DCS Board of Education candidates Q&A responses

Kaitlyn Gorsuch, Staff Writer

We sent emails to all five candidates for the DCS Board of Education upcoming election, asking for their views on a variety of issues. Their full responses are below, printed exactly how they were emailed to us.

 

Janine Baker

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in central Ohio, and have lived here most of my life. I’m a country girl, but I loved Delaware County so much, that I decided to move here! I have a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in education. I was a teacher for a couple of years and substitute taught in some of the local school districts.

Why did you decide to run for the school board?

As a former teacher, I realize the importance of ensuring that our students have the best education so that they are fully equipped to lead our country in the future.

Why should someone vote for you?

I have a heart for the students in our community and will advocate that they come first in all the board’s decisions. As a former teacher, I also understand what it’s like to be a teacher, and am qualified to empathize with teachers and their responsibilities.

What are some policies you would like to implement after being elected?

First, we need transparency between the school board and the community, with the door always open for dialog. Parents deserve to be heard and involved in decisions concerning their child’s education. After all, they are the ultimate authority over their child. Respecting parental opinion is critical. I will be open and honest in everything the Board does, realizing that we are servants of the people and not their masters.

Secondly, we need better oversight of textbook content and student safety while minimizing the out-of-control administrative costs. Children must be safe at school and free from being bullied or threatened.

Thirdly, For the overburdened taxpayers, I will demand that tax dollars are spent wisely putting full weight of expenditures on teaching, which alone is not enough. Education must not function as a control on what they do. Teaching students how to think on the other hand, equips them for discerning options they wish to pursue. I see very bright futures for Delaware’s children and want to be a part of the solutions to current problems.

Why do you feel that you are a good candidate for the school board?

I will bring a fresh perspective that would add to the school board. I have served my community in varied arenas, including but not limited to helping out on local and state candidates’ campaigns, various law enforcement agencies, and counseling women at different stages of their life. Those experiences have exposed me to many differing points of view and the logic behind specific purposes. I see it as an asset to clarity when holding public office.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your campaign?

It’s a privilege to live in a country governed by the people, which allows for individual freedom. Nothing needs be set in stone as we have resources and opportunity to redirect and improve every area of our lives. This certainly applies to our student body as they enter into more technically advanced methodologies about which our ancestors did not even dream. The direction of our school curricula of rewriting actual history and teaching children they are something other than facts show, must be reversed. Students are bright shining lights of potential that can and should be developed positively for their personal good and for the good of all mankind. Participating in that process is a duty and a great privilege.

 

Michael J. Wiener

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

My family and I have lived in Delaware for almost 20 years and we are proud to call this city our home! I spent the past 19 years of my career as a prosecuting attorney dealing primarily with juveniles, including those with educational concerns. I was elected to the Delaware City Schools Board of Education in 2017 and am the current board vice president. In addition to the DCS Board of Education, I have had a lifelong commitment to public service and volunteerism within our community and beyond.

Both of my children are proud Delaware City School Pacers and attend Schultz Elementary and Dempsey Middle Schools. I am a huge Buckeyes and Pacers fan and am a former high school basketball player and golfer. In my spare time, I like to watch and go to sporting events, grill, and do woodworking projects.

Why did you decide to run for re-election?

My family raised me with a strong sense of community service. This sense of civic responsibility led me to a career of service as a prosecutor, specializing primarily in juvenile and educational law with a close connection to the schools within the county I work.

As our own children started school, I took an active interest in how I could serve the Delaware City Schools. I began volunteering for our district and decided to contribute further by running for the DCS Board of Education in 2017. I see the position of a school board member as the perfect opportunity to serve my community and use my professional background to contribute to the success of all our students. I am seeking re-election so that I can further the positive momentum of my first term and continue to serve my community.

Why should someone vote for you?

I am a well-qualified candidate for a position on the Delaware City Board of Education because of my experience, dedication, and focus on student success. In addition to serving currently as a board member, I am also board’s vice president and, therefore, have first-hand experience with board leadership. My professional background as an attorney specializing primarily in juvenile and educational law has prepared me well for the wide array of administrative and legal issues facing school board members today.

Additionally, as a parent with children in the Delaware City Schools and as long-term resident of Delaware, I have first-hand knowledge of our district and our community. I have volunteered in various capacities within our schools prior to being elected in 2017 and I remain very active as a school and community volunteer. I am dedicated to continuing the focus on success I helped guide in my first term in the areas of maximizing student potential, planning for community growth, retaining qualified staff, and strengthening community partnership, and plan to continue these successes even further if granted a second term.

What are some policies you would like to implement after being elected?

Although our district has experienced a great deal of success in the past several years, we cannot allow the district to stagnate, and we must continue to strive for further success for all of our students. To accomplish this, I intend to pursue reconvening our strategic planning activities that had to be postponed due to the intense demands of meeting our students’ needs because of COVID-19. During our final pre-COVID strategic planning work session, three broad areas emerged for incorporation into the plan: (1) Teaching and Learning; (2) Social-Emotional wellbeing; and (3) Community Engagement. By updating and then implementing our District’s strategic plan, we will be able to address challenges facing our district including community growth, funding challenges, facility planning, educational issues caused by or deepened due to the pandemic and staffing retention and recruitment. This will ensure success for all students in DCS in areas that are critical to the continuing success of the district.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your campaign?

I am proud to share that my campaign this year, as in the past, is 100% self-funded and I accept no financial donations of any type. This grassroots nature of my campaign means that I need to budget very carefully (so I do not have fancy giveaways, paid staff, nor a large marketing budget) but it also means that I am not beholden to any entity or political influence or agenda. This frees me 100% to focus on the success of our DCS students in my actions and decisions.

