Four seek seats on Troy Board of Education

TROY — Four candidates are seeking three seats on the Troy Board of Education, including incumbents Thomas Kleptz and Susan Borchers. Theresa Packard and Levi Fox are also seeking seats on the board.

Ginny Beamish, who currently sits on the board and whose term will expire this year, is not seeking re-election to the board.

The following are responses submitted by each of the candidates, beginning with the incumbents:

• Susan Borchers

Family information: Married 22 years to my husband, John, and have one child, Laura, who is 19, a 2020 graduate of Troy High School and now a sophomore at Eastern Michigan University.

Occupation: After a career in information technology, I retired in May of 2017 from the position as Chief Information Officer at Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.

Previous political experience: I was initially appointed to the Troy City Schools Board of Education in July of 2017. I was then elected to fill the two-year remainder of the term in 2019.

Qualifications: I have been told that I am approachable, always willing to listen, and value any viewpoint. Because of this, I feel that I am a good representative for the citizens of Troy. I also believe that my knowledge of information technology and the human relations and financial management experience I have are significant resources for my role on the Board of Education.

As the Chief Information Officer at Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co., I managed a staff of 150 employees, a budget similar in size to that of Troy City Schools, and had to report to a Board of Directors, so I feel that this experience provides me with the knowledge to contribute as a board member for the schools.

I am dedicated to the students and employees of Troy City Schools and utilize my free time as a volunteer for that purpose. I served on the Concord PTO Board, the Trojan Soccer Club Board, the Troy Strawberry Invitational Committee, and the Troy High School Soccer Parents Association, acting as president for two years.

After I retired, I volunteered to help elementary students with reading and as a lunch buddy, worked at the Future Begins Today, and served on the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center Board. During the pandemic, I tutored Troy Online Academy students and volunteered to create virtual field trip videos that our teachers are using within their curriculum today. I am a member of the 2021 Leadership Troy class, and we are launching a mentoring program at Troy High School to provide selected seniors with workshops and mentors to assist in creating career action plans for life after graduation. I hope this demonstrates my keen interest in the success of Troy students.

Reason for seeking office:

I have always done my best to try to give back to Troy City Schools and its students through volunteering in various capacities during my free time. When I retired and saw that the Board of Education had an open position, I immediately applied since this to me is the greatest way that I could serve Troy City Schools.

Goals for office if elected:

The first goal for Troy City Schools is to address the aging school building issues across the district. The fact that we don’t have air conditioning is just one of the challenges our students and employees experience with these aging buildings. Our ability to set up our buildings with the best safety practices, state of the art technology, greater capabilities for teacher collaboration at all grade levels, handicap access, efficient energy operations, and good air circulation are just a few of our challenges. While it would be great to keep our beautiful buildings, doing so is not practical, as it would prevent us from getting the current 42% funding contribution from the state. We are very close to finding out whether we will be able to get this funding from the state in the near term versus having to delay until we are at the top of the queue. If the funding is immediately available, we have a great opportunity ahead of us to address this issue. Through input from the community, we created a plan for the new elementary schools, and this also included the ability to add air conditioning to the high school. We need to re-engage the community when the time comes to communicate and confirm the plan in place to gain support and create the appropriate next steps.

One of the greatest attributes of Troy City Schools is the relentless drive for excellence by our students, teachers, staff, and administration. Before the pandemic, several initiatives were launched that gave our teachers new tools to create an improved educational experience for the development of student reading and math skills. Since the pandemic, our teachers are now spending a significant amount of their time just getting students back on track to recoup their lost learning. This has created a new challenge that has the potential to impact learning for years to come. We need to provide the structure, support, and funding to allow our teachers to get our students back on track. Fortunately, multiple teams have been created at all levels across the district to share successes and work through the ongoing obstacles so that both our teachers and students can make up for what was lost and achieve success.

One of the goals within the strategic plan for Troy City Schools is that all graduating seniors will have a career pathway upon graduation. I am a member of the 2021 Leadership Troy class, and our Action Team project is to launch a Trojan Futures program at Troy High School. This is a mentoring program that will provide selected seniors with monthly workshops on such topics as career assessments, how to complete applications for college, trade schools, or certificate programs, scholarships and jobs, and mock interviews. We will match a mentor with a student to assist them in completing exercises and create a career action plan for life after graduation. I am excited to be able to contribute to this goal in a personal capacity.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek:

I believe our greatest need is to find the communication channels that allow us to effectively send information to, and receive information from, our Troy community. Families today are extremely busy as most have two working parents and multiple active children. In order to gain community input for our five-year strategy and the new building plan, we utilized an electronic survey, social media, meetings at each building, coffee chats, and reporting through the Miami Valley News. While we appreciated those that did engage, the response rate was really a small percentage of our community. We do value the input from our community, so it is imperative that we find any and all communication mechanisms that allow us to reach and hear from our community members. As school board members, we are the voice of our community. Communication with the community to receive input, share progress, and gain support are imperative to achieve the success of the Troy City Schools strategic goals.

