This is an archive of a past election.
See for current information.
LWV League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area Education Fund

Smart Voter
Hamilton, Clermont County, OH November 6, 2007 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Board Member; Forest Hills Local School District

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Qualifications, Addressing priorities, Funding

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

1. What are your qualifications for office? (50 word limit)

Answer from Nicolas Schmelzer:

I am a 39 year-old husband and father of five children ranging in ages from 7 months to 7 years. I work as a corporate tax attorney for Ashland Inc. in Covington, Kentucky. My judgment, experience, and priorities make me a strong candidate for school board.

Answer from Randy Smith:

Board member past 4 years

Attended over 50 Ohio School Board Association training meetings

OSBA Master Board Member status 2007 (only 9 of over 3500 Ohio Board members received this designation)

Grew up and attended school 12 years in the Forest Hills School District

28 years of P&G management experience

Answer from Rachel Ann (Baker) Newman:

  • Educator in Ohio public schools for nineteen years
  • Former board member of Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation
  • Former V.P. for Loveland High School PTSA
  • Former banker
  • Graduate of Babson College (MBA)
  • Graduate of Denison University (Bachelor of Arts)
  • Volunteer for JLC and various arts organizations

Answer from Richard W. "Rich" Neumann:

Elected to Forest Hills School Board twice previously serving eight years. Twenty-two years as business owner/executive. Nine years as high school history teacher/coach. Three years as high school administrator. Certified Superintendent of Schools by Ohio Department of Education. Parent of four Forest Hills School District graduates.

2. What plans do you have to address your top three priorities? (100 word limit)

Answer from Richard W. "Rich" Neumann:

Actively participate in the search for the new Superintendent of Schools replacing retiring long-term Superintent John Patzwald. While continuing fiscal responsibility, I remain committed to providing our professional staff and students the necessary resources to maintain the district's "Execllent" rating achieved in each of the past seven years. At the same time, the issue of District Facility Upgrades must be addressed.

Answer from Randy Smith:

Maintain and hire the best teachers and administrators. Maintain our excellent treasurer. Maintain current class size limits. Continue to upgrade our curriculum to keep it excellent. Make necessary improvements to our buildings to get closer to having excellent facilities. Deliver excellent special needs programs.

Make changes in the State funding system that are advantageous to Forest Hills. Maximize existing local property tax levies to delay the need for new levies.

Identify clear criteria for what the school district wants in a new superintendent. Field a nationwide search to identify the best superintendent to replace Dr. Patzwald when he retires in July.

Answer from Rachel Ann (Baker) Newman:

Forest Hills Local School District should be proud of the ODE "Excellent" rating, but the district cannot rest on its laurels. I will work to ensure that the district offers competitive wages to attract highly effective teachers who have the requisite skills to educate our youth. Board members must be accountable to the citizens who have entrusted them with overseeing the district's finances. I will be a good steward of public funds, and make sure that district personnel aren't wasteful. I will also work to pass necessary operating tax levies and bond issues to maintain and improve our district's facilities.

Answer from Nicolas Schmelzer:

Academics has to be the number one priority. Our school board needs to stay focused on academic excellence. I believe we need to invest more in the math and science curriculums in order to produce students that are best able to compete in this global economy. This investment should be focused on attracting and retaining the best teachers available (especially in the math and sciences), and encouraging more extracurricular activities involving academics (especially in the math and sciences).

3. What is your position on amending the Ohio Constitution with regard to the funding of public schools? (150 word limit)?

Answer from Nicolas Schmelzer:

Constitutions should protect people from their governments. I am generally opposed to constitutional amendments that do not serve this essential purpose. I am also generally opposed to attempts to circumvent the regular legislative process through constitutional amendments. Otherwise, this is a question for the voters and their legislators - not for school board members, especially candidates like myself that prefer to stay focused on local issues (such as academic excellence) rather than political issues.

Answer from Randy Smith:

There is no doubt the current process that has evolved to fund K-12 public education in the State of Ohio is not working. I support the value of getting the funding mechanism on the table for discussion so that a solution to the problem can be found.

Overall I'd like to shift the majority of the tax burden away from the local property owner and back to the state. The State legislature should have addressed this issue after four DeRolf Supreme court rulings.

Amending the constitution is risky and virtually permanent. The governor and legislature should act to fix this problem. I have met with the leadership of the State constitution consortium including Mr. Jim Betts to suggest that the education community use the potential amendment as leverage to convince the governor and the legislature to finally take action to correct some of the key shortcomings of the current funding system and formula. I would like some inflation component reintroduced into the state funding model to reduce the number of local tax levies and see phantom revenue eliminated from the current funding formula.

Answer from Rachel Ann (Baker) Newman:

It has been more than a decade since the Ohio Supreme Court declared Ohio's school funding system unconstitutional. Forest Hills Local School District has been very fortunate because local voters have been willing to provide the necessary tax monies to fund the schools. Neighboring districts have not been so lucky with passing school tax levies. It concerns me that sometime in the future, our district will face the same dilemma if an appeal to increase property taxes to fund our children's education fails. For that reason, I support an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that will alleviate our total reliance on property taxes to fund our schools.

Answer from Richard W. "Rich" Neumann:

I support amending the Ohio Constitution with regard to the funding of public schools for the following reasons: 1) Ohio's public education funding system has been declared unconstitutional four times over the past ten years, yet nothing has been done to correct it; 2) the Ohio State Legislature has increasingly left the burden to local property owners; 3) the proposed amendment will force the state legislature to change the school funding process by requiring that the State determine what an adequate education would cost and require that it fund a higher percentage of that cost; 4) this amendment will not result in a tax increase, but rather a change in the process that will gradually shift some of the tax burden away from local property owners to the state; and 5) it will reduce the frequency of local property tax levies, cut property taxes for senior citizen and disabled homeowners.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. Word limits apply for each question. Direct references to opponents are not permitted.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

This Contest || Home (Ballot Lookup) || About Smart Voter || Feedback
Created: December 19, 2007 17:42 PST
Smart Voter <>
Copyright © League of Women Voters of California Education Fund.
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.