton’s brand new five-year contract! His deal was unanimously stuffed down the throats of this community’s taxpayers by the current board including two guys running for re-election, Zane Lazer and Roger Bartunek. If MCS is in such dire straits financially, why was Hampton awarded a contract on a fully loaded basis, including approximately 40-some days of vacation and holidays per year? Why does he get a 5 percent guaranteed raise every year? Why are the taxpayers funding 100 percent of his retirement while the teachers and staff pay 6 percent of theirs? Why do we pay 100 percent of his health insurance when teachers and staff cover 15 percent of their fees? Something stinks at MCS, folks. What can “the district” do to remedy the oncoming deficit? How about elect a new board who can and will address the ineptness and, in my opinion, the corruption, at the administrative and board level?!

3. What qualities would you bring to the board that would benefit the students and employees of the district?

I will bring to the school board a focus and disciplined approach to rectifying MCS’ leadership issues. I will function as part of a cohesive five-member team to immediately deal with the obvious weaknesses at the administrative level. We will rank prioritize our top five to 10 objectives for the next 90, 180 and 360 days. We will bring pride back to Marietta City Schools. We will air condition our existing schools and we will begin the process to consider constructing new schools. We will open the MCS kimono and welcome parents and fair-minded communitarians back inside. We will form ad hoc working groups to address topics like “excellence in English” and “excellence in math,” “excellence in physics,” excellence in the arts,” excellence in Spanish,” you get the idea. Do you know that more than 70 percent of incoming freshmen at Washington State Community College who graduated from Marietta High School require remedial English and math? Is that acceptable? I think not. A community deserves the schools it has. We don’t have to invent the wheel. It’s already been created. We can model successful schools across America to find ideas for MCS. The opportunity is nigh. If you are thrilled with our schools at this juncture and trust the current administration and board to have your children’s and grandchildren’s best interests at heart, re-elect those who are currently serving. If you, like me, smell something rotten at MCS, vote for Doug Mallett, Mark Duckworth and me, John Lehman. We will do our level best to right the MCS ship.

Roger Bartunek

¯ Age: 69.

¯ Address: 108 Deerwalk Circle.

¯ Occupation: Retired educator.

¯ Previous public offices held: Washington County Superintendent for nine years, 12 years as the Washington County Career Center Superintendent; Currently serving on the Marietta board of education.

1. Do you support a plan that involves passing a levy to help pay for new school buildings within the next few years?

YES. Our newest building is more than 50 years old. Once again we are in a position to receive state funds to build new schools. It is difficult to teach 21st century skills in 19th century facilities. It is my hope that our community will take advantage of this opportunity to move into the 21st century. The base- line for future facilities plans must have a vision for the next 30 years. The facilities we currently have will not last for the next 30 years. Our students are as deserving of modern facilities as the top rated schools.

2. The school district budget is expected to run short beginning in 2018 and growing to a near $1 million deficit by 2020 according to the May financial forecast; what should the district do to address that deficit?

As in the past, we will have to adjust our student – staff ratios and look for more cost cutting measures. Currently, I see no excesses in our budget. A major problem with budgeting in the state of Ohio is that schools are required to forecast a five year budget while the state of Ohio provides the schools with a two year budget. So we need to focus on the two years for which we have accurate information. Based on this knowledge, I see no dangerous financial problems in the very near future. Yet we cannot be complacent, future funding is in danger of pushing our educational standards to the bare bone minimum. We must be proactive with regards to this problem by providing modern facilities, up- to- date curriculum and technology with a funding steam that will provide for our students not just for the near future but for many years to come. It is important to emphasize that I will never support budget cuts that endanger the safety or the educational welfare of our students.

3. What qualities would you bring to the board that would benefit the students and employees of the district?

First and foremost; A love for our children and those who care for them. I am a proud educator of 40 years. I have been involved in education in South-East Ohio for 35 of those years serving as a Custodian, Teacher, Elementary Principal, High School Principal, Vocational School Director, Washington County Superintendent, and Washington Career Center Superintendent. I truly care about education and the education of the students of Marietta.

Family life is important to me. I have been married for 43 years and have three adult children and two daughter-in-laws. Our family is completed with three grandchildren. Education is important to our family. My wife was a teacher for 37 years, a son who teaches special education, a daughter in-law who is a first grade teacher and a daughter who is a college administrator. We share a true joy of learning and educating.

I am involved in our community. I am an active member of the First Congregational Church. I volunteer for Franciscan Meal and am currently on the Marietta School Board. I am also an active volunteer of Buckeye Bulldog Rescue. In the past I served on United Way board, the Mental Health board, Rotary Executive Board and The Castle Board where I served as treasurer

I have been involved in running school levies, I have been responsible for school building projects, I have been responsible for school budgets, I have worked with school staff, I have worked with the community, and I chose to live in Marietta because it is a wonderful, caring community .

I am available if you have questions, concerns or ideas that you would like to share. You can reach me at rlbartunek@gmail.com

Stacey Hall

¯ Age: 51.

