November 1, 2023
Pickerington Online’s Meet the Candidates
There are many reasons to reelect Cathy Olshefski for Pickerington School Board on November 7.
“I am present in the district, the community, and the conversation. I am engaged. I ask questions. I do my homework. I am prepared for meetings. I have experience. I am accessible to both the community and staff. Whether it’s in person, on social media, or by phone … I listen.
I am not a group thinker. Rather, I am an INDEPENDENT VOICE. And I am not afraid to ask the tough questions to get to the heart of a matter.”
During her 12 years on the board, for Olshefski the most memorable moments have been the challenging ones.
“The 13% cuts we went through in 2010,” Olshefski said. “The COVID instructional years we just completed … really tough times … but they are examples of when this district truly rose to the level of excellence and met those challenges head on. We worked together and came out stronger in the end.”
The district’s biggest concerns:
“Space continues to be at a premium right now.,” Olshefski said. “Our classrooms and buildings and staff are all at or beyond capacity. The reality is this – if we need more space, we must build more buildings. And if we build more buildings, we must ask the voters to approve a levy/bond.
Unfortunately, it took FOUR attempts over SIX years to pass the bond in November 2022. By the time the construction is completed (estimated 2026-27) — and if enrollment continues to increase at projected rates — we will be overdue for additional facilities.”
Olshefski frequently questions the administration:
- Are we utilizing all classrooms as efficiently as possible?
- Can we conduct an official audit of space availability and use?
- How big do we want our high schools to get? And when is it time to begin real discussions of a third high school?
- What is our plan for Heritage Elementary when we shift those students over to the current Ridgeview?
Olshefski also believes that staffing needs to be adjusted for some student populations.
“The primary reason families move to Pickerington and enroll their children in our schools is the academic opportunities we provide to ALL students – regardless of academic acumen,” Olshefski said.
The growth of English Learner, gifted, and special education student populations is faster than the overall student population.
“I have asked the administration to take a hard look at our staffing for these student populations and determine where we need to do a better job at providing support for both our students and existing staff,” she said. “In my opinion, some class sizes are simply too large for one instructor. Therefore, I believe it is time to get serious about hiring instructional aides in classrooms that are near, at, or beyond their intended capacities.”
“Communication is never perfect,” Olshefski said. “But two-way communication (which involves active listening) must be a priority by all stakeholders. I believe that the district at all levels needs to work on its communication skills. And I also believe that our parents and caregivers need to feel like they are a welcomed participant in the process.”
Who is Cathy Olshefski?
“27 years ago, my husband accepted a job in Columbus,” Olshefski said. “We visited 26 homes for sale in 2.5 days, all the time lugging around our 4-month-old in a child carrier. As we were doing research on where in Columbus we wanted to live and raise our son, I ran across an article on public school districts in Central Ohio.
After reading the article, I called the reporter and asked him some questions. Specifically, I asked him about his comments regarding Pickerington Local Schools, as they were rather positive. This is what he told me:
‘Pickerington is an up and coming community just east of Columbus. It has a lot of land for growth and development … but the schools are simply superb … and I believe will only get better over time.’
Well, that clinched the deal for us. We moved here in July 1997 when our son was 6 months old … and I began my involvement with the schools five years later when he started kindergarten at Violet Elementary.”
How you may know Cathy
- 26-year resident
- married, 1 child (attended PSLD all 13 years), 1 dog, 1 cat
- Grace Fellowship Church, member (18 years)
- PLSD Board of Education, member (12 years)
- PTO, member at all building levels (13 years)
- Pickerington Education Foundation, board member (10 years)
- Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce, past recipient of community volunteer award
- Pickerington Food Pantry, supporter
Olshefski has lived in the community for 26 years and her family attends Grace Fellowship Church. She served as a PTO member for 13 years at all building levels and she has been a board member for the Pickerington Education Foundation. She is a past recipient of the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce “Community Volunteer Award” and she has supported the Pickerington Food Pantry.
What others are saying about Cathy Olshefski:
The Pickerington Education Association (PEA) has endorsed Olshefski. This is the union that represents the district’s certified personnel (teachers, counselors, nurses, etc.).
The Pickerington Support Staff Association (PSSA) has recommended Olshefski to its members. This is the union that represents the district’s classified personnel (secretaries, custodians, paraprofessionals, etc.). Due to its non-profit status, the PSSA recommends (vs. endorses) candidates.
The Pickerington Black Parents’ Network (PBPN) has endorsed Olshefski. With over 350 active members, the PBPN is a vital and influential organization within our community, representing the interests and concerns of the parents and families of children who identify as Black/African American in Pickerington.
For more information at cathy4schoolboard.com.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this community as a member of the Board of Education. I believe in these schools and what we’re doing to provide academic success for all of our students.”
Pickerington Online does not endorse any candidates or issues.