Meet the Amherst school board candidates


MARKOS ATHINEOS Occupation: Engineering Manager Education: Marion L. Steele, BSEE from Ohio State University 1) Big government and bureaucrats have too much influence on decisions and curriculum. This control limits the creative ability of our teachers, discourages critical thinking of our students, and is a threat to the strong family values of the Amherst community (love for one another, the pursuit of truth, belief in God, love of country). Our continued success as a great school system depends on our ability to protect these values and ensure that they are nurtured and promoted in our school systems. I will work to empower our teachers and parents by soliciting and implementing their ideas so as to ensure that the values of our Amherst community are never undermined or attacked by “big government” mandated curriculum. 2) I attended Amherst schools and I currently have children attending the school system. I am not a politician. I am a father who loves his children as well as the community. I have been serving young people through coaching and Sunday school for 25 years. I have a lot of life experience, including having lived in China for three years with my family where I managed 100-plus engineers, and served on the board of education for an international school. 3) We are here to represent your values, concerns, and ideas. No one loves and knows your kids better than you. We want to work with you to ensure that the values promoted at Amherst schools are not contradictory to the values you cherish and espouse. We cannot be successful without your input and active engagement. Working together we can ensure that Amherst remains a great school system.


TERESA GILLES Occupation: Main Street Amherst Executive Director Education: Bryant and Stratton College of Business 1) The Amherst Exempted Village School District has worked hard to be financially stable through at least 2021. That status is critical to protecting our high-quality programs and retaining our excellent staff. As both a board member and as a member of the facilities advisory committee, I helped make decisions that put us here today, but we couldn’t have made this progress or passed a bond issue for a new school without working closely with our staff, administrators and community members. We need to keep working with these groups, organizations, and local individuals to make certain our district stays at this level while maintaining a high-quality learning environment. 2) Amherst is my home, and I am invested in this community. I was raised here along with my father, three siblings, and my three children. I work with business owners, citizens, teachers, students and help them collaborate on events and initiatives that bring our community together. Amherst is a great place to live, work, play, and invest and I want what is best for our students, staff, and community. As a lifelong resident, parent, and leader in the local business community, I bring a unique mix of experience that helps to solve problems and guides the district to the next level. 3) I want families to know we are willing to work with each student and parent to meet their individual needs while also striving to make decisions that are best for everyone as a whole. If elected, I would continue that practice and continue to communicate that fact.


VALERIE NEIDERT Occupation: Office Manager, Lowe Eklund Wakefield Co., LPA Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting 1) Remaining financially stable is the biggest challenge for the district in my opinion. The district has worked very hard in conjunction with the community to get to this position, and I look forward to being able to help find creative ways to continue doing more with less. While I was a member of the Amherst school board from 2006 through 2013, we aggressively reduced the cost structure of the district to avoid fiscal emergency measures by the state while maintaining an excellent academic rating. This included a program of building consolidation and working with the union to identify and implement a long list of cost-saving actions. Additional accomplishments included restructuring the administration, including hiring a new superintendent and treasurer and implementing creative ways to earn college credit while in high school. My guiding principle has been to improve education for the students while being fiscally responsible to taxpayers. 2) I have been involved in volunteering in the schools. I was a member of the PTO for 16 years, serving in the roles of president, vice president, and treasurer. I volunteered as the treasurer and worked in all aspects of every district levy campaign since 2002. I was a member of the Amherst school board from 2006 through 2013. We aggressively reduced the cost structure of the district to avoid fiscal emergency measures by the state while maintaining an excellent academic rating. This included building consolidation and working with the union to identify and implement a long list cost-saving actions. 3) The school board members represent the community and I feel it’s important for us to keep them informed of the opportunities and challenges facing the school district. This enables the community to be active participants in the decision making process and help form the school board’s decisions on those issues.


