Olentangy Valley News

Board mulls three finalists after 41 apply for seat

Olentangy will name newest member July 9

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All three finalists for the open Olentangy school board seat say their experiences as professionals and district volunteers qualify them for the job.

The board will select a replacement for former board member Stacy Dunbar at its meeting Wednesday, July 9. Dunbar, whose term expires in December 2015, gave up her seat June 17 after her family decided to move outside of the district.

In the week following her resignation, 41 district residents applied for the open seat. By Friday, June 27, the board had culled the field to three finalists:

* Roger M. Bartz of Orange Township, senior client service manager for Gahanna-based TRC Environmental Corp.

* David L. Celona of Berlin Township, president of Columbus-based Strategic Impact Consulting.

* Karen A. Clark of Orange Township, human resources operations manager for Nationwide Insurance.

All three finalists have children enrolled in the district and a history of supporting Olentangy schools through volunteer work.

Bartz said he's worked in multiple volunteer positions, and applying to serve on the board seemed like the next logical step. He has been a member of the Olentangy Orange Athletic Boosters, including multiple terms as president and vice president, since 2007.

Bartz also was co-chairman of Orange's turf committee, which oversaw a private fundraising effort to install turf at Orange High School's football stadium.

Besides his volunteer experience, Bartz said his work on large capital projects in his professional career could be useful if he's selected for the board. He said he could review project contracts and make sure the district is getting the most out of its deals with contractors.

"I think I'm going to bring some of that ability to look at the dollars and cents," Bartz said.

Bartz said he and his family have had "nothing but positive" experiences in dealing with the district's teachers and administration so far.

Clark, who served as co-chairwoman of Olentangy's redistricting committee in 2012 and 2014, said her experience as a volunteer in the district has made her want to contribute more.

Clark said her experience in human resources could be valuable to the board.

"Being an HR professional, we deal with all kinds of people and issues and help the company do great things," she said.

Clark said she also will be interested in helping to manage the growth of the district, if appointed.

Celona has volunteered with Olentangy High School's turf committee and soccer boosters. Along with his experience as a volunteer, he said his work as a consultant and contacts in state government could be useful to the district.

Olentangy, along with other fast-growing, wealthy school districts, has been vocal in the discussion about education-funding reform. District officials have testified that the low per-pupil funding Olentangy gets from the state makes it too dependent on property-tax levies.

Celona said he could aid the board and administration in its push for more-equitable state funding for education.

"I believe quite strongly my background ... will make me uniquely suited to help get that objective across the finish line," he said.

Celona said the fact that 41 people applied for the volunteer position speaks volumes about how much the community cares about Olentangy schools.

"That in itself is a wonderful thing," he said. "It tells you a lot about the character of the district."

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