Duke is running for the Board because it is time for new leadership and ideas. He feels it is important to achieve a better balance between delivering a first-class education for our children while minimizing the burden on the taxpayers of Strongsville. “The board should operate more like a business, more like a board of directors” he said. I understand that many taxpayers are tapped out and tired of levy after levy.
Although constrained by contracts, we must figure out how to deliver a first-class education for our kids while containing costs. The citizens of Strongsville have proven willing time and again to support the schools. They deserve to have their hard earned dollars spent as efficiently as possible.”
With the $81 Million school renovation/construction projects pending, it is more important than ever to have project management experience on the board. Duke also thinks the Board should work on full-time Kindergarten and eliminating “pay to play” fees.
To the Editor:
As a former senior Air Force officer, B-52 bomber pilot, and military base commander, Duke Evans has the leadership, courage, resolve, people skills and project management experience to lead a re-tooled Strongsville School Board. Additionally, since retiring from the Air Force, Duke Evans has expanded the breadth of his leadership skills while working as a manager for a large telecommunications company where he has had many opportunities to successfully negotiate with the company’s unionized workforce. Duke and his wife sent their two kids through the Strongsville school system and now he wants to serve on the school board to ensure that the Strongsville kids of today and tomorrow are able to get the same great education his kids got.
Duke Evans and his family moved to our neighborhood in 1998. Immediately, Duke and I bonded because we are retired veteran military officers. Duke, an Air Force Academy graduate, retired after more than 20 years as a full bird colonel, and I served as a first lieutenant for two brief years, serving time as a company commander in Vietnam.
During his career, Duke was a group commander in Operation Desert Storm, operations group commander for the largest Bomber Wing in the world and a military base commander which included responsibility for several schools. He personifies the values of responsibility, organization, integrity, selflessness and hard work. In Duke’s world, there are no excuses, and failure is not an option.
He is not running for school board because it will make him financially successful; he believes it is the right thing to do. His children graduated from Strongsville schools years ago, and he is on a mission to pay forward the goodness his youngsters received.
Duke is a straight-forward communicator and an even better listener. He maintains that failing dialogue led to the recent strike which hurt both our children and our community, and he pledges to correct the breakdown.
The upcoming election of school board officials will not only be critical to the success or continued downward slide of our Strongsville schools, but to our property values as well. Our community was nationally embarrassed by the teacher’s strike and how poorly it was handled by our school board. The aftermath has been anything but healing and unifying. We have PTU’s where teachers refuse to participate, bomb threats and denial by some current school board members that the negotiations could have been handled differently (better) by the board. One current member recently defended the board’s decision not to meet with the union in the mayor’s office with a somewhat flip response of: “That’s easy. Our negotiation team has about 60 years of labor negotiations experience.” To that I would say, simply by repeating poor “experiences” does not make for success. Repeating and refining successful experiences make for continued growth and success. With that level of denial and naivete we will be doomed to repeat the same mistakes when the next contract comes due in two years.
It’s my opinion that we need fresh, new, proven competent leaders such as Col. Duke Evans on our school board. Duke’s record of achievement is undeniable and publicly available for all to see. His military accomplishments of leading not only the soldiers under his command, but successfully managing an Air Force base and its physical plant have provided Duke with a wealth of successful experience that would be of great value to our school board. Strongsville schools need strong proven leaders like Duke that possess business acumen and negotiating skills that are critical to successful outcomes of both labor and business contracts.
I am writing this letter to encourage the residents of Strongsville to elect retired Air Force Colonel Duke Evans to the Strongsville school board. His leadership skills and business acumen is desperately needed for Strongsville's school board. The events of this past spring must not be repeated, and Duke Evans is the man we need on the board to ensure we will never go down that path again. As the commander of an Air Force base, he oversaw public schools and dealt with union employees. What that means for Strongsville is that the taxpayers and parents have a representative on the board, who understands how to listen, negotiate with reason and put our kids first.
Furthermore, I believe Duke Evans will run the board more like a business, where the board sets the strategic vision and looks for opportunities to save taxpayer money. I know Duke can find waste in the district's $70 million budget, and with those savings there can be better technology in the classrooms, more funding for sports and extracurricular activities and less levies for us taxpayers.
A new vision and new set of leadership skills is required for Strongsville's school board, and I know Duke Evans can bring that to the Board. Duke is the fresh breath of air we need for the board, and he will be there for our children and the taxpayers of Strongsville. On Nov. 5, I will be voting for Duke Evans for Strongsville school board, and I encourage my fellow taxpayers and parents of Strongsville to do the same.
From the Post News September 7, 2013
Colonel Duke Evans has my respect; he’ll do great things
To the Editor:
I was thrilled to see that such a great leader as retired Air Force Colonel Duke Evans has stepped forward to provide his skills managing large-scale fiscal projects, his vast experience in consensus building and the leadership he acquired and demonstrated as a senior Air Force officer to the Strongsville school board. He will provide the kind of leadership and decision-making skills that this great city needs to recover from last year’s school strike. Furthermore, he will help insure that this community is taught by top-notch teachers, has the best educational facilities feasible and that our schools will provide an outstanding education and extra-curricular activities to both current and future students as we help them grow into the responsibility of adulthood.
I want to share why I know that Duke Evans has the courage, the abilities and the commitment needed to replace the outgoing board member. First of all, as a long-range bomber pilot flying the B-52, Duke courageously flew on the front lines in the Cold War. Duke made true “life or death” decisions in his career as a pilot and commander and is also a veteran of Desert Storm in 1991 and Desert Strike in 1996. Secondly, Duke spent his military career honing the skills necessary to lead a team, manage projects, meet objectives and, most importantly, do the right thing whether or not it was the popular thing to do.
STRONGSVILLE – The deadline to file for the November election has passed, and there are now three candidates in the race for two seats on the Strongsville school board.
Retired Air Force Col. Duke Evans was the last to announce that he will make a run for one of the seats. The other two contenders are incumbent Jennifer Sinisgalli and newcomer George Grozan.
Evans said that, following a difficult year of dealing with the eight-week teachers’ strike, it is time for new blood on the board. He called the strike “unsettling,” and said that he wants to do something positive to help the school district and give back to the community.
“Both of my kids went through the schools, and we had a much more stable environment then,” Evans said. “We can’t afford to have the fighting going on.”
He and his wife, Maria, have lived in Strongsville since 1998. Their children graduated from Strongsville High School in 2000 and 2004.
Evans has a history working to make school districts operate efficiently. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1976 and then retired from his career in the Air Force in 1997. He was a Base Commander of Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, where he worked closely with the Minot City Schools to upgrade the schools on the base. He has worked through contract negotiations with the Government Workers Union as well as the Communication Workers of America.
He currently works as a lead processing quality manager for AT&T. If elected to the board, one of his top priorities would be making the school operations more efficient.
“You can’t just throw money at schools and expect results,” he said. “Our schools and our teachers are good. With a tight budget, you have to operate efficiently so that you aren’t going back to the taxpayers for a levy all the time.”
He would like to see the board operate more like a business and work toward the goals of the city.
“Everything is connected. Schools are a big part of home values and the city as a whole. We need to be one Strongsville,” Evans said.
The candidates will be campaigning throughout the summer and fall in preparation for the November election.