Candidates vie to fill three seats on Clermont Northeastern board

September 29th, 2007    Author: Obituaries    Filed Under: Obituaries

The CNE School Board has three open seats this election, with three incumbents seeking to remain seated on the board against a single challenger.

Hoping to remain are Jayne Mummert, Patricia Spencer and Mike Freeman, while challenger Danny Ilhardt is hoping to become a new member of the board of education.

Mummert, who is finishing her first term on the board, has lived in the CNE district for 35 years and is a graduate of the school district she now helps lead. According to Mummert, she hopes to continue work in the district that was started when she first took office four years ago.

"Being on the board these last four years, when I first came on, the district was in a very different place," said Mummert. "It was a concerted effort of many people to get it turned around. We're excited at the success we've experienced. Our financial forecast have improved, as have our test scores and school spirit. Communication has improved significantly. All that we've gone through, good and bad, has been a wonderful learning experience for me."

Four years ago, the district faced crippling money shortfalls and was unable to pass a levy. Mummert said that it was only through teamwork that that particular disaster was able to be avoided.

"I've been a part of the success we've achieved over the past four years, not by myself, but through a team who were willing to the do the best for the kids," said Mummert. "I'm accessible, people can talk to me. You need to be receptive to the community, because that's why we're here. My kids go to this school, and I wouldn't make a decision for someone else's child that I wouldn't make for my own."

Mummert said that the district now has to face the challenge of improving academics, and also creating a better environment for the students to learn in.

"Our biggest issue is continuing to improve the state report card," said Mummert. "We have one building in excellent, another building very close, and our goal is to be an overall excellent school district. We've had significant improvement, and we want to reach that level. We also need to address the conditions of our buildings. The state facilities commission has reviewed our building, and we're in the process of reviewing our buildings to see what it would take to make it a safe learning environment, which is a top priority. Those are the biggest issues, and everything else falls in line also. We need continued communication throughout."

Spencer, a resident of the district for 10 years, said that she also is looking forward to helping the district earn higher marks academically.

"The district has come a long way in the past four years, but there is still a lot of work to be completed to ensure that we maintain the standards that are necessary to provide the students of our community the education they deserve," said Spenser. "The district is now rated 'effective.' I would like the opportunity to help lead the district to the rating of 'excellent.'"

According to Spenser, improving academics is going to be a central focus for the district, as will be improving the buildings or even replacing them. Maintaining financial stability will also be a challenge to be addressed yearly.

"I think there are three big issues which we currently face as a district; one is achieving a score of "excellent" on the state report card; two is to maintain financial stability, something that every school district must continually face; three is our aging and inadequate buildings," said Spenser. "The Ohio Facilities Committee recently assessed the conditions of the building and their report showed some serious concerns."

Freeman, who is also coming off his first elected term as a board member, was originally appointed to the seat for nearly a year before winning election for four years. A 28-year resident of the district, Freeman agrees that buildings will be a big issue for the district.

"For the most part, our district is running well, I don't foresee any major issues lurking in the wing anytime soon," said Freeman. "We've been working with the state with the new technique of tracking taxpayers, and that's worked out well for us. The only thing I see is we're in the process of building a new school. We've hired an architect and formed a committee to look at what we need to accomplish it. The state is recommending we replace all of our buildings, and our district can't afford that."

Freeman said that the school has great administrators and teachers, which has served it well in the past, and he sees a bright future for the district which is enjoying financial solvency after facing a near deficit.

"I've dealt with almost every type of situation," said Freeman. "For the past five years of serving on the board, the board has proven itself. We brought the place out of the basement. We were destined for a $2 million to $3 million deficit as of 2007, and we're in the black. What we have done for five years, it's a proven fact what qualifies us for the board."

Danny Ilhardt served previously on the board for 12 years, and is hoping to put his expertise to work again for the district. Ilhardt, who also served for 12 years on the Great Oaks board, said that he sees issues coming up that will need experience to handle properly.

"It's been a while since I've been on it, and there are some things going on; construction that may be coming and possible deficits, that my experience may lend a hand to working with," said Ilhardt.

A lifelong member of the community, Ilhardt said that he wants to see the district do better on the state report card, and hopes to take a hand in the possible construction of new schools as well.

"The main thing is the educational report card," said Ilhardt. "Two of our schools are graded excellent, and we need to get the third up to it. We need to keep everyone in the excellent rating. With 12 years on this board, and 12 years working on the vocational board, I have the experience. I'll do the best I can to see that the money we have is spent properly for education and the construction of our schools."
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