Five candidates seek 3 Anna BOE seats







SIDNEY — Five candidates, which includes two incumbents and three newcomers, are seeking election to the three seats on the Anna Local Board of Education. Voters will go to the polls Nov. 2 to decide who will serve on the board for the next four years.

Seeking seats are incumbents Michael E. Ambos and Matthew Murray and newcomers Blythe Egbert, Kurt Hoying and Timothy D. Stroh.

The Sidney Daily News sent questions to each candidate. Each of the candidates’ responses are compiled in this story.

Mike Ambos, of Sidney, is a staff engineer at Honda of America. He graduated from Botkins High School and attended The Ohio State University.

He and his wife Jennifer have two children, Michaela and Zach.

Blythe Egbert, of Anna, is a self employed, sales director. She a 2004 graduate from Anna High School. Egbert received an associates degree in radiology technology from Sinclair Community College.

She and her husband Brian have five kids: Ezra, sixth-grade; Brezlyn, fifth-grade; Haizley, second-grade; Cruz, first-grade, all enrolled at Anna; and Zaven, 2 years old.

Kurt Hoying, of Anna, is a co-business owner of Hoying Carpentry. He has a high school diploma and been married to his wife Krista (Bensman) for 13 years. They have five children; three sons, Kale (12), Deklan (9) and Luka (1); and two daughters, Brielle (10) and Jentry (6).

Matt Murray is a retired resident of Anna. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Urbana University. He and his wife Beth have been married for 22 years. They have three sons; one has graduated and the other two are currently enrolled at Anna High School/Middle School.

Tim Stroh, of Anna, is a new model staff engineer at Honda’s Anna Engine Plant. He has been an engineer at the Anna Engine Plant for the past 18 years. Stroh graduated from Parkersburg South High School in Parkersburg, West Virginia, in 1998, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech in 2003, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Wright State University in 2008.

He is married to his wife Amanda, who is fourth-grade teacher at Anna and is parent volunteer coordinator for Anna Elementary. Their daughter Abby, 15, is in the ninth-grade, and son Ben, 12, is in the sixth-grade; both are enrolled at Anna.

Becoming elected to the Anna Board of Education would be his first political position, he said.

Why are you running for Anna Board of Education?

Ambos: “I feel that it is important to serve and give back to the community. I feel that the Board of Education role aligns with my strengths and aspirations to support the community, especially the youth. I have just completed my first term with the Anna Board of Education. While it was a challenging term, it was also very rewarding. We accomplished the successful completion the high school renovation and worked through the challenges of educating students during Covid. I think there are still many opportunities to improve the experience and education at the Anna Schools and I would love to be part of those future opportunities.”

Egbert: “I made the decision to run as a candidate for the Anna school board for several reasons with the top priority being that I want to be more involved with our school district and community. My goal is to be a voice and advocate for the concerns and interests of the students, teachers, staff, parents and community. We already have a great school district and I’m eager to make it even better.”

Hoying: “One main reason I wanted to become involved in the BOE is because I have several children coming through the system right now and I want them to have the best possible experience as they can as well as the other students in the school district.”

Murray: “I am running for the Anna School Board because it is an excellent way to be involved and to give back to the community. My goal is to ensure that Anna Local Schools continues to be one of the best districts in the state of Ohio.”

Stroh: “I believe parent involvement in the community is critical to a successful school district. Without parent support for volunteer positions in our booster organizations, fundraising, and volunteers in our schools, our children would suffer in academics and athletics. I have been involved by coaching my children’s youth sports teams, leading STEM activities in multiple grades and in 2017 I was elected as the Anna Athletic Boosters President. I have successfully led many activities and projects as the Booster President, now I hope to transition into a School Board position to focus on the academic success of our schools.”

Why do you feel you’re the best candidate to serve on the board?

