Monday, October 28th, 2013
By Amy Kronenberger
Four candidates compete for three Parkway seats
Election November 2013
ROCKFORD - Four candidates will vie for three open seats on the Parkway Local Schools Board of Education in the Nov. 5 election.
Incumbents Tom Lyons and Ryan Thompson will face newcomers Melissa Burtch and Steven Samples. Current school board member Bob Ransbottom is not seeking re-election.
The terms are four years.
Burtch, 43, 4012 River Trail, Rockford, said she's running because she's always been interested in Parkway schools and wants to give back to the community.
"I want Parkway to be the best it can be, and I'm at a point in my life when I feel like I can help with that," she said.
Burtch became active in the school, volunteering for activities and helping teachers when her now sixth-grade daughter started school. She also served on the bond levy committee for new school construction. This is her first time running for public office.
"I'm very interested in education and I feel I can be part of the solution," she said.
The biggest challenges Burtch believes she'll face are finances and testing results with the new standards.
Burtch is a Parkway schools graduate and attended the University of Toledo. She received her bachelor's degree in accounting. She previously was employed in business and retail management and currently works with her husband, Mike Burtch, in the family business, Burtch Seed.
"I've been involved with every aspect of that business, whether it's day-to-day operations or decisions based on hiring, healthcare and issues that a school deals with on a general basis," she said.
Lyons, 40, 814 W. Market St., Rockford, has served on the Parkway school board for more than five years and said he's seeking a new term because he likes to be involved with the school.
His past experience on the board and involvement in the school and community have allowed him to develop a good rapport with teachers, administration and parents, he said. With three sons still in school, he feels he's been able to "stay in the loop" with everything going on.
"I believe serving on the school board over the last five years has provided me with valuable experience," he said. "This experience, along with having good communication with the administration, teachers and the public, will allow me to do my part in making Parkway schools committed to providing the best education for our children."
The most important challenges the board faces are maintaining the district's financial stability, staying current with technology and continuing to improve test scores, he said.
Lyons and his wife, Amy, are both Parkway graduates. He is a nurse anesthetist at Van Wert County Hospital. He received his bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University and his master's from Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Mich.
Samples, 42, 12760 Hill Road, Rockford, also is running as an opportunity to give back to the community.
"I've always thought about how I could best serve the community," he said. "I always saw it as a goal. With everything going on at the state, I think I have the leadership skills to help the board."
Samples is a Parkway schools and Miami University graduate and is a certified professional accountant. He's also served on nonprofit boards including the Leota Braun Foundation, which mainly serves Parkway schools.
Samples and his wife, Teri, have two children attending Parkway schools, one in fourth grade and the other in first grade. This is his first time seeking an elected position.
The biggest challenges Samples believes he will face are handling state mandates and the new food and curriculum standards while dealing with decreased state funding.
"All that while still serving the needs of the school will be the biggest challenge," he said.
Thompson, 31, 401 East St., Rockford, was appointed to the school board in January when member Terry Keiser resigned her seat. He is running for the first time with a desire to serve his alma mater.
Thompson and his wife, Leah, have two children attending Parkway schools - seventh and third grade - and one who is 18 months old.
"With the exception of the six years I lived in Columbus, I've lived in this community my entire life," he said. "It's exciting to be back here and live here and raise a family here. So with roots that deep, I'm invested in this community."
Thompson said the boards' top challenge is to ensure students are prepared for the future. He also said understanding Common Core will be a big obstacle.
"One challenge will be looking closely at Common Core to be able to make an informed decision of what's in the best interest of the students," he said. "And we'll need to make sure the public's well informed on the direction we'll go."
Thompson received his master's degree in high school social studies and holds degrees in special education and school administration. He works as the special education supervisor in the six districts in Wells County, Ind. He said his experience as an educator gives him a thorough understanding of policy and school operations, which makes him a good fit for the board.
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Mostly sunny, mild