Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
By Tom Millhouse
Six seek three seats on Coldwater board of education
Election November 2013
Six candidates, including two incumbents, are seeking three seats on the Coldwater Exempted Schools Board of Education.
Board veterans Todd Bills and Linda Steinbrunner are joined on Tuesday's ballot by Michael Birt, Gary Hoying, Mike Hoying Jr. and Meghan Schwieterman. Current member Joe Eichler is not seeking another term.
Bills, 48, 805 Pauline St., is completing his first term in office.
"I have a deep desire to maintain a safe, clean and technically current facility for our students and staff, while encouraging the ethical, moral and academic excellence our community expects," he said of his reasons for seeking a second term.
Bills said serving on the board has been a learning experience.
"During my first term on the Coldwater school board, I have learned that the best qualification for serving is to have plain common sense," Bills said.
A 1983 Coldwater High School graduate, Bills said he has completed a number of technical programs including the state elevator inspection program and is a certified inspector.
State funding is one of the challenges facing the board in the future, he said.
"I think Common Core will be a challenge and how it is going to shake out," he said.
Bills said another issue facing the board will be "the burdensome regulations of Obamacare."
Bills and his wife, Susan, have two children - a son who is a Coldwater High School senior and a daughter who graduated in 2013.
Birt, 26, 109 S. Eighth St., is running for office for the first time and he believes his age gives him a different view of education compared to other board members.
"I was a student at Coldwater Exempted Village Schools and I graduated in 2006, so I have an understanding from the inside looking out on what the effects of the school board are on our student body," he said.
Birt, who is an assistant information technology manager for the Mercer County Auditor's Office, cited his knowledge of computers and technology as one of the reasons he decided to enter the race.
"I think the Coldwater school board isn't quite up on the status of the world as it is today, and as a technology person, I feel I have a better understanding of the way it operates today and I could help the future of the Coldwater school district," he said.
He noted that he has served some education systems in the past and wants to "help students achieve their highest potential to learn."
Birt said he is in favor of more local control of education.
"I am of the opinion that the state and federal governments are more or less running our school district and it should be run locally," he said.
Birt earned a bachelor of science degree in information technology from Ball State University. He is married and has one child.
Hoying, 49, 314 S. First St., is making his first bid for elected office.
"I am running to improve the education for my children and all children of Coldwater," Hoying said.
His past community work has included serving as president of the Coldwater Athletic Boosters for two years and its board for seven years.
"The top three challenges (the board will be facing) would be declining state and federal funding, Common Core standards implementation and general overall improvements for all Coldwater students," he said.
A St. Henry High School graduate, Hoying earned his master of business administration degree from the University of Dayton with an emphasis on information systems and computer science. He also earned a bachelor's degree in information systems and computer science from the University of Dayton.
He said he has worked for 28 years in business management "for some of the best companies in the technology industry, which include NCR, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems and IBM Corp." He also noted he has business experience in setting and maintaining budgets, as well as improving efficiency.
Hoying is a systems brand manager for IBM.
"My experience in technology will enable Coldwater schools to investigate alternative methods to expand curriculum electives while lowering costs," he said.
Hoying and his wife, Annette, have five children.
Mike Hoying Jr.
Hoying, 33, 809 S. Parkview Drive, cited a desire to become more involved in the community as one of the reasons he is making his first bid for elected office.
"We have young kids who will be going through the system," he said. "Things have been changing over the past few years and I would like to have a say (in how the system is run)," he said. "I want my kids to have a better education than I had when I went through Coldwater schools."
Hoying and his wife, Kelly, have two children.
"The challenges are the same as what every district faces, funding and changes in education," Hoying said. "It seems that every two years there are changes. First it was No Child Left Behind and now it is Common Core. When I was a kid, they complained about the Iowa Standardized tests; now Common Core is the hot item."
Hoying said he wants to make sure the proper steps are taken to deal with changes in education.
He earned a bachelor of science degree in business operation and has worked in the transportation industry for 12 years. He is an account manager with BNSF Logistics, Versailles.
Hoying said his business experience would be an asset in serving on the board.
"You have to make sound decisions to help people in the long run," he said, adding the board also makes decisions that shape the future.
Schwieterman, 38, 903 Edgewood Drive, said she is running for the board of education because "I am a concerned and engaged parent who is interested in making a difference in the future of our children."
"If elected, I will continue to work hard to serve our district to provide a quality education for all our students, utilizing efficient and cost-effective techniques," she said. "I believe students should be empowered to serve, lead and be successful."
Schwieterman, who is making her first bid for elected office, said among the challenges the board will face is meeting the standards of Common Core mandates.
"There also could be state and federal budget cuts," she said.
A registered nurse, Schwieterman is a quality assurance and performance coordinator for State of the Heart Hospice. She cited skills used in her position as some of her qualifications for office.
"In my current role as quality assurance and performance improvement coordinator with a hospice agency, I lead a team in identifying opportunities to improve processes, procedures and outcomes," she said. "Toward this goal, I also develop educational materials and train clinical peers and manage the corporate compliance program and infection control program."
Schwieterman served as secretary of the Community Professional Nurses organization from 2006 to 2011. She earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from Ohio Northern University and a master's degree in nursing education from Walden University.
She and her husband, Rick, have two children.
Steinbrunner, 59, 919 Buckeye Drive, is completing her fourth term on the board. She cited her experience as one of her main qualifications for continued service.
"With 16 years on the board, I feel like I bring stability to the board," she said. "It's a position that I have enjoyed and I feel I have made a difference. I want to make sure we provide a quality education for our students in a fiscally responsible manner that gives a good return to the community on its investment."
Meeting the state's third-grade reading guarantee is among the challenges facing the district, she said.
"We want to make sure kids are learning and provide remedial work for kids who need help," Steinbrunner said.
New evaluation methods also will be challenging, she said.
"We also are implementing new teacher and principal evaluations," she said. "I think it will be a challenge as we change methods. It is important for the community to know that the whole goal is to make good teachers better than they already are, not to get rid of teachers."
Other issues also are on her radar, she said.
"I think Common Core is something we need to keep on top of," she said, also noting technology issues are something the board needs to address. "We have a strong school system and we don't want to see it weakened."
Steinbrunner and her husband, Steve, have three grown children. She is retired from Mercer Health Systems where she was director of education services.
Steinbrunner earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from The Ohio State University and a master's degree in adult education from the university.