Five candidates running for United BOE seats

HANOVERTON — United Local residents will have five choices for school board on the November ballot.

Voters will have to choose three from incumbents Wendy Doyle, Michael Phillis and RuthAnn Rinto and newcomers Gary Eichler Jr. and Denise Rhodes.


Wendy Doyle

A graduate of United High School, Doyle has been a board member the past four years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in K-8 education from Kent State University and completed graduate work at Ashland University, spending 24 years as a teacher at United.

She has been an educator since 1973, starting at Lisbon for 10 years before coming to United. Since 2002, she has been a state of Ohio Praxis Evaluator through 2010, served as supervisor of the Salem Community Center opening in 2005 and has supervised student teachers from Kent State University since 2010.

As a parent, teacher and school board member at United, Doyle said her experience in all facets provides a valuable tool to continue her service on the board.

“The knowledge of finances for schools, (serving as) board representative on the district Ohio Improvement Process, understanding the curriculum, the needs of our school facility, teachers, staff and of course the children, gives me priceless insight on how to work with the board and administrators,” she said. “I have a heart for United and like to give back to the main place in my life that has given me so much over the years.”

Doyle said she is seeking re-election because she believes the district is an excellent school system with a “top notch” staff and supportive parents, doing well in academic improvement; and she said she wants to be a part of the continued success.

“While keeping the children our number one priority, we need to update the campus and continue to support our staff with pertinent training. They deserve the best that we can give them,” she said. “I also hope to be a part of a new elementary building committee in the near future. Being the board appointed representative for the district Ohio Improvement Process I want to continue working with the staff to give the best education that we can and graduate all.”

As an incumbent, Doyle said the board’s main accomplishments in her time has been the hiring of five significant administrators and supervisors, a “very demanding, extensive and stressful” process, but one that requires the board set goals and follow them for a successful hire. She said the board has also supported the faculty and administration to keep up with current curriculum, notably the 1:1 initiative, literacy and math programs, college credit plus and advanced placement courses, working on the Ohio Improvement Process and upgrading professional development, as well as a long list of school programs and activities.

Doyle’s time on the board has also provided her an opportunity to upgrade the physical needs of the campus, she said.

The board during her tenure has added new security LED lighting, windows and a air conditioners to rooms without windows or ventilation, as well as continued repairs to an aging building, such as plumbing and heating problems that have plagued the district on a regular basis. She said the district’s Management Goals and Objectives have helped the board remain fiscally responsible while completing the repairs and negotiating fair contracts with the staff.

If re-elected, Doyle said she will keep in mind what is best for students when making decisions. Considering the aging building, she said she is looking for gas well taxes and pipeline monies to bring to life the dream of a new elementary and upgrade of the junior and senior high schools.

“We are being cut by state and federal funding, but there is a bright future for United Local,” she said. “Funding for Ohio schools seems very unfair and confusing. I would like to continue being in that future as we work together to secure the future for our children. I will work hard with the other board members to maintain a safe environment, continue to improve our curriculum and support plans for building possibilities.”

In addition to her service on the school board, Doyle is a member of Winona Friends Church where she is coordinator of the Senior Moments Cafe and a pre-school Sunday School teacher, member of the Winona Fire Department Auxiliary, Winona Area Historical Society, Guilford Lake Civic Association, OEA and NEA, Ohio School Board Association, Lydia Daughters of The King Missionary Society and United Schools band, choir and athletic boosters.

Doyle lives at Guilford Lake with her husband Daryl. They have two sons who both graduated from United.


Michael Phillis

A United High School graduate, Phillis has served on the board since 2005. He has been employed with Columbia Gas for 36 years, the past 21 at a service tech.

A lifelong resident of the district, Phillis said his previous experience on the board and cooperation with other board members makes him a good candidate to continue on the board because he knows where the district stands financially.

“I have served on the board of education for 12 years and am familiar with the budgeting process used at United Local,” he said. “In working together with other board members we have kept the buildings, activities and programs in place with proper budgeting through management goals and objectives. We have hired quality administrators and staff that continue to work together to serve the United students.

“With continued fiscal responsibilities and conservative actions, the board looks forward to future building projects.”

In addition to his service on the school board, Phillis is also a member of Phillips Christian Church where he is a Sunday School teacher, chairman of the board and trustee.

He lives with his wife of 35 years, Lynn, on Salem Grange Road. They have three children, Mitch, Megan and Mollie.