 

Deborah Kruse Guebert

In my early career days, I worked in Medical Physics at TIRR (Texas Institute for Rehabilitation & Research) and then at M. D. Anderson Cancer Institute, both in Houston. After a move to Europe with my husband, and the birth of our daughter, I did a lot of volunteer work with our church and her school. Eventually I become an upper level math tutor for students at the International School in Geneva, and at one point taught English language math for English mother tongue children at a French school across the border. After settling in Delaware with my native Mid-Western husband 11 years ago, I picked up math tutoring again, and have been involved with both private and volunteer tutoring, as well as sitting on a Common Core Math Standards Review committee as an appointee of the House Speaker Pro Temp at that time.

My childhood years were divided between Japan and the U.S. Due to language, furloughs, and other circumstances, I experienced a variety of different kinds of school. Despite limited finances, my parents were always diligent to ensure that I had a sound education in the basics. I was blessed to finish with a graduate degree in a subject that I found endlessly fascinating.

This is the kind of opportunity for individual satisfaction and pleasure that I crave for every child. To see a young child’s natural joy in discovering new things and developing new skills, be crushed by the weight of ill-considered restrictions or an incoherent curriculum, is to witness a crippling of that child’s spirit. Sadly, our current system seems to be trending in that direction.

Gratitude for what I was given motivates me to seek a similar foundation for all our students. Experience with educational systems in Japan, England, France, and the United States, gives me a breadth of perspective that not many can offer. My background in science and mathematics gives me the tools to research and analyze issues in a factual and quantitative way. With various trendy ideas influencing education today, I believe that this ability could be particularly useful in helping to avoid potential deadends, while moving ahead with constructive choices that will give our students the best possible start in life.

 

Jayna L. McDaniel

A little about me… I was born and raised in central Ohio; both my parents were educators, which meant learning was always a priority in our home. I was valedictorian of my graduating class, and then attended college in New York, receiving my BA from Ithaca College. I worked for Gannett’s newspaper division, first in New York and then later in Ohio, and received both their Chairman’s Award and Presidents Ring.

My husband Jim and I moved to Delaware shortly after we were married; we’ll have lived here for 18 years in November. After our second child was born in 2007, I stepped away from full-time work to focus on raising our children and supporting our family. I was, and am, an active and engaged parent, and volunteered regularly in classrooms at Woodward Elementary and with the PTO for various events. Former Superintendent Craft asked me to co-chair the 2013 Levy, and I was thrilled when it passed. Working with our incredible administration, staff members, and board and seeing first-hand their commitment to our students and community left an indelible impression. When a friend suggested shortly after that I run for the board, I decided that I’d like to continue to work with this amazing team.

Outside of my work on the Board, I remain involved in our schools through volunteering with athletics, theater, music, and booster organizations. I also serve on two state-wide Ohio School Board Association committees.

Why are you running again for school board?

While there have been strong feelings throughout this pandemic, I do believe that most of us share a common goal, and that is to have our students in school with their friends and teachers. I’ve worked hard to balance the needs of all of our stakeholders with the recommendations from our local and national health experts. I think it’s important that our school leaders continue to listen to medical and public health experts, as well as educational experts, in order to support our students and staff. It’s because of that desire to continue to support our DCS family that I decided to run for reelection.

Why should someone vote for you/why am I a good candidate?

Representation is important, and I urge all voters to do their homework on candidates in all races before casting their vote. I’m the parent of two current DCS students, so I have a vested interest in ensuring that our schools continue to offer outstanding educational and extracurricular opportunities for ALL of our students. I’ve always been a responsive board member, and do my best to listen and respond to every individual who takes the time to write or call me with a question or concern, regardless of whether we agree on the issue. I think it’s important that all board members commit to learning and staying abreast of new educational trends and legislation, and that they be flexible enough to change when new information and data become available.

Policy issues?

Fair school funding is essential to addressing the continued growth of our city, which is why I’ve long been a vocal proponent. While we did receive some additional funds in the most recent budget, we will have to proactively advocate to our state legislature to address these continued funding inequities.

 

Melissa Harris

A little about myself: I was raised in Delaware and am a Hayes grad, along with multiple generations of my family and 2 of my daughters. I work for United Way of Delaware County, volunteer for many community organizations and sit on various boards in Delaware. I volunteer my time to enhance our community. Community is important to me and staying connected to community ensures the generations coming behind me have a head start to progress and change.

I decided to run for the school board as a result of me speaking to the board about the bullying issues in the schools, some of which witnessed by faculty or staff members, that continued to go unaddressed. Since the board wasn’t willing to step in, I decided it was time I had a seat on the board so I could ensure the safety of all students.

Someone should vote for me because I am a listener. I listen to the concerns of students, faculty and staff members and also listen to their ideas of how to make improvements in the district.

I plan to implement anti-bullying disciplinary measures to not only protect the students but to also support the teachers dealing with bullying in their classrooms.

I am a good candidate because I am well connected to the people who run the district every day. From the bus drivers, to classroom aids, to custodians, to teachers, I have people I can go to in order to receive an honest answer of what their needs are in the district. People that would tell it like it is and not sugarcoat what their needs are in order to not ruffle feathers. I am realistic with goal setting and am ready to evaluate school funding, even if that includes working to change legislation so DCS can receive the same benefits and funding of other districts.
I would also like to add that I plan to work with community partners and local groups that can bring programming into the schools to provide a safe space for all students where they know they belong and are equipped with the tools they need to succeed.