Two Xenia board of education seats to be filled in election


XENIA — Two current board members and three new candidates are looking to fill two open seats on the Xenia Community School District Board of Education.

Incumbents Tamara Bartley and Joshua Smith (who was appointed to a vacancy) are on the ballot along with Bill Richey, Zavaan Johnson and Jeremy Cox.

Bartley is seeking re-election to — in part — address growing safety concerns and funding issues.

“We’ve updated a lot of facilities and done upgrades to our auditorium,” she said. “I just want to continue to make sure the teachers are given what they need to get the job done.”

Bartley said she recognizes the funding problem at Xenia Schools and hopes to get it under control. Bartley also pointed out the inconsistency with funding they receive, which can make it difficult on the board and for teachers and students.

“Everything we do is based on money and it varies based on so many different factors,” she said.

Although the inconsistency leaves a lot of uncertainty for any school board member, Bartley said she wants to continue working with the Xenia community to tackle the upcoming issues.

“I want to continue to be a part of the great things that have been going on in Xenia Community Schools,” said Bartley. “I’m just looking to improve things where needed, and be a part of growth within the district.”

Smith is seeking re-election after being appointed to finish the unexpired term of former board member Pam Callahan.

“I’m very passionate about the students, seeing them grow into leaders that I know they can become,” said Smith. “I’m trying everything I can to help the community.”

Smith said he is “very supportive” of the JROTC group in Xenia, and hopes to see that expand and grow further. He also said thanks to a levy passed recently, Xenia Schools are set up well for future success.

Some concerns, for Smith, are in regards to making sure the current curriculum is best for student education. Smith said he worries about the 2.5-star rating and wants to “keep reviewing the curriculum to make sure what we’re teaching is correct for our students.”

Smith also shared some concerns with transgender bathroom use and Critical Race Theory being taught in schools. He claimed these issues will be “coming to Xenia soon,” and said he opposes transgender athletes in women’s sports.

“Being on the board has helped me a lot, I hit the ground running,” said Smith. “The main thing going forward is just making sure the curriculum is best for the students.”

Richey attended Xenia schools and worked as a teacher for years.

“After being in the classroom and seeing positive and negative decisions that have been made by people that affect teachers and students, we’re pretty invested in the community,” said Richey. “I feel like being in the classroom for years, I can hopefully make good decisions that support quality teaching and a quality education.”

Pressing issues Richey wants to address include budget transparency and school safety. Currently, for five of the schools in the Xenia school district, there are only three resource officers split among them. According to Richey, the board should bring that number up to at least five, one full-time officer for each school.

“The budget in Xenia isn’t transparent to the taxpayers and the community,” he said. “I would like to make sure we have a transparent budget in Xenia.”

Richey also said that from experience as a Xenia teacher, the salary is far from desirable.

“I want to make sure we have a competitive teacher pay to attract the highest quality teachers in Xenia, because that’s a big problem,” he said. “Teachers are getting out of the profession, and we’re not really retaining them.”

Johnson taught in the school district for more than 30 years in the music department.

Johnson said he wants to address the 2.5 out of five-star rating Xenia schools received and find a way to bring that number up. The rating came from the Ohio Department of Education in September, and for Johnson, it shows a clear need for Xenia schools to improve in many areas.

“I’m hoping to restore a little bit of balance,” he said. “I want to bring someone in to establish best practices so we can pull ourselves up.”

As a music teacher, he also expressed interest in improving the fine arts and music program for students.

“I’d like to see our fine arts program and our music program become stronger,” said Johnson. “Better preparing our kids for their subject matter.”

Johnson also said there seems to be a bullying problem at Xenia schools, and while there are rules in place to punish bullies, Johnson is worried they’re not being enforced properly or fairly.

“There needs to be some definitive step taken so kids understand there’s a certain way they’re supposed to treat their fellow students and teachers,” he said.

Cox is running as a candidate with an “outside perspective.”

“I believe I can contribute to making an improvement,” said Cox. “I’ve been knocking on doors of teachers and administrators to get their perspective.”

Cox said he spoke with Superintendent Dr. Gabe Lofton about what he sees as Xenia School’s biggest problem, from which he outlined school funding and building maintenance. Cox added the 2.5 star performance as a third issue he wants to address.

Cox is a combat veteran currently employed at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and a Greene County resident for years where he said he is heavily involved in several local organizations.

Like with some other candidates, bullying is another point of contention for Cox, who said there should be some changes to how rules are enforced against students who use self-defense.

“Right now the Xenia School Board bylaws has a zero-tolerance policy,” he said. “But I believe the defending student should not be punished, I would be a friend of self-defense.”

As the only candidate who has not served on the school board or in local politics before, Cox said he wants to bring a new perspective to the board and give residents “an opportunity for representation.”

Contact Ethan Charles at 937-502-4532.

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