By Megan Alley
The New Richmond Exempted Village School District community heard from candidates for the school district’s board of education at a forum held on Oct. 30 in the New Richmond High School cafeteria.
Three board seats are up for election this Nov. 7.
The moderated discussion, hosted by the New Richmond Schools Education Foundation and conducted by the League of Women Voters Clermont County, asked for input on issues and concerns facing the school district from candidates Kristin Bennett (incumbent), Tony Farmer (incumbent), Wayne Prescott, Kevin Walriven (incumbent) and Todd Wells.
Candidate Sharon Stark did not participate in the forum.
The candidates introduced themselves, stated why they are running for office and answered questions from the audience.
Bennett, who has served on the board for four years, shared what inspired her to run for office.
“The reason I choose to run is because the process of the board, of being a policy setting and sort of evaluator of the treasurer and the superintendent, I want to make sure what we do is in the best interest of our children, but also being fiscally responsible,” she said.
Bennett said she’s also “big and strong” on school safety.
Farmer, a 23-year resident of the village of New Richmond, listed the reasons why he decided to run for a seat on the board.
“One of the big reasons that I’m running for school board again, for re-election, is just to really give back to the community, be a part of the school district, maintaining that financial responsibility is very important for this school district … school safety, best interest of the children, all that is definitely very important tombe as well, but also maintaining that high level of education that New Richmond has,” he said.
Prescott, who presented himself as a “Christian man who loves the Lord and the school district,” has served as the school district’s transportation director for the past nine years.
“I really enjoy the ability to help protect students, and I love kids,” he said.
Prescott said that his goals for the school district are “student achievement, student safety, financial stewardship, having a close collaboration with the unions and utilizing the parents as much as possible.”
He added, “I believe my combination of professional skill and personal experience will add value to the district.”
Walriven has served on the school board for 17 years. He said he’s committed to the school district’s financial security, and proud of the education that the school district provides.
“I could sit and relish on all the things that we’ve accomplished, but they really do us no good now because you’ve got to look forward,” he said. “You’ve got to figure out how you’re going to get from here to where my grandkids graduate, and they’re only in first and second grade, so we’ve got a lot of work to do ahead, and that’s the reason why I’m running, because I want to keep this going, with the passion and stuff that I have for it.”
He added, “I’m here to do whatever it takes to make New Richmond a great school.”
Wells, a lifelong resident of New Richmond with 24 years of experience as an education professional, said his experiences will be “very beneficial” to the school district.
“As a resident, I feel like it’s an honor to be able to serve the taxpayers of New Richmond,” he said, adding, “Truly, [there are] two priorities. I know financial is one of our big issues, a big task here for the district in the next several years. However, what we need to remember here too is education. We’re here to educate our students and our children, no matter if they’re gifted, they’re average, they’re at risk, or – where my passion is – special ed. All students have the right to learn; all students can learn.”
Other questions asked to the candidates focused what they believe the role of a school board member is and how they plan to balance their personal role as a community member and/or parent with their elected role as a board member.