Pickerington Times-Sun

Pickerington school board race

Lopez hopes to guide implementation of state mandates

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Incumbent Pickerington school board member Clay Lopez recently said he's equipped to help the district meet challenges brought on by looming financial constraints and performance mandates due to his experience in office.

Lopez, a board member since 2008, is seeking re-election to his second full term in office Nov. 5.

He's among four candidates -- including current board members Cathy Olshefski and Lori Sanders and challenger Vanessa Niekamp -- who will vie for three seats on the board.

Lopez, 38, has lived in Pickerington for 12 years. He and wife, Shannon, have a daughter and son.

An attorney for Amy Levine and Associates by day, Lopez holds a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University and a law degree from Capital University Law School.

He said he's running for re-election because his experience has provided great insights into the issues facing the district, and he wants to help further its advancements in academic progress.

"I have served on the Pickerington Local School District Board of Education for six years," Lopez said. "In that time, the district has undergone significant change.

"I have the perspective to know where the district has been and where it needs to be in order for the students to compete in the global market. There are more changes coming to the district with the introduction of OTES (Ohio Teacher Evaluation System) and the implementation of the Common Core.

"Having helped plan for these changes, and understanding what challenges are presented by these programs, helps in making me an ideal candidate. I have lived in the district since 2001 and care very much about the schools and the students that attend and graduate from PLSD. I have two children of my own that I am proud to say will be Pickerington graduates."

OTES, which is a byproduct of new Common Core learning standards in place throughout Ohio for students, requires districts to evaluate teachers based on their professional growth plans, classroom observations and their students' annual academic growth.

Lopez identified the implementation of that evaluation system and the Common Core itself as primary issues facing the district.

"These changes are institutional changes that affect the delivery of education on a daily basis," he said. "Working with individuals on the front lines -- teachers and administrators -- will lead to success for the school district.

"We have incredible people on staff, in the classroom and in the administration that will be very helpful in implementing the changes. I will work with all of those groups and parents to ensure that there is a smooth transition to those programs and that the programs ensure success in maintaining the high standards of Pickerington Local School District."

Lopez added that he'll work to reinstitute some of the programs cut in 2011 due to budget constraints.

"The district is now in much better financial condition and I hope to be able to restore some of the programs that were lost as a result of the budget cuts," he said.

"There are new ways to deliver programming to all grade levels and I will work with the administration to be creative in restoring some of what was lost at all grade levels.

"Additionally, because we are under a two-year funding formula through the state of Ohio, I will work closely with (PLSD) Treasurer Ryan Jenkins and Superintendent Rob Walker to see that Pickerington is using funds appropriately to give our students the best education and opportunities possible."

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