The field in the Frontier Local Board of Education election has dropped from six candidates to four, apparently out of concern over splitting votes among opponents of the expected closure of Lawrence Elementary School.
Half a dozen people filed to run for one of the two open seats on the board by the Aug. 10 deadline for the November election. But Lawrence Township residents Kurt Bohlen and Malkom Kidd later withdrew from the race.
Another candidate, Little Muskingum volunteer fire Chief Ron Warren, of Dart, said he, Bohlen, Kidd and fellow candidate Ricky Kroll Jr. discussed the matter together. Warren said with so many candidates from the Lawrence area running, there was a chance none would get elected.
"We came to a decision amongst the four of us which ones should run," said Warren, 49. "Hopefully, we made the right decision."
Superintendent Bruce Kidder announced earlier this year that he had board approval to begin the process of closing Lawrence, although a final vote has not been taken. Some Lawrence supporters have urged the board to wait until after new board members take office to make the decision.
Although Lawrence is the least expensive school in the district to run, it also has the lowest enrollment, with about 70 students. Kidder has said the bigger savings would come from reducing the number of teachers the district employs.
Frontier Local Board of Education candidates:
Justin Hoff, 120 Hendricks St., Newport (incumbent).
Ricky L. Kroll Jr., 8300 State Route 260, New Matamoras.
Jennifer Ramsey, 2015 Reynolds Run Road, Newport.
Ronald D. Warren, 15113 State Route 26, Reno.
Kurt G. Bohlen, 353 Cow Run Road, Marietta.
Malkom L. Kidd, 5895 Pleasant Ridge Road, Marietta.
Warren said the potential closure of Lawrence, along with the proposed 0.75 percent earned income tax levy on the November ballot, inspired him to run.
"I'd like to see (Lawrence) stay open," he said. "If there's justified reasons to close it that I don't know of, that'd be something to look at. But right now, I don't know of any justified reasons."
Kroll, a 30-year-old Bloomfield resident, said he's been asked what school his 1 1/2-year-old daughter will attend and he hasn't decided yet. But he said he would like to see all three of the district's elementary schools stay open.
"You hear all kinds of things. You don't really know the whole situation until you look at the figures," he said. "I want to make (the decision) based on my opinion, not siding with anybody."
Kroll said he's running out of a desire to provide what's best for all the students in the district.
Independence Township resident Jennifer Ramsey, 35, said she's been considering a run for a while and wants to get involved with her children's future. She has a daughter in the eighth grade at Frontier Middle School and another in first grade at Newport Elementary.
"There's a lot of tough issues coming up," she said. "I want to make sure (decisions are made) for the good of the district, not just for individual schools."
Ramsey said she doesn't particularly want to see Lawrence close but would support it if it made financial sense for the district as a whole.
The fourth candidate, incumbent Justin Hoff, said the closure of Lawrence is not a sure thing at this point.
"We'll keep listening to what the people have to say," he said.
Hoff said he originally thought a decision would be made in October or November, but said it does not matter to him if the vote doesn't come until after the new year.