Sunday, October 25, 2009

Akron Beacon Journal endorses Lisa Mansfield

The Akron Beacon Journal Endorsement is out!!! Read below!

For the Akron school board
Our choices : Jason Haas , Lisa Mansfield , Mexie Wilson and Ginger Baylor

The race for the Akron Board of Education this fall has been strikingly low key. The quiet belies the importance of this election during a critical transitional phase for the Akron Public Schools . The district is in the middle of an $ 800 million construction project, an investment that is providing up-to-date facilities in neighborhoods. At the same time, declining enrollment demands a strategy for downsizing that will not hamper educational opportunities . The district must find new and effective ways to raise achievement. Financing the schools will require similar determination and creativity. The seven - member school board itself is in transition. Of the four incumbents up for re - election , three have chosen to leave the board at the end of their
terms in December . A fifth plans to vacate his seat early in 2010. The new and inexperienced board members will face a steep learning curve as their four- year terms begin.
Voters must choose four from a field of eight candidates.

We recommend the election of Jason A. Haas, Lisa Mansfield, Mexie J. Wilson and Ginger Baylor on Nov . 3. Jason Haas , the only incumbent in the race, was elected in 2007 to fill an unexpired term. A grants program analyst with the Summit County Department of Community and Economic Development , he has spent the time productively, getting up to speed on critical board functions, from the budget to the planning and timetables of the school year. He shows
a solid grasp of the district’s many challenges. His priorities include a 10 - point increase in the graduation rate, a high school to follow up on the new STEM middle school , attention to the problems of middle - school students and careful analysis of budget commitments before any levy request. Haas offers a strong background in grants research, economic planning and personnel management. On a largely inexperienced board, his presence promises much- needed continuity.

Lisa Mansfield is the patron services manager at Weathervane Playhouse and a former substitute teacher in the district. She shows keen interest in promoting academic quality and efficiency in the district’s operations. Mansfield holds a balanced perspective of the strengths and weaknesses of the district, recognizing , for example, the strides the district has made and its attentiveness to intervention and alternative programs. She also understands the urgency
to raise performance levels, among other steps, by training teachers specifically to address the needs in inner- city schools. Appealing about her candidacy is her strong commitment to engage parents more extensively as partners in education . She fully supports
Superintendent David James’ emphasis on ‘‘ customer service ’ ’ as critical to promoting shared responsibility for the performance of the schools.

Mexie Wilson is the Northeast Ohio marketing representative for the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, the state’s college savings plan. She also is an experienced youth organizer for civic and political projects. A former substitute teacher, Wilson is eager to see the district’s performance rise above mediocre. She is well - versed in hip - hop culture and sees its potential as a tool to connect with students in a nontraditional way . Wilson is bright, energetic and brimming with
ideas , from increasing community involvement to fundraising partnerships with local businesses . S he promises to be a particular asset on the school board , providing a bridge to urban youths whose perspective often isn’t taken into account on the board.

Ginger Baylor is an assistant professor at the University of Akron . She taught for 10 years as a substitute in the Akron schools and was an instructor for the Akron Urban League ’ s ASSET program. She stresses her communication skills and her ability to assess and resolve complex problems, plus her broad experience as an educator and a motivator working
with both children and adults. Baylor understands well that strong schools make strong communities. Sh e places priority on the Akron schools offering diverse programs so that every student can succeed. Th e remaining four candidates show an eagerness to serve and a genuine concern about raising performance levels in the district, stemming the decline in enrollment, actively engaging parents in the schools and increasing options for career education .

T hey are Bruce D. Alexander , superintendent of the Summit County juvenile detention facility; Virgil A. Ortiz , a customer service representative for Mesaba Airlines; Rita M. Hosch, a retired teacher with 27 years of experience in the Akron schools; and Dianna Smith , a senior in business administration at Kent State University.