TOLEDO, Ohio — Remote learning, teacher shortages and other issues have challenged schools for the past few years, which places even more importance on the race for the District 2 representative on the Ohio Board of Education.

Springfield Local Schools hosted a forum Tuesday at the district offices to give local education leaders a chance to talk to candidates Teresa Fedor and Sarah McGervey.

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But, teacher and republican candidate Sarah McGervey's campaign said she was unable to attend the forum. State Sen. Teresa Fedor attended, which still gave local school leaders a chance to ask questions about Ohio education issues.

Questions to Senator Fedor focused on how she would handle different challenges Ohio schools are facing.

"Mental health issues are becoming a barrier for many students, what role should the state board take in assisting school districts and students?" Moderator and Perrysburg Schools Superintendent Tom Hosler asked.

"We need to get back to evaluating the healthcare coverage for families, but the mental health coverage, and then where can we fill in those gaps," Fedor said.

The audience consisted of superintendents and school leaders from across the area. As Election Day on Nov. 8 draws closer, the next state board member could have serious effects on Ohio's education system in the coming years.

Local education leaders presented their questions on notecards, which were then read by the moderators.

"Where do you stand on topics like CRT, the 1619 project, and drag queen story times?" Hosler asked from one of the notecards.

"Critical race theory is a Washington DC extreme volley," Fedor said.

However, there was one issue from local superintendents that seemed to trump all the others: adequately-funded schools.

"Fair school funding, fair school funding, fair school funding," Washington Local Schools Superintendent Kadee Anstadt said.

Ottawa Hills Local Schools Superintendent Adam Fineske and Anstadt said that current public school funding through taxes is oftentimes leaving them empty. But Fedor's answers give them hope that could change.

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"The fact that she's willing to try to make that better is huge," Fineske said.

"She's championed for public schools," Anstadt said. "I think she would represent us well on the state board."

Fedor said she's disappointed she wasn't able to have a discussion with her opponent, but hopes she was able to effectively convey her goals: increased programming, better funding and avoiding extremist rhetoric from left or right.

"Teachers need the tools to teach, children need the tools to learn and we need parents to know we're not going to have culture wars in our classroom," Fedor said.

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