Greater academic emphasis needed in Struthers schools

Whoever sits on the Struthers School Board has their work cut out for them. On last year's state school report card, the Struthers School DIstrict met only 16 of 25 standards, placing it fifth from the bottom among Mahoning County's 14 school districts. Especially considering the dismal performance of all four elementary schools on the state's proficiency tests, parents should be demanding accountability from the school superintendent, their children's building principal and, most of all, the members of the school board.
Six Struthers residents, two of whom are incumbents, are running for the three seats on the November ballot. Board member Ron Carcelli is not seeking re-election.
Edwards: Joseph Edwards, the current chairman of the board and the interim dean of YSU's Beeghly College of Education, has first-hand knowledge of the issues facing education today. He advocates stronger professional development for teachers with mandated days for them to learn practical and meaningful ways to improve their teaching methods and which they can bring to the faculty collectively. Struthers spends $34 per pupil on teacher training, while the state average is $148 per pupil.
Polis: Eleanor "Lee" Polis has served on the board since 1998 and as chairperson of the board of education Building and Grounds Subcommittee has been actively involved in developing athletic facilities to complement the new and renovated schools that were funded from the passage of a bond issue. Her concern for adequate sports facilities notwithstanding, she believes strongly that extracurricular activities are a privilege to be enjoyed by students who maintain a 2.0 grade point average. The board recently lowered it 1.0.
Becker-Hagendorn: Of the four challengers, The Vindicator believes that Kandace Becker-Hagendorn offers the most to Struthers voters. When a candidate emphasizes that "the bottom line is what's best for kids," and has served as vice president of the PTA at her children's' school, as secretary of the Struthers City Schools Council and on the committee to pass the bond issue, residents can be assured of her commitment to the educational progress of Struthers children.
For Matthew M. Rhoads, controller of Roth Bros. Inc., his first priority is "ensuring the financial responsibility of the school system to the voters." With an M.B.A. from Youngstown State, there is no doubt of his financial expertise. However, he admitted unfamiliarity with the district's budget and the millage homeowners pay toward schools.
This newspaper is on record opposing nepotism in government. Thus, we cannot support the candidacies of Linda Thomas, whose husband is a Struthers elementary school principal, or Anthony M. Gentile Sr., the brother of school board member Lee Polis.
Struthers voters have three good choices in Edwards, Mrs. Polis and Mrs. Becker-Hagendorn.