After a period of uncertainty over how many people would seek election to the Canal Winchester Board of Education in November, two candidates emerged for two open seats.
At one point, the candidate pool was winnowed down to one, then was expanded to a three-person race after incumbent Matt Krueger successfully appealed a Franklin County Board of Elections decision to reject his nominating petitions and after Robert Stedman announced he would run as a write-in candidate.
However, Stedman officially withdrew Sept. 13, leaving Krueger, the board's vice president, and fellow incumbent Kevin Butler, the board president, seeking reelection and running unopposed.
Butler, 38, has worked as a special education teacher in the Whitehall City School District for 12 years.
Krueger, 49, is in his second term on the board. He works in sales at the Worth Ave. Group, a consumer-electronics insurance provider.
The candidates answered the following questions for ThisWeek Canal Winchester Times:
What do you believe are the largest challenge facing the district and how will you approach them?
Butler: Managing steady growth while continuing to provide a high-quality education for all the students in the district. We need to continue to plan strategically for the future, finding innovative ways to operate more efficiently. This will allow for continued growth and free up resources that can be invested in the classroom.
Krueger: The largest challenge that I see we are facing is making sure we have the appropriate resources available to help support our students when dealing with mental health, behavioral health and continued work with social skills. We have already addressed many of these needs this year by adding a social worker and a behavioral specialist to our full-time staff, along with our already existing three to four OSU mental health interns, social skills class and our on-staff special services folks. I am looking forward to seeing the positive results and growth for our students that need these resources.
Superintendent James Sotlar spoke about the importance of integrating STEM education (science, technology, engineering, math) into the district's curriculum, yet not all schools have earned the STEM designation yet. How will you go about ensuring this happens?
Butler: I believe that the STEM designation at Winchester Trails Elementary is a wonderful accomplishment for the district. Over the last few years, Superintendent Sotlar and the board have focused on opening up multiple pathways for student success. The integration of STEM curriculum across the district is just one of those pathways. As the district moves forward, I will continue to emphasize opening up multiple pathways to empower all students for success. As a member of the board, I will encourage Mr. Sotlar to continue incorporating STEM curriculum across all the buildings in the district.
Krueger: A school does not need to have the STEM designation for that type of learning activities to occur. The PBL -- project-based lLearning -- activities is an incredible foundation to bring classroom learning to life and make it relative in the student's world. All teachers have been trained in project-based learning and have a strong focus on developing the whole student. The high school and middle school have STEM pathways which will give our students a head start in a STEM career. Winchester Trail and the middle school are designated STEM school today and once the curriculum is fully implemented there, we will start the discussion on the possible STEM designation at the high school.
Construction on the high school will push back next school year's start date. What will you do to make sure the construction doesn't interfere with students' learning and coursework?
Butler: I am extremely excited to see all the work going on at the high school. As a board member, I have worked with the district staff and families to ensure the safety of the students. The current schedule allows the district more time in the summer for construction while still ending our school year at the end of May. I am confident that our detailed plan to move in the new high school will allow for the construction work with minimal interference on student learning.
Krueger: There is an entire team of professionals working on this project from CWLS staff, Ruscilli and Schorr Architects. As a board member, I really have no involvement in the day-to-day business of the school district and especially from a construction-management standpoint. I trust that the team will do everything possible to hit deadlines as they have been doing this entire project thus far. I see no deviation from that focus.