Four seek seats on Covington Board of Education


COVINGTON — Four candidates are vying for three seats on the Covington Board of Education.

The following is information submitted by each candidate:

• Lee Harmon

Occupation: Chief of Police, Village of Covington 2002-present; Adjunct Faculty member at Edison State Community College; United States Air Force Veteran; 29 year resident of the Village of Covington

Education: Graduate of Bradford High School and the Upper Valley Joint Vocational School (Public Communications), Edison State Community College Alumni with a degree in Criminal Justice.

Family information: Married with three children, all of whom are Covington graduates.

Previous political experience: I am nearing my 12th year as a Covington school board member, current vice president. I have been a member of the Upper Valley Career Center Board of Education for eight years, current vice president. I am currently an elected member of the Miami County Republican Central Committee.

Goals if re-elected: If re-elected, my goal is to continue to maintain a high level of quality education, while ensuring a safe learning and working environment for our students and staff.

I also will strive to keep our facilities well maintained and up to speed with the most current technology. I also will continue to focus on retention of our quality staff members, while being responsive to the needs of the tax payer.

• Jim Rench

Family information: Wife, Shanda, and sons Ashby, Avery, and Ayden.

Occupation: Software Support Engineer.

Position sought: Covington Exempted Village Schools Board of Education.

Previous political experience: Current member of Covington Board of Education, elected in 2018.

Qualifications: I am now in my 36th year as a software support engineer for NCR Corporation providing worldwide software support, in-depth problem investigation/resolution, and programming assistance, working with numerous teams across the company, third-party providers, and customer contacts. Having served on the Covington Board of Education these past four years has also given me insight to the needs of the district.

Reason for seeking office: I am a 1980 graduate of Covington High School. Two of our sons are also Covington graduates, and our third is currently in his senior year at Covington. Having spent many hours volunteering in various capacities at Covington Schools over the years and serving on the Board of Education these past four years, I would like to continue my efforts in making a positive impact for all students at Covington Schools.

Goals for office if elected: It has been my honor to serve on the Board of Education for Covington Exempted Village Schools since 2018 and would continue to devote my efforts in helping to provide all students of the district the best opportunities for growth and success.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek: I see a need for improved focus on helping our students plan for the future as they progress toward graduation and life beyond high school. I would also like to see continued improvements in our curriculum offerings.

• Alexander Reck

Family information: I’m married with five kids, three who have graduated. Two kids are in the district, as well as three grandkids.

Occupation: I am self-employed; I own investment properties.

Previous political experience: I was on the board for eight years; I was off this last term.

Qualifications: I previously served eight years on the school board. While on the board, I was involved in the campaign for the new school in the district, as well as the building project itself. With the campaign, I was directly involved with knocking on doors, as well as with land acquisition and purchase options. I was also involved in a land swap to acquire land at no cost to the district

Reason for seeking office: I’m a little concerned with some of the most recent decisions of the board, primarily that the board gave away property the district owned at no cost to the village, according to the county auditor’s information. The fact they gave away something that was valuable to the district bothers me. While I was previously on the board, David Larson (former Covington superintendent) and I had a meeting with a developer who showed strong interest in the property the district gave away. I don’t think it’s right when we give away valuable property when we rely on organizations like the Eagles and Community Chest, local businesses, and private citizens within the district for donations and financial support. In addition, because the district gave the land to the village, practice fields for the Little Buccs pee wee football program are in jeopardy.

I am also concerned with some personnel issues. The district has let some employees go, and they have litigation with one former employee. The cost of litigation concerns me. Overall, I’m not sure if the district handled these personnel issues properly and if they followed appropriate procedures.

Goals for office if elected: My goal would be to get a true district facilities plan put together and to promote transparency and public relations within the school and the community.

As far as facilities, I think we are far behind the times in comparison with districts like Newton, Ansonia, and even Bradford with their new facility expansion proposal. Covington’s facilities at one time were top notch. We were one of the first districts with an all-weather track, weight room, and wrestling facility. Right now, I feel like now our projects are all over the place.

Most recently, I think it was a complete mistake that the district put out to bid to spend over $500,000 on the football locker room and restroom renovation at the stadium. This didn’t move forward because of the cost of materials.

I hope that people of the school district keep me in mind when considering their choice for school board.

• Steven Blei

Family information: I have two sons, both graduated from Covington. They both were very active in sports and graduated with honors.

Occupation and qualifications: I have been a police officer with the Covington Police Department for 23 years. Prior to Covington, I was a police officer with the Anna and Cridersville Police Departments.

This has allowed me to get a good grasp on local government. As a police officer with the Covington Police Department, I spent 10 years in the schools as a School Resource Officer, which has allowed me to develop a strong relationship with the students, administrators and faculty.

I am a graduate of Hudson High School, which is located near Cleveland and Akron. I also graduated from Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. I am an instructor at both the Wright State University and Edison State College Police Academies.

Reasons for seeking office: I am running for school board because I want to give back to a community that has been good to me and my family. I would definitely be up to the task of keeping Covington Schools top notch.

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