7 seek 3 West Branch school board positions

BELOIT- West Branch Local residents will have a number of candidates from which to choose on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The ballot includes seven candidates vying for three seats: Eric Glista, Kathy Knoch-Brown, James J. Laut, Robert McFerren Glenda Sharp and incumbents Earl Trimmer and John Wallace.

-Eric Glista, a graduate of West Branch, is currently the treasurer for Little Warrior Football and coaches fourth-grade football. He is employed at Country Saw and Knife Inc. in Salem and runs the day-to-day operations of the family owned business.

Glista said his past experience, particularly with youth sports, has spurred his desire to help them by serving on the board.

“I have helped kids in sports and would love the opportunity to help in education,” he said.

Glista lives with his wife, Becky, on Georgetown-Damascus Road south of Damascus. They have three children.

-Kathy Knoch-Brown taught as West Branch for 33 years and has been a substitute the past five years as well as a home instructor for the district following her retirement. She has been an active member of the West Branch Athletic Boosters for 21 years, having coordinated the organization’s bingo game for 18 and served as assistant treasurer for 17.

A 1975 graduate of Mount Union College, with graduate credits from four area universities and a master’s degree in education from the College of Mt. St. Joseph, plus many hours beyond a master’s degree, Knoch-Brown said her experience in education at West Branch, as well as her volunteer work through the booster club, including the construction of the Meiter Athletic Building, raising money for the auditorium and outdoor facilities such as the all-weather track, press box and football field lights, makes her a quality candidate for the board.

“I am running for school board because I feel I could make a difference in this community,” she said. “It is such a great community that is facing a lot of obstacles right now. With the coming changes in education, I feel that it is important to give our teachers the tools to be successful in empowering our children to become life-long learners. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I believe that if our schools and community are effective in working together, we will do just that.”

Knoch-Brown is a member of the West Branch Hall of Fame. She lives with her husband on Misty Morning Lane south of Damascus and has two sons and eight step-children, as well as one granddaughter and 23 step-grandchildren.

– Robert McFerren is a graduate of Sebring McKinley High School and Mount Union College. He is currently the graphics arts director at the Vindicator in Youngstown where he has worked in the editorial department for 24 years, 20 as a manager.

McFerren said his experience in the newsroom of a daily newspaper has taught him how to listen and ask questions to get to the facts. As a manager he said he knows how to effectively work with people and resolve issues, “with the ultimate goal of making decisions that are in the best interest of our students and our school district.”

Noting the need for change, McFerren said the current board is aloof to the needs and concerns of the taxpayers and voters of the district and promised if elected that he would carefully scrutinize all spending in the district looking for new ways to reduce costs and save the taxpayer’s money.

“I believe I can make positive, forward-looking decisions that will benefit our students, our schools, and the families of our district as well,” he said.

McFerren lives with his wife, Christine, on Seacrist Road in Goshen Township. They have three children who all graduated from West Branch.

– Glenda Sharp, a graduate of West Branch, is a retired teacher from the middle and high schools, with 32 years experience in the district and 35 years overall. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Akron and a master’s in education from Mt. St. Joseph’s, as well as post-graduate and additional certifications from three area universities.

Sharp is currently a member of the West Branch Athletic Booster Club and the United Quilt Guild in Salem.

Having lived in the district for virtually her entire life, Sharp said she understands the unique and diverse culture the community comprises. Her teaching experience makes her aware of the intricate details and needs of the educational system.

“Voters should elect me because I will provide effective leadership with a foundation of educational experience,” she said. “I have an understanding and appreciation for community involvement while being responsive to community input.”

Sharp lives with her husband, Phil, on Beloit-Snodes Road north of Beloit. They have four sons and seven grandchildren, all of whom have graduated or are attending West Branch.

– Earl Trimmer, incumbent, has served on the board for four years, being elected to the term beginning January 2010, and has served as vice president and sat on numerous committees including technology, safety and athletic council.

Trimmer is a 1982 graduate of West Branch and also a graduate of Youngstown State University in business administration with a major in accounting and minor in management and economics. He has attended numerous continuing education classes related to his career as a certified public accountant and firefighter/EMT as well as several conferences on behalf of the school board.

