As one of Ohio's largest school districts, a representative of the South-Western City School District always has a seat on the Ohio School Boards Association's board of trustees.

South-Western is the fifth-largest district in the state, so "we have a permanent spot on the board," said Lee Schreiner, a South-Western school board member.

In addition to the president, president-elect and immediate past president, the board of trustees comprises, among other seats, one representative from each of the six districts with the largest pupil enrollment. Currently, the board has 31 trustees statewide.

This year, South-Western has more prominent representation on the OSBA board.

Schreiner was sworn in Jan. 11 as the OSBA's 2020 president, and South-Western school board president Robert Ragland is serving as the district's representative on the OSBA board.

"It certainly gives us a greater perspective on the issues the OSBA is addressing by having two members on the board," Schreiner said. "We're not the only one -- Toledo has two members on the board this year."

But the OSBA represents the school boards serving all of Ohio's districts, he said.

The other five largest districts are, in order, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Akron. The Olentangy Local School District is the seventh-largest, according to the OSBA.

"Diversity is the key," Schreiner said. "Our board of trustees has members representing all kinds of districts, small and large, urban, rural and suburban, rich and poor."

The overall mission of the OSBA is to advocate for more local control for school boards, he said.

"School boards are locally elected to serve their local districts," Schreiner said. "They know better than anyone how to serve the students in their own communities."

Schreiner has served as South-Western's representative on the OSBA board since he was first appointed to the South-Western school board in 2013. He won election to his second full term on the South-Western school board in November 2017.

He served as OSBA's president-elect in 2019 and will serve as past president in 2021 after his one-year term as president.

Schreiner served in the three posts for OSBA's central region from 2016-18.

He is the third South-Western school board member to serve as OSBA president. The others were Cathy Johnson and Mark Hutchinson.

Schreiner worked 37 years as a gifted-education teacher in South-Western schools before his retirement in 2011.

He has served on the board of directors of the Ohio Education Association and the National Education Association and also served as the chairman of the NEA Social Security Fairness Task Force in Washington, D.C.

"I believe in life-long learning, and I have a life-long dedication to education," he said.

After he retired from teaching, his passion for education remained, but shifted to advocacy through serving on the school board, he said.

"I believe that knowledge plus experience equals, hopefully, wisdom," Schreiner said. "My grandmother always said you have two ears and one mouth, so you should be listening twice as often as you're talking. I've found that listening is a big part of how you can be a problem-solver."

Ragland was elected as the South-Western board president by his colleagues Jan. 6 at the board's first meeting of the year. He replaces Mindy Garverick as board president. Garverick did not run for reelection to the board in November.

"It's an honor and privilege to serve as board president, just as it is to serve on the board itself," Ragland said.

Ragland was appointed to the school board in August 2016 to fill a vacancy and was elected in November 2017 to fill the remaining two years of the seat.

He was reelected to the board in November 2019.

"I got interested in serving on the school board after initially being a community volunteer with the PTA," he said. "In a way, I look at the school board as another way to volunteer for the district, except that you choose to run for office."

"The mission of the National PTA is to promote the education, health, welfare and safety of students," Ragland said. "I think the school board's mission is to insure the education, health, welfare and safety of our students."

One of the top items for the school district this year will be the second phase of South-Western's Ohio Facilities Construction Commission project. The second phase will include the construction of new buildings at Brookpark, Finland, Norton and Pleasant View middle schools and renovations at Jackson Middle School and East Franklin Elementary School.

The new school buildings are an important way the district can insure that students can learn in the best and safest environment, Ragland said.

South-Western is in the OSBA board's central region, which includes Dublin City Schools, represented by Stu Harris; Mansfield City Schools, Renda Cline; Teays Valley Local Schools, Kevin Archer; and Mount Vernon City Schools and Knox County Career Center, Dr. Marguerite Bennett.