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Candidates make their case for school board seats

Joslyn Dalton, left, responds to a question at the League of Women Voters forum Sept. 19 as Tanya Foose and Mark St. John look on. (West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)

By Kevin Kelley

Fairview Park

The three persons vying for two seats on the Fairview Park City Board of Education took part in a congenial discussion of educational issues Thursday night at a candidates forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters and held at City Hall.

Challenger Tanya Foose had no criticisms of the current school board or administration but said her goal would be to utilize research to improve the district from its current solid performance to become an outstanding district.

Mark St. John, a seventh-grade science teacher at Independence Middle School who has served on the board for six years, emphasized the academic and financial improvements the district has achieved in the past decade.

Joslyn Dalton, who was appointed to fill a board vacancy in June 2012, spoke of her experience in dealing with educational issues. She said her goal is to provide the district’s students with the best educational opportunity possible.

Perhaps most revealing were the candidates’ answers to moderator Janice Patterson’s question as to what are the two most important issues facing the district in the coming year.

Reaching the next level of achievement and increasing the schools’ involvement in the community was the reply by Foose, the director of admissions at ITT Technical Institute. St. John said adjusting to the common core curriculum standards being imposed in Ohio and most other states, as well as meeting new procedures for teacher evaluations. Dalton said the common core standards and maintaining the financial health of the district.

In a separate race in the Nov. 5 election, Katie Davis is running unopposed to complete the two years of the unexpired term of former board President Brad Lamb, who resigned in May 2011. Davis, a full-time mom who worked as a mechanical engineer, answered the same questions as the other three school board candidates.

Davis said she wants to build on the previous success of the district. She also emphasized the importance of preparing students for careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Davis co-founded an organization that encourages school-age children to pursue jobs in STEM fields.

Candidates for the job of clerk at the Rocky River Municipal Court were also invited to the forum, but only incumbent Deborah Comery showed up. Comery, elected to her position in 2007 after having served as chief deputy clerk from 1996 through 2007, spoke of the upgrades made to the court’s computer system, enabling court documents to be obtained online. Documents can also be filed electronically, as can court payments, she said.

Comery also spoke of a disaster recovery program she put in place that would enable the court to continue operations should its location at Rocky River City Hall be rendered inaccessible. The incumbent clerk said the municipal court, unlike others in the state, is financially stable.

Comery’s opponent, Jeanne Gallagher, told LWV officials that she was unable to attend due to a previous commitment. Gallagher submitted a statement, typed in all capital letters, that was read by the moderator. In it, she spoke generally of the responsibilities of the clerk’s position and said she would seek to make the court’s operation’s more paperless. She criticized Comery, saying the current clerk shouldn’t brag about the court’s financial health. Gallagher also said she would be visible if elected clerk.

AUDIO CLIPS FROM LWV FORUM:

Part 1: County Councilman Dave Greenspan discusses countywide ballot issues.

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Part 2: Rocky River Municipal Court Clerk of Courts Deborah Comery.

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Part 3: Statement by clerk of courts candidate Jeanne Gallagher.

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Part 4: Opening statements by Fairview Park school board candidates.

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Part 5: School board candidates Q&A – part 1.

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Part 6: School board candidates Q&A – part 2.

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Part 7: School board candidates Q&A – part 3.

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Part 8: Closing statements of school board candidates.

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