Currently Trimmer is a CPA with his own firm for the past 17 years. He has also worked for the Alliance Fire Department for 28 years where he is currently a captain and first shift commander.

He lost his first attempt at the school board in 2007.

Trimmer said he is running for re-election because he wants to continue building on improvements that the current board has been able to accomplish, including those in energy efficiency, security and technology that are making students safer and upgrading wireless and network capabilities so that the district is ready for the 21st century learner.

“I want to continue working on the improvements I have spearheaded to help our students in a big way,” he said. “I also want to see the upcoming state-mandated online testing successfully implemented.”

Trimmer also noted experience and expertise to help the district through tough financial times ahead.

Trimmer lives with his wife, Sharon, Harrisburg-Westville Road in Beloit. They have three children, two graduates from West Branch and one currently attending the school.

– John Wallace, incumbent, has served on the school board for 20 years, currently serving as the board president.

A 1977 graduate of West Branch, Wallace also graduated from Mount Union with bachelor degrees in physics and math. He has worked for 32 years in the metals industry for companies that design and build equipment for metal producers, having held positions such as engineer, international sales manager, technical sales manager, vice president of sales and currently manager of product development of engineered equipment sales at SES LLC in Alliance.

He is a member of St. Ann’s Church in Sebring and a member of the Association of Iron & Steel Technology.

Having lived in the West Branch community his entire life, Wallace said he knows and appreciates what the district has to offer and what it stands for.

“The knowledge I have gained over my twenty years of service on the School Board has been a privilege and gives me valuable insight to the operations required to run an effective and efficient school district both fiscally and educationally,” he said.

“I have the knowledge, education, experience and passion to be on the school board where future issues will need local, state and national interaction in order to keep up with the many changing mandates put upon our school district.

“Traveling all over the United States and many parts of the world with my work has let me see many diverse areas, and you realize the benefit of our West Branch community. [West Branch] always puts the children first and foremost ensuring that their educational needs are met, which is imperative that we continue this tradition.”

During his tenure on the board, Wallace highlighted having the community support the district in the early 2000s during the construction of the new middle school, Damascus Elementary and Knox Elementary and renovation of the high school. He also noted the board’s fiscal responsibility to the community, consistently educating students at a level significantly under the state and county average per student, a feat he called a tribute to the administration and staff since the district has been rated an Excellent or Excellent with Distinction by the state the last several years and received an “A” on the latest new State Report Card.

Additionally Wallace pointed out the implementation of the OIP (Ohio Improvement Process) in the district ove the past year that will help improve the quality of education to all student.

“The implementation of OIP will improve communication and procedures within our administration and staff that will allow West Branch to implement the new Common Core Standards and obtain the necessary Professional Development required for these new educational mandates,” he explained.

With 20 years experience on the school board, Wallace said he has a thorough knowledge of school finance and what it takes to responsibly manage the district’s money. He said he has educated himself of important legislation changes and educational issues by researching and attending professional development workshops to understand the changes and issues in order to be the most effective board member possible, similar to the way administrators and teachers are expected to improve through professional development in order to educate the students in the best possible way.

In the past two to three years, Wallace said he has received approximately 25 credit hours of training on topics such as Implementation of the New Common Core Standards, New Teacher Evaluations and Collaborating with Colleges on the Common Core. He also participates on many other committees within the district including the District Leadership Team (DLT), the Athletic Council, Buildings & Grounds Committee and Management Committee.

“In order to be an effective [board] member, you must make the effort to be as knowledgeable as you can and be active in the district,” he said “I make the effort to be the most effective [board] member I can be.”

Wallace, with his wife, taught CCD and was involved with the youth at St. Ann’s church for over 25 years. He was also a cubmaster for the Boy Scouts in the Knox area and assisted with the Girl Scouts, as well as coached many teams through the years. All of which he said has shown him the importance of parents and volunteers in the community.

“All of this interaction has given me a wonderful knowledge of the students in our district and has kept me focused on ensuring that they receive nothing less than the best,” he said.

Wallace lives with his wife, Amy, on Homeworth Road in Homeworth. They have four children who all graduated from West Branch.

– The Salem News did not receive a response from James J. Laut to its political questionnaire.