Stroh: “Both incumbents and the new candidates would all bring unique experiences to the board. My background is unique as an engineer at Honda and as an Athletic Booster President. I have had the opportunity to work hand in hand with the School Administration, Board of Education and directly with teachers and their students through multiple STEM projects. I believe this experience has allowed me to gain a well-rounded understanding of how the school district operates and will allow me to hit the ground running as a member of the board of education.”

Ambos: “I have held leadership positions with the Anna Boosters as well as in my professional career. These roles have been instrumental in providing me with the skillset (problem solving, decision making, budgets, schedules, communication) it takes to serve the district. As a board member the last 4 years, I have been accessible to the community and involved with the district. This visibility and interaction have provided me with the insight to work with the other board members to set the best direction for the school.”

Egbert: “I’m a 5th generation alumni from Anna High School and have a lot of pride in our schools. I feel that my leadership and decision making skills will be a great asset to the current board members as well as the new members. Working as a team has always been a personal strength, and I’m looking forward to doing the same on the school board. I’m also not afraid to question something that doesn’t seem like it’s in the best interest for our students, teachers and staff.”

Hoying: “I have lived in Anna my whole life and I know the community. I have a good feeling for what the community wants at their school and believe that I can be a positive and professional voice on the board. I am willing to listen to all ideas and feel I can provide appropriate feedback.”

Murray: “I feel that each candidate that is running for the board this election would be a good board member, the district is fortunate to be in that position. However, I have 6 years of board experience and have served as board president for the last 3 years. I also served as facility liaison during the recent renovation of both buildings. In that role I was actively involved in the planning, financing and construction of the project. I believe these experiences along with 25 years of leadership experience in my career make me a good candidate to be reelected to the board.”

Funding for the district is always a concern since state funding changes from year to year. How do you bring new money/funding to the district?

Egbert: “I believe that people will support that which they help to create. If we can get the community more involved in the projects, fundraisers, ect., I think we could offset any additional funding that is needed for the school. Getting the community to come together and supporting the businesses in Anna will also add more revenue and new jobs.”

Hoying: “I believe our district has always been smart in regards to placing tax levy’s on the ballot when deemed appropriate. With our continued high education standards as well, we are able to attract families and new residences which will help increase tax revenue.”

Murray: “School funding changes with every state election, I feel it is more important to be fiscally responsible so that the district can still be successful through these financing swings. The district will continue to apply for federal, state and local grants.”

Stroh: “The Anna Local schools have done an excellent job of managing their budget even with year-to-year changes in state funding. I beleive the financial focus should be on continuing to maintain a balanced budget and having an accurate future forecast so the school can be proactive in making changes to prevent a financial deficit. If new money / funding is required to maintain a balanced budget in the future, I would use my experience at Honda and with the Boosters to research grant and fundraising opportunities.”

Ambos: “I understand state funding does change and that the district’s finances are the responsibility of the Board. Anna Schools has made it a priority to maintain a balanced budget and be financially prepared for any funding changes. Our Treasurer does a great job of preparing detailed budget information monthly and fiscal year forecasts for the board. The Board reviews these documents to proactively recognize if changes or adjustments are needed to ensure financial stability. An example of this would be to increase college level courses at Anna. Trying to keep students and funding in the district is an area where we can offset expenses and, thus, increase our bottom line.”

What are the strengths of the district?

Hoying: “The education system is currently proficient and we are proud of the continued top ratings within the state. The community involvement is also very strong as well.”

Murray: “By far, the biggest strength of our district is the people. Our teachers, staff and administration are second to none. They truly care about the safety and well being of each and every child. The dedication that they show in making sure that our kids have a chance to succeed in the classroom and in life is something that I feel most people take for granted. My own kids have each been inspired, guided, or motivated by someone who works in one or both of our buildings.”

Stroh: “I believe the strength of the Anna School district is the people employed within the district and the people in the community that support the school every day. The administration and school board do everything in their power to provide the tools necessary for the teachers and students to be successful. The teachers work extremely hard to ensure our students learn what is needed to be successful in school and in life after they graduate. The volunteers do an excellent job supplementing the staff to provide a well-rounded educational experience for all students.”

