Northland News

New school board member

Hudson sees education as 'foundation' of success

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

As a political insider and resident of the Columbus City School District, Mary Jo Hudson was well aware of the headlines.

It's been a tough year for the district: A data-scrubbing scandal led to several high-profile resignations and terminations, the retirement of a longtime -- and by all accounts -- popular superintendent, a dismal state report card and a failed levy on the November ballot.

And then, rather abruptly, school board President Carol Perkins announced her resignation, effective Jan. 31

Without hesitation, Hudson submitted her resume for a spot on the board.

"You know it would be great if everything ran smoothly," Hudson said.

Last week, she was appointed to the board.

Hudson was selected from a field of 28 candidates -- six of whom were finalists -- for the Columbus school board.

"I'm not doing this to run for another office or anything else," said Hudson, a Democrat who lives in Victorian Village. "I think it's one of the more important community-service efforts we can undertake right now, and that's to help our school system."

In CCS, at least recently, nothing has seemed to run smoothly.

State auditor Dave Yost delivered a scathing report last month, citing a "culture of corruption" in the ongoing data-scrubbing scandal in which administrators were accused of manipulating student records to improve their school's standing on state report cards.

"I think it's really good that the auditor's report is out," Hudson said, adding she believes it would bring about more transparency and a better approach to governance.

"I certainly think the board is very focused on bringing much more confidence and trust back to CCS," she said.

Hudson, 51, was on Columbus City Council from 2004 to 2007. She was appointed and then elected a year later but resigned before her term ended because she was appointed to serve as director of the Ohio Department of Insurance under then-Gov. Ted Strickland.

Hudson was a member of the Columbus Education Commission, which was appointed in late 2012 by Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

She said she has learned much in her work in the public sector, which included serving as chairwoman of City Council's Jobs and Economic Development Committee.

"I see education is really the foundation of success. I can serve in a lot of positions," said Hudson, an attorney at the Bailey Cavalieri law firm.

Despite all the recent turmoil, Hudson said, it's easy to forget the district has much to celebrate.

"CCS has high-performing schools and programs," she said. "We have to make sure successes are consistent and failures are not an option."

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