2021 Election: Preble Shawnee Board of Education

R-H Staff

The following candidates are running in the Nov. 2 general election for the Preble Shawnee Local School District Board of Education (three openings), with terms commencing Jan. 1, 2022.

David Akers

Occupation: Electrician/retired from AK Steel.

Past Political Positions Held: GOP Central Committee.

Education: High school graduate, journeyman electrician.

Community Involvement: Member of Eagles, Wolf Creek Rod and Gun Club, and Church of God.

Why are you the most qualified candidate for this position?

Raised child and grandchildren in Preble Shawnee schools.

What are the most crucial issues facing the office you are seeking, and how would you address it?

Prevent critical race training throughout our country teaching lies about America to our children currently in public education schools. Stop continual calls for raising taxes on property owners and income earners. Make Preble Shawnee school district adults fully aware of the results of these issues. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is lack of knowledge. Knowledge is power. Be knowing. I volunteer for the Board of Education.

Nicholas (Nick) Duskey

Occupation: Chief Technology Officer at a software engineering firm.

Past Political Positions Held: Member of Preble Shawnee Local Schools Board of Education

Education: Bachelor of Science, double major in Business Management and Biblical Studies – Cincinnati Christian University; High School – Preble Shawnee.

Community Involvement: Sat on an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers policy committee board. Volunteered for several Preble Shawnee levy issue campaigns. Volunteer work on several initiatives in the Village of Camden. Coached high school tennis at Preble Shawnee. Coached youth soccer.

Why are you the most qualified candidate for this position?

I believe I have a unique set of experiences and capabilities that I bring to the Preble Shawnee Board of Education. I have formal education in organizational leadership and management, as well as experience as an executive at a corporation. I also grew up in the Preble Shawnee community, and my mother was a teacher at Preble Shawnee, giving me a more personal experience with both the local community and the more specific community of the school organization.

I also have experience with working with policy and personnel decisions. Both as a sitting board member and as a corporate executive, I have extensive experience performing cost-benefit analysis, critical decision-making, and investment and feasibility studies. I also have a lot of experience in goal setting, evaluation and coaching of employees. Additionally, I have experience working to develop, write and review policy for trade standards in my industry. Finally, I have managed multi-million-dollar budgets as part of my responsibilities as a leader in private organizations. The primary roles of a member of a board of education are to set district policy and make personnel and budget decisions, and I have significant experience in all of these.

What are the most crucial issues facing the office you are seeking, and how would you address it?

The Preble Shawnee Local School District is facing both difficult challenges and amazing opportunities. One of the most difficult challenges facing the school district is the district’s fiscal situation. The amount of money coming in on an annual basis from the State of Ohio’s grants-in-aid as well as the collection of property and income tax, are less than the money going out in expenses. The school cannot continue to operate at a deficit. That being said, the school faces another challenge in that the education we provide our students must continue to get better. Students should be prepared to join the workforce, attend a trade school, join the military, or begin college when they graduate from Preble Shawnee. Cutting back on the education provided to our students is not a viable option to improve our fiscal situation, so we have to promote solutions that work for our community and our students. There are opportunities for grants, for partnerships and for unique ways to generate revenue and savings that can help us in this area.

Another crucial set of issues facing our district are the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, quarantines and remote learning. I am proud as a board member to have been part of our 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative, as well as the district’s move to new technology capabilities that have allowed us to handle quarantines effectively and largely seamlessly. I believe that, from a policy perspective, our current goal needs to be keeping our students learning in-person. During the shutdown year, we saw that while some students adapted well to full-time remote learning, this was not the case for a large portion of students. Keeping our students in the classroom is the best for their education.

If elected or re-elected, what would be your chief priorities?

My first priority as a board member is to empower our staff to provide the best possible education to the students at Preble Shawnee. The board has the ability to leverage both policy and the budget to incrementally improve the education, by attracting and retaining the best staff, as well as giving them the tools they need to be successful.

Another priority is improving the fiscal situation of the school district. We have worked tirelessly to improve our facilities in the past years, and we have recently passed an operating levy. But we need to lobby at the state level to make funding in the State of Ohio fairer and more equitable for rural districts like ours. The reality is that the district is still in deficit spending, but we have to find a way to balance the budget without sacrificing the quality of education we want to provide.

