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Published: Wednesday, 11/2/2005

Swanton school candidates register goals


Opening lines of communication and rebuilding the community's confidence in the Swanton school system are among goals outlined by candidates running for seats on the school board.

Voters will elect three board members from a slate of four candidates on Nov. 8.

Candidates are Dennis Heban, 39, a math teacher at Pike-Delta-York High School, who ran unsuccessfully for school board two years ago; Michael Wiederman. 45, commander of the Swanton post of the Ohio Highway Patrol; Jeff Michael, 41, global information technology manager within Dana Corp.,and incumbent Mike Remer, 47, who is in sales management for Hewlett-Packard Co. Incumbents Mark Secory and Doug Lee are not seeking re-election.

Mr. Remer, a Swanton board member for 10 years, wants to retain his seat so he can "continue the fight" for curriculum improvement as measured by the state report card. Although Swanton High School achieved an "excellent" ranking, the highest mark possible, overall the district is at the continuous improvement level, he said.

"That was a wake-up call for all of us," he said about the report card, and as a result he is redoubling his efforts on curriculum improvement. Several steps are being taken to improve curriculum, he said, and officials are working to "rebrand" the district with a fresh, progressive slogan and modern signs that will help spread the word that the Swanton district is focused on education and on curriculum improvement. "From the custodians to the cafeteria workers, from the students to the staff, everyone is behind this effort," he said, and he would like to be part of that as a board member for another four years.

Mr. Heban, 39, past president of the Pike-Delta-York Education Association, is running because he believes in the educational process. "I have dedicated my life to education and I feel that education needs to be at the forefront of the community. I work for a board of education and I experience the results of a board of educations decision. Perhaps someone who can understand both sides of an issue may be an asset to the school board," he stated.

Hiring a superintendent is the most important issue facing the school district, he said, adding that the district needs to keep a "a vigilant eye on its finances. As Swanton continues to rebuild, disbursing school funds in an appropriate and justifiable manner and being able to anticipate future issues are areas of concern that I would like to address. Through research and communication, I feel that these issues can be dealt with in an effective manner."

Mr. Michael, a member of the district's financial advisory committee, said his vision for Swanton focuses on community involvement; communication with the community; fiscal responsibility, and student academic performance.

His goals include enhancing the learning environment. He advocates "management by fact." He explained that he is a firm believer in using comparable data from similar schools to show how Swanton stands relative to other districts. Those facts, he said, can provide Swanton with a better understanding of its performance. "You can say you are going fast, but until you race, you do not know how fast you are going," he said.

Mr. Wiederman, a member of the district's financial advisory committee, said that as a board member he would focus on helping the district regain the confidence of the community and on re-establishing lines of communication with the superintendent, teachers, administrators, and taxpayers. The time is right, he said, to accomplish those goals because financially, "we've turned the corner."

His goals "all revolve around what's best for the kids." He's interested in drawing back to the district some students who left to attend other schools after the board cut bus transportation for high school students.

Adding a new soccer-rack complex might be one way to attract students and increase parental interest and community pride in the district, he said.

The aim, Mr. Wiederman, said, is to restore the confidence of the taxpayers.

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