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LWV League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area Education Fund

Smart Voter
Hamilton, Butler County, OH November 5, 2013 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of Board of Education; Northwest Local School District

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Qualifications, Improvement, Building Consensus, Equity

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. What are your qualifications for office?

Answer from Christopher J. Heather:

I have taken six years off from the Northwest Board of Education, after having been elected twice. I have served as both a member, and as President of the Board, so I have the experience to "get the job done". While serving, I responded to 100% of all resident emails and phone calls, and had a 100% attendance record. I am a product of Monfort Heights Elementary, White Oak Jr. High, and Colerain H.S., class of 1974.

Answer from Michael Harlow:

I am an experienced public policy professional who has worked to build support for education reforms in public school districts across Ohio. I have seen what works and what does not work.

Answer from David Denny:

I have seen the district as a student (Colerain Grad 79), an athlete (CrossCountry State Champs 78), a parent (3 kids - 2 graduated, 1 senior at Colerain), a volunteer (many), a booster (Executive Team), a coach (volunteer & paid), current Board Member (President for the last two years) and that gives me a well rounded look at the various aspects of the district, how its managed.

My professional life is helping organization succeed through Strategic Planning, sound leadership principles, and engaged employees.

? 2. What can be done to improve your school district's results at current funding levels?

Answer from Michael Harlow:

The new report cards issued by the Ohio Department of Education show that Northwest has a lot of ground to make up. The district's performance index score is lower than Norwood and Deer Park. It will be a challenge to improve but it will only come from commitment from all involved, not from a top-down directive. Improving our education is like improving our diet: most of the plans will work but they all require commitment in order to be successful.

Answer from David Denny:

We initiated Blended Learning three years ago and we're already seeing early successes. We recently had an open house for both high schools and one parent commented "it looks just like my son's class in college".

We have been very fiscally conservative without being irresponsible. We have initiated many cost savings measures saving us millions of dollars. Additionally we have been awarded grants and will continue to pursue dollars from all resources.

Answer from Christopher J. Heather:

Less "chiefs" and more "indians", and spend every taxpayer dollar, as if it were my own.

? 3. What will you do to build consensus in the community in support of your school district?

Answer from David Denny:

I have worked with township and business leaders to improve communication throughout our community to ensure correct information is being shared and to build better relationships. We have a great community but sometimes we don't listen to each other very well.

Answer from Christopher J. Heather:

If returned to the Board, I will be the ONLY member from Green Twp, which makes up nearly 30% of the school district. I will take with me the conservative, family values, which Green Twp. is known for.

Answer from Michael Harlow:

The base needs to be broadened in order to build true community support for the Northwest School District. There are businesses, community leaders and parents who will unconditionally support the schools but the current track record of the district requires that other stakeholders need to have a seat at the table and be able to speak freely about the condition of the district, the performance of its graduates, and the satisfaction of its parents.

? 4. What would you do to advance the concept of "equity in education" in your district?

Answer from Michael Harlow:

Equity in education is vitally important for all of us.

We have a great deal of work to do in equity at Northwest. A report from the Ohio School Boards Association shows a strong correlation between poverty and performance index scores on the report card. No one should be surprised by that. However, Northwest is being left behind. Among Southwest Ohio districts, Northwest ranks 41st in low poverty but 51st in performance index. Other factors such as income and degree attainment also affect student performance. Here, Northwest does even worse, ranking 19th in district adults with college degrees, and 27th in household income, but 51st in performance. We are behind the curve, so to speak, in terms of performance.

There are many good examples of schools which have been able to turn around its performance through a thorough commitment to excellence that involves all participants. Equity means that a student who is at Northwest has the same opportunity to succeed in life that a student from the highest-performing districts do.

Answer from David Denny:

We have students from all walks of life and have opportunities for everyone. Blended Learning, Butler Tech, AP Classes, Alternative School, intervention specialists, outstanding music and art programs, allow kids to plug in many places. I believe it is our responsibility to provide avenues and opportunities for all of our children to succeed.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. Word limits may apply. See individual questions for specific word limits. Direct references to opponents are not permitted. Please edit your work before submitting. We are unable to provide spell-check at this time.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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