Survey from Beavercreek Moms
How long have you lived in BCS district?
Moved here in January 2010, so going on 12 years.
In 2-3 sentences, please describe why you are running for school board.
Beavercreek is home to thousands of military families and is a thriving, diverse community of multi-generational families. Our community provides great opportunities for my children, so I hope to contribute back by serving in this role. My objectives are to ensure an accessible, world-class education in STEM and other foundational skills; maintain a vibrant slate of activities including sports, arts, and service; and prepare all students to excel in a rapidly changing world.
Are you familiar with the scope of the position? Describe what you believe is the most important responsibility of a school board member.
Yes I am. The Board of Education represents the interests of the community to the school administration. We are responsible for establishing and communicating the big-picture vision for the administration to implement. It is important that we understand the values of our community and work cooperatively with the administration to ensure they are reflected in our schools’ priorities and decisions.
Have you served on BCS School Board before? If so, how long and what are 3 key highlights of your service to BCS?
This would be my first time serving on the BCS School Board. I serve as an advisor to the Wright State University Computer Science and Engineering department and as a voting member of the Center for Surveillance Research Research Consortium. In these roles, I consulted with administration on priorities for educational curriculum and helped select research projects to fund.
Do you currently have children in BCS? For how long and what grade(s)? Please note how many of your children have graduated and when.
We have three children in Beavercreek Schools. 7th, 9th, and 11th grades.
What experience do you have in the education field, or in finance/budgeting/business management?
Education has always been important to me. I personally have a PhD in Electrical Engineering.
Part of my work as a defense contractor is to develop, coordinate, and teach courses for other engineers. In 2019, a colleague and I developed and taught a semester-long course on Cloud Native Software System Architectures to our colleagues.
I serve as an advisor to the Wright State University Computer Science and Engineering department. In this role, I help the University prioritize core curriculum for their degree programs based on my knowledge of industry hiring needs.
I was a voting member of the Center for Surveillance Research (CSR). Until 2020, the CSR was an Industry / University Cooperative Research Center jointly run by Wright State University and The Ohio State University. In this role, I represented my company’s financial interest in cooperative research. I advised professors and graduate students on the development of novel surveillance research projects and cast votes for which projects the consortium should fund.
Finance / Budgeting / Business Management
Early in my career, I led teams that tested and characterized US space camera systems assets. In this role, I helped these teams develop and achieve goals that served our nation’s weather and surveillance interests. I developed business plans, wrote proposals, wrote performance appraisals, organized staff resource scheduling, resolved disputes, etc.
Over the past 12 years, I played a technical leadership role on dozens of proposals to perform on government contracts. As a technical lead, I understand customer needs, develop a technical strategy for delivering capabilities, identify our labor and equipment needs to execute the plan, work with pricing to estimate costs, and optimize our plan to fit within customer budgets. I then document our technical plan in a written proposal. I personally led winning proposals that ranged from $150k to ~$90m. I played a supporting role on much larger proposals.
In my role as Chief Technologist, I help my business unit develop a technical strategy for our research and development investments. When research proposals are submitted, I help lead a team of subject matter experts with diverse interests to reach consensus on the efforts we wish to fund each year.
What is your understanding of the educational system in Ohio?
Our state legislature and state school board sets the state-wide curriculum requirements. Beavercreek has traditionally followed the state standards on the basis that deviating from the standard either way results in criticism from the community,
The Ohio school funding process has problems. It was found to be unconstitutional in the 1997 case DeRolph vs. State because it resulted in insufficient state funding for school facilities [1, 2]. In 2003, the Ohio school funding process was still unconstitutional, but it was the Ohio Legislature’s duty to enact a remedy. 25 years later, Ohio’s school funding system still fails to allocate sufficient funding to educate children. This shortfall of state funding to schools is part of the reason we must continue to pass levies every few years.
What is your understanding of public school funding in Ohio and what role do you see the School Board taking in this?
I dislike the way Ohio funds schools. But fixing school funding requires legislative changes. It is not the responsibility of the School Board to lead legislative lobbying efforts, so I would be wary of any significant involvement here other than adopting a public resolution.
Where curriculum is concerned, do you expect that our students will have a broad access to arts/foreign languages/ business and computer classes/ a variety of science, history, and literature classes? And what is your position on funding for those given the current spending per student?
Yes. I’d like to ensure Beavercreek will continue to offer a broad array of elective options. We have had a broader set in the past and I hope to be able to get back to that. But broad class offerings cost money to staff and Beavercreek struggles to pass levies that would allow us to hire the staff to teach additional course offerings.
For parents looking for more curriculum options now, there are two programs that help broaden the curriculum opportunities for our students: College Credit Plus and the Greene County Career Center.
Beavercreek’s current spending per pupil is $9718, slightly below the state average of $9883. Impressively, despite being slightly below average spending per pupil, our student performance index is well above the median. This shows that we are excellent stewards of taxpayer money. I believe our exceptional performance is a result of our community’s active engagement with our schools.
