Oct 27, 2013

Candidates have mixed views on athletics, pressing issues and more

BY BOB ROBINSON
ASSOC. EDITOR
GREENVILLE – Five candidates for three positions on the Greenville City School Board squared off Oct. 21 during the Darke County League of Women Voters’ Meet the Candidates Night at the American Legion. While there was general agreement among the candidates on a few issues, there were differences on others.

Candidates for the 2013 General Election Nov. 5 are Sue Bowman, incumbent, Dave Ernst, Brad Gettinger, David Madden and Cindy Scott, incumbent.

One area of disagreement was whether or not home school students should be allowed to participate in Greenville school sports.

Ernst said no while the others allowed for the opportunity. Ernst said the athletic program is an integral part of being in school. “If they want to participate in athletics,” he said, “they should enroll in the school district.” Bowman said all children should be allowed to participate. Madden noted District residents are tax-paying citizens. “I’m inclined to allow them to play,” he said.

The candidates were more evenly split on whether or not sports are too emphasized.

Ernst said sports are important but noted the kids are “student athletes,” meaning they are students first, athletes second. Scott said sports are important but people tend to confuse passion with emphasis. “I don’t think that takes away from education,” she added. Bowman said employers tend to hire kids who have been in athletics because of the values – teamwork, perseverance – they learn in sports programs. She added students have different talents; some stay in school in order to participate in sports. Madden and Gettinger both felt sports programs were too emphasized, noting that the values learned in sports can also be learned in the classroom.

Madden and Gettinger were asked why they were running as a team. The question was due to both of them being on the same campaign sign. Both indicated it was a fiscal decision. Madden said they aren’t a team. They have their disagreements. Gettinger agreed with Madden, noting it did not affect their ability to be independent. One example of their disagreements, he added, was the design of their sign.

When asked what to do to improve the school board, Scott and Bowman said communication. Gettinger and Madden emphasized better communication with the community. Ernst said the board was perceived as being divisive. “Team disagreements should be kept behind closed doors; they need to lead as a team,” he said.

One question dealt with what the incumbents have learned as board members and what the challengers have done to prepare for a seat on the board. Ernst said he would listen to the board’s two employees: the superintendent and the treasurer. Gettinger said he would listen to the community and act as a voice for the community the board serves. Madden said he attended a state-sponsored candidate workshop and discussed issues with Supt. Doug Fries. Scott said she learned patience, that the board doesn’t move as fast as she would sometimes like. Bowman said working together as a team to make data-driven decisions.

Long range plans for the district resulted in discussions of the Core Standards but also elicited response from Bowman regarding getting kids to return to (or stop leaving) the district, and from Gettinger regarding the quickly changing technology scene and rebuilding respect for the district.

The single most pressing problem for the district involved poverty (Scott, Bowman and Gettinger), while Ernst noted accountability, pride and respect and Madden noted the 450 kids lost from the district this year due to open enrollment.

All candidates were in agreement that the Greenville Technology Center is a strong plus for the district, despite the availability of tech programs in the Miami Valley. Bowman and Scott added they would like to get other students in the county to start coming to Greenville’s tech center.

Five Greenville City School District board candidates took questions from voters Oct. 21 during the League of Women Voters Candidates Night at the Greenville American Legion.

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