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Four School Board Candidates Are Running For Three Seats In Dayton

Four people are vying for three seats on the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education. Three of the candidates are running for re-election while the fourth is hoping his outsider’s view of the district will help him win.

 

There’s one thing that’s on every candidate’s mind: the potential for a state takeover because of the district’s poor performance.

 

School board candidate John McManus says he’s been watching all the drama of a state takeover in Youngstown. He wants Dayton to avoid that scenario and says the administration needs to be held accountable.

“If you read the report that was issued by state government on April 17 of this year, they list 15 specific challenges as to why we are facing a takeover," McManus said. "About 11 or 12 of those challenges are directly correlated to the administrative shortcomings of Dayton Public Schools.”

 

McManus is finishing up law school at the University of Dayton and has worked for government agencies at the state and federal level. He’s the only non-incumbent. Candidate Dr. Robert Walker is the current president of the Dayton school board and has served for four years. He says the administration is doing well, but teacher turnover is a problem.

 

“Being in an urban district, we find that those competent administrators and teachers are always being invited to consider other positions in other districts. And so, keeping those folks in the district is a challenge for us and something that we constantly talk about,” Walker said.

 

DPS is short 37 teachers for this school year. Walker says low salaries are a glaring reason why staff are so easily courted by other districts. Sheila Taylor has been on the board for eight years, and says teacher morale has been low.

 

“They’ve had so many different supervisors and so many different changes in the district. So I think that if we are accountable, I think that we can address all the issues,” she said.

 

Taylor says the district should have a laser-like focus on its big three goals: kindergarten-readiness, reading at grade level in the third grade and college and career readiness at graduation. The final candidate, eight-year board member, Nancy Nerny says it’s not just the administration, or teachers—there’s a lot of turnover among the students.

 

“Some people are attracted by other educational institutions like charter schools. And go to those, find they’re not satisfactory and come back," Nerny said. "And so there’s this bouncing around of children, which affects what they do in the classroom.”

 

Nerny says there needs to be more communication between district officials and parents to explain what their child needs to be successful. Though, each of the candidates says it’s not just parental involvement -- they’d like to see more community partners to create so-called wraparound services to help students and their families. Each candidate also suggested the city of Dayton would be stronger if it had a more successful school district.

 

Voters will choose three candidates on Nov. 3. The winners will serve four-year terms on the board.