East Palestine school board draws five

EAST PALESTINE — The majority of those running for a seat on the East Palestine Board of Education want to see a change in open enrollment.

Current board members Ron Novak and Rube Ginder, who are running for re-election, and candidate Jennifer Andre all said they would like to find ways to attract people back to the school district.

Novak, 75, has spent three four-year terms on the board and Ginder, 52, is one of a few of the longest serving board of education members in the state.

Ginder has served on the board for 20 years. He graduated from East Palestine High School in 1983.

Both men said that tackling the issue of open enrollment is one of their main concerns if re-elected.

Andre, 41, is a 1995 East Palestine High School graduate, and also listed open enrollment as a main concern to address if elected.

“I would like to look at open enrollment numbers and work on various items to attract families back to the East Palestine School District,” she said.

Andre also said another reason she chose to run for election is because she would like to see better communication between the district, parents, and the community.

Each of Andre’s three daughters are enrolled in the district at the elementary, middle and high school.

“There are many good things going on in East Palestine, but there are also things that need to be improved,” she said.

For example, she believes that the decision to switch from the Columbiana County Educational Service Center (ESC) to the Mahoning County Educational Service Center should have been communicated more with the district before a decision was made.

“As a parent and a community member I am disappointed with the lack of communication about the decision process. I feel that parents, staff and community members should have been given the opportunity to ask questions and have concerns addressed. Unfortunately, that was not the case and now as a board we would need to move forward to build confidence in the decision,” she said.

She is currently employed with Heritage Cooperative in Canfield and is the volunteer assistant high school softball coach for East Palestine, a position she has held for more than 10 years.

She earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Youngstown State University (YSU) and a master’s degree from DeVry University.

She is married to Clarence Andre and is the only candidate who has not previously served on the board.

Others hoping to continue their service on the board are Judy Daubenmire Ciccone, who has spent 12 years on the board and is running for re-election, and Douglas Lammert, who served one term on the board from 2012-2016.

Lammert, 64, said he didn’t necessarily agree with the board’s decision to switch ESCs, but also said that since he was not on the board at that time, he didn’t have the information the board had to make that decision.

He said that if elected he wants to continue to improve the school system by working with the administration and by listening to the people, and through asking the needed questions about finances and programs.

He earned an associate and a bachelor of applied of science in engineering technology from YSU and has been employed as an electronic technician with the US Postal Service for 31 years.

He is currently serving as vice-president of the board of the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center, and was appointed as a representative of the East Palestine school board to the career center board.

He and his wife Linda have one daughter. Linda is employed as a bus driver for the school district.

Ciccone, 48, has four children in the district and is a 1987 East Palestine High School graduate.

She earned a master’s degree from YSU and is a licensed professional clinical counselor at a private practice in Boardman. She has worked as a counselor since 2000.

“I am seeking re-election because I love this community and the school district. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to assist this district in making positive changes,” she said.

She pointed out that the district has increased student achievement and significantly improved its educational standing in the state.

She also said the district has added computer application courses for students and upgraded its communication through the use of social media, Key Communicators, online menus and semi-annual newsletters.

“My vision for the district has always been continual improvement and to focus on what is in the best interest of the students,” she said.

She added that she believes her experience on the board and her training in counseling allow her to see many sides of the same issue.

She is married to Tony Ciccone, a lieutenant with the Youngstown Fire Department.

Novak believes it is his experience in education that makes him a good choice for the board.

He retired after 39 years in public education as a teacher, counselor and coach. Thirty-three of those years were spent with East Palestine.

“During my current term in office, I have continued to challenge and say to proposals that I felt were not in the best interest of our students, staff or the taxpayers,” he said.

He has repeatedly disagreed with votes by the board to hire retired individuals on pensions at a full salary and benefits, he noted.

“If re-elected, I plan to continue to monitor how our district spends taxpayers’ money. Also, I will work with the other board members to be sure we have the best programs, materials, technologies and facilities we can provide for our students and staff and always do what is in the best interest of our students,” he said.

He and his wife Bonnie have two daughters and three grandchildren. His son-in-law, Jamison Lewis, is is a third grade teacher in the district.

Lewis was hired years before Novak was elected to his first term on the board, however.

Ginder said that during his years on the board he has tried to encourage and support an environment of academic excellence and accountability and see that students receive a quality education while being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars.

“I feel that I have helped build a more financially sound school system in East Palestine that is constantly evolving and improving, as we try to meet the needs of students and also the state’s requirements,” he said.

In fact, he believes the most important accomplishment the board has achieved over the years is the ongoing work it has put in to make sure the district is one of the most financially sound schools in the county, by operating at the base floor of operating millage.

Other accomplishments he has seen over his two decades on the board include the passing of the 1999 bond issue through the Ohio School Facilities Consortium that provided funding for the elementary school; the construction of the track/football stadium, and the development of a preschool operated by the district.

He is married to Brenda, has two children and four grandchildren. He has been employed with the village of East Palestine the last 23 years.

He said he has a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law employed in the district.

“I have found that after being on the board for 20 years, that I continue to learn new things in regards to the running of a school district, and look forward to learning more and using that information to improve our district,” he said.