April 24, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
36°F

Six vying for three Medina school board seats

The race for the Medina city school board is filled with newcomers to politics. They say that’s not a negative, arguing that new blood is exactly what is needed to restore trust in the school board following eight months of turmoil over allegations of fiscal mismanagement involving Superintendent Randy Stepp’s contract.

Six people are running for three open seats. The new board members will face immediate challenges, including replacing board members Karla Robinson and Susan Vlcek, who have pledged to resign before their terms end to allow the newly elected members to choose their replacements.

The new board members will also need to choose a new superintendent.

Last week, the board voted to start the process of firing Stepp, who has been on paid leave since April 8, after a special state audit reported he improperly spent $4,121, which must be repaid.

The new board members also will have to deal with a federal lawsuit filed by Stepp in response to the school board’s decision to rescind his five-year contract, which included an $83,000 signing bonus that sparked a public uproar.

Two of the candidates, Tom Cahalan and Doug Adamczyk, are incumbents, who were appointed to board to fill vacancies left by the resignations of members who had approved Stepp’s contract in January.

Douglas J. Adamczyk

Adamczyk, 41, lives in Medina and has two children. He is a regional manager for mortgage sales for First Priority Financial. Adamczyk replaced board President Charley Freeman, who resigned in March.

Adamczyk is running a joint campaign with Cahalan — both their names appear on their yard signs.

He said he wants to continue to build on what he and Cahalan have done since being appointed.

“Specifically, I want to continue focusing on transparency to the community, open and active communication with school employees and the community, fiscal responsibility, and increasing the educational offerings of the district,” he said.

Adamczyk stressed the importance of providing more educational opportunities.

“We have one chance to educate our children,” he said. “We need to ensure that our children are provided with the best resources and tools for that education to occur.”

Adamczyk serves on the board’s two-member finance committee, which meets regularly with school treasurer Jim Hudson to go over district finances.

Tom Cahalan

Cahalan, 50, is married with two children, and works as a personal trainer at the Medina Community Recreation Center, and is the retired owner of TLC Packaging. He has lived in Medina for 21 years.

Cahalan replaced Dr. Robert Wilder, who resigned in February.

He said his main goal if elected is: “to help the Medina city community members remain informed and involved.”

“Since being appointed to the board in March, this has been priority No. 1 for me,” he said. “The outcomes of that idea are: rebuilding the trust of the community back in district leadership; having the public know what the current district issues are, how they can give input and be part of the process, and then what are the outcomes of those discussions/decisions; and have the community regain a sense of ownership with public education, Medina City Schools and our students.”

Cahalan also serves as financial secretary for Connection Church and Northeast Ohio Division 1 Swimming sectional coordinator for the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

Eric L. Carpenter

Carpenter, 50, a Medina Township resident, is married and has one daughter. Carpenter, his wife and daughter all graduated from Medina schools.

He works in showroom sales at Wolff Bros. Supply, and is a lifelong resident of the Medina City School district. He has not run for a political office before.

“The most important thing I will accomplish is regaining the confidence of the community in the administration of the schools,” he said. “I will strive for excellence in our educational curriculum, while maintaining fiscal responsibility.”

Carpenter said he wants to include the community in the board’s major decisions. “Going forward, we’re going to listen to the community,” he said. “There’s an awful lot of great ideas out there. We’re going to intertwine those ideas.”

 

 

Angie Kovacs

Kovacs, 43, lives in Medina and is married with five children. She owns a small business and works as a running coach and graphic designer.

This is her first time running for office. If elected, Kovacs said her No. 1 focus would be on academics.

“It is time for us to move past the events of the past several months and focus on educating the children,” she said. “They’ve lost so many classes and services that they need and deserve. As a community, we can now work together to rebuild the district.”

Kovacs said she would like to see the number of study halls reduced at the high school and middle schools.

“I would very much like to see the electives restored at those schools,” she said. “I would also like to see the addition of foreign language at the elementary level. The best time to learn a foreign language is when you’re young.”

Kovacs is a board member of the Medina County Road Runners and volunteers for the Patriot Runners, a charity that helps wounded veterans.

Ronald Ross

Ross, 55, a Medina resident, is married with two children, both of whom graduated from Medina schools. He is retired from the Medina Police Department and U.S. Army.

An ultra-marathon runner, he has worked part-time in Homeland Security at Cleveland Hopkins Airport and at Carlson Funeral Home, Brunswick.

Ross ran for the board in 2011, but was not elected. He has not held an elected office before.

