Four candidates, including two incumbents, plan to seek one of three open seats on the five-member Medina school board in November.
Incumbents Tom Cahalan and Doug Adamczyk plan to run in November. Board member Bill Grenfel has said he won’t seek re-election. Residents Ron Ross and Robert Skidmore also have filed with the Medina County Board of Elections.
As of Thursday afternoon, at least two other people had taken out petitions to run for a board seat — Angela Kovacs and Bryon Macron. Kovacs and Macron have not yet filed their petitions and did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Skidmore also could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The filing deadline is 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Cahalan, who has filed to run, was appointed by the school board in March to fill a vacancy left by Dr. Robert Wilder’s retirement. He works as a personal trainer at the Medina Recreation Center and is the former owner of TLC Packaging Inc.
Adamczyk, who was appointed in April to replace Charles Freeman following Freeman’s resignation, said he is completing his petitions and plans to file them within the next few days. He holds a bachelor’s degree in management and works for First Priority Financial Inc.
Ross said he decided to run after he “started learning about how the schools are funded and … had a lot of questions about where the money is going.”
In March, The Gazette reported the board renewed Superintendent Randy Stepp’s contract in January for another five years and awarded an $83,000 signing bonus. A review of the perks outlined in Stepp’s contract showed the district had spent more than $250,000 on Stepp’s college loans for his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in education, and a master of business administration degree from Case Western Reserve University, awarded in 2012.
In April, Stepp was placed on paid leave, pending the outcome of a special state audit over his use of the district’s “carryover fund” held by the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center.
Shortly after he was placed on leave, the school board voted to rescind Stepp’s contract, saying it violated the state’s open meetings laws.
Stepp then sued the board and other school officials, which resulted in a countersuit against Stepp on behalf of the board.
On Monday, J.R. Russell Jr. a school district taxpayer, filed a lawsuit against the board and Stepp, asking that Stepp’s contract be declared invalid because of open meetings laws violations.
But Ross, who ran unsuccessfully against board member Susan Vlcek and board President Karla Robinson in 2011, said the March events aren’t the reason he’s running for office.
“I’m not doing it because of recent events, I’m not doing it because of what happened in March,” Ross said. “I’m doing it because I still care. I still have the same principles.”
Earlier this year, community members led by Mark Kuhar collected signatures on a petition that asked Vlcek and Robinson to resign. Kuhar did not include Grenfell in the campaign because he already had declared he wouldn’t seek re-election. Cahalan and Adamczyk weren’t asked to step down because they were appointed to serve on the board after Stepp’s contract was approved in January.
Ross said he is withholding judgment on Robinson and Vlcek until the district audit is complete.
“If we want them to resign, I think we should have an independent investigator’s results in hand first,” Ross said. “We don’t know what the results of that will be, and they may surprise us.”
Even though Ross said the March events didn’t factor into his decision to run, he said he was upset to learn about the $83,000 bonus.
“It’s just not right — $83,000 could have put more kids on an athletic field; it could have paid for more algebra classes,” Ross said.
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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