Three running for school board|Linder says lack of communication is biggest problem with current board

Norwalk resident Steve Linder said he will focus on teamwork, accountability, integrity and open communication if he wins a seat on the Norwalk Board of Education. Linder has attended board meetings over the last four years, and he said he thinks the board has a problem in communicating with the public. "There's a pile of miscommunication in the administration end of things,' he said.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

Norwalk resident Steve Linder said he will focus on teamwork, accountability, integrity and open communication if he wins a seat on the Norwalk Board of Education.

Linder has attended board meetings over the last four years, and he said he thinks the board has a problem in communicating with the public. “There’s a pile of miscommunication in the administration end of things,” he said.

Linder also said he believes a 100 percent graduation rate is possible for the district. “The graduation rate has got to get better,” he said. “The parents think their kids are doing OK and then they find out their kid isn’t ready to graduate. There’s some kind of miscommunication.

“What can we do to help your child out?” Linder asked. “Someone has to see before it’s too late that a kid is in trouble.”

The graduation rate for the state of Ohio is 76 percent. Norwalk High’s graduation rate for 2006-07 was 83 percent.

Linder, bridge superintendent for Kokosing Co., is a Norwalk High graduate. His two children, Michael and Melissa, are also graduates of the district. Linder’s wife, Sharon, is a secretary at Main Street School.

Linder would also like to see more public participation in school board meetings. Current, policy limits public participation to three minutes per person.

Linder said he has seen residents come before the board and he thinks that the board did not pay enough attention to residents’ concerns.

“I want the voice of the people to be heard,” he said. “You’ve got to have open ears and eyes. I think you owe it to the people who voted you in there to listen to them.”

It should not be just a formality for the board to listen to residents, Linder said. He added that board member must pay more attention to constituents’ concerns.

Another issue Linder would like to address is school safety. He said he believes the schools should focus on drills so that every staff member knows how to protect students in case of an emergency.

Linder also would like for the board to re-consider drug testing as a way to keep drugs out of the schools. “That’s safety for the children,” Linder said. “I’ve seen them throw money away in a lot of other ways.”

Linder said he hopes to bring a common-sense approach to problems faced by the school board.

Linder has been endorsed by three groups — Ohio School Employees Local 269, the North Central Labor Council and the Labor Union 480. He said his door-to-door campaign has been very positive.

Steve Linder

Age: 46

Family: Wife Sharon; children Michael, 22; and Melissa, 20

Address: 291 Zenobia Rd.

Occupation: Superintendent, bridge division, of Kokosing Co., Inc.

Education: 1979 graduate of Norwalk High School and EHOVE

Previous Public Service: none

Why did you decide to run: I believe in teamwork, accountability, honesty, integrity and open communication. I want to be a part of the team that makes ours the “model” school district in Ohio. I recently attended an Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) school board candidate workshop. During the three-hour session, I learned about the fundamentals of being an effective school board member. Some of the topics covered in the workshop included boardmanship and ethics, campaigning procedures, education issues, and school board policy-making. I am taking the prospect of becoming a school board member very seriously.

What do you see as the top three concerns facing your constituents:

I had a two-hour meeting with school treasurer Kenn France and Norwalk City Schools are currently on solid ground financially, but we will have to continue to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.

 Our goal is always to prepare our students for the challenges of tomorrow. A 100% graduation rate is a must. With the assistance of parents, this can be achieved.

 In recent years there have been many shootings in schools. Unfortunately, this has occurred again just a couple of weeks ago in Cleveland. In light of this, the safety of our children must be a priority.