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Voter Guide

Akron Public Schools Board of Education

10/22/2009 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Bruce Alexander
Ginger Baylor
Jason Haas
Lisa Mansfield
Virgil Anthony Ortiz
Dianna Smith
Mexie Wilson
Four to be elected

Bruce Alexander

Personal information

Alexander, 49, is married, has two children and lives in West Akron.

Education

B.A., Youngstown State University, health education with a minor in marketing, 1983

Experience

Currently, superintendent, Summit County Juvenile Court

Activities

None provided

What makes you the best candidate for the position?

“My proven experience working with youth, families, and the community through the Summit County Juvenile Court System for over 22 plus years along with my 16 years of service working within the Akron School System would allow me to apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to help take the Akron School System to a higher level.

I am an advocate for students and learning, love the Akron community, and who loves to see students rising and overcoming obstacles to become the best they can be. This brings me joy because I was once labeled at risk and doom to fell but with determination, perseverance, and help from family and others, I was able to overcome the odds and I know our students can do just as good if not better.”

Ginger Baylor

Personal information

Baylor, 54, is married, has six children and nine grandchildren and lives in West Akron.

Education

Ohio School of Broadcast, 1990

A.A., The University of Akron (UA) Community and Technical College, 1998

B.A., UA, business and organizational communication, 1998

M.A.Ed., University of Phoenix, curriculum and instruction, 2006

Experience

Currently, assistant professor, lecturer, UA (two years)

Formerly, long-term substitute, Akron Public Schools

Activities

None provided

What makes you the best candidate for the position?

“I have over 10 years of combined experience as an educator, teacher and college instructor. I understand many of the challenges teachers face and the great responsibility they have to provide each child with a quality education. As a parent and grandparent I understand the hopes, dreams, concerns, fears and uncertainties experienced by children of all ages. It is my strong desire to see that every child receives a quality education. I believe that every child can learn and wants to learn and has a right to experience learning at the highest level. Having been born and raised here in Akron, graduated from Akron Public Schools and The University of Akron, I know this community and herein lay my commitment. I have a vested interest in this community and have participated and served in many community organizations, committees and on a number of governing boards. I understand my fiduciary duties and would make decisions to cut first those things that are unrelated to our children receiving a high quality education. As a taxpayer, I know how important it is seek viable alternatives to school levies eliminating the need for citizens to pay additional taxes. I am an advocate for public education, committed to raising graduation rates and decreasing dropout rates, and I am willing and ready to put the time in to get the job done.”

Jason Haas

Personal information

Incumbent Haas, 36, is married, has two children and lives in West Akron.

Education

B.A., Eastern Illinois University, sociology, 1997

M.A., The University of Akron (UA), sociology, 2003

Experience

Currently, member, Akron Public Schools (APS) Board of Education (2007-present)

Currently, grants program analyst, Summit County Department of Community and Economic Development (two and a half years)

Formerly, research assistant, UA’s Bliss Institute of Applied Politics

Activities

Chairman, APS Board of Education Legal and Board Policy Development Committee

Member, Summit-Medina Workforce Investment Board

What makes you the best candidate for the position?

“I remain convinced that a strong public education system is key to a robust local economy because it provides a highly skilled, flexible, and entrepreneurial workforce. As the largest area district, APS must be a partner for regional success and continue its path to an effective ranking on the state report card.

I am committed to opening a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) high school as a counterpart to the new STEM middle school. Experience based learning in these schools will help produce a collaborative, highly skilled, and results driven workforce.

APS must raise its graduate rate to at least the state average, an increase of 10 points from the current 75 percent. Research shows that dropouts and students who struggle to achieve graduation begin having significant graduation barriers in middle school. Addressing these issues before they become excessive is key to becoming ranked an effective district.

Although the state legislature recently enacted educational reforms, they did so without a fundamental change in the funding structure. APS has been a good steward of revenues provided by local taxes. I will continue that tradition by exhausting every measure, which doesn’t effect educational quality, before seeking a levy increase.”

Lisa Mansfield

Personal information

Mansfield, 42, is married, has three children and lives in West Akron.

Education

Graduate, North High School

B.A., The University of Akron, secondary education, English/history

Experience

Currently, patron services manager/education staff, Weathervane Playhouse

Activities

Member, Family Readiness Groups for U.S Army/Ohio Army National Guard

Accredited Leader, La Leche League

Mentor, Mentoring Mothers, Summit County Children Services.

Teacher, Pregnancy Care of Summit County Inc.

