A stream of candidates filed in front of the Toledo Board of Education last night to explain why they are the best person to join the school board.
Applicants got 15 minutes to introduce themselves and answer questions from each of the board members. One of the 11 applicants did not attend the interview.
Lisa Sobecki asked about their strengths and weaknesses; Bob Vasquez quizzed them about their specific skills to assist the board, and Darlene Fisher questioned if they had a potential conflict of interest.
Jack Ford asked most to identify problems with the district and explain how they would fix them, but also asked specific questions to individual candidates.
The person appointed by the board would serve the remainder of Steven Steel's term, which was to expire at the end of the year.
He resigned June 7 when he was appointed to serve the rest of Mark Sobczak's term on Toledo City Council.
The first in front of the board was Phil Baranski, Jr., an operations manager for Associated Spring Raymond in Ypsilanti, Mich.
He touted his leadership skills and interest in public service as assets and said he would use data to identify and promote the district's strengths and address its weaknesses.
Rick Briggle, who has taught science at several institutions and has held administration positions at Genoa High School, said that experience makes him a good fit and TPS could benefit from more teamwork.
A community member active with Bowsher High School, Norman E. Drogmiller II, said he has the energy to be good board member and would work to get more parents involved in the schools.
"Instead of just helping one school, I can focus on the whole big picture," said Mr. Drogmiller, a maintenance supervisor for Textileather Corp.
Carolyn J. Eyre, a Toledo minister who ran for the school board three times in the 1990s, said she would contribute her experience with early childhood education and community involvement to the board.
Brenda Hill, a retired Toledo teacher and an endorsed Democrat in the November election for the school board, said the board could benefit from her work in a TPS classroom.
"Because I have been a teacher, I understand the impact some of the decisions the board makes have on a classroom," she said.
But when asked by Mr. Ford, she said she could separate her ties with the teacher's union and work for the board.
Aji Green, a former Chrysler worker who also is endorsed by the Lucas County Democratic Party, said if appointed and elected his top priorities would be to bridge the gap between the school district and the community, add technology to education, and address recruitment and retention.
Mr. Green, whose wife is a teacher with the district, said he's in for the long haul, with the goal to get elected and serve a full 12 years.
Chris Myers, who has run unsuccessfully for the school board twice, said he wouldn't take any pay for serving.
And unlike candidates running for election, he said he could devote his time to the business of the school board. Mr. Myers is a Webmaster for the University of Michigan's school of public policy.
Longtime Toledo lawyer John G. "Bull Dog" Rust, who was an unsuccessful write-in candidate in 2007, said his legal knowledge and experience would help him gather all the information and make the best decisions.
Larry Sykes, who served on the school board from 1997 to 2007, said there is new momentum on the board and he wants back on and thinks his institutional knowledge is an asset.
"I have the time, I have the commitment, and I have the resources," said Mr. Sykes, who also is running for a seat in November.
The last applicant interviewed was involved parent Vince Hornik, who is a manager with Present American Signature Inc. He also is running for his own spot on the school board this fall.
He said customer service is a key issue for the district and there needs to be a more positive atmosphere and more communication with parents and the community.
Jeremy Jakubowski, a paraprofessional with Wood County Educational Services, did not attend the interview.
The board will meet this morning to discuss the applicants.
The board is required to appoint a replacement for Mr. Steel no sooner than 10 days after his last day, which would be today, but no more than 30 days after his last day. The Lucas County Probate Court is responsible for filling the vacancy if the school board cannot agree on a candidate.
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