More than half the members of the Hilliard City Schools Board of Education will be new when 2022 begins.
Kara Crowley, Beth Murdoch and Zach Vorst are set to take office in January after being elected Nov. 2.
Incumbent Mark Abate was not reelected, and Paul Lambert and Lisa Whiting did not seek another term.
Crowley led the eight-candidate field with 9,183 votes, followed by Vorst with 7,347 and Murdoch with 7,283, according to unofficial results tallied by the Franklin County Board of Elections on Nov. 2.
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Abate was fourth with 6,437 votes, followed by Kelley Arnold with 6,234, Jon Parker-Jones with 5,452, Lisa Chaffee with 4,611 and Sarah Florimonte with 2,546.
Crowley, 38, who teaches kindergarten in the South-Western City School District, said she looks forward to putting her experience to work representing the district’s residents and parents.
“Teachers put students first,” she said. “It’s just something we do naturally. My students are at the center of all my decision-making in the classroom and will remain the focus of all my decision-making on the board.”
Crowley said she is “grateful that the voters had confidence in me, and I hope I can make them proud by representing them well.”
She said her early goals are to get acclimated to the board and serve the district “with transparency and common sense” to “create a culture that celebrates diversity.”
Crowley called Abate “an excellent board member” who served during “a difficult time” and with whom she looked forward to campaigning again if he chose to do so.
Murdoch quantified her early goals as acting in a manner so that parents and residents feel that they are heard and to learn as much as possible, as soon as possible.
“In the next six months, it will just be a ton of time to listen to residents” and learn from other board members, present and past, Murdoch said.
Murdoch called Lambert “a wealth of knowledge” whose guidance and advice she will seek as she begins her tenure on the board.
She said the campaign was steeped in the frustration of feeling that board members were not listening to her and other parents.
Murdoch said she addressed the board “on several occasions, and it felt like I was talking to an empty room.”
Talking about it with other parents is what led her to run for school board with Chaffee and Vorst, she said.
Murdoch said the feeling that board members were not listening “was probably a factor” in how residents voted.
As a new board member, she said, she will focus on increasing dialogue in the community and reaching out to parents and residents who are not digital savvy and might prefer more traditional modes of communications.
Murdoch said she also to explore how Hilliard might use a version of a model that Lakota Local School District in suburban Cincinnati utilizes in which focus groups led by a facilitator addresses specific subjects.
Vorst, like Murdoch, said he thinks many parents and residents felt that board members were not listening.
“(Murdoch) and I talked about that and our common goal to engage more parents, if we were elected,” he said. “The more engaged parents are, the better off the kids will be.”
Vorst said a higher than average voter turnout, coupled with “refocused” electorate of parents contributed to the slate of new members being elected.
“In the past 18 months, there is a new focus and attention by parents about what’s going on (in the school buildings and within the district), and I am proud to be a representative for them,” Vorst said.
Meanwhile, Abate said he has not ruled out a future bid for the board and will remain involved as a parent in the district.
Abate said he was surprised in some aspects but not in others when he was not reelected.
“I was surprised a little bit because I have done a lot of good work, but that does not necessarily translate to votes,” he said. “On the other hand, I was not surprised because of how board races everywhere became politicized.”