Committee member, volunteer, “Children’s Miracle Network” telethon

What makes you the best candidate for the position?

“I am the best candidate for the position because:

As a third generation graduate and mother of three children in the district, I bring a legacy and an historical perspective of where the district has been, a vested interest in where we are now, and a vision of where we need to go.

I earned a B.A. in Secondary Education from the University of Akron in 1990 with a concentration in English and History. I student-taught at Garfield High School and served as a substitute throughout the district. I was blessed to be able to stay home when my children were first born before returning to the workforce as they entered school. Still, while I was not in a traditional classroom, education dominated my volunteer time. I’m a member of the PTA and frequent volunteer at my sons’ schools.

As Patron Services Manager at Weathervane Playhouse, I work with Akron Public Schools students both in and out of the classroom. I helped write curriculum, introduced Kindergarten students to theater concepts through ‘Akron After School’ and served as director of ‘Neighborhood Playhouse,’ a free, two-week summer camp in 2007 and 2008.

“My experience, commitment, and passion make me the best candidate for the Akron School Board.”

Virgil Anthony Ortiz

Personal information

Ortiz, 36, is single and lives in East Akron.

Education

B.S., Kent State University, technology, 2000

Experience

Currently, customer service agent, Mesaba Arline, dba Delta Connection (nine years)

Previously, owner, Patriotic Delivery LLC

Activities

Precinct committeeman

Delegate, 2008 Democratic National Convention

What makes you the best candidate for the position?

“I am the best candidate because as a former substitute teacher I have seen the way that schools are run and I have seen the issues that plague the schools and I want to help fix the issues that need fixed. It is my plan to provide every child with all of the latest technological advantages so that they can be all they can be. I plan on seeing every child graduate. I want a special initiative to make sure that no child is left behind.”

Dianna Smith

Personal information

Smith, 21, is single and lives in Ellet.

Education

Graduate, Ellet High School

Expected, B.B.A., Kent State University, business management with a pre-law minor, 2010

Experience

None provided

Activities

Youth mentor, Summit County Juvenile Correction Facility

Member, Beta Gama Sigma

Member, Gold Key

Volunteer golf instructor, Edwin Shaw Hospital for Rehabilitation

What makes you the best candidate for the position?

“I attended Akron Public Schools from pre-kindergarten through 12th; this first-hand experience makes me aware of what needs to be done to improve the education system. As a young candidate, I believe that I will offer the board a view that is closer in perspective to today’s education of students. I am finishing my last year of my bachelor’s in Business Administration, which equips me well to handle the business-transaction side of a school board. I remain active in the Akron community, I am well aware of issues that Akron Public Schools are facing, and the concerns held by community members. My unique qualifications will allow me to offer intuitive decisions to school board issues and act in the best interest of the students of Akron Public Schools.”

Mexie Wilson

Personal information

Wilson, 37, is single, has one child and lives in West Akron.

Education

Graduate, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, 1990

B.B.A., Ohio University, business management, 1994

Attended, Morgan State University, 1997-99

M.A., Kent State University, liberal studies in project management and marketing, 2002

Experience

Currently, Northeast Ohio marketing representative, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority

Formerly, substitute teacher, Akron Public Schools

Formerly, community banking associate, Bank One

Activities

Member, American Civil Liberties Union Cleveland Chapter Board

Member, Kent State University Black Alumni Chapter Board

Delegate, National Hip Hop Political Convention Ohio

United Way Neighborhood Leadership Institute

Poll Worker, Summit County Board of Elections

Volunteer, City Fresh Lawton Community Center

Member, Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce

Member, NAACP

What makes you the best candidate for the position?

“I am the best candidate for the Akron School Board because I understand the shared responsibility between schools and community working together to prepare children for the future. I have a unique perspective on addressing the needs of the children and the community from my education, professional experiences and community activism. As the parent of an Akron Public School student, I have a vested interest in the district performance. I believe education should engage and inspire children to be and do their best. Not only do I want the best education for my son, I want the same for each and every child in every school. As a former Akron substitute teacher, I had the opportunity to visit almost every school in the district working directly with students and teachers. This allowed me to daily witness great work being done throughout the city and will assist me in being an effective board member. I will be dedicated to devoting the necessary time and research to all issues concerning the operation and performance of the school system. I am the best candidate because I am prepared to accept the challenges and opportunities in providing new and innovative leadership for the next generation.”

Editor’s note: Rita Hosch, a candidate for Akron Public Schools Board of Education member, did not submit information to be included in the West Side Leader’s Voter Guide.

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