COLUMBUS -- It's not a high-profile elected position, but the Ohio State School Board helps create policies that impact pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade education in the state.
The non-partisan board has 19 members -- 11 are elected and eight appointed by the governor. Elected members serve four-year terms.
According to the board's website, "The State Board of Education’s vision is for all Ohio students to graduate from the PK-12 education system with the knowledge, skills and behaviors necessary to successfully continue their education and/or be workforce ready and successfully participate in the global economy as productive citizens. Ultimately, all students will graduate well prepared for success."
In the 5th District, which includes all or part of eight counties, including all of Richland and Ashland counties, incumbent Lisa Woods is opposed by challenger Cristina Collins. Both are residents of Medina County.
Woods, seeking a second term on the board, has five children and said she offers experience in helping to educate her children through public, private and online schooling. She has said she has 18 years of school with her children thus far and looks forward to five more until her youngest son graduates from high school.
Though it's a non-partisan office, Woods brings a conservative approach. She and her husband, Jim, founded the group Medina County Friends And Neighbors in 2008.
According to the organization's Facebook page, "Our mission is to build the conservative grassroots in Medina County, and mobilize the Silent Majority. We do this in order to preserve/promote the constitutional republic, the free enterprise economy and our traditional American values."
During a Wayne County League of Women Voters virtual event earlier this month, Woods said she believes the greatest issue facing any school is compliance and accountability to how a student’s education is measured, according to a story published in the Wooster Daily Record.
Collins cites her record as school teacher in preparing her for the position.
"I am an experienced educator, parent, and advocate for public schools. As the District 5 representative, I will champion providing equity in funding; eradicating racism, inequality, and bias; improving supports for mental health and wellness of staff and students; decreasing emphasis on and amount of state testing and data; and developing a new vision for Ohio’s educational system that supports public schools," Collins said.
During the Wayne County event, the mother of four and most recently the curriculum director for Medina Buckeye Local Schools, Collins talked of how she helped to handle implementation of state standards and also said she would like schools to be placed in a less reactive position regarding state standards.
In an interview with Medina County Gazette in July, Collins said now is the time to implement change in the state's education system.
“Across the state, we’re kind of at a new baseline for what education could be. We’ve already gone a year without standardized tests, that’s looking like that might not happen again this year, so it’s kind of an opportune time to rewrite some of what we’ve always had in place for schools in the state," she said.
“I’ve always considered myself a public schools advocate and an advocate for teachers. Taking that into consideration, I think I could really help at the state level and be a little more creative as we move forward," Collins told the newspaper.