Three vying for two seats on Marysville school board

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Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a series of stories detailing issues and candidates appearing before local voters on the November ballot.
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Two incumbents and one newcomer are competing for two seats on the Marysville Exempted Village Schools Board of Education.
Current members Sue Devine and Amy Powers are being challenged by Kevin Behrens.
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         BEHRENS                            DEVINE                             POWERS
Kevin Behrens hopes to represent parents and families if elected to the Marysville School Board.
“I am not part of a voting block, so I am an independent voice willing to raise my hand and ask questions from a parent’s point of view,” he stated in an email to the Journal-Tribune.
He is a 1992 graduate of Marysville High School but, as the parent of a fourth grader at Edgewood Elementary School, he said he understands how the district and community has changed.
While he has been campaigning, he said he has been striving to do “more listening than talking.”
He said he has heard three points of concern from community members that he hopes to address: problems integrating United Classroom, a software that allows parents to be connected to their child’s schoolwork; the mental health of students and teachers; and a division that exists between the two high schools.
In order to address these issues, he said he wants to focus on community involvement.
“After all, the school receives and uses taxpayer funds, so it makes sense that the community should be asked for its input so citizens know how their money is going to be spent before the checks are written,” he stated.
Behrens, the current publisher of the Journal-Tribune, said he believes he can mirror strategies he’s used at the newspaper to involve a larger audience with the school board.
“We accomplished that at the J-T when I established the Reader Advisory Board allowing community members, no matter their opinion, to join in a monthly discussion about how the newspaper makes decisions,” he stated.
He also mentioned a May article published by the Journal-Tribune, detailing a tabled policy that would allow alcohol sales during non-school events at the new Marysville High School stadium.
Moving forward, he said he would help to make sure the public is informed regarding other controversial topics.
“I agree with the voters who feel that it’s time for a change on the school board, and I believe I am the candidate who can bring that needed change,” he stated.
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Current Marysville Board of Education President Sue Devine wants to continue her efforts to improve students’ wellbeing.
“If re-elected, I will support progress and change that benefits our students, staff and community while keeping a close watch on our finances,” Devine stated in an email to the Journal-Tribune.
She said she believes it is the board members’ responsibility to prepare students for success by make health and wellness a priority for students, while executing academic initiatives.
She listed education about drug use and depression, as well early literacy and mastery learning initiatives, as efforts to “prepare students from all backgrounds to succeed.”
Devine was previously the Director of Finance and Development for the Union County Foundation and currently serves as the Education Representative on the Union County Chamber of Commerce Board, as well as a member of the Chamber’s Finance Committee.
She was elected to the Marysville Board of Education in November 2011 and has served as president for six years.
During her tenure, she said the district has expanded opportunities for students while being fiscally responsible.
“Our facilities are well maintained, and a source of pride for our community,” she stated. “Our community partnerships have provided countless additional resources for our students and staff.”
She said it has been 11 years since voters passed a new operating fund levy, but Marysville schools have continued to progress. She mentioned multiple career pathways at Marysville High School and Marysville Early College High School, as well as all-day-every-day kindergarten and an alternative kindergarten program as accomplishments during her tenure.
Devine said her commitment to the district has been demonstrated during her time on school board.
She said she has received the Ohio School Board Association’s Award of Achievement and the Master Board Member Award, which recognizes commitment to educational leadership.
“I truly believe we’re a beacon within the education community,” she stated. “I’m proud of the promises kept to our community, and believe that proven leadership, experience, and continuity are critical to the successful future of our district.”
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Amy Powers is planning for Marysville’s growth, while staying true to the community’s values.
“Marysville is becoming a destination school district. With that comes student growth,” Powers stated in an email to the Journal-Tribune. “We must plan responsibly for this growth.”
Since the district implemented its strategic plan in 2014, she said board members have directed resources toward programs and services that facilitate student growth.
She said she hopes to continue to offer opportunities like the internship program at Marysville Early College High School, which partners with 49 local companies, and Advanced Placement courses at Marysville High School.
Powers said she is focused on staying fiscally conservative while continuing to create these opportunities for students.
“During my tenure, the district has made significant progress academically and offers a personalized education for all students on a lean and stable budget,” she stated.
She said the district has added the Early College High School, provided all-day-every-day kindergarten, a new alternative kindergarten, added more technology in the classroom, added a school resource officer and provided mental health resources without raising taxes.
Additionally, she said current district leadership has made $25-million in facility improvements without raising taxes.
As a result, she said Marysville has one of the lowest per-pupil expenditure rates of districts in the area.
“We are offering excellent schools at a great value to taxpayers,” she stated.
Aside from academic opportunities, she said she wants to help prepare students for their lives beyond Marysville schools.
As an Intensive Supervision Officer for the Union County Common Pleas Court, she said she believes her experience will help to educate students and families on issues like the drug epidemic.
Powers said she has lived in the community for 43 years, along with her husband, three sons and 11 grandchildren, and is excited to see how Marysville continues to grow.
“It’s exciting to see how the district has made it a mission to personalize each student’s education, has been recognized as a state and national educational leader, all while keeping true to the core values of our community,” she stated.



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