The two candidates elected Nov. 8 to the Marysville Board of Education will join three other board members in dealing with a district that is in an ongoing state of fiscal distress.

The two candidates elected Nov. 8 to the Marysville Board of Education will join three other board members in dealing with a district that is in an ongoing state of fiscal distress.

Five candidates are seeking two open seats: Camy Cox, Sue Devine, incumbent Roy Fraker, Amy Powers and Tim Schilling.

Current board member John Freudenberg chose not to seek re-election.

Each candidate said the district must continue to make the most of the available resources and continue to offer a high-quality education for the best value. But beyond that, they offer differing approaches.

Fraker, a 10-year member of the board, pointed to his role in helping the board navigate financial challenges to this point, calling his accomplishments “board accomplishments.” He said the board has enacted cuts when needed, “a very difficult task.”

Fraker suggested the challenges largely stem from cuts in state funding and to the downturn in the economy. He also suggested additional “trimming of some of our programs É to affect the minimum amount of students” will be necessary.

Devine acknowledged the financial constraints in the district but advocates stronger dialogue between the board and the community in an effort to ensure that funds are used in a way that meets the vision for the district, “which should be a vision that is shared by our community.”

She pointed to cuts in state funding and unfunded mandates as costing the district dollars, and said the district must “ask for employees’ ideas, consolidate services, communicate with other districts to share ideas for improvement and take full advantage of volunteers and business connections in our community.”

Schilling voiced concern about the district’s “bond debt and the associated impact on its operating income.” He said the district is struggling to repay its debt and that using “permanent improvement dollars and diverting money that should be used as operating income to pay the debt” is a bad idea.

He called blaming state funding and a poor economy for the district’s challenges “using a Band-Aid when stitches are required,” and said the district needs to create a sustainable financial structure by involving “a lot of creative minds that want to find a solution.”

Cox said the board must be willing to “examine all aspects of the budget,” including employee compensation since this is the budget’s largest line item.

“Continuing to try to balance our budget on what is left over is no longer a viable option,” Cox said.

She said rising compensation costs are part of the budget shortfall picture, as is a “reduction in the availability of state funding.”

Powers spoke of the need to “pressure state lawmakers to make more funding available to our schools and benchmark other districts to evaluate ways for our district to conserve tax dollar spending.” She said she is opposed to reducing extracurricular opportunities for students and suggested a creative process is needed “to get it done as a team, as a community.”

The school board will be working with a new superintendent, expected to be in place early in 2012. The candidates each stressed the importance of the hire and how the board and new superintendent work together.

“My idea of a board is not to micromanage,” Powers said, “but to support the superintendent and be a liaison between the administration, teachers and community.”

Schilling acknowledged “large challenges” for the new administrator and said he expects that person to “run the day-to-day operations without micromanagement from the board.But there has to be interaction, working together,” he added.

“The superintendent is responsible to the needs of the community and to work with the board members,” Cox said. “For things to be done efficiently, the board and superintendent must work in tandem.”

Devine said it is important the new superintendent be “brought up to speed on the vision of the board.”

“One of the goals I have is to offer the new superintendent some insight but also experience and stability,” Fraker said.

Fraker said he has always been considered a “reality check” during his tenure on the board, someone who can “step back and analyze and take a different look at things.”

“I have a lot of interest in the well-being of our kids,” he said. “I think the board has to go beyond finance and get to the kids and the programs that can give them the best education.”

Cox pointed to her experience as a former U.S. Senate legislate aide as a benefit to problem-solving and working with constituencies and also that, as a parent, she has a “vested interest in maintaining a high standard of excellence in our schools.”

“I believe a well-rounded curriculum can be maintained without continually raising taxes,” she said.

Powers believes her commitment to the community and the schools helps her understand the need for a “unified team.” “We have always taken care of children in this community,” she said. “I don’t necessarily mean we have to ask for a levy, but with trust, and as a team, we can make it succeed.”

Schilling said his work history and experience on the district’s standards and finance committees is invaluable. “I believe there should be clarity with the community in explaining the district’s financial needs and on how, where and when these needs are paid through tax dollars,” he said.

Devine cited her work experience in finance and accounting and her years of involvement in the schools. “It’s apparent from the support of the schools that the community values a quality education,” she said. “We need to protect the academics and make sure we have excellent teachers. As a board, we have to be accountable to our community and willing to work with our administration and teachers to provide every chance for every child.”