If elected, Ross said he would like to “be a good steward of our community’s tax dollars.”

“I would support spending the necessary money to constantly improve our children’s education,” he said. “I would support keeping a staff of well-qualified educators, to give our kids as many opportunities as possible, and encourage responsible spending geared specifically toward educating our children.”

Ross also said the new board needs to “get it right when we hire our new superintendent.”

“This is very critical as we move forward and move away from a past culture that was filled with some poor decisions and impropriety,” he said.

He serves on the recently formed Medina School District Community Finance Committee and the Medina Community Recreation Center Advisory committee. He is also a member of the Medina County Road Runners and volunteers with the Hospice of Medina County.

Robert C. Skidmore

Skidmore, 43, a Montville Township resident, is married with two children. He is an attorney with Skidmore and Hall Co. and title agency owner of Transfer Title Agency, Inc.

Skidmore is also focused on regaining community trust.

“The board needs to regain the trust of the community,” he said. “The only way to restore public confidence is by the board of education proving to the voters that they have the children of Medina as their top priority within the district.”

Financial responsibility is a priority for Skidmore as well. “All future decisions should be evaluated to determine if the dollars being spent are in the best interest of the children of our district,” he said.

As for political offices, Skidmore was appointed as a Republican precinct committeeman last year to fill a vacant position.

Skidmore has served on the board of directors of the Medina City Schools Foundation since 2008, and was president through June this year. He said he would resign from the foundation if elected to the school board, because serving on both would be a conflict of interest. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that funds scholarships and tutoring in the district.

He also has served on the board of advisors of the Medina Salvation Army since 2006.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.

 

  • Kids Last Medina

    Not one of these candidates has the guts to stand up and speak against this levy as being wrong and not for the kids of the District. Instead, they all support the levy purposed by the still corrupt Board and incompetent Knight as for the Kids, when in fact, it is not. A so called new Board should come up with their own ideas and strategies in how to fund the schools, and be able to think outside the box as the votes have urged them to do with the repeated levy failings. Being able to fund the schools without causing any additional costs is not that hard to figure out, if you think outside the box. Instead that bumbling buzzing Knight and the corrupt Robinson, Grenfel, Vlcek, as well as the sheep Cahalan and Adamczyk (rolling over and following the corrupt flock). And they say they are kids first……hahaha. VOTE NO FOR THE LEVY. For the new Board to this outside the box and come up with new and their own ideas to fund the schools without taxpayer support. nnI will give them one idea to start. If you privatize bussing, not only will you create jobs, Heritage will stay open, Middleschool sports will remain, teachers will be added, with the savings, AND, will not costs the taxpayers a dime. It’s amazing those school Board fools and the elementary thinking Knight can not figure this out, instead threaten to take away these thinks from the kids they say they love. They are a joke!!!!!

  • Lee5655

    “For the new Board to this outside the box and come up with new and their own ideas to fund the schools without taxpayer support.” Are you serious? How can you be so critical of others when you are unable to even write a coherent, grammatically correct sentence? And by the way, schools have to be funded with taxpayer support. That’s why they are called “public” schools. As for your notion about privatizing bussing, why don’t you share some budgetary specifics on how such a plan would work?

  • lige

    What concerns me, and will concern me till I see it changed is the people that are still in admin and were (and probably still are) Stepp’s buddies. I am sure the above people will do as well as they can, but we still have the same people that were in Stepp’s inner circle or on the edge of that circle.nnnThese people knew what was going down. And take a really close look at the former treasurer before the current. He let Stepp do whatever he wanted. The business manager was in on the shady dealings of dismissed staff. nnnPeople, please don’t buy into current board president saying this is a surprise, they have no clue, they don’t micromanage. If you wanted a job/position you knew what game had to be played. And I know that there are so many that support the interim super, and I am sure that as a person he can be a nice guy….but I saw this nice guy being that way if you had the money and title, NOT if you had a child who needed special help.nnnI think that anyone new on this board is going to have to prove a whole lot to a lot of people. I think that there is still some major housecleaning that needs to be done. The current board and upper admin are very quick to throw anyone they can under the bus to make them look like they had no part in this. I don’t believe them and I don’t trust them. nnn I totally agree that things were done improperly due to the master manipulator. It’s sad but amazing how one person can be such a puppeteer that they can control so many people. Seems like there have been a few of those through history.nnnAgain I will say. more housecleaning is needed before I can trust and have confidence. Sadly that still means a no vote for me.