RONALD YACOBOZZI Occupation: President and Owner, 1st Nationwide Title Agency Education: Baldwin-Wallace College, Arizona State University, Ohio Savings and Loan Academy 1) The biggest issue facing the Amherst school system is state funding, which is an issue the state of Ohio has not yet effectively dealt with. Our schools have made significant adjustments to our finances, facilities, and our entire educational system. We must continue to protect our progress while remaining focused on student achievement, but we cannot predict the next moves from the state regarding funding or report cards. Prudent management of the funds our community has entrusted us with is an absolutely a must. There is no substitute for sound investments and cash flow management. Amherst has always taken great care in hiring a treasurer with the experience and credentials required for the position. The superintendent, treasurer, and school board spend countless hours evaluating income and expenses of the district to ensure we always get the “biggest bang for our buck.” 2) I’ve served on this board for the past 39 years and actively participated in shaping the Amherst school district into a positive and high-performing district, resulting in Amherst being recognized as one of the top school districts in the state. I’m passionate about the Amherst Schools and take great pride in the many incredible accomplishments we’ve achieved over the years. Our voters, overwhelming, passed a bond issue this past November which will allow us to build a new PK-3 elementary building and cut operating expenses by $500,000 per year while at the same time maintaining our tax rate with no increases. 3) Prudent management of the funds our community has entrusted us with is an absolute must. There is no substitute for sound investments and cash flow management. Amherst has always taken great care in hiring a treasurer with the experience and credentials required for the position.


Markos Athineos, Teresa Gilles, Valerie Neidert, and Ronald Yacobozzi are running for three open seats on the Amherst board of education.

In September, the News-Times sent a questionnaire to candidates seeking election to the school board, asking:

1) What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the Amherst school system, and how would you choose to address it?

2) What talents, skills, and qualifications do you bring to the table as a candidate?

3) What is the most important thing for board members to communicate to residents of the Amherst school district?

Editor’s note: In some cases, candidates’ responses were shortened to adhere to the word limit set by the questionnaire, ensuring all candidates were given equal opportunity.

MARKOS ATHINEOS Occupation: Engineering Manager Education: Marion L. Steele, BSEE from Ohio State University 1) Big government and bureaucrats have too much influence on decisions and curriculum. This control limits the creative ability of our teachers, discourages critical thinking of our students, and is a threat to the strong family values of the Amherst community (love for one another, the pursuit of truth, belief in God, love of country). Our continued success as a great school system depends on our ability to protect these values and ensure that they are nurtured and promoted in our school systems. I will work to empower our teachers and parents by soliciting and implementing their ideas so as to ensure that the values of our Amherst community are never undermined or attacked by “big government” mandated curriculum. 2) I attended Amherst schools and I currently have children attending the school system. I am not a politician. I am a father who loves his children as well as the community. I have been serving young people through coaching and Sunday school for 25 years. I have a lot of life experience, including having lived in China for three years with my family where I managed 100-plus engineers, and served on the board of education for an international school. 3) We are here to represent your values, concerns, and ideas. No one loves and knows your kids better than you. We want to work with you to ensure that the values promoted at Amherst schools are not contradictory to the values you cherish and espouse. We cannot be successful without your input and active engagement. Working together we can ensure that Amherst remains a great school system.
http://www.theamherstnewstimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/10/web1_markos-athineos.jpgMARKOS ATHINEOS Occupation: Engineering Manager Education: Marion L. Steele, BSEE from Ohio State University 1) Big government and bureaucrats have too much influence on decisions and curriculum. This control limits the creative ability of our teachers, discourages critical thinking of our students, and is a threat to the strong family values of the Amherst community (love for one another, the pursuit of truth, belief in God, love of country). Our continued success as a great school system depends on our ability to protect these values and ensure that they are nurtured and promoted in our school systems. I will work to empower our teachers and parents by soliciting and implementing their ideas so as to ensure that the values of our Amherst community are never undermined or attacked by “big government” mandated curriculum. 2) I attended Amherst schools and I currently have children attending the school system. I am not a politician. I am a father who loves his children as well as the community. I have been serving young people through coaching and Sunday school for 25 years. I have a lot of life experience, including having lived in China for three years with my family where I managed 100-plus engineers, and served on the board of education for an international school. 3) We are here to represent your values, concerns, and ideas. No one loves and knows your kids better than you. We want to work with you to ensure that the values promoted at Amherst schools are not contradictory to the values you cherish and espouse. We cannot be successful without your input and active engagement. Working together we can ensure that Amherst remains a great school system.

