Three trying for Wolf Creek BOE
Three people are running for two seats on the Wolf Creek Local Board of Education.
Incumbents Joe Campbell and Roger Doak are each seeking a second term, while Waterford resident Cheryl McCutcheon is making her first run for public office.
Wolf Creek Local consistently has some of the highest state test scores in Washington County and topics that have generated the most discussion at recent board meetings have included the use of black in band and athletic team uniforms and how many free periods upperclassmen should have during the day.
However, the district is facing some uncertainty in the future as the fifth unit at AEP Ohio’s Muskingum River Power Plant is scheduled to shut down by the end of 2015. The district is anticipating losing half of the $1.2 million in taxes the unit generates in fiscal year 2016 and the full amount in fiscal 2017.
Campbell, 46, was appointed to the board in 2010 to fill the seat of a board member who died. A father of one Waterford High School graduate and another student attending the school, he works for the Muskingum River plant and on his family’s farm.
“I’m going to try and help with this transition … with the plant closing down and everything,” he said.
Campbell said that while operations at the plant will be ending and the company has announced it won’t refuel unit 5 with natural gas, there will still be some value in the property and a possibility it could be used again in the future.
“Who knows, with this oil and gas stuff coming in, maybe something else will come about,” he said. “All we know right now is we’re going to lose some of our tax revenue.”
While he doesn’t know the specifics of how the district will deal with that loss, Campbell said plans are already being formed. Rather than hire a long-term substitute to replace a custodian on medical leave, other employees are covering that person’s duties.
“You just have to look to see where you can combine some jobs and services,” Campbell said.
A levy would be “the last, the very, very last resort,” he said.
Campbell said he knows how to work as part of a team and believes the current board functions well. He wants to see Wolf Creek continue to expand dual enrollment options, which allow students to earn college credits while staying on campus and getting the full high school experience. It’s something that benefited his oldest son and the family as a whole.
“He went into college with … 16 or 18 credit hours, which really helped him out because he was a super freshman and helped us out” because there was less tuition to pay, Campbell said.
A retired Ohio Highway Patrol sergeant who works security and transportation for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Doak, 68, is completing his first term on the board.
“It’s just a real privilege to serve on the board for the Waterford schools,” he said.
Doak said he enjoys using and developing leadership and managerial skills while serving the community and feels he works well with others. He appreciates the exchange of ideas between members.
Wolf Creek’s teachers and administrators continue to make the district strong, Doak said.
“It’s being done in the midst of a very changing landscape in education,” he said.
That landscape is not only changing from a policy standpoint but also from a financial one. Wolf Creek’s funding remained flat under the new school-funding model adopted by the General Assembly.
“We’re just continually being challenged to do more with less,” Doak said.
That makes it hard to identify places to cut to deal with the loss of the AEP tax revenue, he said.
“We operate at a minimum in many areas and there are not a lot of (places) for cuts in the school system,” Doak said.
The board and administration will have to examine the pros and cons of potential money-saving strategies and decide the best way to proceed, Doak said. He’s hoping to see an increase in state aid or new sources of revenue and is not considering a levy right now.
“None of us have even begun to think about approaching the community for a levy,” he said.
While there may be aspects of state law regarding education that he disagrees with, Doak said he will follow that law.
“We can either fight against what has been mandated or try to implement what has been given to us,” he said.
McCutcheon, a 57-year-old office manager for her family’s construction business, said she wants to support the schools and bring a woman’s perspective to the all-male board.
“I’d just like to be in there as a mother, grandmother, woman,” she said.
McCutcheon said it might be easier for a female employee to approach a woman on the board with concerns, although she does not know of any problems employees have had with the current board. Her daughter is a teacher at Waterford High School and has had a positive experience.
“All in all, I think we have a great school system here. I just wanted to be a part of it,” she said.
McCutcheon said she would abstain from voting on any items that specifically pertained to her daughter.
McCutcheon said she needs to know more about how money is being spent in the district before she can suggest ways to deal with the loss in revenue from unit 5’s closure. A levy wouldn’t be her first choice.
“If that’s the only way to solve our problems, I believe that we should do that, but look into it very hard before we do it,” she said.
McCutcheon said she feels rules mandated by the state, particularly a focus on testing, are making it difficult for teachers to address all the areas that lead to a well-rounded education.
“I’d like to see the state not worry so much about standings as on the education our kids are getting,” she said.
Doing the bookwork for McCutcheon Brothers Construction and a previous family business, McCutcheon said she has experience working with finances. She’s also been active with the Beverly-Waterford Area Chamber of Commerce and local benefits.