• Thomas Kleptz

Family Information: Married 26 years to Melissa, executive director of the Troy Foundation. Four children: Lauren, Nick, Maddie, and Nathan, all Troy High School graduates. Three grandchildren: Colton, Landon, and Adison. Residents of Troy for 21 years.

Occupation: Managing Principal/Owner of Turnstone Financial, a registered investment advisory firm.

Previous Political Experience: 7/2015 – present: Troy Board of Education (President two years/Vice-President two years); 1/1986 – 12/1993: Northmont City Board of Education.

Qualifications: B.S. 1982 Indiana University – Finance; M.B.A. 1987 Indiana University – Finance. I have 33 years in the financial services field including 11 years owning my own business here in Troy. I bring an analytical viewpoint to the board with my finance background, and it allows me to look at things in a different way.

Reason for Seeking Office: I would like to continue to help the district carry out its five-year strategic plan, which focuses on preparing Troy students for a variety of post high school experiences. In addition, I would like to work with the district and community to find a solution for our aging buildings.

Goals for office if elected:

School finances, curriculum changes, and planning for new buildings are all issues (the board) will be facing as they look ahead. We are on solid financial footing, but we need to work with Columbus to ensure the Fair School Funding Plan receives full funding for years three through six. In the arena of curriculum, we need to continue to update our field of studies to make sure our graduates are ready to enter the workforce, military, technical school, or college. The board will also need to address the aging elementary buildings in our district and develop a plan that meets the needs of the students and one that the community can support.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek:

The board needs to continue to follow the district’s master plan to address the aging elementary buildings within our district that need to be replaced. With two buildings over 100 years of age and an average building age of 78 years, it does not make financial sense to try and remodel these buildings because they are not designed for today’s needs, and they are not eligible for state funds. With two bond levies having failed, the board has listened to the community and is currently looking at building a 5th/6th grade building that would be in a neighborhood with a price that voters hopefully can support through a bond levy.

Theresa Packard

Family information: Married to Keith with three children, Kyle, 14; Adam, 11; and Loralei, 9.

Occupation: Marketing and Communications for Buckeye Insurance Group.

Previous political experience: None.

Qualifications: Involved community member and professional with a 23 year career.

Reason for seeking office: As a parent and community member, I feel it’s important to serve. I don’t have a big agenda – I want to serve to be a part of continuing to build our district. We currently have kids across three Troy school buildings, I have a vested interest in our district’s future. I look at this position as an opportunity to help guide our district for the future in a way that is beneficial to every student.

Goals for office if elected: Right now, a pressing issue in our district is repairing some of the tension between parents and schools. That relationship with parents, staff, and the community will drive any project that we, as a district, want to get done. My other, personal goal is to become more versed in school finance and understand the paths for projects that will improve the future of all students.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek: I believe the top challenge remains our facilities. We have to find a solution for new buildings that will provide our students and teachers with an environment to develop 21st century skills, as well as buildings that are accessible and safe for all our students.

• Levi Fox

Family information: Wife: Emily; Sons: Arlo, Barrett, Crosby.

Occupation: Finance Manager

Previous political experience: Political: none. Public service: Troy Board of Parks Commissioners 2016-2018.

Qualifications: Born: Stouder Memorial Hospital (Troy), 1986. Troy High School, 2005; Trojan Athletic Hall of Fame, 2014. The Ohio State University: Bachelor’s of Business Administration with specialization in Finance, 2009. University of Cincinnati: Master’s of Business Administration, 2020.

Reason for seeking office: No current board member has a child in Troy City Schools. My oldest son will be starting school in 2022, my middle son starting in 2023, and youngest in 2025. I think it is important that some board members are parents. I was sad to see the last few years that the board has approved levies for new school buildings and additional funding requests with such bad planning and marketing that citizens’ questions were not able to be adequately answered and that resulted in three levies failing. Also, my opinion is that the current board is not listening to the parents regarding the COVID response. In summary, the recent board has failed the people who elected them. I have always been of the mindset of “Don’t complain about it, do something about it”.

Goals for office if elected:

To bring transparency to the board. Many people tell me that they feel like they don’t “know” the current board members, their views on specific topics, and how to provide input to them in a way that will be acted upon. I’d like to form an unofficial team to advise me on the important issues in all of the district’s buildings. I picture this “team” being one parent from each of the nine buildings who would speak for the parents and students they represent. We would meet on a regular basis throughout the year.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek?

The board needs to listen to the community’s wants and needs. The community is the following stakeholders: students, teachers, parents, and tax payers. Policies and decisions need to be what is best for all the stakeholders long term. The board should make sure to protect what is important to our community and not cave to recommendations or guidance from Columbus or Washington D.C. This includes supporting a parent’s right to choose on controversial curriculum topics and medical decisions (mask and vaccine policies).