3 challengers, 3 incumbents in race for Claymont Board of Education
Note: This story has been updated to add the names of two of Austin Beckley’s relatives who work for the Claymont City Schools. The information was not supplied with the candidate’s Sept. 14 reply to a questionnaire from the newspaper. He gave the names Thursday, after the story appeared in print. He explained the initial omission by email, writing, “They are not teachers or in any Union. I thought the question was regards to teaching. Sorry.” His first response to the question, “Do you have any relatives who work for the district?” was “no.”
DENNISON — Six candidates are seeking three positions on the Claymont Board of Education in the Nov. 2 general election.
The challengers are Cyndy Host, Nikita M. Richardson and Michelle K. Wolf. Incumbents are Austin Beckley, Lois Grandison and Michelle Sproul.
Host is a former school board member. Wolf sought the same office two years ago, losing the election by two votes.
Issues raised by the candidates include dealing with COVID-19, the pandemic education gap, parent choice, district morale and opening the decision-making process to more people.
The Times-Reporter asked each candidate questions about their backgrounds and candidacies. Their answers, which have been edited slightly, appear below.
Family: Husband, Kraig Host, children, Katherine and Keaton
Previous offices held: Claymont Board of Education, 2014-2017, Buckeye Career Center Board of Education, 2014-2019
Do you have any relatives who work for the district? Yes. My husband is an intervention specialist at the middle school. One sister-in-law is a second-grade teacher, Another sister-in-law is a cook. I have a nephew who is a custodian.
Why should voters elect you? I am passionate about the importance of education. Whether students choose the path of college after graduation, go directly into the workforce, or pursue in a career from a learned trade at Buckeye Career Center, the value of the education they receive is vital to their success. We have the best staff and support staff at Claymont and Buckeye’s trade school education is second to none.
What is the top issue facing the district and what would you do about it? The pandemic education gap. Students have lost so much in the last 18 months with interrupted learning and as a district we need to strategize on what additional resources are needed in order to get the students education levels back on track.
Family: Wife, Melva, sons Patrick Beckley, Scott Beckley, Troy Beckley
Previous offices held: Claymont Board of Education president, three years, Uhrichsville Civil Service Commission chairman
Do you have any relatives who work for the district? Son Troy is helping with football; granddaughter Kennedy Beckley is working with middle school cheerleaders.
Why should the voters elect you? I’m truthful, trustworthy, sincere and fair. I believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect no matter who you are. I’m committed to ensuring all children reach their fullest potential and build a strong foundation for lifelong learning and success. Every decision you make should be what is best for children.
What is the top issue facing the district and what would you do about it? COVID, at this time. We understand the frustration of COVID-19 and what quaranting may cause to families. All families must be fully informed of the public health and safety recommendation. It is also important for us to permit healthy, nonsymptomatic students to continue attending school. We have a COVID plan in place hoping all staff and students can stay safe and healthy and have a good year.
Residence: Rush Township
Family: husband, Nathan, five children.
Previous offices held: None
Do you have any relatives who work for the district? I do not have any immediate family members working in the school district.
Why should voters elect you? If you vote for me, you are choosing someone who puts our children first. You are choosing parent involvement, parent choice and a strong voice to convey your concerns. I stand for faith, family and freedom.
What is the top issue facing the district and what would you do about it? The culture of division in the community; leading to miscommunication, lack of trust and hostility. I am committed to lead in a way that will promote unity through effective communication with individuals, no matter our differences.
Family: husband John Wolf, children Madison, Mallory, Marlie and Myles.
Previous offices held: None
Do you have any relatives who work for the district? No
Why should voters elect you?* I have been motivated to run for school board for many reasons, one being the current morale of our school system. Our school system has been through a lot over the last years. Our morale seems to have plummeted. We need members who want to celebrate all successes, have open minds and are ready to listen to all concerns. I would like to see more transparency, and community and staff members assisting with decisions.
What is the top issue facing the district and what would you do about it? My ultimate goal would be to reach compromises while reconciling differences for the betterment of our schools’ environments but most importantly for the sake of our students and staff members! Never give up, even when times are hard or it may seem easier to give in.
Family: I am blessed to have a blended extended family that consists of three children and 10 grandchildren
Previous office held: Appointed in February 2021 to fill the vacancy of Collin Fawcett on the Claymont Board of Education.
Do you have any relatives that work for the district? Yes: cousin Charlotte Sayre, preschool itinerant teacher; granddaughter Kennedy Beckley, middle school cheer co-coach; son-in-law Troy Beckley, freshman football coach.
Why should the voters elect you to the school board? I bring leadership skills, business experience, financial knowledge and understand the importance of good open communication to help the Claymont board achieve goals for the school and community. I believe a strong school creates a strong community.
What is the top issue facing the district and what would you do about it? Currently COVID remains at the top of issues facing our schools. We need to keep our students and staff in a safe, healthy learning environment. I will continue to follow guidelines provided by our health officials. As a registered nurse or over 41 years, I will bring my extensive knowledge of infection control to help address health and safety in schools
Family: husband, Cory Sproul, children, Lilly and Olivia
Previous offices held: Ending first term on Claymont Board of Education
Do you have any relatives who work for the district? Yes
Why should the voters elect you to the school board? I care about the community and people that reside here. I am invested in our youth and active in the community. I want to help keep moving our district forward.
What is the top issue facing the district and what would you do about it? Navigating education in an ongoing pandemic. Keep up-to-date on ongoing changes, legislation, reaching out to neighboring school board members to share ideas and gain insight.