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Published: Wednesday, 11/2/2005

Sylvania: 5 candidates seek 3 board seats


There are five candidates, three of them incumbents, running for three slots on the Sylvania Board of Education.

George Gernot III, 57, said he believes in public education and that his four children received excellent educations in the Sylvania system.

When he was appointed to the board about five years ago, Mr. Gernot said the body was "out of touch with the public."

He has helped rectify that, he said, while the district has gone through redistricting, hiring a new superintendent, making needed reductions in staff, and passing tax levies in 2002 and last year.

Mr. Gernot, a lawyer, said he wants to continue to help direct the progress of the school system, which he said is maintaining high standards.

Pam Haynam, also an incumbent, said she was disappointed that the Sylvania school dropped to an efficient rating from excellent in the state board of education report card.

She said the schools should be excellent in all meanings of the word, including the state rating.

Ms. Haynam, 50, owner of Haynam Consulting which specializes in computer issues, said she also wants the board to be accountable to the taxpayers for the system's finances.

Don Miller, 31, said he is seeking election to the board of education to work for fiscal responsibility.

The defeat earlier this year of a levy for the Sylvania Township fire department makes it clear, he said, that when the school board comes to the voters for additional funding they will have to show that they have been cautious in spending.

Mr. Miller, a practice manager for a technology consulting firm, said he also would like the school system to return to its earlier ranking of excellent on the state report card.

Dave Spiess, 50, an employee benefits consultant, said he is seeking re-election in part to retain continuity on a school board that he noted oversees a relatively new superintendent and treasurer.

He said the board has been relatively cohesive and that has helped the system get through some difficult financial times.

Mr. Spiess said he also hopes the district returns to an excellent grade on the state report card but added that "we don't need a report card to know that it is excellent."

David Walker, 46, a financial adviser, said his interest in running is sparked both because his children attend Sylvania Schools and because of his involvement with Sylvania Rotary, which focuses on education.

As a financial adviser, Mr. Walker said, he discusses finances and taxes all day and they are important issues for school systems that will see rising costs and potentially diminishing help from state government.

He noted three incumbents are running for re-election, and he said that committees he has served on have often been energized by new members. He said the board of education would benefit from new blood.

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