With longtime board member Charlotte Barker choosing not to run this year, at least one new member will be elected to the Groveport Madison Board of Education Nov. 5.
Six candidates were certified for the three available seats; however, candidate Becky Vanest told ThisWeek that she has withdrawn from the election. That leaves five candidates seeking the three seats: newcomers Randy Blamble, Libby Gray and Jason M. Hovance, and well as incumbents Nancy Gillespie and Bryan Shoemaker.
* Blamble received a business degree from Columbus State Community College. The father of a Groveport Madison sophomore and of a senior at the Eastland-Fairfield Career Center, Blamble said he decided to run after the failure of a 7.08-mill levy in May resulted in $4.5 million if cuts to programs and staffing, including the elimination of high school busing.
"I think there are better solutions than what happened when this levy didn't pass and the current administration took it out on our kids," Blamble said. "My biggest issue is reinstating the school busing and the cuts to the library media and gym classes."
Blamble said parents, teachers and even custodians have good ideas for how to run things more efficiently and he wants to work with them all to be proactive about the district's financial issues.
* Gray, the mother of a Groveport Madison junior, said her bachelor's degree in accounting from the Ohio State University and master's degree in taxation from Capital University Law School, along with her career in that field, best qualifies her to help right the district's financial issues.
"I know how to work with budgets and financial statements and I know the importance of relaying the information to the public," Gray said. "The board, I feel, has lost trust in the community ... and I think that the board would need to earn the trust back by first providing detailed information on the fina-nces of the district, whether it is good, bad or ugly. We would need to explain expenditures and why they are needed."
Gray said every vote she would cast would take the students, parents and community into consideration and she would be up-front and honest with the public to rebuild the trust she feels has been lost between the board and community.
* Hovance, a father of three children in the district, is himself an alumnus of Groveport Madison High School. He currently serves on the Cruiser Aca-demy board of directors. He completed his undergraduate work at the Ohio State University and earned a law degree from Capital University Law School.
"I want to continue to provide Groveport Madison school district students with the best educational opportunity in central Ohio," he said. "There is a ton of pride and bright students in the Groveport Madison school district and each student deserves an education that will provide a strong foundation and inspire them to achieve and seek future endeavors
"Obviously, transportation is a current short-term issue. However, bringing the Groveport Madison school district to excellence is the larger issue."
Hovance said if he is elected, he would commit doing "whatever it takes to make sure your child receives the best educational opportunities."
* Gillespie is the mother of two recent Groveport Madison High School graduates. She has a bachelor's degree in hospitality management and hotel administration from the Ohio State University.
Gillespie said she also sees the financial status of the district as being the central issue, and hopes to continue the work she's currently doing to focus on that.
"The biggest issue in this race is the financial status of our district, and how we can realistically afford to continue much-needed services with no new money," Gillespie said. "Do we truly believe we can come together to solve the problems of resident and family apathy toward the immediate and long-term educational needs of our students as they compete, not only with students in our county and state, but around the world, or do we allow negativity to take over and watch our students suffer for it?"
Gillespie said the board needs to maintain a focus on raising student achievement.
* Shoemaker is a pipefitter who owns his own business. He has served on the board since 2009.
He and his wife, Dana, are the parents of four children; two daughters are graduates of Groveport Madison High School and two sons are current students in the district.
Shoemaker said the district "is in a bad state of affairs as it pertains to funds in which it has to operate." He said the board has worked hard to "hold the administration to a tight budget. I wish to continue with the pressure in which I do presently."
He noted that additional funds are needed in order for the district to grow.
"The district has made cuts every year I have been in office and still the district is suffering from years of no new money," Shoemaker said. "We must make a change in how we fund our schools, 'Cruiser pride' is more than just words. It is an attitude, and we have lost our way. We can right the ship; we can get it back. We must do it together and we must do it now."
Since he has children still in school, Shoemaker said, he votes "as a parent" with an eye toward what will affect his family.
"I am the true voice of true effect," he said. "This voice is necessary to ensure balance on the board."
Shoemaker said he doesn't make decisions based on wheth-er they will make him popular.
"My opinion may not be the popular opinion, my vote may not be popular vote, but rest assured, the vote I make or the argument I make is based solely on the betterment of the district. This is what I wish to continue."