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APS board member interested in budget, busing

1/30/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Dave Lombardi
WEST AKRON — A positive experience for his children in the Akron Public Schools (APS) led lifelong West Akron resident Dave Lombardi to seek office on the district’s Board of Education last year.

Lombardi is the sole new APS board member serving on the seven-member board. Incumbents Lisa Mansfield, Veronica Sims and Bruce Alexander were re-elected in the Nov. 5 General Election. The four were sworn in for new terms Jan. 13, joining other members Patrick Bravo, Tim Miller and the Rev. Curtis Walker.

Lombardi bested several other new candidates who ran in the election, taking the seat previously held by Jason Haas, who did not seek re-election.

A graduate of Walsh Jesuit High School who earned degrees in business administration/finance and law at The University of Akron, Lombardi said he and his wife originally planned to send their two sons to parochial school. After starting on that path, they found that it wasn’t a good fit for their oldest child.

“We heard good things about Case [Elementary School],” said Lombardi, who lives in the Firestone cluster. “We tried it, and we were very happy.”

His sons are now enrolled at Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts and Firestone High School.

Lombardi said he’s been impressed with programs that APS offers.

“We need to keep the talent we are educating from moving to other parts of country, and our education system is a good way to do that,” he said.

He also believes the district’s expansive building program, which uses state money and a portion of income tax collected in the city to fund the construction of new buildings, is also making a difference.

As for areas of improvement, Lombardi said he knows the district’s budget is always a concern.

“In the budget as proposed, it looks like we’re able to be in the black at the end of the five-year forecast,” he said. “We want to continue down that road, to not be operating in the red and do wisely with the monies generated from the past levies.”

One area he would like to see the district address is busing. He’d like the district to revisit the current policy that only allows busing of students when they live 2 or more miles from their school, noting that charter schools, which must be provided busing from local school districts, do not have that restriction.

“I’m not against charter schools but the charter schools that have gone in and have taken advantage of transportation laws,” he said.

Lombardi said he also wants the district to be conservative as it considers the next steps in the plan to build new school buildings.

“I am hesitant to building more and more buildings if enrollment is going down and spending resources on buildings is not needed,” he said.

While he’s been happy with his own children’s experiences in the district, he said he believes he can effectively address issues when parents come forward with problems.

“You have to listen and address what the person brings to you, and you have to check it out,” he said. “You’ve got to investigate, discuss and plan a course of action.”

Lombardi said he’s looking forward to serving. He’s finding that he has a lot to learn in his new role.

“Right now, I’m kind of in a ‘wow, there’s a lot to it’ mode,” he said. “The first year there will be a lot of time reading and understanding the job.”

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