Five candidates, including one incumbent, are vying for two seats on the Newbury Board of Education as the district prepares to become part of the West Geauga Local School District for the 2020-2021 academic year.

In the race, two-term board member Martin Sanders,48, is joined by political newcomers Terri Rice, 52, Jessica Alldredge, 41, and David Novak, 36, a write-in candidate, as well as David Lair, 68, who has served in township and county government.

All candidates, except for Mr. Novak, have cited the need to ensure a smooth transition as students move from one school to another as their top priority. Mr. Novak said he would like to build the enrollment of the school before the transfer takes place.

Mr. Sanders, seeking his third term on the board, said the top priority will be to ensure the students’ well being as they make the transition. He said he has been as close to the students of the district as any teacher or administrator, spending much of his free time within the school.

He said he will focus on making sure programs that are implemented in the district’s final year provide a welcoming atmosphere in their new school. “I will put programs in place to make sure they fit in,” Mr. Sanders said. “I want to be there for the kids.”

Mr. Lair, who has served as Newbury Township’s clerk (now known as fiscal officer) and as Geauga County Administrator, said with the failure of the petition drive in the community that would have challenged the territory transfer of the Newbury Local School District to West Geauga has come to focus on ensuring a smooth transition. He said he believes the territory transfer to West Geauga is a “good deal” for students in both districts.

“I want to make sure the 250 kids get as much assistance as they can in the transition,” he said.

He said he also would like to offer assistance to the school’s staff that now may be in need of finding a job. “The school ought to work very aggressively to find a place if they wish to continue in their field,” he said.

One of the first issues he said he would like to address with West Geauga officials is what will become of the school property.

Like Mr. Sanders and Mr. Lair, Mrs. Rice said she also believes making the transition as painless as possible for students will be the top priority.

“I’m interested in the welfare for the children in Newbury for a smooth transition.” A smooth transition can be accomplished, she said, by planning for the move in a positive way by engaging the students, parents and community in public forums. She said that will also require working with the two school administrators to ensure programs are in place so children are welcomed in their new school.

Mrs. Alldredge said that smooth transition involves bringing a divided community together to accept the school’s fate. “This division, anger and hate has to go away,” Mrs. Alldredge said. She said that will entail working with township officials to host community events that bring people together and hopefully work together for the benefit of the students. “A lot of us don’t like change,” she said. “But we have to be grown up and deal with it.”

She said she hopes to restore trust in the school board, which she said recently lost the trust of the public because of a lack of transparency. She said the prior board rushed the process that resulted in procedural errors in finalizing the territory transfer to West Geauga schools. Mrs. Alldredge was involved in the failed referendum petition attempt.

Instead of focusing on the transfer to West Geauga, Mr. Novak said he would focus on building the district’s enrollment before the transfer occurs. He said there are approximately 900 children within the Newbury District that might be enticed to return. He said 200 alone transferred out of the district in the past year and they are among those he would like to return.

He said bringing the numbers up to 400 or 500, as opposed to the 250 now, would put the district on better financial grounding. “I would focus on improving the program to entice more students to come,” Mr. Novak said.

Mr. Lair has spent 50 years living in Newbury. He and his wife, Yolanda, have been married 48 years and have three children, all of whom attended Newbury Schools.

Mrs. Rice has lived in Newbury for 12 years. She and her husband, Don, have two children.

Mr. Sanders has lived in Newbury for 26 years. He and his wife, Jocelyn, have two boys.

Mrs. Alldredge has lived in Newbury seven years. She and her husband, Tim, have three daughters, two still enrolled in the school and one that graduated.

Mr Novak has lived in Newbury more than 20 years. He and his wife, Amanda, have a son and a daughter.

Mr. Novak is self-employed as owner of SkinTone Picks, which manufactures leather picks. He previously worked in the healthcare profession and received a Bachelor of Science degree in long-term care administration from Kent State University.

Mrs. Alldredge is self-employed as an independent sales representative for laboratory services that specializes in drug screening. She previously worked as an office manager and is a graduate of Mentor High School.

Mr. Sanders is self-employed as owner of Renaissance Restoration LPD, a construction firm. He is a graduate of Chagrin Falls High School and has attended eight years of schooling at Kent State University.

Mrs. Rice serves as executive administrator for the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. She previously worked for a financial firm, selling annuities.

Mr. Lair has worked for more than 30 years in the private sector for local companies such as Kinetico and Manfredi Motors. He served six terms as township clerk and served as the county administrator from January 1988 through January 2019.

Mr. Lair is a member of the American Legion in Newbury and spent a brief time on the township’s recreation board, coaching baseball.

Mrs. Rice is a volunteer with Refugee Response and is a member of Morning Star Friends Church in Munson Township. She and her husband are also foster parents to two children.

Mr. Sanders served as a member of the Newbury Joint Recreation Board for 13 years, He also served as volunteer wrestling coach for Newbury’s High School and Middle School. His family and business donated a chapel to Santa’s Hideaway, which provides ill children a chance to have a merry Christmas.

Mrs. Alldredge has served as a volunteer with Newbury schools.

Joseph Koziol Jr. started his career in journalism in 1981. He joined the Solon Times in 1992 and covered the city of Solon for 10 years. An award winning reporter, Mr. Koziol has been covering Geauga County since 2012.

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