Reynoldsburg News

Nov. 8 election

Six vie for two school board seats

By DAVID S. OWEN
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Six candidates are running for two seats on the Reynoldsburg Board of Education Nov. 8: Joseph Begeny, Kevin T. Burtyk, Monica A. Debrock, Thomas Drabick, Loretta L. King and Sandra D. Long.

Begeny, 35, has lived in Reynoldsburg six years. He graduated from Ohio University in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in education and received a master’s degree in social sciences in 2006, also from OU.

He is a teacher at Beechcroft High School.

Begeny said his education background qualifies him for being a member of the Reynoldsburg Board of Education.

In addition, he said, before he became a teacher, he worked at United Parcel Service for five years as a human resource supervisor, which helped him develop good business sense through dealing with day-to-day management and labor situations.

“I think that is something a board member should have, to make sure that the district runs smoothly and people can keep those open lines of communication,” Begeny said.

“So if you combine the two, education and business experience, I’ve got a little bit of the best of both worlds,” he said.

Begeny said he is running for the board seat because he believes the community has a lot to offer, as do the schools, and wants to see the district continue its tradition of excellence in academics for all kids.

“I want to make sure we provide the best for all students,” he said.

Begeny said the most pressing need the school district faces is monitoring its financial situation in light of cuts from the state of Ohio and the devaluation in property taxes, as well as keeping its promise to the community by not having to seek another operating levy for a number of years.

“I want to continue that and continue to maximize what we have and make sure our kids are still getting that best education,” Begeny said.

Burtyk, 44, has been living in Reynoldsburg since 1973. He graduated from Bishop Hartley High School in 1985. That same year, after graduating, he suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident and has been in a wheelchair ever since.

Burtyk eventually graduated from Columbus State Community College, receiving a degree in architecture technology in 2001, and is currently a self-employed architectural technician doing computer-aided drafting.

He said he is qualified for a seat on the board of education because of his life experiences, educational background and having worked at Defense Construction Supply Center (DCSC) as a shipping clerk between 1984 and 1985.

Burtyk said he wants to represent the taxpayer, maintain and monitor the district’s fiscal responsibility, in addition to having quality educational choices for the kids.

“The school district needs to pay attention to fiscal responsibility. When it comes to increased foreclosures and then you raise taxes on property, that’s not going to help,” Burtyk said. “We have people with good ideas for the educational system, but we don’t have enough people to represent fiscal responsibility and the taxpayer, and that is what the school board is for.”

DeBrock, 49, has lived in Reynoldsburg for 21 years, and is currently a licensed architect. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. Throughout her career, she said, she has worked with a variety of engineering firms on both public and private projects.

In the past 15 years, she has served on the city’s design review board, the Olde Reynoldsburg strategic development and master plan board and on the Safe Routes for Schools committee.

In addition, DeBrock has served as a local Girl Scout leader, a French Run Elementary PTA officer, as a school orchestra chaperone and currently is a school vocal choir booster vice president.

She said her past involvement in the community and schools qualifies her for a seat on the board of education.

“I’ve worked with many people with many different backgrounds, and I feel with my experience in serving the community, I can help continue to move it forward and make it a better place,” DeBrock said.

She said she is running for office because it is time for her to give back to the community.

“I think this community has supported me and my family for many year. When anyone is in need for support, whether it’s the neighborhood or schools, they have helped us tremendously,” DeBrock said. “I have seen the difference, families and schools working together, how the kids really do benefit from that and I want to make sure that’s still in place for the future.”

DeBrock said the most pressing need for the district is to focus on parent involvement with teachers as well as fiscal responsibility.

“Most of the children that go to school today want to learn or are ready to learn, but the small portion that are not probably takes so much effort of our school district, and I think we need to make sure parents are held accountable,” DeBrock said.

“Fiscal responsibility on every decision that’s made is always going to be foremost in the mind, and the best way to deal with that is to make sure you have all the players on the same page and making it happen,” she said.