What is your opinion of the state school report card system?
The state school report card system assigns letter grades to each school in the state according to a set of criteria designed to measure student performance. As a scientist and an engineer, I understand the importance of having measures to assess performance of any system. And like all measures, the ones we’ve chosen to measure academic performance of our students are limited. One significant issue with the letter-grade system for schools is the meaning of the letter grades. People aren’t sure whether a B or a C is acceptable. We’ve also learned during the COVID pandemic that our measures don’t adapt well to rapidly changing environments. Report cards are N/A for the past two years.
If you have lived in other public school districts (this state or other), were your children enrolled in public schools there and for how many years? If they weren’t, why not?
We lived in Massachusetts before this. Our children were much younger then, but our oldest was in the public preschool program.
If elected, the term to serve the community is 4 years, as outlined in the BCS bylaws. Early resignations can limit the board’s ability to represent the community fully and to move forward with board business. Do you anticipate anything preventing you from being able to serve the full 4 year term?
No. I love my work and we plan to stay at least until the kids graduate high school (6 years).
Please describe any specific areas you believe are exceptional in BCS.
The staff are exceptional. Our district administration has done a very good job recruiting and retaining talented and compassionate staff. With few exceptions, our experiences with school staff have been very positive. I have personally been very impressed with several of the extracurriculars that my kids or their friends have been involved with:
Cross Country and Track welcome students of all abilities and support everyone doing their best. I was touched to see the way students cheered and supported everyone -- even the child who finished last.
Our Show Choirs are top notch.
The marching band is phenomenal!
I have sought out examples of places where our staff fell short of expectations. And while a few of these instances exist, I believe they are rare.
What is the biggest challenge you believe BCS faces and what ideas do you have to address this challenge?
I wish we could improve the levy process. Unfortunately, Beavercreek is one of only a few cities where the Schools and City Government are BOTH dependent on property taxes for funding. We also receive less than our fair share from Ohio’s formula. Some of these problems are outside our control, but I think BCS can help our state address these problems by publishing digestible educational materials about the school funding process.
What do you believe is BCS School Board role with respect to matters of public health?
“There is nobody on the planet who knows how to make a computer mouse,” observed Matt Ridley. From the plastics to the computer chips to the cable and buttons, each component in a mouse relies on specialized knowledge and expertise to design and fabricate.
Our advancement as a civilized society is built upon our ability to specialize and cooperate to create the best solutions. The job of the board of education is to create the best possible education for our children. We should not ask the School Board to study epidemiology and design public health policies. We hire people with specialized expertise to set public health policy. These experts are employed by county and state departments of public health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We should respect the value of their insight and heed their recommendations, especially in an emergency.
Describe your position on diversity, equity, and inclusion in BCS.
Children need a learning environment where they feel welcome and included as part of the community. I want to be sure our schools reflect, recognize, and celebrate the diversity in Beavercreek.
The foundation of inclusion is teaching understanding and respect for the uniqueness of each individual student to reduce stigma and marginalization of youth outside the social norm. Inclusion is about welcoming individual students. It can often be informed by understanding marginalized groups on issues like: race, medical conditions, economic class, sexuality, and gender expression.
When students learn to respect and understand each other, everyone wins. All students gain skills they will use to successfully interact with diverse colleagues in the business world. Traditionally marginalized students feel more welcome and included in the school. Incident rates of bullying also decline.
Describe your relationship with BCS staff, including teachers.
Most of my relationships with BCS staff is as an involved parent in the district. I have also served as Cubmaster, Dads, and Lego League Coach.
Describe your work with any BCS PTO organization.
I worked with the PTOs to help build understanding when Main and Trebein split (there were disagreements about how to divide the PTO bank balance when the students split to the new school). My family was closely involved with the Trebein PTO as it was first established. But since then, my engagements with PTOs have been casual and in relation to my other community volunteer work.
A few years later, Matthew Main and I worked with the Trebein PTO and Principal Lisa Walk to establish the first school-sponsored FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team.
Describe any volunteer work you have done in the local community or schools.
I served as Cubmaster of Pack 68 for three years from March 2013 through May 2016. During my leadership, the Pack experienced several major leadership challenges:
In May 2013, BSA announced an end to its ban on openly gay scouts.
In August 2013, Trebein Elementary opened and redistricting divided the kids in our pack in half.
In July 2015, BSA announced an end to its ban on openly gay leaders.
Despite these challenges, when I stepped down from the Cubmaster role, it was in order to focus on starting the FIRST LEGO League program at Trebein. I left the Pack with an extremely strong leadership team including several Cubmasters and Assistant Cubmasters. We had successfully expanded to serve both Main Elementary and Trebein Elementary and were one of the biggest and most active Cub Scouts packs in Ohio. While my youngest was still in the Pack, I continued to serve the pack leadership in an advisory role.
