Lakota school board candidates to take community questions at open forum

WEST CHESTER, Ohio -- Candidates for next year’s Lakota Local School District Board of Education will take questions from the community Wednesday evening at an open forum in Liberty Township, sponsored by the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance. 

It’s the community’s second chance in three weeks to meet the four school board candidates -- the first event hosted by the Lakota School District Parent Council at the end of September.

“In a local election, it’s not feasible to see the candidates on TV or anything so the community really needs a chance to see and hear from all the candidates in one place,” said Randy Oppenheimer, Lakota Local School District spokesperson. “These forums are the best way to do that.”

This year, four people are gunning for three open positions on the five-member board, and each position is a four-year term.

Seats currently held by Ben Dribble, Ray Murray and school board president Joan Powell are up for grabs this November, but board members Lynda O’Conner and Julie Shaffer still have more than two years left on their terms.

Powell, who has served on the Lakota board for 16 years, announced earlier this year that she would not seek reelection, but Dribble and Murray are fighting to retain their current seats. 

They’re competing against two new faces for the coveted spots: DaMonte Cole and Todd Parnell.

The election comes at an important time for the second largest school district in the Tri-State, who’s also trying to pass a 5.5 mill combination levy this November after failing three times before.

It’s got taxpayers plugged into to the fate of the school district and its impact on the local community once residents hit the polls.

“The Lakota School District has a budget of $150 million supported by taxpayers, and these are the five individuals that set and direct school policy. They are very important,” said Oppenheimer.

The candidates are expected to deliver brief remarks Wednesday at the Lakota Central Office, before taking questions from the audience.

Election day is Nov. 5, and the new school board will convene in January 2014.

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