TERESA GILLES Occupation: Main Street Amherst Executive Director Education: Bryant and Stratton College of Business 1) The Amherst Exempted Village School District has worked hard to be financially stable through at least 2021. That status is critical to protecting our high-quality programs and retaining our excellent staff. As both a board member and as a member of the facilities advisory committee, I helped make decisions that put us here today, but we couldn’t have made this progress or passed a bond issue for a new school without working closely with our staff, administrators and community members. We need to keep working with these groups, organizations, and local individuals to make certain our district stays at this level while maintaining a high-quality learning environment. 2) Amherst is my home, and I am invested in this community. I was raised here along with my father, three siblings, and my three children. I work with business owners, citizens, teachers, students and help them collaborate on events and initiatives that bring our community together. Amherst is a great place to live, work, play, and invest and I want what is best for our students, staff, and community. As a lifelong resident, parent, and leader in the local business community, I bring a unique mix of experience that helps to solve problems and guides the district to the next level. 3) I want families to know we are willing to work with each student and parent to meet their individual needs while also striving to make decisions that are best for everyone as a whole. If elected, I would continue that practice and continue to communicate that fact.
http://www.theamherstnewstimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/10/web1_TLG-Photo.jpgTERESA GILLES Occupation: Main Street Amherst Executive Director Education: Bryant and Stratton College of Business 1) The Amherst Exempted Village School District has worked hard to be financially stable through at least 2021. That status is critical to protecting our high-quality programs and retaining our excellent staff. As both a board member and as a member of the facilities advisory committee, I helped make decisions that put us here today, but we couldn’t have made this progress or passed a bond issue for a new school without working closely with our staff, administrators and community members. We need to keep working with these groups, organizations, and local individuals to make certain our district stays at this level while maintaining a high-quality learning environment. 2) Amherst is my home, and I am invested in this community. I was raised here along with my father, three siblings, and my three children. I work with business owners, citizens, teachers, students and help them collaborate on events and initiatives that bring our community together. Amherst is a great place to live, work, play, and invest and I want what is best for our students, staff, and community. As a lifelong resident, parent, and leader in the local business community, I bring a unique mix of experience that helps to solve problems and guides the district to the next level. 3) I want families to know we are willing to work with each student and parent to meet their individual needs while also striving to make decisions that are best for everyone as a whole. If elected, I would continue that practice and continue to communicate that fact.

VALERIE NEIDERT Occupation: Office Manager, Lowe Eklund Wakefield Co., LPA Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting 1) Remaining financially stable is the biggest challenge for the district in my opinion. The district has worked very hard in conjunction with the community to get to this position, and I look forward to being able to help find creative ways to continue doing more with less. While I was a member of the Amherst school board from 2006 through 2013, we aggressively reduced the cost structure of the district to avoid fiscal emergency measures by the state while maintaining an excellent academic rating. This included a program of building consolidation and working with the union to identify and implement a long list of cost-saving actions. Additional accomplishments included restructuring the administration, including hiring a new superintendent and treasurer and implementing creative ways to earn college credit while in high school. My guiding principle has been to improve education for the students while being fiscally responsible to taxpayers. 2) I have been involved in volunteering in the schools. I was a member of the PTO for 16 years, serving in the roles of president, vice president, and treasurer. I volunteered as the treasurer and worked in all aspects of every district levy campaign since 2002. I was a member of the Amherst school board from 2006 through 2013. We aggressively reduced the cost structure of the district to avoid fiscal emergency measures by the state while maintaining an excellent academic rating. This included building consolidation and working with the union to identify and implement a long list cost-saving actions. 3) The school board members represent the community and I feel it’s important for us to keep them informed of the opportunities and challenges facing the school district. This enables the community to be active participants in the decision making process and help form the school board’s decisions on those issues.
http://www.theamherstnewstimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/10/web1_School-board-head-shot-1.jpgVALERIE NEIDERT Occupation: Office Manager, Lowe Eklund Wakefield Co., LPA Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting 1) Remaining financially stable is the biggest challenge for the district in my opinion. The district has worked very hard in conjunction with the community to get to this position, and I look forward to being able to help find creative ways to continue doing more with less. While I was a member of the Amherst school board from 2006 through 2013, we aggressively reduced the cost structure of the district to avoid fiscal emergency measures by the state while maintaining an excellent academic rating. This included a program of building consolidation and working with the union to identify and implement a long list of cost-saving actions. Additional accomplishments included restructuring the administration, including hiring a new superintendent and treasurer and implementing creative ways to earn college credit while in high school. My guiding principle has been to improve education for the students while being fiscally responsible to taxpayers. 2) I have been involved in volunteering in the schools. I was a member of the PTO for 16 years, serving in the roles of president, vice president, and treasurer. I volunteered as the treasurer and worked in all aspects of every district levy campaign since 2002. I was a member of the Amherst school board from 2006 through 2013. We aggressively reduced the cost structure of the district to avoid fiscal emergency measures by the state while maintaining an excellent academic rating. This included building consolidation and working with the union to identify and implement a long list cost-saving actions. 3) The school board members represent the community and I feel it’s important for us to keep them informed of the opportunities and challenges facing the school district. This enables the community to be active participants in the decision making process and help form the school board’s decisions on those issues.