  • OhioGuy10

    And we wonder why there is a bullying issue inside ournschools u2013 Kids learn from their parents. Can we disagree civilly?nnThere are questions about the levy that should be answered.nThis so called plan really lacks any creative thinking and does come across asnusing scare tactics. nnBussing is an area that money can be saved on as well asnfood service, maintenance and general administrative expense. Other countynschools have done away with community schools and performance has improved andnmoney has been saved. But they planned for it in their construction, Medina hasnnot. The truth is Medina should have planned for it when they built the newnschools and we might be seeing some savings by now. Have any of you asked for public recordsnrequest to see what bussing cost us? Sure we can argue it is a safety issuenbut at least Medina has sidewalks. Some county schools have less and their kidsndo not have sidewalks to walk to school. It is a public school and thencommunity decides how to fund by voting on levies. The school has the responsibility to benfiscal watch dogs in addition to curriculum. Being in the people business ournsalaries and benefits are a huge chunk of our budget but we should also be ablento leverage that brain power for more creative solutions. The Union is always concerned about number ofnjobs and raises. Do any of the candidates know how much the school districtnpays a year on substitutes? It will astound you. If the teachers really cared they would helpnbring this number down. If it was cut 25% they could have the reading intervention specialist they desire and wenreally need with money to spear. nnBottom line is we have seen some change but a lot of people whonallowed this to happen are still there and are not going away. The ESC is not connectednto MCS but I would expect their Superintendent to be gone soon as well. Wenstill need a new treasurer (They control the money). Say the board knew nothing about this (I donu2019tnbelieve that) how can a treasurer not reconcile the books (Check Invoices tonwhat was voted on) and track this money? nYou do have checks and balances in schools. It is the board, Super, Treasurer.nand the Union. We had multiple failures and not enough has changed to warrant additionalnfunds. We need to answer the bussing, absenteeism, and other issues. nnCutting sports, closing buildings: very unimaginative andnscare tactics. How much do we save byncutting sports? Does that include the lost funding we will have for thenstudents if they transfer because we do not offer sports? Do we even have anplan for that? How many have transferrednalready? Have you done a survey of Middle school parents and Athletes? Who would make a plan without researchingnthat? Our buildings are constructed for community schools but now we are threateningnbanded concepts. We as a school districtnhave lacked strategic thinking and we are now paying the price. And so will the kids. Do not ask me to movenforward without change. Real change.

  • lige

    Excellent points! I am in total agreement regarding the treasurer. I realize that he inherited a big mess from the previous. Seriously if people were to go back and check on the previous treasurer they would be amazed…that guy was collecting a paycheck and he checked on NOTHING. BUT the new guy should have been scrutinizing everything to see what had been going on. The ESC screwed up big time, but the one thing I keep going back to is manipulation by the master manipulator. I have found it curious that MCS is the only one that had this problem, out of all the districts within Medina County. Of course my problem also is that I never trusted that manipulator, from day one. Shady.nnnI dont like the scare tactics, never did. I think there needs to be more thought into what needs to be done to get this district back on the way to being a district that people will want to move to and support. To keep threatening to chip away everything just isnt going to work for me any more.

  • Bob

    Sorry Angie, but you lost our family’s votes today. There are so many NEEDS before a WANT of elementary foreign languages. I fear that you would be over your head when it came to prioritizing for our district. You appear to want it all without a plan or an idea of the costs to implement all the things that you would bring back or offer in the schools. I know that you truly care about the kids but you don’t have the experience or financial background to be in charge of the millions and millions of dollars the school board would help to allocate. Right now you appear to be appeasing everyone’s personal ideas and requests to gather votes. Board members will be making hard decisions if the levy fails and the only thing that I am hearing is a wish list of courses, reinstatement of bussing, keeping Heritage open and consideration everyone’s wants. I don’t feel that you have a realistic grasp of the big picture. Your efforts for the schools are appreciated but you are not the best choice in our opinion.

  • Guest

    Public schools can’t privatize or charge for bussing; it’s illegal. What other ideas do you have?

  • You are wrong

    Euclid public schools did it this year…know your facts!

  • OhioGuy10

    Guest- you are incorrect. There are many companies that do this. It is an innovative change and thinking outside the box. You can control cost and you do not have to manage day to day. The cons – you lose local control and entering the human factor in decisions. Your neighbor may not be your bus driver anymore. Not sold 100% on it but it is something to look at.

