Incumbent Keith Kristoff and former board member Cathy Olshefski were elected Nov. 5 to four-year terms on the Pickerington Schools Board of Education.

Kristoff won his second consecutive term on the board Nov. 5, and Olshefski, who served from 2010 to 2018, earned a seat again after being the top vote-getters in a five-way race for two board seats.

According to final, unofficial results from the Fairfield County Board of Elections, Kristoff received 2,722 votes (25.64%), followed by Olshefski with 2,246 (21.16%), Christian Johnson with 2,128 (20.05%), Barry Sutherland with 2,053 (19.34%) and Tezlyn Reardon with 1,467 (13.82%).

In addition to Kristoff's current seat, the candidates were seeking a seat held by board President Michelle Waterhouse, who chose not to seek reelection.

Kristoff and Olshefski will join board members Clay Lopez, Vanessa Niekamp and Lori Sanders.

In response to being reelected, Kristoff thanked those who campaigned with him and voted for him.

"I am proud of what PLSD has accomplished during my first term and excited to be a part of our school's leadership team moving forward," he said. "I would also like compliment Barry, Christian and Tezlyn on their efforts.

"Competition challenges everyone to be better. Most importantly, I encourage everyone to find a way to become involved, stay informed and to be an active participant with our schools.

"It takes a village, and we all need to work together to ensure that our children -- and grandchildren -- have the best possible learning environments to create their future opportunities."

In 2020, Kristoff said, he intends to work with teachers and administrators to "accelerate the development of alternative educational pathways and learning experiences."

"We all know that the world in which we live is rapidly changing," Kristoff said. "Are our schools keeping up?

"I think PLSD does a great job preparing our students for college. But in today's work environment, should over 90% of our students be focused on attending a traditional college after graduation?

"I can argue that there are more alternative avenues to success than ever before."

Kristoff said the district has invested in all students having laptops and computer tablets, and now, district leaders must determine if the model of teaching in 20- to 30-student classroom settings is still the most effective way of educating.

"I think we need to do the research and be open to other options," he said. "Are we utilizing the available resources that are located outside of our building walls to our students' fullest advantage?

"I would welcome ideas on how we can more proactively seek out additional partnerships with trade schools, businesses and even other high schools," Kristoff said.

"I acknowledge that there are no simple answers to these questions, but my hope is that these questions will spark a productive conversation."

A paperwork gaffe in August 2017 prevented Olshefski from seeking reelection to a third consecutive term in November that year.

At that time, she dated her "statement of candidacy" for Aug. 8, 2017, when the deadline for the filing was July 15.

She said she was "thrilled" to overcome that setback and return to the board, adding that she's humbled and grateful.

"When my petitions were rejected two years ago by the board of elections due to a date error, I was devastated," Olshefski said, "but over those two years, my passion for public service never waned.

"In fact, it grew and evolved and became more focused."

Olshefski said she returned to politics because the strength and potential of Pickerington Schools were the reasons her family moved to the district more than 22 years ago.

As for 2020, Olshefski said it's important the district continue to implement the Plan for Progress, which is setting forth policies to enhance academic programming and performances, make district operations more efficient and to upgrade district facilities.

As part of that, she said she would work to show the need for the district to pass a bond issue in November 2020 that would provide funds for the construction of a new junior high school, as well as renovations to other buildings and athletic facilities.

"This is a multifaceted strategic plan that includes academic excellence, fiscal responsibility and facilities improvements," she said.

"Specifically, it is important that we pass the November 2020 bond issue to achieve many of these goals. I plan on working diligently to make this happen."

Other results

Niekamp was elected as Violet Township fiscal officer in the Nov. 5 election and said he plans to serve in both capacities. She said the Ohio Revised Code permits her to hold both the school board seat and the township office.

According to final, unofficial results from the Fairfield County Board of Elections, Niekamp was elected in a four-candidate race. She received 1,923 votes (38.1%), Dan Griscom had 1,353 (26.7%), Peggy Portier had 942 (18.6%) and Jennifer Clemens took 841 (16.6%).

Niekamp will become fiscal officer April 1.

The post is held by Brian Sauer, who chose not to seek reelection. His term expires March 31.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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