Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

‘People and Policies’ Episode 2 — Ivan Carver, Talawanda School Board candidate

<p>Staff Writer Raquel Hirsch and Talawanda School Board candidate Ivan Carver discussed several issues affecting the school district.</p>

Staff Writer Raquel Hirsch and Talawanda School Board candidate Ivan Carver discussed several issues affecting the school district.

The Miami Student’s podcast “People and Policies” focuses on Oxford’s local election cycle, featuring conversations with candidates about various issues relevant to students, faculty and residents.

On this episode, Staff Writer Raquel Hirsch sits down with Talawanda School Board candidate Ivan Carver. The two discuss Carver’s qualifications, Talawanda’s finances, various district policies and more.

Editor’s note: This conversation has been edited for concision. Listen to the podcast for the full conversation.

Hirsch: Tell me about yourself. How did you find yourself running for school board?

Carver: I’m married. I’ve been married for the past 18 years. I have four children. All four are girls — I’m very blessed. One is a 2023 graduate of Talawanda High School and my other three girls I have twins, two juniors, and an eighth grader.

I never thought I would run for a position in my life, especially a school board position. But I absolutely love children. I have been working with children in various capacities, never in education, but always in coaching or reffing or some capacity with kids. I started getting interested a few years back when the levy talks started taking place, and I started looking into the finances and looking into why we’re in the situation that we’re in.

I guess it came to a head this year when they eliminated busing … That was kind of the tipping point when I knew I was getting in this race.

You currently work for Dell. Do you have any experience within education prior to that, and if not, how will your background working outside of education set you apart from other candidates who have experience working within education?

I don’t have experience in education, and I don’t see that as a negative … My background is in leadership, finance, and of course I built two businesses. My wife is also a lifelong educator. She’s worked as a school teacher, as a coach for Butler Tech. She’s taught at universities, so I get a lot of my education background from her, but I don’t think that’s what’s needed today in Talawanda. We need a business-minded person, and I have 20-plus years of leadership experience with Dell.

What is your stance on the levy and potentially another one coming on the ballot?

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

The levy at this point, I think is really a moot point … A lot of frustration with people was bringing a levy on before they really looked at expenses.

I think what people are really telling [the board] is, ‘Go and make some sensible cuts. If you still need money, come back to us at that point.’ That wasn’t the approach they took. They took a very negative approach, and I’m all about positivity … At this point, the state just increased property taxes upwards of 40%. So the levy fell two to one. Putting a new levy on the ballot I think is just a waste of effort … Right now, we need to look at expenses.

In response to that levy falling through, what is a new strategy that you’d like to see Talawanda go for?

There’s some opportunities for revenue coming up. We own a piece of property out near the railroad tracks. I think Amtrak is wanting to come in. That could be a source of revenue in the future … I know grants are a short term thing, but I think they’re incredibly important right now.

Where we’re gonna find the savings and where we’re gonna save ourselves is not by one big levy or one big cost-cutting measure. It’s gonna be a lot of little small things.

What are some improvements you’d like to see in busing and transportation?

The busing decision … I don’t think that was a good decision. Studies show that you’re eight times less safe driving with a parent to school rather than riding on a bus. I think that it hurt kids. I think it hurt teachers. I think it hurt parents of not having busing for certain groups in this area, and it was a decision I would not have made. That’s the first thing I would like to bring back.

The cost savings on that at that point was $200,000, which seems like a lot of money. But when you look at an overall budget of 37, 38 million dollars, that $200k doesn’t seem like a lot.

Has the absence of busing impacted your family personally?

My wife and I work from home at this point. It doesn’t affect me, but I have a lot of friends and neighbors that it does affect. I’m very close to that two-mile mark on Marshall. I don’t have any kids that young any longer, but I have quite a few friends in that area that are impacted … and two miles on 27 is a long way to walk.

You also referenced having transparency when it comes to finances. What’s falling through in your opinion right now, and what would you like to see improved?

I think this administration is actually very transparent. The problem is … I don’t think that people understand what they’re providing … They’re communicating, they’re transparent, they’re showing you the numbers, but I think they need to have more of an executive summary, something that’s a lot easier to read to the average person rather than these big documents.

I would also like more community groups. I’ve been here for eight years and never been asked to be in a community group. I would like to see more of the partnership between the school district and parents and the school district and the community.

What kind of groups would you like to see?

You have a lot of folks that complain about finances … Why not create a group, educate them on school financing, and have them come in and give you ideas on where to cut costs?

Maybe a curriculum group of parents … I even tested my kids on … the basic test that an immigrant coming into this country would take. She did well on it, and she passed it, but a lot of her friends couldn’t, so I think there are opportunities like that that our community would want to see the kids educated on that maybe they need to be educated a little bit differently, so why not give the community a say in what they’re educated on?

For the business side, there’s a lot of skill sets that businesses want around this area. Why not partner with them and see what they’re missing?

What would you say is the most important issue facing the Talawanda district right now?

Number one is finances. And we’ve actually done pretty well … In FY22, which would be fiscal year 2021-22, June-to-June, we were in the black by $25,000. Not a great deal, but we are in the black.

The current report from 2022-23, this past June, is not finalized with the state, it gets finalized some time in October. But if you look at it, we had one big one-time expense of $3.25 million for the bus depot. If you take that expense out of the equation, we were in the black by almost $1.2 million.

So a lot of the things the administration is doing right now, making sensible cuts, they are working. Are they gonna be permanent? Is that a permanent solution? No, we still need to look at these things and find other sources of revenue as well. But we are making good strides and good steps, we just need to continue more of that.

Another area that has just been brought back is the pay-to-play for sports … What kind of impact do you think that will have on families and kids?

Yeah, that’s frustrating. I do applaud the board for dropping it from $900, which in my opinion is ridiculous, to at least $600. It still has an impact on our kids, a lot of kids that can’t afford it.

There’s a lot of things that’s been done inside various sports, football has done fundraisers, my kids in soccer they’ve done car wash and other fundraisers. Those things help, but it’s still really difficult on a sports program to have that kind of cost associated. And I still think there’s room in the expenses and our sports budget as well to start reducing that cost.

What strengths do you believe are present in the Talawanda school district right now?

I think our administration right now, Dr. Theroux and Shaunna [Tafelski], they’re strong. I don’t agree in a lot of decisions that are being made currently by this board.

I think they’re full of educators on the board, and they need some business people on the board, someone who’s not just going to look at the equation from one side but will come at the equation from all sides. So that’s why I’m in this race and why I think I’m the best candidate right now for the Talawanda School District.