Covington School Board: Two Seats, Three Candidates
There will be at least one new member of the Covington board of education.
Two of the board's five seats are on the ballot Tuesday, and only incumbent Jerry Avery is running for re-election. Julie Geisen Scheper, first appointed to the board in 2013, and then elected to a full term in 2014, is not running again.
Avery, who is seeking his third term, is up against challengers Eric Sherwood and Sarah Flerlage.
Avery was born in Covington, moved away for a while, and returned in 1970.
He said the district has become more student-oriented over the past decade, and believes that the board has worked to approve an agenda that is in the best interest of the students.
Avery told The River City News that he is happy and satisfied with the vision the district has, and likes where the schools are headed.
He argued that the district will be more successful when the board, parents, teachers, and the community work together. It's more than the school board, he said.
A goal, if re-elected, Avery said, is to see Covington named the best school district in the nation. He said that the district has impressive schools and students, though the district faces a variety of challenges - but none that cannot be overcome.
He personally mentors two middle school students.
"Children have to believe that you care," Avery said. "If you ever expect them to move forward, they need to know you care about them. Believe me, they know when you don't. You have to feel and understand what is going on in their lives. Helping them grow will not only affect their future, but it will affect the future of the community and the world."
Eric Sherwood is a native of Nashville and moved to Covington six years ago.
He is running for a seat on the school board as an interested parent. He has two children who would start school over the next four years, and he wants to work to build a district that fosters a love of learning, and stimulates student creativity.
"We need to ensure that we are hiring and retaining the top teachers in our region," Sherwood said. "That can be achieved by offering competitive salary packages, continuing education incentives, and ensuring that the schools are abiding by contractual obligations. We also need to work hard to develop a strong culture of parent/ student engagement with the administration. I would love to see an expansion of both STEM initiatives and art programs to develop students who can engage a multifaceted global future."
Sherwood said that the future of Covington Schools is bright and that the children are more than the future - they are also the "now". He argued that Covington students can compete and succeed alongside the best in the country, if given proper support.
Sarah Flerlage is from the northern Cincinnati suburbs but moved to Covington ten years ago after getting married.
She said that she's not a politician, but a concerned mother who wants to see change in the school district.
The schools need a new direction and innovation, she said, adding that district administrators need to be humble and admit what isn't working.
"We need to remember to be student-focused," Flerlage said. "It is easy to wrap ourselves up in test scores, but we need to remember that we are bringing up the next generation of citizens. We also need to take better care of our teachers. They are entrusted with our most precious everyday. They carry the responsibility of being our children's caregiver, nurse, nutritionist, counselor, and friend. They love them as their own. We need to be sure they are heard, respected, trusted, and compensated."
Flerlage hopes to see more mentoring of Covington students and more support for the Family Resource Center, and salary increases for faculty and staff.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor