WADSWORTH — Incumbent Chuck Pfeister faces five challengers Tuesday for three seats on the Wadsworth school board.
A seventh candidate, Ron Mendel, dropped out last month.
On the ballot with Pfeister are Jason Arnold, Julie Batey, Mark Casalinova, Amanda E. Gordon, and Donald Thomas to compete with Pfeister.
Arnold, an IT manager for a New Orleans-based tech company, and director of communications for the Wadsworth Amateur Soccer Association, said the budget will be the board’s focal point.
“Property reassessments will be lowering taxes and money will not be coming in like it has, so we’ll have to make sure we get the money to make sure the kids get a good education without cutting programs,” he said.
Donald A. Thomas
Thomas, a quality assurance manager for a local company that makes power generation and environmental equipment, said some hard decisions may need to be made and he will look at all means of keeping the district fiscally solvent.
“We need to be defining where we want to be, and make sure we are staying focused on the quality of education of our students, and to make sure we’re defining how much money we are willing to spend per pupil to achieve that quality level,” he said. “Along with academics, I want to see if the schools can define where they want to be with athletics and arts programs and extracurricular activities.”
Mark J. Casalinova
Casalinova is a self-employed fire investigator and private investigator. He’s the co-chairman for the Wadsworth Stadium Committee and coaches seventh-grade football.
Casalinova agrees the budget will be the big issue and says he’ll seek alternative funding options.
“To keep the school system sound, I want to look at external funding like corporate donations and sponsors,” he said.
Batey, a stay-at-home mother of two, is president of WHYS United, the parent-teacher group for Wadsworth Schools. She served as chairwoman of the district’s levy committee in 2011, is current chairwoman of the Medina Metropolitan Housing Authority and joined the Wadsworth Lions Club this year.
Batey said she would like to seek outside funding sources to keep the district up to its recent standards.
“I would like to look at ways to increase our funding through grants and developing partnerships with our community in order to enhance our children’s educational experience,” she said.
Amanda E. Gordon
Gordon, is an attorney with Cleveland business law firm Roetzel & Andress. She is president of the Valleyview School WHYS, first vice president for WHYS United, a Wadsworth Youth Baseball and Softball Association member, and previously served on the board of governors for the Case Western Reserve University Law School.
Gordon said keeping children learning at a high level is the board’s No. 1 priority, but knows board members will have their work cut out for them.
“I want to ensure that our district can continue to be as strong as possible and provide the best education for all the children in Wadsworth,” she said. “But there will be continued challenges with funding, and some of the continuing requirements with respect to curriculum that we’re going to have to face as well.”
Pfeister owns and operates Chuck’s Barber Shop, and has been on the board for the past four years and served eight years before that. He has ties to sports and band boosters and ran for Wadsworth mayor in 2007 and state representative for the 97th district in 2002.
Pfeister said his record on the board speaks for itself, and cites the school’s 10-year track record of receiving an “excellent with distinction” rating from the Ohio Department of Education.
“We don’t have a school building beyond 13 years old. We just finished the stadium and turned Overlook into administrative offices. We went out and hired the best young superintendent the state had to offer. We have passed a levy recently and settled a teachers contract,” he said.
“It’s very simple. We have had 10 years of excellence with distinction, and the past three years, I think, we’ve been voted the best in Medina County, and I want to keep it that way.”
Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.