Voter Guide: Centerville School Board
Education: High school
Current Employment: Self-employed, owner of McGuire Mfg Resources
Community Involvement: Since 2010 I’ve been involved with different levels of school PTO and events, classroom parent/volunteer, fundraisers, daughter’s athletic teams and have lead our churches Community Care Ministry.
Why are you seeking elected office? I am running for Centerville school board because of the dire need to improve representation of all constituents, including parents, students, community members, teachers and school staff, as some voices are currently not being heard. The incumbents have served on the Centerville Board of Education for 62 years combined. It is time for change. It is time for a school board that listens and responds to current needs and input, and it is time for Centerville to get back to the educational excellence that we expect from our district.
Why should voters elect you? I am a mom of a current high school student, and very much in-touch with today’s challenges that parents and students face. I am enveloped in a large network of parents, community members and even teachers that have communicated concerns about our school district over the past two years. I plan to represent all stakeholders fairly, work to improve communication with the school board, and ensure fiscal transparency as to how our tax dollars are being spent.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. Improved communication with the board 2. Fair representation of all citizens 3. Ensure fiscal transparency
What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? 1. In order to improve communication, I plan to expand the amount of time, frequency and format for public statements. I will consider all views on issues from parents, staff and community members in the decision-making process. 2. As an elected board member, I will represent the citizens of Centerville/Washington Township fairly. It is my perspective that this can only be done by relating to parents, students and community members by actually listening to their concerns and responding to them. 3. I plan to implement the “open checkbook,” a tool provided by Ohio’s Treasurer of State so that taxpayers can see how their hard-earned dollars are being spent. I would also recommend a full audit be done to assess how to get deficit spending under control.
Anything else? For more information please see our Facebook page for Kosins Schultz and McGuire for Centerville Board of Education.
Education: SUNY at Binghamton – B.S. biology; Ohio State University – Master’s in cytogenetics; Wright State University School of Medicine – M.D. degree
Current Employment: Pediatrician, Pediatric Associates of Dayton
Community Involvement: Centerville School Board member, 1994-present. Others: 1. Special Wish Foundation – served on the Board and now on their advisory Board. A fantastic organization granting wishes to those children with life threatening diseases 2. Teenage Alcohol and Drug Free Task Force – chairman 3. Boonshoft Children’s Museum – founding member establishing the museum and helping the merger with the Natural History Museum to where it is today 4. Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man of the Year – past winner, raising funds to help fight these diseases. Being a survivor myself the year before, working on this event was special to me. 5. Co-chairing, with my wife, the Dayton Holiday Festival and Parade 6. Daybreak board – Its mission is, “to provide homeless and vulnerable youth with services that promote safety, stability and well-being.” Awards in medicine: 1. Dayton Children’s Hospital Distinguished Service Award 2. Arnold Friedman Award from the Ohio Academy of Pediatrics – State of Ohio Outstanding Service Award 3. Child’s Voice Award – Dayton Children’s Hospital 4. Outstanding Alumni – Wright State School of Medicine
Why are you seeking elected office? Because I care as much today as I did the first day I began on this board. I care about the students, their education and their well being. That has not, and will not, ever change. I am seeking to continue to serve on the school board because I love our community. Having lived here for 33 years, I understand that our children are our community’s greatest assets. Hand-in-hand, families and educators help our children become thoughtful and well-educated adults who go on to serve their community as parents, entrepreneurs and civic leaders. There is no greater reward than that for serving on the school board.
Why should voters elect you? I bring experience, knowledge and understanding of how things run. Longevity does not mean we make change simply because “they have been there too long.” Agendas have no place on the board. Politics have no place on the board. Caring about the students, staff and families is what matters, and no one, no one, cares more than I care!
If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. Finances. We are one of the most fiscally conservative districts in Ohio. We use our money wisely. I constantly review our finances. Finances that have always been fully transparent to our community. Monthly financial reports are available online, our treasurer is always available to speak to anyone wanting information, and financial reports are presented at board meetings. Our treasurer’s office just received the highest honor for reporting. 2. Maintain and improve excellence in education This district has been, and is, one of the best in Ohio. If you look at the most recent Niche study, it ranks us an A+ school, second in our area, with one of the best teachers. Parents, during surveys, confirm by over 90% that we are providing an excellent education. Do we have room for improvement? Absolutely! But don’t for a second think our schools are not the best. That is simply not true. Ask the students that go to college and tell us they are so far ahead because of the great education they received. 3. Unfunded Mandates. The state provides very little money back to our district, yet demands many unfunded mandates. A growing student population, regular inflationary costs of doing business, costs for school safety needs, special education, preschool, College Credit Plus, social and emotional wellness all add up. Only 76% of our money comes from our local levies. Over 90% of each dollar we spend goes directly into the classroom. Our administrative costs – near the lowest in Ohio.
