Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
By Shelley Grieshop
Four candidates seeking three open seats on St. Henry Board of Education
Election November 2013
ST. HENRY - Four candidates - including one incumbent - are seeking three open seats on the school board at the polls Tuesday.
Competing for the four-year terms for St. Henry Schools Board of Education are incumbent Russ Bensman and newcomers Andy Fullenkamp, Jenn Ahlers McCoy and Josh Schmackers.
Not seeking re-election are board president Bruce Miller and current board member Jim Puthoff, whose terms expire Dec. 31. Current board member Ruth Nerdeman is running unopposed for an unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2015.
Bensman, 54, 5787 Fort Recovery-Minster Road, is finishing his first term in office and first-ever elected position.
"I really consider it a civic duty," he said.
He also believes his "detail-oriented" skills make him an asset to the school board.
Bensman said school finances will continue to be a challenge for the district and will likely force board members to place a levy on the ballot sometime next year.
"St. Henry is a strong community and I think our faith will help us come together," he said.
Bensman holds a four-year degree in engineering and works as a product safety engineer at Nidec Minster Corp. He serves on several press safety standard committees and considers himself a "problem solver."
He and his wife, Barbara, have two sons who recently graduated college and a daughter who is a freshman at St. Henry High School.
Fullenkamp, 35, is seeking his first elected office.
"I'd like to see the board continue its responsible, decision-making mode for the best of our students," he said.
A father of four - ages 8, 6, 4 and 2 - he feels it's important to be a part of the school district.
"I think if you've got an opinion about something, you should get involved," he said.
Fullenkamp said financial matters at the state and local levels are the biggest challenges facing school board members.
He graduated from the University of Dayton and works as an electrical engineer at Precision Strip, Minster. He resides at 541 Hickory Street with his children and wife, Heather.
Jenn Ahlers McCoy
McCoy, 29, 141 John St., also is seeking her first elected position and wants to get involved on behalf of her children.
"My kids will be (attending) the school and I would like to have a say in what's going on," she said.
McCoy, who is expecting her second child in December, believes the Common Core initiative and students' safety from outside intruders will be the biggest challenges ahead for the district. Common Core is a state-led effort that established a single set of educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics.
"I think it's going to be a big issue in the coming years," she said, adding she hasn't formed an opinion on the measure.
Another goal as board member is to keep the tradition of excellence at the district, she said.
McCoy said she's held numerous leadership roles in the community, such as serving on the Booster Club and St. Henry Fire Department Auxiliary, and coaching softball for two years. She is a graduate of the Mercer County Leadership in Action class.
McCoy graduated from Wright State University with a bachelor's degree in financial and management information systems, and works at St. Henry Tile Company.
"I've lived here pretty much my whole life and know how the people think and relate to each other," she added.
McCoy and her husband, Shawn, have a 4-year-old daughter.
Schmackers, 28, 142 John St., also is seeking his first elected position. As a board member he'd like to provide input on various topics facing St. Henry schools, he said.
"I'd like to bring some new ideas that might help the school system," he said.
Schmackers also has young children and feels it's time to get involved. He's certain a lack of funding is the district's biggest challenge.
"As far as funding from the state, we need to figure out where the money goes," he said. "We're going to have to put a levy on (the ballot) down the road to keep what we have going."
Schmackers is a graduate of Wright State University, Dayton, and holds a bachelor's degree in marketing. He is employed at Heritage Insurance in Coldwater.
He believes the skills he uses on the job will help him be a better school board member.
"I deal with people and problems every day," he said.
Schmackers and his wife, Liz, have two sons, a 2-year-old and a 3-month-old.