SALINEVILLE-Five candidates will be up for three available full-term seats on the Southern Local School District's Board of Education on Nov. 5.
Incumbents Linda M. Morris, 66, Bill Pitts, 52, and John R. Sawyer, 68, will face the challenge of political newcomers Karl C. Blissenbach, 42, and Robert Kip Dowling.
Morris is a retired social worker and has served the Southern Board of Education for 18 years. Pitts, employed by the East Fairfield Coal Co., has served for 16 years on the board. Sawyer, a former educator, also is a veteran of the board of education.
Blissenbach is a Senior Parole Officer and Auxiliary Sergeant with the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Lisbon Post.
Dowling did not respond to requests for information.
When asked about the challenges facing their community, candidates had different perspective on what issues were most important - ranging from unity in the community to district funding.
"Navigating the financial challenges in the district are challenges in education and addressing the
corresponding interests of the children in the district are challenges in education that appear to have no end in the foreseeable future," said Blissenbach. "By prioritizing the initiatives that show the best outcomes in our student performance and futures, the potential of the school district's future is improved."
Sawyer said bringing the community "together to support the school district's mission" is key.
"Our biggest issue at this time is state funding as is every school district in the state of Ohio," said Pitts "I will work closely with the administrative team and treasurer to ensure a fiscally-sound school district."
"I believe the most important issue facing our school district is the uncertainty of school funding and the unfunded mandates," said Morris. "It is imperative that we provide the cost-effective resources to our staff and students to provide our students with a solid education that will enable them to pursue further education, training and employment opportunities."
When asked how, if elected, they might improve the district, answers centered mostly around the idea of bettering the educational quality of the district.
"It is my goal to endeavor to keep and reward competent staff to encourage longevity," said Sawyer.
"I would work on improvements by providing a fresh prospective toward academic performance and by continuing the trend the district toward providing better economic and educational futures for the district's students," said Blissenbach.
"I really wouldn't want to try to make changes," said Pitts. "At this time, our district has a great staff that is leading our students in a positive direction in becoming a school of excellence."
"If re-elected, I will continue to work with my fellow board members, administration, staff, students, parents and community members to provide the best education for our children," said Morris.
When asked what motivated them to seek office, candidates expressed a variety of reasons.
"It is my belief that the board of education should have at least one present or former educator as a member," said Sawyer. "It brings a depth of understanding of school function that is needed for solid decisions."
"I want to continue my service to ensure the students in our district receive the best education possible and positive life experiences to prepare them for a successful future," said Pitts. "I truly enjoy being an active part of the Southern Local Community."
"As a proud alumni and parent of children in the school district, I have a strong interest in serving and being involved in the progression of the school district," said Blissenbach. "I have been a part of the community at our family farm for over 42 years and I have long-term interest of the district at heart."
"I am seeking re-election to the Southern Local Board of Education because I believe that my background serving children and families in our county gives a different perspective on various issues," said Morris. "I am familiar with many of the resources in the county, and also I believe that experience gained during the years I have served on the Southern Board of Education and as a representative to the Columbiana County Vocational School District Board of Education (area a benefit to the district)."