TIPP CITY — On Nov. 3, voters will be faced with choosing from six candidates to fill three seats on the Tipp City Board of Education.
The candidates include Don Watson, Theresa Dunaway, Jay Lopez, Andrew Venters, Amy Stueve, and Sam Spano.
Spano is a previous member of the board, having served from 2000-2006. He believes his experience with past levies and the construction of the high school uniquely qualify him to serve on the board again during “this critical time,” he said, referencing the district’s current facilities project.
“I am ready to hit the ground running on day one,” he said. “There are major decisions to be made regarding infrastructure in the district and I want to ensure that the board exercises reasonable care in maintaining it’s fiduciary responsibility.”
His other goals include maintaining fiscal responsibility and improved communication with the community and district teachers. He has also been involved in local youth sports, including Tipp City Junior Baseball and pee wee football, and on several city boards.
Watson is a lifelong resident of Tipp City and a graduate of Tippecanoe High School. Watson, who is a retired postal worker, said that he is running for school board because Tipp City is close to his heart. He emphasized the preservation of the district’s historical buildings and favors supporting the district’s teachers.
Watson also noted that he is a regular at school board meetings and other district events. If elected, he stated that he would not be in favor of any levy that was not an earned income tax levy.
While Watson sees facilities as a priority, he voiced his disapproval of the current building plan, which was approved by the board earlier this summer after previous plans for a new K-8 building fell through.
“I am against it, as I said, because I think we didn’t study it or research it,” he explained. “We spent five years on [the previous plan] and in a month’s time we switched to a preK-3 on the Broadway site.”
For Dunaway, running for school board is the “perfect marriage” of her three passions: kids, education, and community.
Dunaway, a stay at home mom with students in the district, said that she has the time to devote herself to the position and to do the research on issues facing the district.
“You have to be working for every student every day,” Dunaway said. “Anybody can do anything with a great education.”
Dunaway has involved herself in the school district since her family moved here, she said. She served as the levy fundraising chair for the last levy and is also leading a campaign to raise money to purchase new Chromebooks for the schools.
Lopez believes that the district is at a critical point in time regarding issues facing the district, including the building plan.
He said that his work as an attorney advocating for minors and his service on the Edison Community College paralegal board qualifies him for a seat on the school board.
“I am the person to advocate for the students and the people of the community,” he said.
He is a lifelong Miami County resident and said that he and his wife have a long-term investment in the district: their young children.
“I don’t come to this with any particular agenda. I don’t have any pet issues or anything that I’m trying to advance,” Venters said. “I’m here because I have three kids that are going to be students in this district.”
Venters said his goal as a school board member would be to ensure a top notch education for all students in the district, through curriculum, quality teachers, and modern facilities.
“I want to make sure that the schools remain an asset to the whole community, even for the people who don’t have kids in school,” he said. “The school district is very much the heart of the town.”
Venters is also an attorney with experience working with troubled children, he said.
He said he would offer a “common sense perspective,” and said he believes the role of the board is to provide oversight and accountability.
Stueve said that as her children have grown up, she has had various levels of involvement in the school district. While she has previously considered running for school board, she believes now is the right time.
Stueve, a pharmacist whose family moved to the district for the quality of the schools, said that she has thoroughly researched the role and responsibilities of the position.
“Our school district and our community face many challenges ahead and the only way we will accomplish our goals is for all of us to work together to the best of our own ability,” Stueve said. “As a scientist and a person, I believe that decisions must only be made based on all available information.”
On the issue of the stadium, most of the candidates pointed to a recent survey which shows that the majority of residents favor new schools over a new stadium. The candidates all agreed that, while educational facilities and athletic facilities are both priorities, new school buildings are more important.
“We do need a new football stadium. We are joining the GWOC and we are not equipped to handle Centerville and Beavercreek coming to our school. However, we cannot put two levies on at the same time, because I don’t think people will vote for them, quite frankly,” Lopez said.
“This community cares about teachers, buildings, and then the stadium,” Dunaway said. “We need to put the preK-3 building on the ballot and let’s pass it. The stadium can come at another time.”
Several candidates also suggested exploring local funding options for the stadium.
Watson said he does not support the construction of a new stadium on land the district recently purchased next to the high school, saying that the land is too rocky and construction would be too costly.
Stueve said that she supports keeping the stadium at City Park because it’s “part of the charm of Tipp City.”