¯ Address: 1721 Glendale Road.

¯ Occupation: Former Marietta teacher.

¯ Previous public office held: None.

1. Do you support a plan that involves passing a levy to help pay for new school buildings within the next few years?

Yes, I do support a plan to help pass a levy or bond issue for the construction and/or renovation of our school buildings per recommendations provide by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission and with our voters’ approval. Our students, staff and community deserve modern, cost-effective, efficient schools with proper heating and cooling and access to technology. I will research and work towards whatever goal is put before me — as I feel the public should educate themselves also and continue to ask questions along the way.

2. The school district budget is expected to run short beginning in 2018 and growing to a near $1 million deficit by 2020 according to the May financial forecast; what should the district do to address that deficit?

In regards to any short comings in funds, the board needs to be prudent and closely look at the projections as they would their own household budgets. We need to prioritize and be realistic with our needs being meet within certain guidelines set before us. In the past, the voters have agreed to levies set before them and we need to work together to get that job done in gaining the voter’s confidence once again. We should continue to look for alternative answers provided by state and federal funding and pursue any avenues presented to our school system.

3. What qualities would you bring to the board that would benefit the students and employees of the district?

The qualities I am bringing to be a member of the board are that I am a parent, a former teacher and an avid volunteer in our community. I have raised two children in the MCS system. My daughter recently graduated from MHS, and is now a freshman at Ohio State, and my son is a sixth grader at MMS. I taught at both Phillips School and briefly at Washington Elementary studying the testing systems and reviewing “report cards” yearly as part of my job to increase student performance. I have worked with many staff members, outside groups, the BOE, and was a representative to our Marietta Education Association (union) helping members and working alongside of many teachers as an advocate. I am currently helping the PTO at MMS and volunteering with the United Way. I feel these experiences along with others has provided me with a good background of knowledge and encounters within and for the community.

J. Douglas Mallett

¯ Age: 63

¯ Address: 105 Skyvue Circle, Marietta.

¯ Occupation: owner/operator of several businesses.

¯Previous public offices held: None.

1. Do you support a plan that involves passing a levy to help pay for new school buildings within the next few years?

I believe we as adults have a responsibility to provide every child with the finest educational resources possible. While what makes a person ultimately successful varies greatly, the foundation of a quality education is paramount to any future achievement. Placing teachers and students in classrooms with temperatures upwards of 80-90 degrees greatly inhibits the ability to provide such an education.

A thorough assessment of our current facilities is the first step, but it appears to me that upgraded facilities that include air conditioning and innovative technology would be a responsible investment for the long-term growth of our students.

2. The school district budget is expected to run short beginning in 2018 and growing to a near $1 million deficit by 2020 according to the May financial forecast; what should the district do to address that deficit?

In order to make informed decisions on perceived fiscal deficits, the financial forecast needs further study to determine if the information provided represents a true financial shortfall. If it is determined that the district does have a projected budget deficit, I believe what needs to be addressed is the issue of spending prioritization.

3. What qualities would you bring to the board that would benefit the students and employees of the district?

My 40+ years of business experience has allowed me to build relationships within the community which I believe can be utilized for the benefit of our district, its employees and the students and families it serves. One of the essential parts in developing these business relationships has involved listening to the folks on the frontline, then evaluating what’s best for the group or organization.

I envision working along side the administration, teachers, support staff and the other board members to establish a progressive vision for our district. Once agreed to, it will be important to continuously monitor progress, reevaluate as we move forward, make adjustments as needed and hold all involved accountable, including us board members.

Prudence Knox Burgardt

¯ Age : 52

¯ Address: 435 Front St.

¯ Occupation: educator and small business owner

¯ Previous public office held: None.

1. Do you support a plan that involves passing a levy to help pay for new school buildings within the next few years?

Yes, I support a levy to improve our schools, update buildings and fund new school buildings. It is crucial if we want our children to succeed, be competitive in a fast changing world, be able to recruit top teachers and entice new families to move into our district. Our children deserve our help to achieve excellent learning environments that can support proper heat, air conditioning and technological needs. Studies show children will do better in improved schools, scores will be higher plus students and teachers will be more motivated and excited to learn and teach. My goal is to ensure our students and teachers are working in excellent environments and to help in finding ways to pay for it. We can not achieve that without community support and understanding that we can be so much better. We need your help to achieve this and understand the need to invest in our children and their future. I encourage any of you to volunteer in a classroom, mentor struggling or high achieving students, visit a school and speak with a teacher or administrator and discover the realities of our schools. Discover first hand the challenges they all face everyday. It is essential we invest in our students, share our expertise with the schools, improve the relationship between community and school to strengthen our own community.

2. The school district budget is expected to run short beginning in 2018 and growing to a near $1 million deficit by 2020 according to the May financial forecast; what should the district do to address that deficit?

