Spotlight on Eileen Washburn –

Eighth and final in a series of BOE candidate profiles

By Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND, OH (October 20, 2021) – Election Day 2021 is Tuesday, November 2, and will be here before you know it. With it will come your opportunity to decide who will serve as the majority members of the Loveland City School District (LCSD) Board of Education (BOE).  Loveland School Board candidates have been trying all kinds of ways to meet the voters.

I have been meeting with each of the candidates for one-on-one personal interviews in an effort to learn who they are and what they stand for. Meeting them face-to-face gives you the opportunity to learn about them in their own words.  Several Candidate Profiles already appeared here on Loveland Beacon and were shared on Social Media outlets. In those personal interviews I’ve asked each candidate the key question: How they plan to do what they promise? The intent of these profiles is to provide some additional insight and information to help you, the voters, make a more fully informed choice at the polls on Tuesday, November 2.

PLEASE NOTE: Use the information to inform your decision at the polls. If you don’t have anything good to say, do not say anything at all! 

Most importantly, I ask comments be kept civil and respectful toward

ALL CANDIDATES.

Here is the seventh in the series of Candidate Profiles with the Beacon’s Light shining on candidate Eileen Washburn

Eileen Washburn, current member LDSD School Board seeking reelection to her 2nd term. (Provided)

Eileen Washburn has called Loveland home for the last 16-plus years with her husband Doug. They have two children: a son in high school and a daughter in fifth grade attending Loveland Schools.  They chose Loveland because of the community and the schools. She is a high school teacher with 12 years at Princeton High School where she taught English before switching to Lakota West where she taught English, speech, and creative writing and now teaches English as a second language. Eileen is coming to the end of her first elected term (term is 4 years) as a member of the Loveland City School District Board of Education.

Q – Loveland Beacon (LB) –You have served a four year term on the school board at a time filled with unique challenges. Why are you seeking re-election to the Loveland City School District Board of Education?

A – Eileen Washburn (EW) – That’s a great question and one I get asked often, because it has been, at times contentious with a lot of long hours and a lot of time away from my family, but I believe in what we’re doing. I know that at certain times things have been tough, and I don’t want to say the right decisions weren’t made, but maybe weren’t made correctly. With that being said, I feel like we’ve done so many great things and the momentum is moving forward and on the uptick again. I want to be part of that because I feel like I can still make a difference. If I didn’t feel like I could make a difference, I would step aside and gladly help support someone else, but I think I still can make a difference. I just really strongly believe in public education, I really believe in our staff, and I really believe in our students. I want to help empower them. I want to help encourage them and I want to help lead them. I don’t think now is the time walk away from that. I do think the experience is beneficial because four years ago I didn’t know everything I know now. Of the people who are running, the majority of them have not ever served on a school board before. As a parent and community member, I think that would make me nervous having too many new members on the school board.

“You cannot do this for self-serving purposes. It just doesn’t work that way. You get nothing out of it in the sense that you are not doing it for yourself, you are doing it to serve the community and the students. I just love it.”

(LB) – You are in the unique position of being the only candidate for school board running for re-election.  What are the three things you point to as key accomplishments during your current term, or key priorities moving forward if reelected?   

(EW) – Talking about successes, I think that have been part of my experience on the board, and that I’ve contributed to would be specifically focusing on the 2020/21 school year and I think that was a pretty good success considering what we were dealing with at the time. We pulled off a hybrid learning environment, the virtual academy; we had the synchronous, asynchronous learning. Those were all things where we had to pivot and figure it out as we were going. It wasn’t a perfect solution for everyone, but overall I think it was a pretty good success. Then building on that with the summer program using extra funds to help with any kids who maybe had a little bit of a slide, or didn’t feel like they had that full experience; I think that was also beneficial to the students.

(LB)What do you think were the key factors in making that a successful school year with the challenges of a pandemic

(EW) – It definitely was a big challenge especially considering it happened on the heels of a failed operating levy and some of the services were cut as a result of that. The biggest contributors to making that successful were our administrative team and our staff members putting in the work; having the difficult conversations. I would say for my part of that: chiming in from a parent perspective as well as a teacher perspective and saying, if we do this, this may be the result, whether that was good or a bad conversation, or if we do this, that may not work for the teachers and here’s why, or that may not work for the students and here’s why. I did contribute to the conversation in that way. I think it was great we were able to collaborate with some neighboring districts as well on ways to do things. What were they doing that worked? What were we doing that worked? What was happening out in other districts that were working? Then kind of marry all of those ideas and figure out what worked best for our Loveland Students and families.

(LB) – If that is #1 in terms of a success as a member of the school board, what is #2?    

