A growing dissatisfaction with the state’s public education funding model was front and center during a forum of Sylvania school board candidates Thursday night.
Ninety seconds at a time, each candidates shared their opinions on how to solve some of the challenges Sylvania schools face.
Candidates for spots on Sylvania's school board appeared before a community forum Thursday evening.
About 100 people attended the Sylvania school candidate forum Thursday night. The debate, held at McCord Junior High School, provided community members an opportunity to learn about the candidates hoping to garner a seat on Sylvania’s school board. Five candidates are vying for three open seats.
The school board candidates included incumbents Julie Hoffman and Stephen Rothschild, as well as newcomers Greg Feller, Gregory LaManna, and Shannon Szyperski. Each candidate provided opening statements, and were limited to 90-second responses to each of the questions submitted by audience members.
Although the candidates fielded several questions from the audience, they touched on a recurring issue: the state’s public education funding process. All the candidates agreed that public education funding is an issue that needs to be addressed moving forward.
“We have to continue to advocate with the state for an appropriate funding model so we can take some of the burden off of the taxpayers,” Ms. Hoffman said.
Mr. Rothschild said he believes funding is the No. 1 issue the school district faces.
“We must continue to communicate the funding issues both to our communities and our legislators,” Mr. Rothschild said.
“Public schools are here to stay. … the problems are the same and we haven’t done anything to fix them,” he said.
Mr. LaManna said several of the district’s challenges are connected to school funding.
“ School funding is a huge issue,” he said. “Sixty-five percent in 2016 of our property taxes went to school funding, this year it’s 66, and that number is going to continue to increase as the state continues to cut funding for wealthier districts.”
Questions during the forum ranged from dealing with the growing diversification of the student body and ways to secure more funding for the district, to the evolution of technology in the classroom. The issue of redistricting was mentioned multiple times throughout the night.
“I think right now we do need to start rebuilding some trust from the redistricting process,” Ms. Szyperski said. “We do need to move past it but people are still talking about it.”
Mr. Feller said he think the process in which students were redistricted frustrated the community.
“I think it was the process that made people angry not necessarily the decision,” he said. “That’s why I think communication and transparency are key.”
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