Opinion | Susan Knopf: Leadership for Summit School District | SummitDaily.com
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Opinion | Susan Knopf: Leadership for Summit School District

Susan Knopf
For the Record

Our Nov. 2 school board election is a microcosm of the greater political conflict being fought nationally and in every little borough. There are those who want to fight the Civil War again, as if the bloodiest battle in U.S. history didn’t cause enough damage.

For the record, neither the Civil War nor the Civil Rights Act created the altruistic outcome of equality. Persistent racism deprives people of opportunities and equal justice. Marginalization of people hurts our economy and burdens taxpayers.

We see inequality play out in differing opportunities within our school district. Five candidates would like to stick their heads in the sand and pretend you can improve test scores without addressing inequalities within the system.



Four candidates, including three incumbents, are working and addressing all issues facing our district. Their ultimate goal is to create a system that promotes happy, healthy, drug-free kids, excelling in their classes.

The road to that goal is not without real and political obstacles. The four candidates I endorse have the skills and credentials to get the job done. The Summit County Education Association election committee agrees. So does the Summit County Democratic Central Committee.



  • Incumbent and School Board President Kate Hudnut
  • Incumbent Johanna Kugler
  • Incumbent Lisa Webster
  • Political newcomer Chris Guarino, who is not new to the workings of our district

All the candidates support goals identified in the school board’s newly passed strategic plan. The key goal they each agree upon — which helps us raise our test scores — is to meet each child where they are and to help each student excel. This approach addresses inequities in the system and helps elevate students to achieve their individual potential.

All candidates want to do everything possible to attract and retain excellent teachers and staff. Hudnut said she is proud of the teacher wage increases included in this year’s budget and acknowledged the school board has to continue to work toward progress in this area.

County commissioners and staff will be delighted that several candidates said they are looking at partnership opportunities to use existing school district assets to create affordable housing opportunities for school teachers and staff. Amen.

All have kids in the district. All are impressive people with whom you’d want to spend an evening chatting, laughing and discussing community issues. They are people I trust to put in the time, invest their best efforts and lead with compassion.

Guarino has worked closely with Summit School District consulting and managing construction projects for 15 years.

Hudnut, a 27-year resident of Summit County, is a partner in GatherHouse. That’s the cool place where you can buy hand-blown glass goods or sign up to make glass objects. Hudnut has long served our county on a variety of boards.

Kugler — I don’t know where she finds the time. She has three elementary-age kids. They help raising chickens and canning hundreds of canned goods from their garden. She also has a master’s in administrative leadership and policies studies with an emphasis in early childhood education. In the Summit Daily’s Best of Summit contest, she was named 2020 virtual teacher of the year.

Webster is a prep cook and a baker. She’s also a graduate of the Air Force Academy and a retired U.S. Air Force major, who flew C-130s and taught others to follow in her flight path.

Wow! What I love about Summit County is the quality of people you meet here.

Guarino will make a great addition to the school board. He astutely identified, “We need a consensus builder.” He said he hopes that as the board looks for the permanent superintendent, it will find someone who will be “an open door for our community” and build community and staff relationships. I particularly like that he sees the need to balance academic and technical education, helping each child to leave high school ready for the next step.

If you want to see the real issues facing our school district addressed by innovative professionals who care, check the boxes for Guarino, Hudnut, Kugler and Webster. Then let your voice be heard — not just the day we vote on critical pieces of policy. Invest your time to see your interests served in our democracy. Vote!


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