Voters will elect three of the Toledo Board of Education’s five members next month; at least two of them will be new. The composition of the next board will largely determine the success of Toledo Public Schools’ plan to reform itself academically and financially.
The new interim TPS superintendent, Romules Durant, is pursuing the transformation plan with gusto. Much of the success of that initiative will depend on whether voters approve the district’s request for a property tax renewal on the November ballot; they should.
The lone incumbent among the eight school board candidates is BOB VASQUEZ; he has earned a new four-year term. Mr. Vasquez, a former board president, provided needed leadership when the district was forced to make recession-induced cutbacks in recent years.
He worked with district administrators to develop the transformation plan and to make TPS more open and receptive to community partnerships. He offers useful ideas for getting more resources to students who are at greatest risk of failure, to restore services that have been curtailed, and to improve the district’s image. The school board would continue to benefit from Mr. Vasquez’s service.
Two candidates stand out among the seven challengers. CHRIS VARWIG is a powerhouse of advocacy with a long record of volunteer service to TPS. Mrs. Varwig has lobbied for the district in Columbus, tutored students, and served as president of TPS’ Parent Congress. More recently, she created an academic and career fair that attracts as many as 3,000 students and parents each year.
Mrs. Varwig lists as her priorities increasing TPS graduation rates, preparing children better for kindergarten, strengthening the district’s ties to parents and the community, and investing more in trade education. Her track record suggests her ability to deliver on all of these objectives as a board member.
The Rev. RANDALL PARKER III also merits election to the school board. The pastor of Manifested Word Baptist Church, a congregation he started in 2010, Reverend Parker is president of the parent-teacher organization at Glenwood Elementary School.
Mr. Parker notes that TPS must educate a huge number of students from economically disadvantaged homes. Although he aims to work with families, he properly wants to hold parents accountable for the success of their children. He advocates restoration of school bus service that the district has eliminated.
As voters consider the other school board candidates, they will want to be wary of Tina Henold, who preferred to educate her children at home rather than send them to the schools she now wants to help run. Also on the Board of Education ballot are Darryl Fingers, Aji Green, Perry Lefevre, and Polly Taylor Gerken.
TPS voters would best serve the district’s children, parents, and taxpayers by re-electing BOB VASQUEZ and electing CHRIS VARWIG and RANDALL PARKER III to the city school board.