Denise Rhodes

A 1992 graduate of United High School, Rhodes currently serves on the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee and is the vice president of the Class of 2019 Parent Committee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management from the University of Mount Union and has continued education for a teaching license at the university. She has worked in sales at Coastal Pet Products, the Canton Repository and The Farm and Dairy since 1996 and has also been a substitute K-12 teacher since 2012.

As a mother and working member of the United community, Rhodes said she has an objective opinion of the diversity of the community.

“It is important for someone serving on the board to understand and realize the many group dynamics that make up our amazing district,” she said. “We have many socioeconomic and educational backgrounds and need to use those to our best ability to provide for everyone.”

As a United alumnus, Rhodes said she wants the integrity and success of United local to continue for many generations.

“I bring to the table some new ideas for our children our school and our community,” she said. “We are United and we need to strive for unity from both the teachers, staff and various employees at United to come together and provide the best learning environment for our children.

“I am an energetic enthusiastic working mom with fresh new ideas to help improve our district and the education of our future children. We have been a district with a rating of Excellence for many years and I want to strive to see that continue for many more families in the coming years.”

Rhodes lives with her husband of 20 years, Jason, on Butler Grange Road. They have four children, Nicholas, 16; Landon, 14; Brock, 13; and Rachel Anne, 11.


RuthAnn Rinto

A former elementary and high school principal, as well as superintendent in the United school district, Rinto has served on the school board the past four years. She has worked in education since 1970, beginning as a special education teacher with Minerva Local Schools before coming to United as elementary principal in 1990. She served as superintendent from 2009 through 2012. Since then she has served as field placement supervisor for the University of Mount Union (2012-2014), field placement/intern coordinator for the University of Mount Union (2014-present) and fitness and spinning instructor at the Salem Community Center (2002-present).

A graduate of Shaker Heights High School, Rinto earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in marketing education from Bowling Green State University and a permanent teaching license in special education and elementary principal. She holds an honorary degree from United High School.

As a former teacher, principal and superintendent, as well as her experience working and teaching at Mount Union, Rinto said she has gained the “in-depth knowledge and understanding of all the parts and processes of the educational system. These include knowing the financial, legal, curriculum, human resources and negotiations systems. All those career opportunities have also given me strong leadership skills. I have the time and the interest to attend meetings and school activities and to be a responsible board member.”

Given her specific skills developed over a lifetime of education, Rinto said she is able to use her skills to give back to the United community.

“I enjoy helping to keep United a dynamic and caring school district that successfully prepares our students for their future,” she said.

As an incumbent, Rinto said no accomplishment is ever done alone. During her time on the board, she said she has helped keep the district financially strong using the annual Management Goals and Objectives and bringing in the Nutrition Inc to manage the cafeterias, while putting Chromebooks in the hands of students and buying new buses to keep students safe.

She also noted the board has hired a a new superintendent, a new treasurer, a new transportation/bus mechanic, a new special education director and a new athletic director, as well as dedicated teachers, aides, cooks, bus drivers, and custodians: who all work to give all our students every educational opportunity that we can,” while she has been on the board.

Additionally, the board during her time has kept the aging K-12 campus functional.

“We keep it clean, painted and mowed and trimmed. But it is aging. The oldest part was built in 1951, the newest, the kindergarten wing, built in 2004,” she explained. “I believe, eventually, with the possibility of pipeline money and gas well tax revenue, we will build or refurbish our building at no cost to the taxpayers in our district. But in the meantime, we have to decide what to replace, repair or what to postpone and at what cost.

“Our custodians repair our boilers and heating pipes and we hope the 1973 elementary boiler will keep working. After the recent gas leak, we have to replace the 1970s gas pipelines right now. We’ve replaced all of the elementary windows because they were dangerous and broken. Those were priorities.

“We have no air conditioning in the classrooms, our tennis courts need to be completely replaced and as I run on the track in the mornings, I see a patched and shredding surface. These are items that will have to wait.”

Rinto said she has been a proud part the United community for many years and wants to continue to be a part of its future.

“I understand the dynamics of teamwork and how to work as part of a team to benefit our students,” she said. “I understand school finance and school procedures. I am always willing to take the time to listen to concerns and thoughts. I am not afraid to make decisions that are in the best interests of United Local and our students.”

Beyond her responsibilities on the school board, Rinto is also the secretary of the United Community Scholarship Foundation, United Wall of Fame Committee, United Athletic Booster Club and Winona Area Historical Society and serves on the Salem Regional Medical Center board of directors.

A widower, she lives at Weathervane Farm on Whinnery Road. Two of her five children graduated from United.

– The Salem News did not receive a response to an election questionnaire from Gary Eichler Jr.