(EW ) – I think #2 is something I’ve spoken to a lot of community members about recently is to both continue on the path of increasing communication and community engagement, but would also put that in the category of a positive. I think we have grown leaps and bounds in that area during my tenure on the board. Things have changed significantly as far as how the community receives the information and what types of information, and how they can be involved. The community certainly spoke up. They requested additional forms of communication and engagement and now have the community newsletter which we still need to continue to get the word out about that. I was out talking to voters. I know some of the older population were unaware of that, but want the information. We still need to do a better job making sure everybody is aware of the community newsletter. That is a newsletter that Superintendent Mike Broadwater and his team are working on for community members who don’t have students in our school. That way they can find out what is going on in the school; important dates, any financial information, any events coming up, highlighting different students and things of that nature. I think that’s been a good accomplishment. We also have the creation of the planning commission. None of these things are perfect, but everything is always a process. We’re constantly evaluating everything and looking at how we can make it better. What needs to be done to make it better? I’ve been talking to members of the planning commission on what they would like to see changed, what’s working and other school districts with planning commissions again we reach out and collaborate. Why reinvent the wheel, right? If it’s already been done, let’s see what’s working or not working in other places. We also have the streamer recording and archiving of the board meetings now which I pushed for a long time. It was just a matter of figuring out the how to do things and where to store things and who is going to be responsible for what. It took a little longer than I would have liked, but I also understand that everyone was doing the best they could because that started right in the midst of the pandemic. I think that has been a great addition and change since being on board. I think it has increased the exposure. I think it has increased the engagement a ton with the board throughout the community. Then the ongoing community engagement piece. I think, again, as I said, everything is a work in progress. We have reached out to Lakota School District about their community engagement meetings. It’s something we have still been talking about.  A lot of things take time because we can only speak of things when we are in our public meetings due to the Sunshine laws and then the pandemic going on. It kind of halted a lot of things with community engagement and get-togethers; those weren’t feasible when COVID was hitting its peak. It’s something I do still want to focus on is the engagement of the community outside of formal groups like the planning commission. Obviously that’s important, but it still leaves room for additional input outside of the scope of the planning commission.

(LB) – You’ve pretty much defined #2 as a communication and community engagement and covered how it has improved while touching on ways to improve it. How do you plan to improve on that going forward?

(EW) – I know that Superintendent Mike Broadwater and his team are working on a strategic plan on how to reach different pockets and different groups throughout the community which obviously the board will be involved in that plan. It’s in early stages right now. I think adding our “to-do” list on the website with our opportunities is also good way to inform community members. Then again, not everybody is getting on the website. It is an ongoing process. I’ve heard a ton of feedback from talking to voters on the campaign that this is great and they hope after the election something like this continues. I’m hearing the feedback and I recognize the community doesn’t just want five people sitting up in front of them that feel inaccessible to them. They want to talk to the mom, to the teacher, they want hear and be heard. I think us being more present and available will be huge. What does that look like? People emailing us, going to events and having a strategic plan; the Lakota plan is huge, it’s amazing what they do there. Having spoken to them, I know it did take a few years to build up, to get people in the community to realize these meetings were ongoing and happening every month and a different topic every month. It is something that, unfortunately doesn’t happen overnight, but it is something I am committed to continually build on and work on.

(LB) – Is there a third thing that is a priority for you going forward?

(EW) – Yes, it’s two parts. One a success and one I want to continue to build on. Obviously we are in this for the kids and the student’s success. That’s what I would focus on as far as success while I’ve been on the board as well as what I would like to continue to work on should I be reelected. What we can’t forget, since 2017 when I joined the board we’ve seen some great improvement in our student success. Since 2016, prior to COVID, looking at our value-added ranking through the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) where they evaluate the school districts, Loveland went from ranked 433, somewhere around there, out of about 600-plus school districts, – I don’t have the exact numbers right now – I’d say we weren’t doing that well. Out of 600, we were in the mid-to low 400’s ranking, by 2019, we were up in the 20’s, I believe 22nd. That is a significant huge change for our students. I think that our staff and our administration really needs to be commended there. What did I do to contribute to that? I think working on programs and increasing the curriculum was a big contributor to that success. Even during the pandemic we maintained our rankings in the different publications throughout the area. That’s something to be celebrated because not every district can say that. Going back to the curriculum and programs, we’ve added some great business program opportunities for students. We’ve collaborated with U.C. to create additional opportunities for college credit plus programs which give students different opportunities and options. There have been a multitude of programs like that added during my tenure. I can’t take credit for the teaching of those classes, but helping make that happen and approve them, that’s certainly something I would put on my resume- if you will.

(LB) – What is your plan to continue to build on that success for the students?

(EW) – To help build on that success, I’m continuously evaluating different curriculums, different material, different opportunities for our students and our staff to help everybody achieve to the highest level possible. That’s not something I would stop doing. It’s just part of who I am. It’s the nature of who I am. I like to find different opportunities for every level student no matter where they are to make sure they can all be successful.

Final Question: To Eileen for all of you:

(LB) – I am a Loveland City School District voter, why should I vote for Eileen Washburn?  

(EW) – I think people should vote for me because not only do I have the experience, but I have a different perspective as well. Being a parent, a teacher and an advocate, I think I’m able to offer insight and perspective that others don’t always realize or see. I think those things add value to the work that we are doing. I also think I should be elected because I am sincere, relatable and I will always stand up for what I believe is right for the district and for the kids. Maybe that’s putting it too simplistically, but those are the reasons in my mind.

“My main objective in all of this is to ensure that all students feel safe, seen and valued so that they can achieve to the highest level they are capable of. I just want to make sure students know that.” – Eileen Washburn

CLICK HERE to visit the website of candidate Eileen Washburn

Loveland Beacon would like to thank all of the candidates for taking the time to talk candidly about their candidacy for the LCSD Board of Education. Best of Luck to each in their campaign to serve our school community.

NOTE: This concludes the series profiles for the 8 Loveland Schools Board of Education candidates running for three seats. Loveland Beacon hopes you have found their words helpful in your quest to be make an informed choice at the polls Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

ADD NOTE: Kevin Dougherty, current apponted board member, also appears on the ballot for LCSD Board of Education as an unopposed candidate seeking election for the two-year unexpired term which expires December 31, 2023.