July 24, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Eastwood, Givelekian excited to join Medina school board

Nick Glunt and Nancy Johnson | The Gazette

The Medina School Board has named Doug Eastwood and Tracy Givelekian to fill two seats left vacant on the five-member board by the resignations of Karla Robinson and Susan Vlcek.

Eastwood, 50, of Medina Township, is a 1981 graduate of Medina High School. He owns and operates his own company, Medina Excavating. Eastwood applied for a position on the board in 2013.

Givelekian, 46, of Montville Township, has lived in the district for more than seven years and serves as a senior associate/editor at ICF International. Givelekian is a building levy coordinator for Sidney Fenn Elementary School and is PTO president-elect of Sidney Fenn Elementary.

Board President Tom Cahalan and board members Doug Adamczyk and Robert Skidmore met in a closed-door executive sessions Friday and Saturday to interview the 10 candidates for the positions and announced their decision Sunday afternoon.

“The good news is we had 10 really good candidates,” Cahalan said, “but that means it was a hard decision.”

Cahalan said the board deliberated for a total of about six hours Saturday and Sunday.

“We went over each candidate’s pluses and minuses,” he said. “We also were looking for complementary talents to ours.”

Before beginning deliberations, Cahalan said, “We’re looking for involved members of our community who are supportive of our schools and who have the experience to add value to the board.”

Cahalan said Eastwood meets those criteria.

“Doug has lived here his whole life. He owns a family business in town that was passed down to him,” he said. “He has been involved in the school system — he has two kids in the schools.”

Cahalan said the board also was impressed by Eastwood’s personality.

“He has a real easy way about him,” Cahalan said. “I think he will be a good person to draw us together.”

Givelekian’s strength was her contagious enthusiasm, Cahalan said.

“Tracy really impressed us; she’s a big time go-getter,” he said. “She’s part of the PTO at Fenn Elementary and she was proactive in the levy campaign.

“Just listening to her, she communicates enthusiasm. You just get fired up and want to go out and do something for the community.”

Eastwood and Givelekian said they were looking forward to joining the board.

“I’m willing to plug in and do what I can to help Medina in the best way possible,” Eastwood said. “We had a rough 2013, and we have some work to do to get ourselves back on track. I’m looking forward to doing my best.”

Givelekian agreed.

“I have a vested interest because I have two kids in elementary school,” she said. “I’m very excited to get started.”

Their appointments to the board make an entirely different five-member board than this time last year: None of the five board members who unanimously approved Superintendent Randy Stepp’s controversial contract remain on the board. In addition to Robinson and Vlcek, a third board member resigned earlier, a fourth declined to run for re-election and the fifth member retired.

Givelekian said overhaul of the board is a good thing.

“Hopefully we can change the perception of the school board. We can redefine it to be whatever we want,” she said. “It’s a new start.”

Four of the applicants for the two open seats were interviewed Friday: Dennis Churgovich, David Edmonds, Ronald Ross and Todd Gerber.

On Saturday the board interviewed Eastwood, Givelekian and the remaining candidates: Christopher O’Connell, William Green, Terry Bernath and Shelby Kacludis.

Cahalan said a teacher, a student and a community member also were involved in the interviews.

“They can’t vote but they were there to listen, ask questions and give feedback,” Cahalan said.

State law required the board to appoint the two replacements before Jan. 30. Cahalan said the board plans to install the new members at the board’s Jan. 27 regular meeting.

Cahalan said the appointments are especially important this year, following a year of turmoil in 2013 surrounding allegations of fiscal mismanagement involving Stepp’s new contract.

The five-year contract — approved by the board on Jan. 7, 2013, but not publicized until more than a month later — included an $83,000 signing bonus.

Following a public outcry, the board placed Stepp on leave in April after requesting a special state audit of his spending. In October, following the release of the audit that found at least $4,121 in illegal spending, the board voted to begin the process of firing Stepp.

Cahalan said that over the next several months the board will move to hire a permanent treasurer — a vacancy left open by the resignation of district Treasurer Jim Hudson — and start the search for a new superintendent.

He said the board also must deal with several lawsuits filed by Stepp in response to his firing and the board’s decision to rescind his contract.

Cahalan said the board also must “implement the programs that the public voted for in the November levy.”

“Moving Medina Forward is our informal slogan,” he said.

School officials released the following information about the other eight applicants:

• Terry Bernath has lived in the school district for 21 years. Bernath is a retired law enforcement officer and serves on the Medina Schools’ community finance committee. Bernath applied for open board positions in 2013.

• Dennis M. Churgovich is retired and has lived in the district for 13 years. He holds a degree in computer and information science.

• David Edmonds is a retired teacher and has lived in the district for nearly 40 years. He was a teacher in Strongsville Schools, and taught at Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland State University.

• Todd Gerber moved to Montville Township in 2013 but had lived in Wadsworth Township since 2002. Gerber is a director of category management at GOJO Industries. He holds a law degree from the University of Akron School of Law and holds additional degrees in taxation and intellectual property laws. He serves on a number of local boards including the Medina County Port Authority, Wadsworth Public Library and Medina County Public Defenders Commission.

• William Green has lived in the district for more than 13 years. He serves as a human resources manager at Wolff Bros. Supply Inc. in Medina. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

• Shelby Kacludis is a nine-year resident of the district. She is the PTO president at Heritage Elementary School and a volunteer with Main Street Medina.

• Christopher O’Connell has lived in the district for more than 10 years and works as an HVAC sales manager for S.A. Comunale Co. Inc.

• Ronald Ross is a 27-year resident of the district. He has a bachelor of science degree in engineering from the U.S. Military Academy and is a retired Medina police sergeant. Ross has applied for board positions in the past and ran for an open seat in the November election.

Contact reporters Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com and Nancy Johnson at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.

Gazette staff About Gazette staff

The Gazette is Medina County's daily local news source, serving the community since 1832. Contact The Gazette's news department at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.