School board incumbent faces challenge from citizen of the year

Oct 31, 2017

Voters in the West Carrollton City School District will have a choice next week in who fills the final two years of an unexpired term.

Veteran school board member Deborah Bobbitt is facing a challenge from Joe Cox, a first-time candidate who was named Moraine’s 2017 citizen of the year.

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Bobbitt, who was first elected to the board in 2007, was appointed to a seat in January 2016 after failing to gather enough valid signatures to have her name on the ballot the for re-election the previous fall.

Because of the timing of the appointment, the term the seat which pays $125 a month expires at the end of this year, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

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Bobbitt, 52, is a business office manager with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She said she wants to continue serving on the board because “I feel a quality education is paramount for children’s future. I want to be instrumental in providing the tools necessary to provide quality educational opportunities for the students at West Carrollton schools.”

Cox, 51, is a West Carrollton grad who owns a flooring business. He said he sees a need for “new eyes on the district. New ideas and new directions to keep up with the changing world are needed, And most important, Board members who have kids in the district would be a great start. I think our current board has lost sight that our kids should be top priority.”

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The board of education this spring hired a new superintendent for the first time in nearly two decades. Rusty Clifford retired after 19 years and was replaced with Andrea Townsend, superintendent of New Bremen schools.

Funding for the school district – which includes parts of Miami Twp. and Moraine – and the future of its buildings have been prominent issues in West Carrollton.

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Last fall voters approved a 5.5-mill, five-year tax hike – the first tax increase in nearly a decade – to restore all non-state mandated busing cut after a spring 2016 levy defeat. Approval of the operating levy also help fund at least 20 teaching jobs that faced elimination.

Earlier this year the school board also began working with Ohio School Facilities Commission to review the future needs of school buildings, many of which are more than 50 years old.

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Bobbitt and Cox each cited fiscal issues and buildings/facilities as key issues facing the district. State academic ratings also are high priorities for both candidates. West Carrollton received D’s in performance index and early literacy improvement on the most recent state report card. But it got B’s for student progress and graduation rate.

“Our most important long-term challenge is getting our kids ready for graduation and their future,” according to Bobbitt. “This process begins in pre-K and all the way through high school.”

Cox noted that “families moving out of the district” due, in part, to “our poor state rating.” He cited a need for “updating our technology throughout” each school building.