Five candidates are competing in the Nov. 7 election for three seats, each four-year terms, on the Cloverleaf Board of Education.
Incumbents Jason Myers, Jane Rych and Michael Maloney face challenges from former board member James Curran and Ryan Hunger. Maloney did not respond to a letter or email request for information about his candidacy.
- Age: 60
- Education: Cloverleaf High School
- Family: spouse, Mary; two children, James Jr. and Alison
- Occupation: retired
- Age: 42
- Education: bachelor’s in economics and master’s in finance, University of Akron
- Family: spouse, Jennifer; three children
- Occupation: trust and investment adviser, Commercial and Savings Bank
- Age: 56
- Education: not provided
- Family: spouse, Kevin; two adult children, Adam and Austin
- Occupation: insurance agent, Plumer Insurance Agency
- Age: 32
- Education: bachelor’s, Capital University
- Family: spouse, Rochelle
- Occupation: warehouse technician and tow motor operator at Survitech Group
Question: What makes you the best candidate for the position?
Curran: “I am running to be back on the Cloverleaf school board, as I previously served from 2011-2015 and due to a lengthy hospital stay, my bid for re-election fell short about 50 votes. I have been a Cloverleaf resident since 1974, am a Cloverleaf graduate and a former district employee. I have an extensive background in leadership management, health care marketing sales and mediation.
“I was elected to represent the Cloverleaf OAPSE union as vice president and president, and served as vice present for the UAW local. I also have donated hundreds of hours to the school system, charities and youth sports as a manager, coach and umpire.”
Myers: “I am running for re-election because I want to ensure that the school district is operating at a level that prepares our students to compete in the 21st century, while also balancing the economic desires of our taxpayers. Just three years ago, we were only one of a few districts in the state that were in fiscal emergency. Now that we are financially stable, continuing to build and improve the education process from that low point in our school’s history continues to be a top priority and one that I look forward in helping to achieve.
“As a graduate of Cloverleaf, I was very well-prepared for college and furthered my education by earning a master’s in finance. Along with my 20 years as a banker/investment adviser, I believe I am the best candidate not only to help my kids excel at Cloverleaf and beyond, but all of our 2,000-plus students.”
Rych: “Being a mom of two Cloverleaf graduates allows me to introduce a unique perspective to all topics discussed by the board and makes me a desirable candidate for the position. The only agenda I bring to the board is my passion to further the opportunities for our kids to succeed.
“Upon graduation, each of our kids will need to compete for a job and, if desired, compete for acceptance into the college of their choice. It’s the board of education’s responsibility, working in partnership with all district staff members, to provide excellent educational and extracurricular opportunities that allow students to achieve their greatest potential, successfully competing for and accomplishing their goals beyond our school doors.”
Hunger: “I believe I can facilitate some innovative and creative ideas if elected to the Cloverleaf Board of Education. I firmly believe that our school district and community is an extraordinary place to live, work and raise a family. As a board member, if elected, I believe we need to pursue policies to further emphasize these points.
“Moreover, throughout my work history, I also believe it is crucial to be a solid team player. In order to be an outstanding board member one has to be a great team player. Under the current structure of a five-person school board to be successful, it must function together in unison in order to achieve sound public policy. I have been a great team member through my work history, educational career and will continue to be.
“In public service today, a great deal of emphasis is put on management experience. I think the main consideration should be ‘can this person roll up their sleeves and work in complimentary fashion with others in a complex environment to do the work and deliberations that need to be done legislatively.’ ”
Question: What are the biggest challenges facing your school district and how would you address them?
Curran: “We have property tax, income tax, local permanent improvement tax, a half-percent county permanent improvement tax, student fees and pay-to-play fees. Let’s see what can be done to help our community. We have double-digit declining enrollment while other local districts are growing students, and government funds go with them. Let’s market our district to attract new students and keep ours with a better curriculum.”
Myers: “The biggest challenge facing any school district is the never-ending cycle of asking voters for new money. The model for funding school districts is broken and it does not serve any of the districts well, especially rural districts like Cloverleaf. With the rising costs of education, new technology and unfunded state-mandated programs we must implement, it puts a tremendous strain on any school district’s finances. But since passing our levy in 2014, I have made it a priority that we keep our promise to our voters and that we will not be back for new money before 2020. Given the prudent financial decisions that have been made the past few years, not only will we keep this promise, but the goal is to go well into the 2020s.”
Rych: “As the result of voters’ support of our levy a few years ago, we have been able to take care of many of the district’s pressing concerns. The most important of these issues was to continue to provide a quality education to our kids, including adequate and appropriate staffing, which we were able to accomplish. The Cloverleaf district needs to continue to enhance our kids’ opportunities for increased positive results in their educational experiences, as well as in sports, band and club involvement, with confidence and pride in themselves.
“Through our most recent strategic plan, we have developed a multifaceted blueprint with our community members, local business partners and staff members that identified areas in which the district could improve.
“These areas for improvement will be the “issues” on which we need to continue to focus, while maintaining our promise to stay off the ballot for new money until at least 2020.
“Our fiscal responsibility is imperative while implementing these improvements and additional student opportunities.
“Our ‘business’ of education includes providing each child with the tools to achieve their greatest potential, preparing them for life after graduation, and becoming the best possible version of themselves. To make this possible, we must continue to attract talented new staff members, when needed, while maintaining and supporting our current highly qualified personnel. We must continue providing a safe and effective work environment while providing responsible, competitive compensation appropriate to each position throughout the district.
“I’m running for a third term on the Cloverleaf Board of Education to be a part of continued student achievement, as well as continued growth of student and community involvement and Colt pride.”
Hunger: “I believe there are three major issues facing the Cloverleaf school district. First, from 2004-2014 Cloverleaf’s enrolled student population dropped 23 percent. If elected, I would lead an effort to put together a commission/panel of board members, parents, civic/business leaders and clergy to come up with a multifaceted plan to better ‘market’ our school district and surrounding community to potential residents.
“Second, I will work to decrease/eliminate student fees through restructuring our current spending and restraining future spending to help take the burden off taxpayers and parents who contribute through income and property taxes.
“Third, Cloverleaf should join four other Medina County school districts in the Ohiocheckbook.com program for more financial transparency. This program provides every citizen with the ability to view the financial obligations and purchases of a local government entity.
“Moreover, I think these three proposals will prove pivotal in moving our school district toward a more sound position not only with the community at large, but also with regard to innovative public policy.”