Pickerington Times-Sun

Pickerington school board race

Incumbent Sanders is seeking her fifth term

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The Pickerington Board of Education's longest-sitting member, Lori Sanders, will seek a fifth term this November.

Sanders, 52, is among four candidates running Nov. 5 for three seats on the Pickerington School Board.

She'll face off with incumbent board members Clay Lopez and Cathy Olshefski, as well as challenger Vanessa Niekamp.

The owner of Sole Proprietor, a contracting service for school occupational therapists, and a director for Columbus Volleyball Academy, a licensed junior volleyball club, Sanders has lived in Pickerington for 27 years.

She is married to her husband, Mike, and the couple has two daughters and a son.

Sanders holds a bachelor of science degree in occupational therapy from Ohio State University, and she's served on the Pickerington Board of Education from 1998 to present.

Along the way, she's been board president four times and vice president four times.

"I genuinely consider myself a public servant that serves on this board of education simply because giving back to the community is part of my nature," Sanders said.

"I do it because it is the most positive child-centered role an elected official can have and I want the best opportunity for every single child that walks through the door of our school building," she said

Sanders identified communication with the public and evaluating school programs and personnel as two key priorities for the Pickerington Local School District and school board.

"We all have high expectations for our students, but sometimes we have difficulty explaining or understanding what that means or how those outcomes are different for today's students than the basic 'Three Rs' we all grew up with," Sanders said.

"As a district we have to be able to make these changes understandable and explain how we will examine curriculum, instruction, and assessment," she said.

"These changes are based on higher standards of student achievement.

"We will see our students move more readily from gathering and remembering information with some application, to automatically using acquired knowledge, to developing more complex thinking and problem-solving skills," Sanders said.

"These changes coupled with our recent commitment to fast track our technology plan, will help our students meet the demands that are required for tomorrow's workforce."

Additionally, Sanders said, the board must evaluate which, if any, programs that were cut in recent years because of budget constraints should be restored.

"Following the $13 million of districtwide reductions in 2010 we will need to continue to annually re-evaluate programs or services that were cut or reduced and determine if adjustments need to be made based on what is best for our students," she said.

"Although we know we can never go back to the exact manner in which we delivered education, we can be sure we structure our programming and staffing to maximize the opportunities we offer our students.

"We have currently made adjustments, but we are now in our third year of post-reductions and should have a better idea of what we need to do to provide the well-rounded education we have come to expect in this community," Sanders said.

As the board makes these evaluations, Sanders said, it will do so with district finances in mind.

She said one of her goals is to avoid asking voters to support a new operating levy within the next "several years."

"Based on the forecasted information we have today it would be unlikely that we would need to ask the taxpayers for additional operating dollars in the next several years," she said.

"We need to closely monitor the deficit/surplus expenditure line each year and make adjustments when building the annual budget.

"Our district has a positive cash balance for the entire term of this five-year forecast," Sanders said.

"This positive cash balance is attributed to the reductions made in 2010, passage of an operating levy in 2011, and the unexpected increase in state funding in 2013," she said.

"The current board has recently put in place a cash balance policy that will trigger the formulation of a plan should the cash balance go below 45 days of expenditures.

"What does this mean to taxpayers? The district is good shape financially and our current board is taking necessary steps toward keeping it that way in terms of what we can control," sanders said.

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