In the last four years, the Marietta City Schools Board of Education has made great strides when it comes to longterm planning for the district, technology and security improvements and academic offerings.
Not everything we would want in place is there just yet, but the board has taken appropriate-sized steps toward longterm, major goals while staying fiscally responsible within a challenging budget.
The current board members don't always agree but they seem to work well together, and we'd like to see the board stay intact.
Three seats are open in Tuesday's election and three incumbents-Wendy Myers, 43, Don Atkins, 73, and Karen Burton, 74-are running along with challenger John Lehman, 52. The incumbents have been on the board since 2008, 2010 and 2009, respectively.
The five board members now sitting represent a good mix of occupational and educational backgrounds from business to technology to construction to law enforcement. The board is effective, and has been making progress and completing projects. We'd like to see what they can do with more time together.
Lehman has said Marietta City Schools has a "culture of mediocrity" and blames the administration but most of his specific complaints and future goals seem to be related to athletics, not academics, facilities or any other core matters of a school district.
He says the board is too hands off and wants board members to be more involved in things like coach selection, coach evaluations and renewals, all things we feel are primarily the role of the administrators the board hires.
Lehman could still play a key role in the district without being a board member. He has the goal of opening the Tiger Center of Excellence, a facility where students could go to use a weight room, computer lab, receive tutoring and more. It would be an expensive endeavor but we feel sure Lehman could take it on and find community support for it. He has already helped to create a foundation in the district, the Tiger Touchdown Club, which supports Marietta sports programs.
The current board members have many accomplishments to be proud of. Atkins and Myers helped reactivate the district IT committee to expand technology offerings, while Burton, a retired teacher, brings her valuable input to curriculum and personnel issues. Myers visits the schools, makes sure to be knowledgeable on all issues and isn't afraid to have debate. For example, she opposed the recent construction project at Marietta High School. Atkins is also an active board member, taking it upon himself to have ALICE security training at The Ohio State University before it was implemented in the schools. All have sought more input from parents by instituting a parent survey, which has had a strong level of participation.
We think they have the best interests of the students, staff and taxpayers in mind and will continue serving the district well.