By Kevin Kelley
Barbara Leszynski, a retired middle school teacher, is expected to be selected today to fill a vacancy on the Westlake City Schools Board of Education. Board members will vote on Leszynski’s appointment today at 5:30 p.m. at district headquarters at 27200 Hilliard Blvd.
Leszynski, whose three children graduated from Westlake High School in the late 1980s and early ’90s, currently has four grandchildren attending the district’s schools.
A Westlake resident for 32 years, Leszynski taught at the North Olmsted City Schools for 21 years. Most of her career was spent teaching seventh-graders at North Olmsted Middle School.
Leszynski told West Life she wants to keep the quality of education in the Westlake district excellent. She was one of 19 who applied to serve the remaining 21 months of Andrea Rocco’s term. Rocco
resigned earlier this month after taking a job as special counsel to Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.
“With my knowledge of education and what goes on in the schools and my history of volunteering, I just felt I might have something to contribute,” she said.
During her teaching career, Leszynski was president of the teachers’ association and served on the teachers’ union negotiating team.
Soon she’ll be on the other side of the table. The district’s contract with the Westlake teachers’ union expires at the end of the year.
Leszynski said she didn’t agree with people who think teachers are paid too much.
“If you were inside the classroom for any amount of time, you would certainly see that they work very hard,” she said.
But she said both sides – the school board and teachers – need to be sensitive to the current state of the economy during contract negotiations.
“Because you definitely need community support to pass levy and bond issues,” she said.
School board President Tom Mays said he was impressed with Leszynski’s work experience and volunteerism.
“I certainly expect that she’s going to make a great board member,” he said. He added that many of the 19 applicants had impressive qualifications.
“It really showed that there are quite a few people in this community willing to step up … with the thought of helping out the schools,” Mays told West Life.
In addition to Leszynski, Karen Alfred, Robert Bodi, Eugene DeAngelis, John Finucane, Laurie Gettings, Charles Giunta, Patrick Hofford, Christopher Holick, Thomas Horwitz, Michael Lamb, Russell Milan, Nicole Sauer, Rajiv Shah, David Smalley, Therese Squeri, Susan Stephanoff, Deborah Thomas and Melisa Yeoman applied for the vacancy.
The board, which has been sharply divided in the past, reached a consensus to vote on Leszynski’s appointment, Mays said.