BLANCHESTER — Three local residents are running for two spots on the Blanchester school board this fall — current school board members Keith Gibson and John Panetta, as well as Todd Bandow.
Panetta declined to answer written questions from the News Journal posed to all three candidates for this story.
Gibson, 63, of Midland, has been on the Blanchester school board since 1996 and is looking to be on the board for a sixth term.
Gibson said he is running for the same reason he did in 1995-96.
“I am running … to improve the educational experience for our students and to make sure taxpayers get good value for their tax money,” he said.
If he is re-elected, Gibson said he will bring a small business owner’s mindset to the Blanchester board.
“Managing the school district is not all that different from managing a business,” he said. “You must live within the amount of money that the taxpayers (and) governments give you and you must get good value for what you spend. You must deal with employees and treat them with respect and fairness. You must have high expectations and success.”
Gibson said he is the best candidate for the job because he is considered the peacemaker when conflicts arise between the union and the district.
“I enjoy being on the board and have a good working relationship with all parties involved,” he said.
If elected, Gibson said he will work with the board to make the best decisions possible for the Blanchester school district through the good times and the bad.
“When bad times hit education a few years ago, Blanchester local didn’t lay off any teachers, when so many other districts did, because we had foresight and sound financial management,” he said. “I want that to continue. When better times come along we try to reward our employees and make investments in infrastructure. I am proud of Blanchester Local Schools and of our employees and students who work so hard to achieve excellence.”
Bandow, 38, of Blanchester, is in his 17th year of education, and 12th year as an administrator. Some of his positions over the past 17 years include middle school teacher, assistant principal and athletic director at the high school level, district level-special education coordinator and elementary school principal. He is currently district-level curriculum supervisor.
“I have many years of experience working with school boards on several different topics, including but not limited to student achievement, school finance, student safety, public relations, policy making, staffing, curriculum development, and technology integration,” he said.
Bandow said he is running for a spot on the school board because he feels the Blanchester community including students, parents and staff, “have lost their voice.”
“Currently the climate and conversations have dramatically changed and are primarily focused on the negatives and are rarely academic based,” he said. “I am also concerned with the recent loss of quality staff members leaving to go to other districts.”
“As a current administrator, I am immersed in the educational world on a daily basis. I am up to date and active in today’s best practices, changes, and policies in regards to public education,” he said. “As a current district administrator, I am required to know all mandates, bylaws, operating procedures, best practices, and current trends related to public education. By having this background knowledge I am able to ask clarifying and thought provoking questions that will result in a deeper look and understanding of the problems or items being discussed.”
If he is elected, Bandow said the first thing he will do is work on the relationship between the board of education and the community.
“I want people to know that I plan on listening and want their input and feedback,” he said. “We have policies in place that seek out student and parent involvement in decision making and those groups should be embraced along with information and ideas from staff members. I will promote the use of committees and focus groups with the focus on student achievement and ensuring success for all of our students.”
The election is Nov. 3.
Editor’s Note: Due to a miscommunication, Todd Bandow’s answers did not appear in the original story.