What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? Finances: We have been able to conserve our money so that we have not asked the voters for levy money for six years. Look at almost all other districts, you will see levy requests almost every three years. Proof we spent wisely and are making your tax dollars last. Maintaining excellence: We are focused on improving math. We have adopted a new math curriculum, bought new math textbooks and are working on improving the scores and results of our students. Unfortunately, this adoption was delayed because of the financial constraints and money taken away from the district by the state legislature. We were now able to make the needed changes. Parents have always had input into these changes through the curriculum advisory councils where curriculum is discussed and input from parents is taken. Staffing: Diversity is important. I have worked and urged for the improvement in hiring of minority teachers in our district as we have become a more diverse school. Since the 2018-19 school year, the district has hired nine minority candidates in the certificated ranks. We need to do more. Unfunded mandates: I will continue to do all the things I have done with the emphasis on knowing there is always room to improve. Change occurs all the time in schools, not only in the classroom but at the state level. My years of service has given me insight, but more importantly, knowledge of how things work at home and at the state level.
Anything else? Longevity alone does not make someone unable to do a great job. I believe my track record speaks to the fact that I have, and can still, do this job to continue to make Centerville the best it can be. “Change, for the sake of change is a recipe for disaster,” a quote that has especially true meaning here. When you are told, “They have been on the board too long, we just need a change,” you must always ask, “Why?” Change for change’s sake is not a answer to just accept. Being a pediatrician on the board allows me to give insight into medical issues that may, and have, affected the day to day operations, the health and safety of the students and staff, and to provide direction based on factual, scientific information. We have been the leaders in dealing with this pandemic. Obviously not everyone agrees with these decisions, but they are always made with the best interests of all students. These have been tough decisions, but ones I feel are the right decisions at the time based on factual, scientific data in order to keep our students safe, healthy and, hopefully, back in the classroom five days a week, which is in their best interest. We must remember that COVID and masks will eventually go away, then we are left with all the other important things that it takes to make our schools run.
Education: Kettering-Fairmont High School, Sinclair Community College, Wright State University
Current Employment: Small business owner in health and wellness
Community Involvement: Former Wee Elks and Centerville Youth Lacrosse team mom, homeroom mom, retired La Leche League leader after 10 years of helping parents and children.
Why are you seeking elected office? In the last year and a half, we’ve seen our entire world change significantly, and our lives will be forever impacted. Educational settings are no different. I saw my children’s academic performance decline, their engagement with online learning stifled, their overall excitement about school decrease, and in talking with other parents, I learned that they felt the same. As parents, we felt that our voices were minimized or simply ignored. We learned of reckless spending and curriculum currently in place that we didn’t agree with. We discovered a drop in academic performance as a district over the last several years, and it seemed that some of the board members were out of touch with current student needs. As a parent of school-aged children, I felt compelled to become part of the solution and decided to run for Centerville School Board.
Why should voters elect you? I’m the mother of five children — one Centerville grad and four current students — so I have a vested interest in what is being taught in our schools. I relate to parents, students and community members, because I’m one of them and will continue to listen to their concerns just as I’ve done for the last several months. I will fairly represent families and community members and restore decision-making best practices for each family. I will never abdicate voting authority for school policy to unelected officials. I believe that term limits offer fresh ideas and prevent complacency.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. Address the issue of falling test scores leading to a significant decline in state rankings for our school district and reassess the removal of academic incentives at graduation. 2. Implement fiscal transparency and decrease negligent spending that leads to piling debt and program cuts. 3. Reinstill in our curriculum the belief that all children are created equal and should always strive to reach their full potential.
What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? Partnerships between parents and teachers, administrators and the district are key to educational success. Keeping open lines of communication are critical to understanding each child’s specific needs for the way they learn and obtain optimal achievement. I have heard the concerns of parents over the issue of beginning with the Class of 2024 that CHS will no longer generate class rank and remove the distinctions of valedictorian and salutatorian. So far in 2021 the current board has approved $1.1M in purchase orders placed with vendors outside the district’s purchase approval system. In May they voted to accept and send to the state a five year financial forecast projecting significant deficit spending. I suggest utilizing a full and transparent review through an open checkbook system and a thorough audit. I believe that children are all created equal and that they should be taught as such. Our jobs as parents and educators is to reinforce that our kids can do anything they set out to accomplish in life regardless of background.