In 2015, Matt Main and I started the first FLL team with BCS Sponsorship. The briefing linked below is the presentation we gave at the PTO meeting where we asked for help collecting charitable donations with which to purchase several thousand dollars worth of supplies. With the support of the Trebein PTO and Principal Lisa Walk, we were off and running!
Since that time, the FLL program in BCS has been a tremendous success. In 2017, Keith Slinker and Bobbie Fiori helped champion and expand the program across all elementary and middle schools in the district.
Various School Engagement
On three occasions, I volunteered to be a guest speaker in BCS classes on subjects I’m passionate about:
Satellites and remote sensing (4th grade Science Oct 2014)
LEGO Robotics (Gifted Program, Dec 2016)
Computer programming and web site design (Gifted Program, Nov 2017)
WatchDOGS is a program to get more dads involved in the schools. I signed up for two days in the schools, helped with grading reading, and other academic support. Watch D.O.G.S. on the NBC Today Show - YouTube
What do you see for the next 5-10 year future of BCS district? What steps are needed to get there and what do you believe the BCS School Board role is in this?
I think it’s likely that we will need to expand our schools to accommodate the growing Beavercreek City Schools population in the next decade. It seems like we’re constantly playing catch-up with population growth. The Board of Education needs to help the district make and communicate reasonable projections of population growth, then build support for a strategy that accommodates the projected growth.
Beavercreek Schools need to improve the way we welcome marginalized students. Bullying and exclusion remain problems in our schools, and we cannot turn a blind eye to the environment some students face. Teaching all our children to understand others and treat them with respect is valuable for everyone. As our schools work to become more inclusive and diverse, our Board of Education needs to ensure these programs are fair to all students and help raise community awareness of the benefits we all gain from diversity and inclusion.
What is your position on the current capacity of the high school, middle schools and elementary schools and what potential changes need to be made to improve this, if any?
For as long as I’ve lived here, it has felt like our schools are playing catch-up with Beavercreek’s expanding population. In part, that results from our reluctance to build beyond the capacity we need. But I have also learned that it stems from the fact that our district includes residents from neighboring townships, where land is available and new construction is booming. Our brand new preschool is growing so fast that preschool classes are consuming space at Parkwood elementary school. I think it’s likely that we will need to expand our schools to accommodate the growing Beavercreek City Schools population in the next decade.
It feels unfair that the Beavercreek City Schools taxpayers should share the cost to expansion of our schools equally when that cost is driven largely by new home development. I have heard some ideas and proposals to address this issue, but I do not know how credible they are.
Describe a difficult situation you have faced and the process you used to address it. How might this apply to difficult situations you may face as a School Board member?
As I mentioned earlier, I led Pack 68 through major changes in their inclusion policies and the division of our Pack across two schools. Scouts leadership is an entirely volunteer-run group, so there is no “chain of command.” It is essential to govern the Pack by consensus rather than authority. I fostered heated discussions among parents at Pack committee meetings regarding how our Pack should adopt these new changes and how it would change the nature of our pack.
When addressing controversial issues, I believe it is important to help the community of our shared values. By starting with a shared vision of the values we want our group to embody, we can then begin to address the disagreements from a place with more respect and understanding for each other.
A few of our scouting families chose to leave Cub Scouts over the decision to be inclusive, but most families came to understand that accepting others does not harm their children, nor does it require that they change their own personal or religious values. When I retired from leading Pack 68 in 2016, the Pack had grown in size and we had strong and diverse parent involvement in our leadership team.
Describe your ideas on how the School Board can support preparing all graduates of BCS for work/trade school/post-secondary education. Please specify any best practices from other areas that you may feel are beneficial for BCS.
The Greene County Career Center is an excellent resource for students working on trade school or post-secondary education opportunities. It is hard to justify costly equipment used in trades like welding, aviation, automotive, or engineering when the number of interested students is small in a single district like BCS. But when we pool resources with neighboring districts at the Greene County Career Center, we can justify these investments and provide students with resources individual schools couldn’t afford.
I believe there is value to students who invest time developing career skills - no matter their intended long-term career. Even as a PhD scientist, I find that things I learn on the job, like software revision control and management processes, have been impactful on the quality and impact of my contributions to my employer. As someone closely involved in my company’s hiring decisions, I know that an applicant’s portfolio of work experience makes a big impact on our confidence in that candidate’s ability to apply their education to real projects.
Career exploration through independent studies and extracurricular projects (like FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge) are an excellent way for students to gain this additional experience without needing to travel to GCCC. The district is exploring these sorts of programs and I support expansion of this sort of class as an elective.
In the current curriculum guidelines from the state, lunch and recess time is limited. What are your thoughts on this and how it affects the students in BCS?
One of my kids is a slow eater. Beavercreek kids have a really short time to eat. It would be good if our schools were flexible with solutions for making lunch a less hectic process. I’m aware that having a longer lunch and recess break has been shown to improve student performance. I haven’t yet studied the issue in enough detail to have recommendations for addressing it.