Ambos: “One strength of the district is the teachers and administration. Their commitment to the students has never been more evident than their efforts these past two years. The teachers and administration were asked to make changes to their day-to-day activities and teaching methods to accommodate remote learning while simultaneously managing in class learning. They put the students first and worked very hard to ensure success. I very much appreciate their dedication. Another strength of the district is it community and parent involvement. That involvement and support they give to the students and administration is important to provide a positive environment and experience for our students.”

Egbert: “Having volunteered at Anna for the past 4 years, I have seen first hand that we have exceptional teachers, staff and aids in our schools that are truly there for the students and want to play an important role in their education. We are also blessed with a community that supports our kids’ extracurricular activities, whether that be academic clubs or sports teams.”

What are the weaknesses of the district?

Murray: “I wouldn’t say that we have a weakness but I do believe that we have challenges just like any other district. One of our current challenges is the changing demographics of the district. Our largest classes have graduated and the incoming classes are smaller, so our enrollment is declining. The board and the administration have had to make some difficult decisions to try to match educational resources with the smaller class sizes. This will continue to be a challenge in years to come.”

Ambos: “How do you improve the weaknesses? Many students are enrolling in college level classes during their Jr/Sr year. With limited accessibility to these classes at Anna, they are enrolling in Rhodes or Edison and missing out on the high school experiences that I feel are important in the development of our students. We need to continue to expand, adding more college level classes to allow the students to stay at Anna and also acquire college credits. I am in favor of this direction because it provides a win/win situation for the students and district.”

Egbert: “As a parent of students that attend Anna, I feel that the communication with the parents and community could be strengthened and delivered in a timely manner. Many times I have checked the schools website for updated minutes on the board meetings and they were 4 to 5 months behind. It’s important to keep the community involved and updated on what is happening in our school district. If there is good communication, there will be more support.”

Hoying: “I believe a weakness within the district is when it comes to making bigger decisions we need to do a better job of relaying why a decision was made, what the impact will be and furthermore be able to effectively communicate with the community.”

Stroh: “The Anna Local schools are not failing in any one specific area. Anna has historically had highly successful academics and extra circular activities thanks to qualified, high performing teachers and administration.”

How can you improve communication with school district residents?

Ambos: “I do feel that communication is a key attribute to success. I have made myself accessible to the district residents by being visible and approachable in the community and during school events. This improves the communication with school district residents because it allows the residents time and opportunity to voice their opinions or issues on sensitive matters. It also allows me the opportunity to follow-up directly with those residents with the information they requested and providing closure.”

Egbert: “There are so many means of communication with all of the technology that’s out there. Social media and an Anna app would be a great place to start. Most residents are engaged in social media and apps. If they can get plugged in with an easy and convenient way to communicate, I think they would be more willing to be involved. Being open and transparent with the school district residents should be a top priority within the school board.”

Hoying: “By encouraging community members to continue being active in multiple facets throughout the community and speaking up to the board when there are concerns.”

Murray: “We had a large turnout for our August board meeting. It was great to see so many parents/residents care enough about the district to attend the meeting. I would encourage everyone to attend a board meeting if they have questions or concerns that they feel have not been addressed by the administration.”

Stroh: “I believe the best way to improve communication with district residents is for the school and residents to be transparent with each other. Transparency allows all parties to openly share solutions from different viewpoints, increases the chances of getting things done faster and more efficiently, and improves trust between everyone involved. It is also important for everyone to avoid personal agendas and instead focus on working together to ensure the success of our students and district.”

Other comments?

Egbert: “I’m ready and willing to be a voice for our students, teachers, staff and community. Running for a spot on the school board isn’t a decision I made lightly. I know a lot of decisions are made by the school board, both good and bad, and I’m ready to be involved in making the decisions that are best for our school district.”

Ambos: “I appreciate the support the district has given me over the past 4 years and hope to continue as a Board member for the Anna School District.”