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Frontier candidates say they’re ready for a challenge

October 24, 2011
By Sam Shawver - The Marietta Times ( , The Marietta Times

The four candidates vying for two open seats on the Frontier Local School District Board of Education say they're ready to meet the challenges the newly-elected board members will face going into 2012 which will likely include a decision on the fate of Lawrence Elementary School.

The current school board announced last month that it would be up to the new board to decide whether Lawrence should be closed to save money for the district which is facing the loss of federal and state funding as well as declining enrollment.

Justin Hoff

Incumbent Justin Hoff was appointed to the board in April to finish out the term of Mike Rinard, who resigned in March after getting a job outside the district.

"I'm running to make sure my kids have a quality education and a share in the longevity of the Frontier school district," Hoff said.

"We also need to get some things back in our educational programs that we've had to cut in the past," he added. "We're at a bare minimum now-there's been no gym, music or art for a few years now for our elementary students. I think that's something they need."

Fact Box

About the candidates

Justin Hoff

  • Age: 32

Residence: Newport

Family: Wife Brandi, daughter Tysie, 4, and sons Breckin, 9, and Kason, 2

Occupation: Constellium Aluminum Ravenswood, W.Va.

Previous elected office: Appointed to current board seat in April

Ricky Kroll Jr.

  • Age: 30

Residence: New Matamoras

Family: Wife Jeni, daughter Rachael, 20 months

Occupation: Self-employed in gas and oil industry

Previous elected office: No

Jennifer Ramsey

  • Age: 36

Residence: Newport

Family: Husband Tom, daughters Jenna Maston, 14, and Kara Ramsey, 7

Occupation: Asset planner for Momentive in Friendly, W.Va.

Previous elected office: No

Ronald Warren

  • Age, 49

Residence: Dart

Family: Wife Cheryl, son Joey, 19, and daughters Jami, 29, and Christina, 27

Occupation: Shop foreman at Polar Service Center

Previous elected office: No

Hoff said the school system has many other needs, too, "but it's a question of money. If the 5-year forecast the treasurer has given us is accurate, we'll be in the red in a few years."

As for a decision on the proposed closure of Lawrence Elementary, "Everything's being put on hold until the new board takes office next year, so there's going to be some big decisions to make right away."

He said more revenue will be needed to make positive changes for the school system.

"I want to see some changes made, but we first have to find some viable financial resources and spend them wisely toward the education of our kids," Hoff said.

Ricky Kroll Jr.

Candidate Ricky Kroll Jr. said he's running for a board seat because he believes each of the district's three schools should be considered on an individual basis.

"Frontier district has three schools, and each one has its own community," he said. "You have to listen to all of the people in those communities before making decisions that will affect them.

"A lot of fear is being generated about adding levies or closing schools," Kroll said. "Many people can't understand why they want to close a school. Lawrence is an older school, but it's been renovated and is cheaper to run than the newer schools. And even though it's more of a farm area, everyone in that community pays their share of taxes."

Kroll said he's an independent thinker who tries to look at all sides of an issue.

"I want to take a closer look at what needs to be done," he said. "I think people respect you for doing your own research to show whether something the board does is a necessity, and if it is, to give them an explanation."

The board will face some challenges, Kroll said, "but the biggest thing to consider is our kids getting a good education.

"As a board member you're not going to please everybody. But you just have to work with what we have and do what's best for the district," he said.

Jennifer Ramsey

Jennifer Ramsey said she felt the time was right to get into the school board race.

"I've wanted to serve on the school board for the last six or seven years-my dad, Rusty Morris, was on the board for years, so I know what it takes," she said. "I have just put it off, but now there's some tough decisions to be made, and I want the board to make the right decisions to do what's right for the district.

"In this world and this economy, when we're considering closing a school, that's sad," Ramsey said. "But we also can't let the school system go broke. We've already given up a lot and have cut operations to a bare minimum.

"Our elementary students have no art or music classes, and we're using older books," she said. "My daughter's algebra book is 10 years old. But we have to prepare these kids for the future."

Ramsey said the school district has preserved sports programs, but not all students are interested in sports, that's why programs like art and music are important.

"We need to free up the money so we can offer those programs again," she said.

Discipline is also a concern for Ramsey.

"I've noticed there are some discipline problems at the high school level," she said. "Students should respect others. You have to maintain some kind of discipline."

Ramsey said she's outspoken, but also has the ability to see the big picture when it comes to school issues.

"People often have a problem seeing past the obstacles that lie ahead," she said. "And I love people and kids, and I love the Frontier district. We just need to think and act like a solid school district.

"It won't be easy, but I'm excited and optimistic about what we can do by working together," Ramsey added.

Donald Warren

Ronald Warren hopes his experience as fire chief of the Little Muskingum Volunteer Fire Department will be helpful to the school board.

"I had been thinking about running for the board, and then some people asked me to run," he said. "And I've had some experience working with government agencies to help fund the fire department's needs.

"I do think we need some representation from the Lawrence Township community on the board," Warren said. "But the next four-year term will be a challenge for whoever is elected."

He said the members have to begin working together and focus on what he considers the board's main priority-educating students and preparing them for college.

"My feeling is the kids are often not being considered. We need to get back to those basics," Warren said. "Of course how much we can do will depend a lot on state and federal allocations and whether we can keep that up."

He noted the government-owned Wayne National Forest is one funding problem because it covers such a large portion of the Frontier district but doesn't generate any tax revenues for the area.

Warren said the Frontier Local School District represents a small population that's spread over a large rural area, but that shouldn't affect the opportunity for a quality education



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