June 27, 2016

Partly cloudy

Medina School Board picks Cahalan to replace Wilder

MEDINA — The Medina city school board has appointed Thomas Cahalan to fill the spot left vacant by Dr. Robert Wilder last month.

Cahalan works as a personal trainer at the Medina Community Recreation Center, and is the former owner of TLC Packaging Inc. Cahalan has lived in the district for 21 years.

Thomas Cahalan

In a statement released Saturday, Medina school board members said they appointed Cahalan for his “independent thinking, a calling to serve the community, high integrity, and personal experience relevant to the kinds of decision-making that boards face.”

Cahalan was selected from a field of 13 candidates. Seventeen candidates had filled out applications for the position, but four withdrew their names before the board conducted interviews Friday and Saturday.

In an interview Sunday, Cahalan said he hopes to help restore faith in the board following community furor over contract benefits and bonuses awarded by the board to Superintendent Randy Stepp.

“I would like to see us rise above it, and it seems that’s difficult to do because everyone enjoys conflict and getting fired up, but I’m hoping we can get people behind the Medina banner to do something positive for the kids,” he said.

Cahalan will have to run in the November election for a full, four-year term.

Two other board seats — now held by Bill Grenfell and board President Charles Freeman — also will be up for grabs in November.

Cahalan said he has been disappointed in the services provided by the school because of cutbacks in recent years.

His son was a 2011 graduate of Medina High School. But when his daughter finished eighth grade at Claggett Middle School, Cahalan took advantage of open enrollment to transfer her to Akron’s Firestone High School.

Cahalan said he made the move because many of the courses available to his son were no longer offered at Medina High.

“There were substantial holes because of failing levies,” Cahalan wrote in his application to board members. “I am seeking a seat on the BOE because this should not be the case for other families similar to mine in the future.”

Cahalan said he was encouraged to run for a board seat by Mark Dolan, who served on the board through 2011.

“I have talked to my friend Mark Dolan on several occasions about my passion to maintain the highest level of school curriculum in the Medina City Schools while being as fiscally responsible as possible to the whole community,” he wrote in his application.

Cahalan said he hopes his business background will be useful in helping to manage the district.

“My thought is, with renewed interest, even though it’s negative now, I’m hoping a new board with me on it can get things moving forward to look at positive stuff,” he said. “The school board is taking it on the chin a bit — maybe the new guy can bridge the gap.”

A spokesperson said Cahalan will be sworn in at the school board meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Medina High School Distance Learning lab.

Contact Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or at lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.