Anything else? Decision-making is not necessarily a skill learned by years of repetition and not presumptively made wise by years of experience. I, along with Lysa Kosins and Dawn McGuire, are prepared to assume the role of school board members with humility, servitude, and full focus on truly listening and responding appropriately to all parents, teachers, staff and community members.
Megan E. Murray Sparks
Education: Master’s in early childhood education
Current Employment: Mom and avid volunteer
Community Involvement: Centerville City School Board Member for the past four years, volunteer with Centerville’s Destination Imagination program, classroom volunteer for Centerville City Schools (homeroom mom, wonders of nature program, academic volunteer, bookroom volunteer). Special Olympics coach (track and gymnastics), TOPS Soccer Coach, special needs basketball coach, rec center T-ball coach, and Incarnation Parish religious education program teacher.
Why are you seeking elected office? I am seeking reelection because I, along with the other Centerville board members, have made a difference the past four years and our work needs to continue. The incumbents and I each bring value and a special skill set to the table, giving us collectively a broad range of expertise. Dr. David Roer is one of the best pediatricians in our area. John Doll brings his knowledge of the law. I bring to the table my knowledge about education and the legislature that impacts it, my passion for individuals with special needs, and my perspective as a parent with kids currently in the district. I have a Master’s degree in early childhood education and as a mom to a special needs child, I am very familiar with the special education programs offered in Centerville. I also know that there needs to be an advocate for these students, and I’ve done a great job being a voice for others these past four years. Families come to me to help them solve problems and I am willing to speak up for them. I have always made myself approachable, and that is why I am referred to as “Megan Sparks” and not Mrs. Sparks during board meetings. I always want the people who I represent to feel comfortable speaking to me. I would like to keep doing more of the work that I have started, such as continuing being a strong advocate for all students, especially those who need a voice.
Why should voters elect you? I’m qualified for this position for several reasons. I’m the mother of five children, four of which attend Centerville City Schools and one who will when school-aged. My oldest child has autism and is in the special needs program that Centerville provides, giving me experience with both the typical classroom and the special needs classroom. I have a Bachelor’s degree in human ecology and a Master’s in early childhood education from the Ohio State University. I’m an active member of our community and I’ve coached numerous sports teams for both typical and special needs teams, including as the head coach for Centerville’s Special Olympics Track Team for the past five years. I volunteer on a regular basis at Centerville City Schools and at my church, the Church of the Incarnation, where I teach three classes in the parish religious education program. I also truly enjoy putting my leadership skills to work by helping young leaders grow, which is why I’m the adviser for the Student Board of Education representatives. These students are liaisons between the school district and the student body. They work not only within our district, but also with neighboring districts and state representatives. I take great pride in guiding them through this valuable experience that’ll prepare them for future endeavors. Voters should know that I do not have a hidden agenda; keeping Centerville a great place to learn is my priority, while doing it in way that prioritizes student and staff safety.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. Student well-being: physical, emotional, psychological 2. Advocate for fair state funding 3. More programs to help students to prepare after high school.
What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? 1. I will continue to be an advocate for students, especially those in the special needs community. We are in the process of transitioning from a class rank system to a Latin Honors system in the coming years. We have added more mental health professionals to be available to our students. I will continue to work with the food program to feed those in need. In the summer of 2020, I helped the Food 2 Go program extend into the summer months. The Student Board Representatives and I are currently working on a project to have left over food sent home with students rather than being thrown into the trash. This is being advocated on a federal level. 2. State funding is an issue that I will continue to advocate for on behalf of Centerville Schools. House Bill 110 was passed in June, as a six-year plan, but was only funded for two years. Centerville gets the lowest funding in our area, receiving less than $1,700 per pupil. If a students decided to leave Centerville and attend a charter school, the state takes about $7,000 from our account. House Bill 110 needs to be kept in place so that Ohio has a constitutional way to fund our schools. 3. I would like to work with administration to further develop programs that allow students more career experiences during their school years so that they can make better education choices in the future. This includes all students, no matter which path they choose.
Anything else? I would like voters to know that I am a second-generation Elk and my children are third-generation Elks. After I graduated from college, I had the opportunity to live elsewhere, but Centerville is my home. I love this community. My roots are here, and I feel there is no better place to raise a family. I know firsthand what Centerville City Schools can do. When I was young, I had hearing issues, which caused me to fall behind academically. My parents and Centerville Schools never gave up on me. Supports were put in place so that I could succeed. By middle school, I was caught up academically. By my senior year, I was more than prepared to enter into a four-year college program. I owe a great deal to Centerville, and it would be an honor to serve this community again for another four years.