I won’t use lack of funding as an excuse not to provide quality education for our children. We have many challenges in our community like understanding the needs of struggling families, how to improve the connection between families and our classrooms, providing mental health resources and seeking more advocates for children who will fight for basic health and safety needs that parents are not providing. We can provide a high level of education in spite of limited funding and challenges by utilizing untapped resources in our own community, seeking expertise from our colleges, museums, businesses and technology resources. We must reach out to experts in math, science, music, the arts, environmental education and local organizations that can help enrich and stimulate our classroom curriculum. Our children need to have access to these experienced professionals. It’s right here in our community! We need to work harder to build connections to these resources and stimulate those students that are needing more from a classroom and not getting enough of their individual needs met. Education thrives on partnership and collaboration within schools, between other schools, local groups, businesses and organizations. Families are active participants in the life of a school, need to feel welcomed, valued and connected to each other and with teachers and staff. I will use my years of working with a large school district in CA, educating children, business experience and being a committed and diligent community volunteer to help look for ways to improve these connections. I will work to communicate school goals to the community, research and find ways to fund exciting programs for students and ongoing professional development for teachers.

3. What qualities would you bring to the board that would benefit the students and employees of the district?

Trust and compassion are important qualities I can bring to a school board . I am a dedicated parent of two Marietta students, an educator who understands the needs of our schools, hard working and active in the school community, local organizations like 4-H and Camp Hervida and volunteers whenever asked especially if kids are involved.

I have many years of business and manufacturing experience, working with kids and facing challenges in lack of funding. I began offering art and outdoor educational experiences to children when I saw a need in the schools and witnessed kids craving to have opportunities no longer offered. I serve on the Hervida Board because I want to make sure we keep 200 acres of woods and creeks available to kids.

I understand the frustrations of teachers and parents and will help communicate these concerns to the board and administration. I understand teachers trying to encourage parents to be active participants in their child’s education and I can visualize improvements needed to connect parents to the classroom. I see the needs of really bright kids wanting more from our schools.

As a creative and innovative thinker, I know how to utilize untapped resources that are overlooked and can find ways to pay for it. I understand the needs of this community and will fight for the arts, music and physical education to remain in our schools. I’ve spent my life working in education, creative fields and problem solving.

I’ve been inspired by many extraordinary people, teachers and experiences all over this country, those of which I can bring to the school board. I will be a strong advocate for children, teachers and parents and I will fight to have excited, motivated and confident kids graduating from Marietta City Schools.

Mark Duckworth

¯ Age: 50

¯ Address: 2755 Caywood Road, Marietta.

¯ Occupation: Self-employed business owner.

¯ Previous public offices held: None.

1. Do you support a plan that involves passing a levy to help pay for new school buildings within the next few years?

Public education in today’s world is a tremendous challenge. Marietta City Schools are faced with many issues both today and into the future. Very close to home are new schools being built in Williamstown and Warren. We have five private schools in our community for parents to choose from. We have more and more students who are home schooled and there is a continual rise of students who are entering online education. Young families must choose where to live and the quality of a school system is often the deciding factor. We have not built a building in over 50 years which is a very long time for any community. We currently have two tax levies running on our property taxes. We certainly need to examine how much more it would take to have new and efficient buildings. The key word here is “efficient.” We must be efficient with regard to all aspects of our school district. Better efficiency allows more revenue to be directed towards teachers and teacher’s aides who have by far the greatest impact on our children. With improved efficiency and proper management, we may find it is not as expensive as we think to have modern facilities. Is anyone really satisfied with the alternative?

2. The school district budget is expected to run short beginning in 2018 and growing to a near $1 million deficit by 2020 according to the May financial forecast; what should the district do to address that deficit?

When you are elected to oversee a public entity you must work within the budget. My education and years of experience have followed the pattern that you cannot spend 100 percent of your budget. In other words, you have to have a rainy day fund. Successful operations always have reserves that can be allocated when an unplanned need surfaces. A percentage of the annual budget should be directed to this fund on an annual basis. I feel strongly that we need to control what we can control to the best of our ability. Federal and state mandates will constantly change so we must be ready and not be blindsided or ill prepared. This means being proactive not reactive at all times. I have great confidence in our district treasurer, but he needs some help. Marietta City School does not have a human resource / business manager despite having over 300 employees. This position could pay for itself 10 fold by constantly evaluating the needs of teachers and students and to make us more efficient.

3. What qualities would you bring to the board that would benefit the students and employees of the district?

My family has lived together for five generations on our family farm. Marietta is our home, our pride and our passion. Anything you do in life must be done with pride and passion if it is going to be successful and have lasting meaning. I have been taught work ethic and family values from day one. I understand Tiger history and have worked hard to honor some of them with the creation of the Athletic Hall of Fame. People will only give back if they once had a great experience. That is the goal that I have for every child in Marietta City Schools.

We must give our children a foundation for a lifetime. This comes from contact with outstanding teachers who put their heart and all their energy into our students. It also comes through the arts, through our clubs and through our sports. If elected, I will work tirelessly to make our schools as efficient and effective as possible so someday these young people can give back and help others in need.