By Emily Mills, Akron Beacon Journal
BATH, Ohio (AP) — Mike Kahoe was eager to discuss his recent election to the Revere Board of Education and his plans for the position, from increasing transparency between the board and the community to improving school safety.
But first, the 18-year-old high school senior had to finish up his classes for the day.
Kahoe was elected to the Revere school board Nov. 5, receiving the most votes of any of the seven candidates in his race.
“Because of my age, there were a lot of people who counted me out, at first at least,” Kahoe said. “And then once I spoke to them, they understood what I was talking about, and they realized that I had some good ideas and good viewpoints, and they grew to like me.”
According to Ohio law, those who want to run for school board must be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old. They must also be a resident of the state, the school district and registered to vote in the school district, all for at least 30 days preceding the election.
Even though he’s a student, Kahoe meets all those qualifications — just barely, since he turned 18 on Oct. 10.
The Bath resident said his perspective as a student attending the district since kindergarten gave him unique insight into the board’s actions over the years — something no other board member has.
“Every single decision they made the past 12 years, it affected me,” he said.
The idea to run for school board had been in the back of his mind for a while as he learned about local government in social studies classes and realized it could be a possibility.
He decided to run this summer, spurred to action by his concern over what he saw as a lack of transparency between the board and community, including the handling of the dismissal of the district’s entire football coaching staff after they admitted to drinking alcohol at an offseason camp.
“The thing that upset me most about that situation is the lack of communication with the parents, because that’s really a big issue for parents is making sure their kids are safe,” said Kahoe, a football captain who’s played the sport since second grade.
Kahoe’s experience with the Lantern, the school’s student newspaper, over the last three years also showed him the importance of transparency.
“We always talk about how government is supposed to be out in the light …. It’s newspapers’ jobs to report on that, and so that’s kind of brought the issue of transparency to the forefront for me,” said Kahoe, the paper’s associate editor.
While campaigning, Kahoe wanted to walk the talk when it came to being transparent, knocking on more than 1,000 doors between himself and volunteers, along with making phone calls, sending mail and sharing his cellphone number with anyone who wanted it.
Once he takes office in January, Kahoe plans to implement a three-step plan to improve transparency: filming a three- to five-minute recap video of all board meetings, filming board meetings in their entirety and posting them on the district website and hosting “Meet Your Board Members” meetings.
Kahoe also plans to focus on school safety, pledging to donate his $3,000 annual salary to the Revere Schools Foundation to be used for safety and security measures.
The student council vice president and class vice president said he’ll balance his schedule by focusing on school board business when he’s not in school and school business — including his AP physics, AP calculus and College Credit Plus government classes — during school.
Kahoe will join incumbents Claudia Hower, Diana Sabitsch and Keith Malick, who won the other seats on the ballot for the five-member school board in Tuesday’s election, along with current board member and president George Seifert.
Kahoe will replace board member and vice president Dana Appel, who served two terms and decided not to run again.
Revere officials said Kahoe is the district’s only student board member they know of in recent memory.
“I congratulate Mike and welcome him to the Revere Board,” Superintendent Matthew Montgomery said in a prepared statement. “Every one of our Board members brings a different perspective. While having a student on the Board is new territory for our district, it certainly has happened in other districts and I’m confident we will all work well together.”
State Rep. Bill Roemer, R-Richfield, taught Honors Algebra 2 to a freshman Kahoe, calling him a “very excellent student.”
While in high school, Kahoe, whom Roemer called “an unusually mature 18-year-old,” volunteered on Roemer’s campaign, along with campaigns for U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez and State Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson.
“I think bringing new blood, bringing new ideas, a fresh set of ideas into a position like that really has an advantage,” Roemer said. “He’s a very impressive young man, and I’m sure he will do an excellent job as a member of the school board.”
His mother, Valerie Kahoe, said she was “a little bit in shock” when her son first told her he wanted to run for school board and was concerned people might not take him seriously because of his age.
“He truly devoted every free moment outside of school and football to having people listen to his points and to realize why he was running and that he had legitimate concerns and things that he wanted to change, and that he wasn’t just some kid that was just doing it on a whim or anything, that he truly believed in the things that he was talking about,” she said.
After graduation next spring, Kahoe plans to attend college locally, either at Case Western Reserve University or the University of Akron, since he was elected to a four-year term at Revere.
He’s still split on a major: either engineering or a double major in political science and business. He’s leaning toward the latter.
“I had a lot of fun campaigning,” he said. “And I think I’m gonna have a lot of fun being on the school board.”
Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, http://www.ohio.com
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