5 candidates for the Howland school board | News, Sports, Jobs


HOWLAND – Five candidates are seeking three seats on the Howland Education Council.

Holders Julie Altawil and Kenneth Jones are challenged by Mary Brown, Lynn Johnson VanDervort and Wendy Miller.

Member Brian Burkey is stepping down from the board and running as Township Trustee.


Altawil, 45, who has served on the board since 2017, said she believed “The school board is the eyes and ears of any community” as well as the liaison between the community and the school district administration.

“Over the past four years, I think I have made it clear that I am first and foremost an advocate for all children. I made it my priority to seek and continuously educate myself in all the capacities that would allow me to serve this community with knowledge, critical thinking, practicality, fairness and compassion ”, she said.

Altawil said she will focus on being a good steward of the district’s finances while researching and coming up with various solutions to problems and concerns faced by the school district.

“Thinking strategically, using analytical skills and creative problem solving will remain at the top of my list of strengths as a board member.” she said.

Altawil said she will focus on communication and transparency within the district and that it is imperative that an education council member be present at all levels when committing to serve their school and his community.

She said that even during the pandemic, she will support and be present at many community and school events, as well as managing her social media page.

Altawil said she will continue to be an active member of the Ohio School Boards Association. She said it was imperative to prioritize working with the administration in order to continue making improvements in the district.


Brown, who grew up in Howland, said that because she is retired she will be able to focus and devote time as a member of the board.

“I want to give back to the community. I have been in the community for some time. I will work as a team member on the board of directors. Being the best team member I can be and working with the other board members and school administration is so important ”, Brown said.

She said her management training in nursing home administration, healthcare, as a project manager at Ashtabula and as a substitute teacher brought her experience and knowledge to the service. the public and schools.

“Because I am retired, I will be available full time and I can get involved in the needs of the schools” Brown said.

Brown said she wanted to work for children and make sure special learning programs were made available to students.

“It’s so important to be an advocate for students. Anyone in public office in schools should listen to parents’ concerns and focus on resolving them ”, she said.


Jones, 53, a current board member from 2011 to present, said one of his goals is to provide “An excellent education” for all students. He said providing education for a diverse group of students will always be a challenge. He said that during his tenure on the board, schools now offer all-day kindergartens and specific buildings each year.

“By changing our grading system, the number of students in AP and specialty classes has doubled, placing Howland in the Top 100 of university school districts in the state. The next step is to fully implement a STEM program and a robotics program at the secondary level ”, Jones said.

Jones said he will focus on running a financially responsible school district while exploring other sources of income. He said schools have received support from voters who have passed a tax.

The schools have created the PAWS program which gives the community the opportunity to donate to projects at the school. Through programs like this, Howland has built a sports field for the whole community to use. The district also added video panels in the field and in the gymnasium, all of which were funded by marketing funds. In addition, these signs provide an alternative source of income with advertisements. More recently, the PAWS program is building new tennis courts.

Jones said he would focus on expanding the educational process, noting that during tough economic times Howland Schools realigned elementary schools, joined Trumbull Career and Technical Center, and added full-time kindergarten. . Schools became fully inclusive for students with special needs and expanded resource rooms in high school. This year, Howland opened his own preschool program in Howland Springs.

Jones said a goal is to continue updating the five-year plan with input from administration, staff and community members.

He said he and his wife co-founded and led the Down Syndrome Association of the Valley, which Jones says gives him a unique insight into raising children of all abilities.


Miller, 53, said his overall goal was to put students first.

She said her top three priorities are strengthening partnerships between the school district and the community, maintaining equitable education in a safe environment for all students attending Howland, and monitoring district tax policies with the aim of maintain the level of excellence in education.

Miller said she was in favor of partnerships between district employees, board members, parents, local government, private companies and other stakeholders, including fundraising, participation from parents to their child’s education and strengthening of relationships with local officials.

It strives to maintain equal access for students of all income. Miller said examples include accessing the internet at home, making sure students are safe in the classroom, highlighting alternatives to traditional college classes, and offering nutritional assistance where needed.

Miller said she would take a proactive approach to securing and maintaining the funds. Develop expertise in public school funding, including reading and analyzing forecasts.


VanDervort, 47, a pediatrician who was educated at the University of Cincinnati and Albion College, said she would focus on priorities such as keeping children safe in schools during the pandemic while maintaining quality education.

“As a pediatrician in our community, I believe I have a unique perspective in ensuring the safety and health of our students in all areas,” she said.

VanDervort said it is important to increase the resources allocated to students to help cope with the mental health crisis that has intensified since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

VanDervort said she would also address increasing open lines of communication between the administration and parents.

She has been active with schools, serving as a coach for the Destination Imagination teams in which she and other children participate.

VanDervort grew up in the Mahoning Valley and has lived in Howland for 18 years, and said she has three children in schools in Howland.

“As my own children enrolled in Howland Schools, I became familiar with each school building, teachers and administration. My success as a business owner shows that I can be trusted to make sound financial decisions for Howland Schools. My passion for the health of all children extends to all students ”, she said.

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