A panel of public school advocates and experts convened Tuesday to discuss the crowded race for Dayton School Board seats this fall. The terms of four of the seven members of the board are set to expire this year, with only one incumbent running for re-election.
In all, eight candidates are running for the open positions: Mohamed Al-Hamdani, Paul Bradley, Ann Marie Gallin, Bill Harris Jr., Jo’el Jones, Joe Lacey, Jocelyn Rhynard and Karen Wick-Gagnet.
The election comes at a tumultuous time for DPS.
Last year, the board made cuts to administrative staff and floated the idea of laying off several of the district’s teacher’s aides, prompting public backlash.
More recently, a months-long contract dispute between the teachers union and the district nearly culminated in a strike just days before the start of the school year.
At the public forum, hosted by YWCA Dayton and UpDayton, panelists discussed what qualities they said voters should look for in a school board member.
Panelist Dr. Carlee Simon, a University of Cincinnati professor of education finance and policy, also offered advice to the candidates.
"So, people are going to come to you with ideas, and you're going to need to filter them through and decide where you're going to put your money," Simon said. "My number one suggestion in this is to consider, 'is this an adult problem solution or a child problem solution?' If you are answering the problem focusing on making adults happy at the risk of children, I would argue that you are not making the right decision."
Other topics discussed at the meeting included charter-school funding, services for children with disabilities, and district disciplinary policy.
All board candidates are expected to participate in a debate at the Downtown Dayton Library on October 16th.