DELPHOS — Facing tightening budgets and shrinking enrollments, Delphos school board candidates will have a challenging term to look forward to if they can convince voters they’re the right person for the job.
Tuesday’s election sees five candidates seeking three open positions. One race — between challenger Jason Grogg and incumbent Ed Weilacher — will fill an unexpired two-year term. A second race features three candidates — incumbent Erika Illig, incumbent Jamey Wisher and challenger Tony Wiechart — vying for two seats.
All five candidates recognized the financial difficulties that the school district currently faces after 15 years of stagnant revenue. Each agreed a new levy is needed, and no matter who takes the open seats, the board will most likely need to work together to raise community support.
As for the budgets of past school boards, candidates also agreed with how finances were dealt with in the past. Many commented positively on the handling of how past school board members reacted to increasing costs and aging facilities — issues which many school districts across Ohio are facing.
As for the differences between candidates, experience and other concerns drew some distinctions.
Between Weilacher and Grogg, the two offer varying circumstances. When asked why voters should elect him this November, Weilacher pointed to his active role in the community. In the past, Weilacher spent six years on Delphos City Council, and he is an active member of the Delphos Kiwanis, Lions Club and Jaycees.
“I have a pretty good feel for the community,” Weilacher said. “I’ve been a lifelong resident of Delphos. I think my actions would speak for themselves.”
Conversely, Grogg is looking forward to the opportunity to serve the Delphos community if elected by using skills gained from a career in sales. A 1992 Jefferson graduate, Grogg works as an outside sales manager with Thermo-King Midwest.
“The No. 1 rule for a school board member is to be an ambassador between the public and administration. It’s our job to sell the schools,” Grogg said. “Delphos has always been home to my wife, and now, it’s where we’re raising our twin daughters. I look forward to serving the district that means so much to myself and my family.”
The two also mentioned different secondary issues facing the school. Weilacher spoke about school safety concerns, and he would like the see the school board do background checks for anyone “involved with the students.” Grogg commented on the need to “nurture and foster” the relationship between the parochial and public schools.
The second school board race — between Illig, Wisher and Wiechart — fills two seats for the school board’s standard four-year terms.
The lone challenger, Wiechart, pushed his perspective as a teacher and the youngest candidate as a potential asset for the board.
“I believe that I bring a fresh perspective,” Wiechart said. “The community of Delphos has helped raise me. They made me who I am today, and I would like to give back.”
The two incumbents, Illig and Wisher, offered their experience.
“I worked for (the) city parks (department) for 22 plus years, and I’m really involved in the community as a member of the Kiwanis Club. I’ve been the chairman for a number of projects and a volunteer for the Delphos fire and EMS for 16 years,” Wisher said. “My wife and son are here — he’s only four — but I want give back and help out the community.”
Illig said, “I am a chemical engineer with several years of experience managing multi-million dollar projects in large industrial settings. One of my job responsibilities is to drive continuous improvement of processes. I often have to present ideas or projects to management in order persuade them to invest.”
All three candidates, however, spoke about the need to re-examine the school’s services and curriculum to see if the school can better sell itself to families looking for other education options.
“The district has been looking at reviewing curriculum options,” Illig said. “Enticing families to keep our students in the area would be another step in the right direction.”
“We’re trying to get our open enrollment numbers down and retain and attract more students to our district.” Wisher said. “We have aging facilities to maintain, but the students come first.”
“Honestly, I would like to see our students have more options presented to them — more hands on classes before they go to trade school,” Wiechart said. “We have to teach them how to work after school.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.