  • Angie Kovacs

    Thank you for your comments, Bob. I respect your opinion and appreciate your willingness to share it with me. I can tell you will use your vote(s) in a way you feel will most benefit our district and the children in it, which is great.nnI don’t consider foreign language to be a frivolous elective, but something that will greatly benefit the kids in this day and age. The benefits of learning a second language at an early age go far beyond njust the ability to speak it. nnThe fiscal responsibility needed in our district is understood not just by me but by all of the candidates. The money that the district does have needs to be spent in a way that benefits and prepares kids for the nfuture, and that is one way I believe we can do that. nnThank you again for your feedback, and for taking the time to get to know the candidates. That’s more important now than ever.nn–Approved by the Committee to Elect Angie Kovacs, 1114 N. Court Street #109, Medina Ohio 44256

  • Paid Leave

    Wasn’t Ron Ross put on paid administrative leave when he was a public servant for the City of Medina. I thought the Gazette would do a little investigative reporting on this.

  • Jimmy Igloo

    It should be quite apparent to any serious candidate that when students at the high school can’t even take the math courses they need, we are not even remotely close to the prospect of adding foreign language courses at the elementary level. I urge you to vote for a candidate other than Ms. Kovacs.

  • Concerned

    Well said. Many Ohio districts now use contract busing at a considerable savings. As for the proposed cuts, I totally agree. Mr. Knight and the Board have taken the easy way out and Knight wouldn’t know creativity if it hit him in the face. The community I came from went from 7 grade schools and 2 middle schools and a high school to a single combined campus where resources such as food service, gyms, locker rooms, art rooms, etc. could all be shared and cost savings was major. ( Elementary building services multiple class rooms of grades K-5 and it works perfectly.) Also saved a lot of money on Principals, admin staff, janitorial, and support services like plowing and mowing and building expenses.nI say to the Board – if the Levy fails and most likely will due to your incompetence and lack of any realistic budget planning – put together a community based planning subcommittee to address the spending needs. And when you do – unlike the way the Finance Oversight Committee was almost secretly formed – open up applications to the public and make sure the public has a chance to participate. I think you’ll be amazed at the good ideas that come in. Sure there will be some bad ones, but that will be the committee’s responsibility to keep it real. Matter of fact, the committee might just be beneficial even if the Levy does pass. It’s obvious that the Board lacks judgment, creativity, and a big picture view so now its time for the community and taxpayers to take back control..nOne final point! In my opinion and that of many others I have talked with, the absolute FIRST AND FOREMOST project is to get the search started for a new superintendent ASAP. Make sure more than just the Board interviews potential candidates, Find a Smart, Progressive, Leader – rather than a self-centered egotistical crook – give them a fair compensation package that is publicly reviewed, with possible improvements for proven positive performance and get the District moving forward once more. nAnd one final request to the new Board. GET RID OF THE REMAINING TWO “OLD” BOARD MEMBERS NOW, NOT NEXT YEAR!!!

  • OhioGuy10

    Onenmore comment though I doubt many will see it. I spoke with one of thesencandidates and I mentioned the CUPP report and they had no clue. This report isnpublished by the Ohio Department of Education and is wonderful to see where thenmoney comes from and where it goes. nThree of our main county schools seem to be operating quite well,nWadsworth, Highland and Buckeye. Three seem to struggle spending well overn$1,000 per student than the other three. I would like to ask those schoolndistricts what they are doing to keep cost down. We have the highestninstructional cost per student in the county yet we need more teachers. We alsonhave the lowest test scores. Two of the underperforming districts share antreasurer (Medina and Cloverleaf) so how is this working out? I do want to know how Wadsworth operates at almostn$1,700 less per student than Medina but can build those great buildings andnhave better test scores. How does Highland give raises and operate at $1,300nless per student? How does little Buckeye operate at $1,300 less than Medina?nShouldnu2019t economies of scale work in favor of the larger schools? Until these questions are answered and we getnreal leadership with the folks that allowed this mess to happen out I do notnsee how anyone can ask for more money. The kids will suffer and that is bad butnwe are a very underperforming school district that needs help. Morencash is just a band aid and an expensive one. We do not need an outrage pagenthat creates more sheep but a facts page that lets us know we can operate at thensame level of the top performing districts in the county at least (Highland,nBuckeye and Wadsworth). When we are in the same ball park I will support morenmoney but I will not throw away more money on poor performance to a Treasurernwho allows this to happen. Glad Stepp is gone but that should be only the beginning.