Editors note: This is the second of three stories giving a more in-depth look at the candidates up for election in the race for Buckeye Local Board of Education seats.
By KIM LOCCISANO
Times Leader Staff Writer
THIS?IS the second installation in a series of articles to provide a more detailed picture of the candidates making up what was originally a 12-person slate for three open seats on the Buckeye Local School District Board of education for the term beginning in January 2014.
Buckeye Local School District Board of Education candidates being highlighted in this installment include: Dale Dollison of Brilliant, Chuck Haggerty of Rayland and Naoma Kolkedy of Upland Heights-Rayland.
According to answers provided by candidate Dale Dollison, he continues to be "banned from all school property and functions that are sponsored by the school."
He did not provide any additional information about the matter, however, it is known he was arrested on a charge of inducing panic as a result of an alleged verbal incident outside North Elementary in Brilliant in January 2013. The charge was later dismissed. There is no indication any further action is expected in the matter.
According to reports at the time, Dollison's alleged comments centered on his assertion that it would be very easy to get a weapon into the school undetected.
Dollison is known to be prohibited from entering school property or attending related functions, and school district officials recently confirmed that standing remains at present.
When asked what are several of the most frequently asked questions he has had to field during this campaign Dollison said the first is "What do I plan to do about the current superintendent," and the second was a tie with voters focusing equally on concerns tied to bullying and safety issues.
On the first point Dollison said he plans to hold Buckeye Local School District Superintendent Mark Miller "accountable for his actions and inactions with in this district."
On the topics of bullying and safety: Dollison described the problem as 'rampant' and alleges "really nothing is being done."
"Reports go unheard, situations overlooked and again no accountability. The same is true with safety. As I know very well, the extreme lack of security with in the schools. Promises is all we get and levies to tax the district people for something that should of been done in the first place. Even the current by laws of the district shows and gives responsibility as assigned. But again it is ignored, do as little as possible. There is no 'leadership' no one to take charge and hold people responsible. As a new member of the school board I plan to hold these people accountable and make changes by being a "take charge" attitude.
" My paramount goals are to increase the educational levels instead of settling for 'mediocre', to get bullying under control, and of course, install a safety program that will meet the needs of this district. Overall to establish this district as a top performer so others will want to come to this district , instead of leaving," said Dollison in prepared comments. "Spending is unjustified in the peoples views I have spoke with. Levies that the district tried to get passed are totally ridiculous."
He alleges the district suffers from a "total lack of leadership and favoritism everyone is aware of it and wants it stopped. I plan to be there to put a stop to all of these situations. And if it takes replacing people in those positions of authority who refuse to step up and do their jobs , that they were hired to do. Then it will be the boards responsibility to take charge and do what is best for the children's education and safety. And look for competent people to do the job."
Asked why he would be a candidate preferred above others Dollison responded, "there are some very good candidates, some with more qualifications then others. Some have a desire just to see change, others have great qualifications like myself. Who is to say that one is better than the other, it is what each brings to the people and what the peoples wishes are in hopes that this district improves drastically."
Dollison describes himself as a concerned grandparent and taxpayer.
"The elected board members represent the people and their interests, not anyone else's. We as board members need to actually take charge, do what it is we are elected to do. And if we need outside assistance then the board should have the authority to do so."
Incumbent candidate Chuck Haggerty offered the uniqueness an incumbent faces by employing the classic phrase, "where do we go from here".
"In school safety is a paramount issue," according to Haggerty.
"We are trying to formulate a comprehensive plan, putting a resource officer in the school is nothing more than putting a band-aid on the problem. You need upgraded video, intercom, structural changes, counselors who can spot the warning signs of potential problems to go along with the armed resource officer in the building. This allows him or her to do a more comprehensive job," he offered.
"Funding for this is the main obstacle, money that just isn't there in the general fund due to the constant budget and grant cuts from the state that we have had to deal with for the past few years. They have added several mandatory programs that had to be initiated and did not provide the funding to support those programs," which he alleges, noting it put undue pressure on the district's budget.
Probably the second most often asked question is "why do you want the headaches again?"
