Olentangy Valley News

Olentangy school board race

Helwig: I'll be catalyst in 'tough discussions'


Brian Helwig said his campaign for a seat on the Olentangy school board is focused on two areas he believes current board members are neglecting: academics and accountability.

"I see this as an opportunity that will allow me to serve my community, but also push hard within the school board meetings to have those tough discussions about what's going right and what's going wrong, so we're able to get to the bottom of our issues and make sure our teachers have all the tools they need to do the very best," he said.

Helwig is one of four candidates running in November for three open seats on the board. He'll be up against incumbents Julie Wagner Feasel and Dave King, as well as newcomer Katy Barricklow.

Helwig said if he were elected to the board, he would ensure that it takes part in fair and open bidding processes when awarding contracts to companies working with the district -- something he said currently isn't happening.

He said the district's hiring of Akron-based Epiphany Management for technology department leadership is a recent example of when it could have saved money by shopping around.

"The current board didn't post a RFP (request for proposal), and the end result was, because they weren't transparent ... they have to pay $10,000 per month plus travel," Helwig said. "There's no way there wasn't an option in central Ohio that we could have hired so we didn't have to pay travel.

"The board is here to work for and on behalf of students, not for the administration," he added.

Helwig said the funds he could help save the district should be funneled into academic programs, especially those that benefit gifted and special-needs students, since those are the areas in which the district scored lowest on the most recent state report card.

He said he'd like to see the implementation of a transitional schedule that would allow accelerated students to take higher-level classes in certain core subjects, and an interstate mentor program that would bring teachers from districts across the country together with Olentangy teachers to discuss best practices.

He'd also like to increase the academic requirements for student athletes.

"The average GPA to play sports is 1.5 -- that's a D -- but the NCAA has a 2.3 minimum requirement," he said. "A child that's doing well from an athletic perspective has to learn to excel at an academic level, because what ends up happening is he earns an academic scholarship and loses it when he goes to college."

Helwig, 38, is vice president of operations at Netwrix Corp. His career leadership and active participation in school board meetings have earned him a spot on the Ohio Department of Education Executive Advisory Panel, he said.

He and his wife have lived in the district twice for a total of five years. He would not disclose how many children he has or whether they are enrolled in the district.

"I understand that voters want to know if their school board believes in Olentangy, and I do -- that's one of the reasons that I've moved here," he said. "I'm a voter, a taxpayer and it's important to me that we have good quality schools."

To learn more about Helwig's campaign, visit votebrianhelwig.com.