LISBON -A candidates forum for the Beaver Local Board of Education was held Tuesday evening in the Beaver Local High School auditorium. The event, a first for the district, was sponsored by the AP History and Government Club, with question generated by students from the AP U.S. Government and Politics, and U.S. History classes.
"It's totally student-driven," said AP Government and Politics teacher Lori Motry. "They have really been here working hard to put it all together." According to Motry, the juniors and seniors from her class and that of her colleague, Kelly Jones, submitted all the questions, which the teachers condensed down into the group of 10 that were asked at the forum.
Motry said the excitement level was high amongst students and teachers alike. She said this is the first year for the government and politics class, and teachers were looking for a way to bring life to the civics lessons they are presenting . "We feel like this is a really good opportunity for them to learn and to get involved at the local level, and inspire them to be
Beaver Local School Board candidates Jerry Barnett, Greg Eisenhart and James Fantone discussed issues before the start of a candidates forum held Tuesday evening in the Beaver Local High School auditorium. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
involved in other campaigns," Motry said.
The format was similar to that employed in most major political races, with the candidates given two minutes to answer each of the 10 questions, which were asked in rotation so that no one candidate was the first one asked each time. Unlike what is frequently seen in presidential or congressional debates, however, the candidates addressed only the questions asked and not one another. This may have accounted for the polite and respectful atmosphere that dominated the evening.
Each of the candidates, including independents Jerry Barnett and Greg Eisenhart, and Republicans James Fantone, Patrick O'Hara and Lance Shultz, attended the event.
The moderator was Randy Schneider, a recent BLHS graduate working for RS Productions in East Liverpool. Schneider had worked for Jason Wilson, director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia, during his tenure as state senator.
The list of 10 questions ranged from inquiries about why each candidate was running and what their goals were for the district to matters of technology, safety and student-teacher ratios.
The auditorium was approximately 30 percent full, with people who came to listen, though they were not permitted to answer any questions themselves during the 90-minute forum. Following the event, though, most candidates made themselves available to speak with attendees who had specific questions for them.
The candidates were largely in agreement when asked the most important issue facing Beaver Local. "It's all about the money," O'Hara said in response. Like his fellow candidates, Fantone said he would work to head off future financial shortfalls.
However, he also addressed the "apathy and mediocrity" that he believes is plaguing society, including Beaver Local Schools. "The same parents, over and over, are involved helping and doing things," Fantone said. "I want to see as many people as possible getting involved."