Three vie for two BG school seats PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor   
Tuesday, 22 October 2013 11:07
Three city residents, including one incumbent, are vying for two seats on the Bowling Green Board of Education.
Incumbent Ellen Scholl, plus Steven Knape and Edward Whipple, are competing for the seats.
All three have experience in education, from teaching to administration to volunteering.
Scholl is seeking her third four-year term on the board.
"There's still work to be done," she said about her desire to be re-elected. "I feel like I want to help the schools be better than they are."
She would like the district to find alternative ways of finance, and continue to work to improve curriculum and the opportunity offered to students at all levels.
As a board member, she has made an effort to attend PTO and booster meetings "and listen to what people are up to and answer any questions, if they have any."
Scholl is an adjunct professor of voice at Bowling Green State University, and has been an educator since 1977, teaching kindergarten through college-age students around the country and in Europe. She said she has a strong working knowledge of school finance and curriculum.
"I think education is one of the most important things a community can offer children," she stated.
If re-elected, Scholl will become the longest serving board member. Eric Myers, who served 12 years on the board, decided this fall to not run for re-election.
Scholl is a member of the League of Women Voters and is very involved with the College of Musical Arts on campus.
"Only after a lot of research and listening do I make a decision," she stated.
Knape said he was approached by people to see if he was interested in running for school board.
The former pastor is currently finishing his master of public administration degree at the University of Toledo.
He's starting his third year as president of the Conneaut Elementary PTO, where his daughter is a fourth-grader.
"I've obviously been a supporter of schools," Knape stated.
He decided to run because "I was worried about the direction things are going in our community."
Bowling Green has always come together to support schools, and Knape is concerned about the polarization he's now seeing due to the defeat of the district's last two levy requests.
He has spent 15 years as a parish pastor, so he's very good at hearing both sides of an issue and carving out common ground, he said.
He served as pastor in Curtice, Hamler, Athens and Defiance.
He formerly conducted fundraising for the Lutheran Homes Society in Toledo before funding cuts terminated his job.
He said funding will always be an issue until Columbus agrees to obey the Supreme Court ruling for equal funding of school districts.
"Finding creative ways to fund education is going to be very important," he stated.
He would like to see the district hire a director of development, either full- or part-time, someone who can go to business and industry as well as alumni to find funds to pay for extracurriculars like drama club, transportation of teams, and uniforms for athletes.
"Grant writing will be crucial," he added.
He also has proposed the district conduct a performance audit, to identify if there are areas of wasteful spending or redundancy.
"If it comes back and shows there are not many cuts to make, they can take that to the public the next time (the district) is on the ballot," he stated.
"It's like an energy audit. Your hope is you'll pay for the audit from the money you're saving by doing the audit."
Knape is a member of the athletic boosters and is chairman of the community solutions team with the Wood County United Way.
Whipple has been in education for 30 years.
He was a high school English, French and world geography teacher, and also coached swim and track teams.
He's taught in Illinois and Oregon, and earned his PhD in higher education from Oregon State University.
For 17 years he served as vice president of student affairs at BGSU, in charge of an $80 million budget and 350 employees. He left for Washington D.C. in 2011 for a job with NASPA doing public policy and research.
He is currently with a higher education consulting firm, focusing on strategic planning and professional development, working nationwide with colleges and universities.
"I feel that the top priority for any community is supporting its educational system."
He thinks his skill set in strategic planning and professional develop will serve well on the board.
He formerly was president of the BG Junior High PTO and has served on the district's foundation board. He also is a former Wood Lane Industries board member, and is currently secretary of the Wood County Red Cross board and is a member and past president of the Bowling Green Exchange Club.
His son graduated from Bowling Green High School in 2005.
"I hope the top priority for any community is supporting its educational system," Whipple stated.
He sees several priorities facing the board, first and foremost funding and financing.
That and "insuring that Bowling Green Schools offer a robust and well-rounded curriculum that meets the needs of students going on to college and the work force.
"That's the real challenge."
And it's not just what goes on in the classroom, but also music, art, ag education and athletics.
"Those are also very important to students. For many students, they're their lifeline."
School districts can't always talk about cutting spending, but also have to talk about reallocating how money is spent.
There also has to be a community discussion in education.
"It's the community's schools, it's not just one person's school district," Whipple said.

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