"I don't see them as headaches, I see them as challenges. I feel there is still more to do and accomplish and want to build on the previous 4 years I have been on the board," said Haggerty.
"The greatest concern I have about day to day operations as a board member is whether or not we are doing things consistently from building to building. Not necessarily exactly the same in every building due to the dynamic differences in types of buildings and the ages of the students, but consistent within an establish guideline,"Haggerty offered.
"Day to day operations are the responsibility of our principals, with oversight from the superintendent."
"I believe my experiences as a current BOE member and what I have learned over the past 4 years makes me a good candidate to remain on the BOE. I have not compromised my vote at any time during the past 4 years. I have voted in terms of what I felt was the right thing to do for our students, staff, and the tax payers of the district. I am more familiar with state guidelines, ORC codes affecting daily operations, and the new changes in curriculum the state has mandated than my competitors."
Like most of the candidates Haggerty is a product of the school district, having been a member of the Buckeye South graduating class of 1983. Additionally he has coached football and basketball teams in the district over the past 15 years at both the junior high and varsity levels.
"Both of my daughters are Buckeye local high school graduates. I have provided trainings for the district staff in Recognizing Street Gangs and Critical Incidents and taught self defense techniques to a group of our students during a victim awareness month," said Haggerty.
Incumbent candidate Naoma Kolkedy of Upland Heights, Rayland considers herself a "proud Buckeye Local School board member and supporter. My first priority is education and the students."
She referred to the board's recent decision to hire a local company called S.T.A.R.T. (Special Tactics and Rescue Training of Smithfield, owned and operated by Retired US Navy SEAL Frank Hoagland - a Buckeye Local School District graduate) to assess current challenges, vulnerabilities and readily available resources to be employed by our personnel to improve emergency situation readiness and identify and decrease vulnerabilities, and to teach school personnel how better to respond in high stress situations.
"I would always keep our finances a top priority so if a major expense occur, we would be able to repair or update quickly. The money spent on repairs and upkeep is large," she offered "I am an incumbent and know the problems associated with our buildings. I love being on the school board. I am proud and honored to be involved with our school district. I am a dedicated individual and am willing and able to help in any way I can."
Kolkedy a retired Trust Administrator from Sky Bank, brings her knowledge of the inner workings of the financial arenas to her seat on the board for the benefit of the district, and now hopes to be reelected to that post to continue her efforts.
When asked her thoughts on state level down mandates of school emergency and security preparedness, she noted the board has long had difficulty determining who should take the lead in such situations.
But she sees that has having been remedied with the placing under contract the resources of START.
"I am proud to say Buckeye Local has been very active in the areas of safety and preparedness. The group S.T.A.R.T. is in our employ and its personnel are very knowledgeable. Updates on their efforts are shared often and the schools are very active with their own safety programs."
Candidate Shawnna Merrill is also from Rayland.
When asked why she is interested in serving as an elected member of the local board of education she said, "I am all about community service and I believe this is a great fit for me, to give back and serve. I would also like to be a part of re-establishing the relationship with community that has been fractured and even severed."
"I am only one person with one vote and as a board member it is my responsibility to hold him (the superintendent) accountable for conducting day to day operations and accomplishing goals set," offered Merrill. I believe a superintendent should be given a fair evaluation of his performance at end of his contract to keep his position or whether board should consider someone else for position."
"The superintendent is the chief advisor responsible for conducting day to day operations as well as holding the structure in place under him accountable so that each student has equal opportunity to receive the best quality education according to their personal needs," said Merrill.
"As board member I would be responsible for holding superintendent and treasurer accountable in conducting day to day operations including being wise stewards with resources given and accomplishing their goals for the district," she said.
I will keep students, the school district and community as FOCUS in all decisions. I will always stand up for what's right as well as voicing my perspective or opinion on a matter and speaking what really needs to be spoken rather than just saying what people wanna hear," she said.
"I am a concerned citizen and taxpayer that has decided to step up and give back by serving the community."
"Security and safety issues should be top priorities. I support the decision already made and in place which includes S.T.A.R.T. I feel their plan and purpose in educating and training students, staff and administration will prepare them for any issue that may arise," said Merrill.