The Akron Board of Education has navigated well an occasionally bumpy transition from older to newer members in recent years. Now its composition has begun to stabilize, members gaining knowledge and experience, the board becoming a stronger unit. In this election season, three incumbents are seeking new four-year terms, giving voters an opportunity to sustain the helpful continuity and put the city schools in better position to address their many challenges.
We recommend the re-election of the Rev. Curtis T. Walker, Patrick Bravo and Tim Miller on Nov. 3.
Walker has served on the board for the past 16 years, and now is seeking a fifth term. He brings an indispensable element of institutional memory, contributing to the mentoring role he has played for new members, an extension, in some ways, of his work as a minister. He has not been averse to changes in how the board operates. He has embraced the productive restructuring of the board committees.
Walker is a champion of the schools. He also recognizes the need for the district to perform better, for instance, in responding to the loss of students to charter schools. More than anything, he has been a steadying and effective presence. The district would be well served by Walker serving for another term.
Patrick Bravo, the executive director of the Summit County land bank, is completing his first term, winning four years ago in an unusual write-in campaign. He admits to learning much as a board member. He grasps well that the board must keep its eye on the larger picture. He understands that many of the district's largest challenges start outside its buildings with the burden of poverty.
Bravo has been part of enhancing the way the board operates. The board now has a much-improved committee structure, allowing members to plunge deeper into subjects and report back to colleagues.
That has helped, among other things, in overseeing the district's finances. Bravo has been attentive to spending, even casting a recent vote against a $15,000 ad expressing appreciation to LeBron James.
Tim Miller also voted against the ad spending. Again, the vote reflected an appropriate sense of responsibility in overseeing public money. Miller has been a leader in improving the committee structure and in pressing the school administration for more timely public access to board materials, a step that promises to elevate discussion and decision-making.
Miller, an independent insurance agent, brings a valuable business perspective to the board. He acknowledges that he has learned much during his term, and his thinking about the schools has changed in some ways as a result. In turn, the district has benefited from his contribution, both in pressing for the schools to become more agile and responsive and in becoming one of their boosters.
Voters will find five other candidates on the ballot for the school board. Valerie McKitrick is an Akron resident and retired teacher from the Green schools. Summer Hall, the niece of former school board member Helen Arnold, is an insurance agent, soon to graduate from Stark State. John Otterman is a former Akron City Council member and state legislator.
Ernie Tarle long has been an agitator in city politics. Once recalled by voters from his council seat, he now runs an educational enrichment program. He is much better placed playing the activist on the outside. Finally, Garth Starks works with Tarle in the enrichment program.