RONALD YACOBOZZI Occupation: President and Owner, 1st Nationwide Title Agency Education: Baldwin-Wallace College, Arizona State University, Ohio Savings and Loan Academy 1) The biggest issue facing the Amherst school system is state funding, which is an issue the state of Ohio has not yet effectively dealt with. Our schools have made significant adjustments to our finances, facilities, and our entire educational system. We must continue to protect our progress while remaining focused on student achievement, but we cannot predict the next moves from the state regarding funding or report cards. Prudent management of the funds our community has entrusted us with is an absolutely a must. There is no substitute for sound investments and cash flow management. Amherst has always taken great care in hiring a treasurer with the experience and credentials required for the position. The superintendent, treasurer, and school board spend countless hours evaluating income and expenses of the district to ensure we always get the “biggest bang for our buck.” 2) I’ve served on this board for the past 39 years and actively participated in shaping the Amherst school district into a positive and high-performing district, resulting in Amherst being recognized as one of the top school districts in the state. I’m passionate about the Amherst Schools and take great pride in the many incredible accomplishments we’ve achieved over the years. Our voters, overwhelming, passed a bond issue this past November which will allow us to build a new PK-3 elementary building and cut operating expenses by $500,000 per year while at the same time maintaining our tax rate with no increases. 3) Prudent management of the funds our community has entrusted us with is an absolute must. There is no substitute for sound investments and cash flow management. Amherst has always taken great care in hiring a treasurer with the experience and credentials required for the position.
http://www.theamherstnewstimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/10/web1_Yacobozzi.jpgRONALD YACOBOZZI Occupation: President and Owner, 1st Nationwide Title Agency Education: Baldwin-Wallace College, Arizona State University, Ohio Savings and Loan Academy 1) The biggest issue facing the Amherst school system is state funding, which is an issue the state of Ohio has not yet effectively dealt with. Our schools have made significant adjustments to our finances, facilities, and our entire educational system. We must continue to protect our progress while remaining focused on student achievement, but we cannot predict the next moves from the state regarding funding or report cards. Prudent management of the funds our community has entrusted us with is an absolutely a must. There is no substitute for sound investments and cash flow management. Amherst has always taken great care in hiring a treasurer with the experience and credentials required for the position. The superintendent, treasurer, and school board spend countless hours evaluating income and expenses of the district to ensure we always get the “biggest bang for our buck.” 2) I’ve served on this board for the past 39 years and actively participated in shaping the Amherst school district into a positive and high-performing district, resulting in Amherst being recognized as one of the top school districts in the state. I’m passionate about the Amherst Schools and take great pride in the many incredible accomplishments we’ve achieved over the years. Our voters, overwhelming, passed a bond issue this past November which will allow us to build a new PK-3 elementary building and cut operating expenses by $500,000 per year while at the same time maintaining our tax rate with no increases. 3) Prudent management of the funds our community has entrusted us with is an absolute must. There is no substitute for sound investments and cash flow management. Amherst has always taken great care in hiring a treasurer with the experience and credentials required for the position.