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Toledo School Board: Meet the Candidates

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Eight people are running for a seat on the Toledo Public School Board, which means there are many choices for voters.

Those eight candidates are vying for only three open seats. They participated in an hour-long debate Wednesday morning.

Randall Parker is a local pastor and father of three TPS students.

"My strength that I want to bring to the board is that community alliance," Parker said. "I believe that education is the foundation of a thriving community, but we need partnership. If we come together as partners, and we invest into our children, then our children have the ability to invest back into our community."

Polly Taylor-Gerken has more than 30 years invested in TPS. She has played different roles, including secretary and school psychologist.

"I think that we need to continue to expand the social/emotional learning initiatives, and the positive behavior supports that will reach more kids, and keep more kids in the classroom," she said.

Chris Varwig has been a part of the TPS family for more than 15 years as a parent, and is from an entire family of TPS graduates. Varwig says she is most interested in creating opportunities for students.

"Student opportunity, family engagement – that's a priority," she said. "I've done that for the last 15 years and I'm going to continue to do it."

Tina Henold has called Toledo home since 1987, except for the nine years she spent in Romania as a missionary. She also wants to focus on the students.

"We need to work really hard and get a lot of people involved in helping children learn to read because that's the cornerstone of their education," she said. "Once a child can learn to read, the sky is the limit."

The only incumbent in the race is Bob Vasquez. He has served the district since 2008. He says he was chosen to lead the effort to implement recommendations from a recent performance audit.

"The other thing is the transformation plan," Vasquez said. "I was there at the beginning of the transformation plan, working with the administration and others, and I want to make sure that I see that through."

Perry Lefevre is a teacher at Sylvania Northview, but a resident of Toledo, with children that graduated from TPS. He says he wants to address the district's graduation rate.

"I want to do that from the very early ages," he said. "We know that students that are reading at grade-level at the first grade are successful in high school. We need to work on pre-school reading programs."

Aji Green is a member of the Lucas County Democratic Party's executive committee, a husband of a TPS teacher, and father of a TPS student. He is concerned with the number of students lost to charter schools.

"How are we going to stop the outflow of children leaving, going to parochial schools, Catholic schools and charter schools? We need to start showing the positives in Toledo Public Schools, and showing people that we are making changes. Toledo Public Schools is the best choice for the citizens and children of Toledo," he said.

One thing all the candidates mentioned was that the ballot is stacked with people that have the best interest of the students at heart.

The eighth candidate, Darryl Fingers, was not available for questions.

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