By Jeff Gallatin
A trio of candidates is seeking the two North Olmsted school board seats on the November ballot.
Incumbent and current board President John Lasko is seeking re-election to his third term. Linda Cleary, who headed the levy committee, which was instrumental in getting the last school operating levy passed, is also seeking one of the seats as well as Daryl Stumph, the associate superintendent for operations in the nearby Bay Village City School District. Mike Raig, a 10-year incumbent, is not seeking re-election this year. Raig did not respond to requests for comment.
Lasko, who, along with Raig, was unopposed when they ran four years ago, said he believes dealing with the tight funding problems being experienced by all Ohio school districts will remain an issue for the foreseeable future.
“Based on what’s going on with the state, I fully expect to be dealing with cutbacks in that area for the next several years,” Lasko said. “We’re responsible for making sure we give the citizens and the district the best budget we can with the resources available.”
He said the board owes it to the citizens to scrutinize the budget closely under any circumstances. He added he will continue to look over educational and other district programs closely. Lasko, who is both an attorney and accountant, said his expertise in those areas helps the district. He said the district also will continue to review facility needs as well.
Lasko, who gave up his longtime chairmanship of the municipal Planning and Design Commission earlier this year to focus his efforts on the school board, reiterated that would be his primary focus. He ran for mayor two years, being one of two candidates along with then city council President Kevin Kennedy, who knocked incumbent Thomas O’Grady out in the primary. Lasko then lost the general election to Kennedy.
“We have a lot to deal with in the district,” he said, adding that he’s not thinking about any future mayoral race for now. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Cleary, who had worked in the financial industry for more than 15 years, said that experience, coupled with her levy work, would help her on the board.
“I do know how to work with a budget and financial issues,” she said.
A major motivator that prompted her to run for the board was the school’s handling of whether or not to retain three Advanced Placement classes in math and sciences.
“I wasn’t really happy with how they handled all that,” she said, noting that the district retained one class and chose not to have two others in the 2011-12 school year.
“Keeping AP classes has always been an important issue to me,” she said. “Concern about all the AP classes was an issue for me and other people as well during the levy campaigns.”
Stumph, who is the associate superintendent for operations in the nearby Bay Village school district, said his experience working for that community’s schools gives him an edge.
“I have professional qualifications which the other two don’t have,” he said. “I’m the only one with a superintendent’s license. I also have done a lot of work in managing programs and finding the the best financial deals for a district in my position in Bay.”
Stumph said as a North Olmsted resident he has concerns about the district is finances and believes he could help effectively manage the budget. He said equipment such as school buses and other capital expenses need to be reviewed as well.