Lisa Tuttle-Huff

Occupation: Director of Human Resources at Tipp City Schools.

Education: Doctorate of Urban Educational Leadership from University of Cincinnati.

Why are you the most qualified candidate for this position?

I have spent most of career in education. I was as a teacher for eleven years; it was the most important role I have ever held. Then, I became a school counselor for two years, an assistant principal for one year, a principal for six years, a superintendent for eight years and currently working as a Human Resources Director. Through my experiences as a superintendent, I have learned how board members should interact with superintendents. I have learned that the relationship between the board and the superintendent and treasurer are important bonds that can be beneficial to each other. Board members are valuable information gatherers for superintendents and treasurers. In addition, my years of working with five year forecasts and understanding tax issues will be valuable when the board has discussions related to finance.

What are the most crucial issues facing the office you are seeking, and how would you address it?

Across our communities and nation there are important issues for every educator and family. These items can include buildings, technology changes and upgrades, bullying, high-stakes testing, parent involvement and others. I believe one or more of these issues can be extra important to different educators or community members depending on what is of importance to them. Although it is important that as a board member that I am a decision-maker, I understand that decisions are only made by the board as a whole at a public meeting. As a school board member, I will ensure that if the issue is the board’s decision, we will address the facts related to the topic and make decisions through discussions about those facts.

If elected, what would be your chief priorities?

It is important that I understand my role as a school board member and not overstep my boundaries. It is important that our community understand the role of a school board member is to make policies, not to run the district. We hire a superintendent to make day to day decisions, and we are resources for our superintendent. The Preble Shawnee School Board is a policy making body and board members are the advisors to the superintendent on community attitudes. Board members do not manage the day-to-day operations of a school district; they see to it that the system is managed well by professional administrators such as [superintendent] Todd Bowling at Preble Shawnee. With that being said, my main priority is to be a sounding board for the community and give Mr. Bowling information pertaining to the district.

Benjamin Jones

Occupation: Self-employed for 21 years in publishing, sales and teaching.

Political affiliation: Libertarian/Constitutionalist.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati.

Community Involvement: Church council at St. Peter’s Lutheran in New Lebanon; YMCA youth sports coaching.

Why are you the most qualified candidate for this position?

Critical thinking skills and the backbone to stand up for the community at large. I’ve put my time in at schools both as a student and as a long-term substitute teacher, not to mention having taught three children of my own — I have a very good idea about what is necessary for effective learning, but more importantly, I have a very good understanding of what the parents of Preble Shawnee students want for their kids. I’m prepared to communicate that to administration and cast my vote accordingly.

What are the most crucial issues facing the office you are seeking, and how would you address it?

The budget appears to be the most pressing issue for Preble Shawnee. Not unusual these days. Why is that? I intend to find out in detail and present that to the public. We also have the mask “issue” and various social issues clouding our kids’ reading, writing, and arithmetic. Who is ready to hand control of the classroom back over to the teachers and return control of the school district back fully to the parents and tax payers? I will address all of these issues by listening to the parents and executing their desires.

If elected, what would be your chief priorities?

We fought World War II and went to the moon with slide rules, pencil and paper. People seem to be fed up with the new age garbage. New math. New social studies. It’s baloney. It’s had its chance and “common core” stinks. It’s failing our kids miserably. If the United States is so great in education, if these “new ways” are so fantastic, then why is Vietnam beating our kids in numerous metrics? What are my priorities? First, to represent and execute the will of the parents of Preble Shawnee kids and next…nope, that’s it: represent the parents and public. Parents know what’s best for their kids, so if you think “The State” knows what’s best for your kids, I don’t want your vote.

Any additional comments?

We have to take our kids’ education back. You have to run for office. You have to go vote for the right candidates. Those candidates are going to be like you. If we fail to do this, as we have for so long, well, we are starting to see the results of apathy. Be brave. Do something.

Editor’s Note: The following candidates did not respond to our request for candidate profiles: Julia Singleton.

R-H Staff