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Published: Saturday, 11/2/2013 - Updated: 11 months ago

2013 VOTERS GUIDE

5 suburban Toledo districts to elect school board members

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A trio of longtime Washington Local school board incumbents face two challengers in Tuesday’s election.

All three incumbents Frank Erme, John Adler, and Steve Zuber have been on the school board for more than 15 years. They are challenged by James Langenderfer, who previously served on the board, and Patricia Carmean, a retired Washington Local teacher whose husband, Michael Carmean, was a longtime superintendent for the district.

Mr. Adler said he should be re-elected because of his experience and long-running community ties; he’s lived in the district for more than 50 years. 

He and other incumbents said they wanted to stay on the board to help oversee a major renovation of Whitmer High School. Mr. Adler also said the district is operating with a deficit, and he would push for the district to continue to be financially conservative.

“We have to operate on a really efficient level,” he said.

Ms. Carmean, a retired literacy coach, said she feels the current board members have done a good job but that she can offer a new perspective.

“I don’t know if better is the word, [but] different,” she said when asked if she could do a better job than incumbents.

She said her experience in the classroom would help her navigate issues such as state testing requirements and that she knows how a school system works.

Ms. Carmean has faced criticism for campaign literature that said she was endorsed by the Toledo Federation of Teachers, though the union never endorsed her. She said she was erroneously led to believe she had been endorsed and has since blacked out the reference from campaign materials.

Mr. Erme has been affiliated with the Washington Local School District since 1952, as a teacher, coach, administrator, and board member. He sticks around, he said, because he loves it.

“I love the kids and that’s why I’m staying on,” he said.

Mr. Erme said he is committed to making the district the best in the area.

Mr. Langenderfer, a former school teacher and administrator who spent most of his career in Michigan, said he was approached by local unions to run for school board. He said he was angered by what he considers to be unnecessary expenses approved by the current board.

“I think they need to make fiscally responsible choices,” he said.

As an example, Mr. Langenderfer cited trips by school staff to what he called a charter school in Atlanta. He said any support by the district for charter schools was inappropriate.

District officials said that staff went to Ron Clark Academy, an acclaimed private school in a poor Atlanta neighborhood, that the trips were for professional development for teachers, and that many public school districts send teachers to the academy’s teacher training program.

Mr. Zuber said the district has been fiscally responsible, making cuts before the recession hit so that Washington Local had a reserve it could fall back on. The district never had to lay anyone off, he said, handling cuts through attrition.

“We are running a deficit, but fortunately for us we saw it coming and saved money,” he said.

He supports the trips to the Ron Clark Academy and noted the district has spent larger amounts on professional development in the past compared to the Atlanta trips.

In the Ottawa Hills Local School District, four school board seats are on the ballot. Three of those are for full terms and a fourth is for an unexpired term that ends Dec. 31, 2015.

After Peggy Herman resigned from the board in 2012, David Arnold was appointed to fill the vacancy. But Mr. Arnold is actually running for a full term in this election, while fellow incumbent Gretchen Rohm decided she wanted to run for the unexpired term. Ms. Rohm is unopposed for that seat. In the race for the three full-term seats, Mr. Arnold is joined by fellow incumbents Gary Wilson and Troy Greeley, along with challenger Jay Wollenburg.

In a race for two school board seats in Rossford, incumbents Dawn Burks and Doug Miller are challenged by Tiffany Densic, Susan Gluckin, and Jackie Huffman. The race has been colored by debates over the district’s finances, with some of the challengers saying Rossford must scale back on spending.

Most of the other local school board races have much less intrigue.

Three seats on the Maumee school board are up for grabs, with incumbents Glenn Rambo and Stephanie Piechowiak facing challengers David Theaker, Gina Hughes, and Jane K. Durham.

Oregon voters can pick three school board members from a field that includes incumbents Carol-Ann Molnar and Mike Csehi, and challengers Heather Miller, Jim Stewart, and William J. Carstensen.

There are three seats up on the Swanton school board, with challengers Steve Brehmer, Christopher Nijakowski, and David Smith, Jr., joining lone incumbent Kristina Oberheim in the race.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com, 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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