Drabick, 48, has lived in Reynoldsburg a total of 16 years, and is currently an attorney in labor and employment law and education law.

He graduated from Muskingum College in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science and a minor English. He received his law degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1988.

Drabick said his qualifications for a seat on the board include having been involved as a reading mentor at Taylor Road Elementary, serving on the superintendent’s community advisory committee, the district’s dress code policy committee and the standards-based curriculum and reporting committee.

He said he is running for a seat on the board because he wants to give back to the community.

“I think public service is important, and public education is extremely important, and that gives me the opportunity to combine two very important things,” Drabick said.

Drabick said the most pressing need the district faces is reaching out to the community on what is happening in the district now.

“For me, it’s community outreach. I think now that we have completed all of the new buildings and have implemented the academies at the high school level, I think it’s important for the community to hear about the really good things that are going on,” Drabick said.

“The haggling about operating levies and building bonds is over, in the past; it’s time to focus on the good things that are happening and let the community hear and see it,” he said.

King, 46, has lived in Reynoldsburg for 11 years and is currently director of housing services for the Columbus Urban League.

She was appointed to the Reynoldsburg Board of Education on Aug. 16 after Chip Martin resigned.

King is a member of the superintendent’s advisory committee, the Columbus Board of Realtors affordable housing committee, the Columbus Mortgage Bankers Association and the Columbus Realtist Association.

She said her qualifications include being involved as a community advocate and working for two successful nonprofit organizations over the last 12 years.

In addition, her work experience has helped her gain experience in administering programs that are budget-related and community-oriented, she said.

“I believe my strengths are being fiscally prudent and evaluating costs wisely É and I think my engagement with the community in being able to bring different people together for the greater good of the schools will be helpful because that’s what I’ve done in my previous jobs,” King said.

“Having to work with different community leaders and neighborhoods and bringing them together — we may not all agree, but we’ll come together for the greater good to make sure we’re moving forward. That’s what I want to bring to the schools,” she said.

King said she is running for a board seat because it’s a natural progression for her to give back to the community and take her experience working in the community to assist where she lives.

She said it’s hard to bundle in one answer what the most pressing need the district faces right now, but one top agenda item is how the recent decline in property values may affect the district.

“When we’re talking about cuts in education as far as funding, that is an area we have got to look at, fiscal conservatism, and to make sure we are stretching every dollar,” King said. “That is going to be huge in forecasting not in just the next five years, but in the next 10 years. The decline in property values for funding of our schools is not only going to impact the district but the city.”

Long, 52, has lived in Reynoldsburg since 1984. Her husband, Chris Long, is an at-large city council member.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Otterbein College in 1991. She worked at Battelle Institute between 1985 and 1994 in its polymer group as a researcher.

She is currently managing owner and operator of Evaluations Inc. a company that specializes in document security testing.

Long has been active in several community organizations, including the boys high school soccer boosters, the Reynoldsburg farmers market, the Reynoldsburg Community Association and the Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival.

She said her qualifications for a board seat include her independent business background, being a “hands-on” parent caring about kids, and the fact she loves Reynoldsburg and the school system.

“I want to take part in keeping it that way and make it better,” Long said.

She said it’s important to give kids the best and to be fiscally responsible.

“I want to make sure our school district remains an excellent school district, but I also want to make sure we are good stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” Long said. “That is where I think having a business background where planning for the future comes into play to some extent. I’m used to dealing with personnel, insurance — there’s a lot of different aspects.”

With the economic future uncertain for many school districts in Ohio, Long said it is important for the Reynoldsburg district to continue to look at spending and save money.

“Maybe that’s partnering with the city or with the Educational Service Center. Partnering is definitely a big factor. It’s an ongoing thing — you don’t want to be hit with it three years from now,” Long said. “I think, over the next year or so, it’s continuing to look at ways to save funds without it being detrimental to the education that the children deserve.”

dowen@thisweeknews.com

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