DPS candidates address the issues at forum less than a month from the election

DPS candidates address the issues at forum less than a month from the election (WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - With elections 20 days away, the eight candidates running for Dayton School Board had another opportunity to narrow down votes before families head to the polls.

A live 2-hour forum was held Wednesday night at Ponitz Career Technology Center. Rev. William Harris Jr. laid the issues out bluntly.

“First of all, we have to recognize that Dayton Schools is in trouble,” Harris said.

The state recently revealed failing scores across the district, as candidates focused on making the most of limited resources in a district overwhelmed with poverty.

Karen Wick-Gagnet and Paul Bradley shared similar solutions.

“We need to address the emotional conditions that are affecting the ability to perform academically,” Wick-Gagnet said.

“Understanding that our students face challenges that students in Oakwood and at Kettering don't face,” Bradley added.

Attorney Mohamed Al-Hamdani switched gears, wanting to crack down on charter schools.

“No matter how much we spend on kids in an urban environment, we’re not going to be able to close that gap,” he said, adding that turning failing charter schools into public schools could free up much needed resources.

Joe Lacey, the only incumbent, spoke about the need for wrap-around services, relying on what’s been proven effective during his more than decade-long career.

“What works is the amount of classroom instruction,” he said. “That’s why I fought for summer and after school programs.”

Every candidate expressed concern about ways to keep kids graduation. That issue linked to teachers, faculty and staff, for insider Jo’el Jones.

“It should be the job of the board and administration to put forth policies to support teacher driven ideas,” said Jones.

But many, like former board member Ann Marie Gallin, questioned current leadership.

“The behavior of the board, and the interaction between themselves, has really dismayed a lot of people,” she said.

In the city asking for change, these candidates are trying to set themselves apart in a crowded race. Jocelyn Rhynard is pushing her personal experience.

“I know one thing I have sitting amongst this group of people that they don’t have,” Rhynard said. “I have four kids in Dayton Public Schools right now.”

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