Southwest Licking schools
20-year board members seek re-election
Two longtime members of the Southwest Licking Board of Education will run for re-election Nov. 5 against three challengers.
Three seats on the school board are up for election, but only Don Huber and Roger Zeune chose to seek another term. They are joined on the ballot by Pataskala residents Daniel Bell, Andy Leachman and John Vincent.
The third seat belonged to Cindy Zaino, who resigned in July. Former board member Brad Williams was appointed in August to finish Zaino’s term, but he is not eligible to run.
Zeune, 62, credits legendary football coach Woody Hayes as his inspiration for serving 20 years on the school board.
“It’s all Woody’s fault,” he said.
Zeune played football for Hayes at the Ohio State University and said the coach continually urged his players to ask themselves, “If not me, then who?” He said these words convinced him to try to make a difference by running for the school board 20 years ago.
Zeune works for Elan Expressas lead captain flying the Chicago Bulls and the Colorado Rockies professional sports teams to and from their games in a Boeing 727.
He and his wife, Mary Jo, have two children who attended Southwest Licking schools.
Zeune said many generations of his family have graduated from Pataskala schools and his wife is a third-grade teacher.
“I still have a lot of interest in serving on the board,” he said.
“The last couple of years have been frustrating” because tough economic conditions forced cuts within the district, he said.
Now that the economy is beginning to strengthen, Zeune said, he would like to help bring the district back to where it was before the financial crunch.
“I’ll work hard to get this levy passed,” said Zeune, who believes the 6.04-mill bond issue on the Nov. 5 ballot for building upgrades and new construction is essential, especially since the state is picking up roughly 40 percent of the bill.
“The money will go away if we don’t use it,” he said.
Zeune said he continues to enjoy the challenge of serving district residents.
“There’s a lot of reward for being on the board,” he said.
Huber, 73, also has 20 years of service on the board.
“I’ve gone from having my children in the system to my grandchildren,” Huber said. “I have that direct tie. The bus stops in front of my house every day.”
He said he has as much “energy and enthusiasm” for the board as ever.
“I would be privileged to serve again,” he said.
Huber is a retired academic dean and professor of church history at Trinity Lutheran Seminary.
He and his wife, Shirley, have three children who attended Southwest Licking schools.
Huber said as a board member, he has three main issues to address.
First, he said, is academic quality.
“The state has moved the goalpost on us again,” he said, referring to Ohio’s new report cards featuring an A-F grading system, which has forced Ohio schools to re-examine their teaching methods.
The next issue is raising adequate operating funds.
“That’s always been a challenge,” Huber said.
He said he’s a “sleeves-rolled-up kind of guy,” and is ready to continue facing that challenge.
Huber said the third issue is overcrowding.
“We need to get this bond issue passed,” he said, adding that the state is willing to kick in nearly half the funding of new facilities provided the bond issue is approved soon.
“We need to get these kids out of the overcrowded conditions,” he said.
Huber said he’s most proud of the academic progress the district has made in the past 20 years.
“Every kid is in a safe, secure environment,” despite overcrowding, he said. “That was not the case 20 years ago.”
Editor’s note: Profiles of Bell, Leachman and Vincent were published in the Sept. 15 edition of the ThisWeek Licking County News.