No matter how the votes go down, the Grandview school board will welcome at least one new member next year.

No matter how the votes go down, the Grandview school board will welcome at least one new member next year.

Three candidates are running for two available seats on the board in the Nov. 3 election.

Incumbent Debbie Brannan will be joined on the ballot by first-time candidates Melanie Mueller and Melissa Palmisciano.

Board member Adam Miller did not file for re-election.

Debbie Brannan

Brannan, 53, is completing her first term on the board. She has served the past year as board president.

She said the board's most-important job is to hire a superintendent and treasurer.

"We did that last year and I'd like to provide consistent leadership for these new people, because they have already put the district on an amazing trajectory," she said.

"To keep that going, it helps to have that consistency on the school board."

One of the top issues facing the district is what to do about its aging facilities.

An audit of the three school buildings conducted last year found the district would need to spend between $800,000 and $1.2 million annually for the next decade simply to maintain the buildings as they are.

The district has formed a facilities task force to explore potential options for addressing facility needs.

"I think you start with the end goal in mind," Brannan said.

First, the district and community should determine what is the best learning environment for students to give them the skills they need for college and career, she said.

"The classroom should look different than it did 100 years ago when our schools were being built," Brannan said. "It's no longer kids sitting in rows of desks listening to lectures. Teaching students is very interactive and mobile. It's important for students to be collaborative and work in teams."

The question is how to transform learning spaces and buildings while being fiscally prudent, she said.

The process the task force is beginning must include the community to develop a vision for what improvements are needed and how much money should be invested, Brannan said.

Grandview consistently achieves an "excellent with distinction" rating on the state report card.

"We're blessed to be in a position where meeting the state standards is now the low bar for us," Brannan said.

"We've made tremendous progress in the last year" with Superintendent Andy Culp and Chief Academic Officer Jamie Lusher at the helm, she said.

"We are going above and beyond under their leadership," Brannan said, "and we have three principals in place who are true instructional leaders."

The collaborative effort between administrators and teachers will allow the district's academic success to continue to flourish and improve, she said.

"That can happen, especially if we keep doing things in a collaborative way with the community," Brannan said. "It's a shared value system and vision. Andy and Jamie are committed to that."

Brannan is a stay-at-home mom. She and her husband of 23 years, Mike, have three children -- two sons who attend Ohio State University and a daughter who is a junior at Grandview High School.

Brannan holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Ohio State.

Melanie Mueller

Mueller, 47, is the president of the Stevenson K-3 PTO and also serves on Lusher's training and education committee.

She said that experience led her to the decision to run for school board.

"The more I am involved, the more I want to get involved," Mueller said. "I'm passionate about education and I'm excited about the vision Jamie has brought to designing our curriculum and the goals and objectives Superintendent Culp has set for the district.

"It's an exciting time for the district and I want to help as much as I can."

The time is right for the district to study and address its facility needs, Mueller said.

"It's a process we have to go through with a lot of consideration," she said. "The buildings are old and need attention. The cost to maintain them at their current state will soon outweigh what needs to be done, and we have to be proactive."

Ultimately, it will be a community decision about how building needs should be addressed and how much money should be invested in the effort, Mueller said.

"Fortunately, we live in a community that values education and puts a value on these buildings," she said. "I'd be surprised if there wasn't an effort to retain some of the heritage of the buildings, even if there are some changes that need to be made."

It's that level of community support that helps keep Grandview from resting on the laurels of its academic success, Mueller said.

"We're a high-achieving district and I think parents are the linchpin that keeps it together, because they are so supportive of our schools," she said.

The effort to improve curriculum being led by Culp, Lusher and the administrative team has garnered much of that support, Mueller said.

"I think Jamie is energizing our teachers," she said. "I spend five minutes with her and it's energizing to me."

Mueller is a senior business analyst with Grange Insurance and participates in the company's emerging-leadership program.

"I have a lot of experience working with diverse groups and focusing on problem-solving," she said. "Those are important skill sets I think I can bring to the school board. I focus on hearing what other people are saying at the table and identifying solutions to a problem."

Mueller has a bachelor's degree in interior design from the University of Bridgeport. She has been married for 12 years to her husband, Stephen, and has two children attending Grandview schools: a daughter in fifth grade and a son in third grade.

Melissa Palmisciano

Palmisciano, 38, said her children and their participation in Grandview schools led her to run for school board.

She has daughters in fourth and first grades; her son is in pre-kindergarten.

"My husband and I have 15 more years in this district, and I believe because of the unique qualities of the community, we all have an ability to make a far-ranging impact on our schools," Palmisciano said. "I want the right changes and decisions to be made for all our children. I have a diverse background and skills I think I can bring to the school board."

Palmisciano served in the Marine Corps, including stints as an intelligence officer, senior defense counsel, senior prosecutor and deputy staff judge advocate.

She currently serves as a lieutenant colonel and judge advocate for the United States Marine Corps Reserve and is an attorney with the Jones Day law firm.

"After Adam Miller leaves, there won't be an attorney on the board," Palmisciano said. "I believe my legal background will be an important asset for the board. You need a good mix of people with different backgrounds and experiences on the board."

While no one is saying the district's buildings need to be replaced, it's obvious that the schools have serious issues that must be addressed, she said.

Palmisciano said she is not in favor of tearing down the existing buildings for new schools, but the community will have to make some hard decisions about its school facilities.

"The heritage of these buildings is important to people," she said. "We can dance around the issue, but the community is going to have to have a dialogue about whether it wants to maintain the status quo or make an investment in new buildings."

The facilities task force will need to determine what fiscal impact a building project would have, she said.

"You can't say whether you should knock the walls down until you see what the impact will be," Palmisciano said.

Even a project to upgrade existing buildings will have a significant impact on the district because Grandview is such a small community, she said.

Grandview can be proud of the high ratings it earns each year on the state report card, Palmisciano said.

"That's important, but the main focus should always be on making sure each student receives an education that will prepare them for tomorrow," she said. "We need to make sure they have the critical thinking, communication, leadership and problem-solving skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. The skills you and I left high school with are becoming much less relevant in today's world."

Led by Culp and Lusher, the district "is doing an amazing job in implementing curriculum changes across all grades and buildings," Palmisciano said, "and they are doing this when the budget is always tight and state and national standards are changing almost annually."

Palmisciano has been married to her husband, Matthew, for 14 years.

She attended the U.S. Naval Academy, where she earned a bachelor's degree in political science. She earned her law degree from Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law.