Rho Kappa hosts school board candidate forum

Alexandra Lisa | Staff Writer

In preparation for the school board election on November 7, Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society hosted a Mason School Board Candidate Town Hall oriented around a question and answer format for students.

The four running candidates were on the panel in the Harvard Room this past Monday, October 23. These included Noha Eyada, Charles Galvin and Connie Yingling. Matthew Steele was unable to be present due to a personal emergency, and thus spoke through a member of Rho Kappa that was in real-time communication with Steele on a device. Those in the audience were not only able to listen to what each candidate had to say, but also to ask the panel questions.

One issue continuously addressed was diversity, or rather lack thereof, both on the board and in the district’s administration. Steele, while not speaking specifically about his ability to contribute to diversity, said he felt the issue did exist and should be addressed.

“It’s definitely a complicated topic,” Steele said. “You can’t approach it casually and expect positive outcomes. We have to be careful not to allow race or other (diversity factors) to affect judgement, but we have to be equally careful that we stay away from taking in diversity for the sake of taking in diversity, because that’s sure to end poorly.”

Eyada said she feels that she can help remedy the lack of diversity with her admission onto the board.

“The school board should represent all factors of the community we live in,” Eyada said. “As a woman of a diverse background, and a naturalized American, I am more prepared to fix diversity issues in our community. I see how things affect my children in the school district, and I believe I can offer not just a diverse face, but also a diverse perspective on how to address the issues on this topic we are facing.”

While candidate Galvin may not be able to represent diversity in the same way as Eyada, he said he can bring new ideas and solutions to the table because of his personal experience and age.

“I’m at a unique age,” Galvin said. “I received education both before and after 9/11, where I experienced school before and after the influx of technology which has become commonplace. I remember getting my first cell phone as a sophomore, and how tempting it was to use it for cheating purposes, and so I relate rather closely to several problems our district is currently facing. At this point, I’ve been out of school nearly about as long as I’ve been in school, and so I’m more connected to newer situations; I have potential to make large changes.”

The potential for change was also a question which came up frequently, as many in the audience were concerned for how the candidates planned on initiating new plans of action. Candidate Yingling directly addressed voiced concerns over her running for a fourth year; she said the extended experience only aids her ability to problem solve.

“I’ve had people ask me whether being on the board for so long has left me without the ability to come up with anything new,” Yingling said. “And I think that’s a fair question, of course, but I also think there is a certain ability which comes with years of experience. You learn to become more creative with how you approach problems, and I’ve already learned how to avoid types of solutions which really just make more problems.”

Galvin feels changes important for the community include several financially-driven projects, which are primed to take place in the next coming years.

“When I moved to this community, I realized not only that Mason was a great district, but that great things were coming in the near future,” Galvin said. “Specifically, regarding the expansion of MECC, the intermediate school and the middle school. The school is the recipient of about 33 million dollars from the state of Ohio, and they would put in an additional six million dollars to help with the expansion. These expansions will take place in three to four years — a relatively small period of time — the same period of time when the Treasurer has said that a budget deficit is set to be coming up. So with everything coupled together, with so many areas of possible failure, the community has to be able to rely on those overseeing the financial plans making them go smoothly.”

Aside from financial projects, Eyada said she felt one change that must be made was the way bullying is addressed in the schools.

“It is essential that we continuously revisit how our students are being treated inside the school walls,” Eyada said. “There have been several cases of bullying which have gone unaddressed, and it is the responsibility of the district to ensure that each student has a safe and welcoming environment when they walk through those doors, so I see those unaddressed incidents as failures, in my eyes.”

Click here to read Editor-in-Chief Asia Porter’s school board election story from our printed edition.