In this episode, Mark Kingseed, former mayor of Centerville, Ohio, discusses the value of local governance in public schools, the future of community-based schools and the relationship between local schools and their communities.

Kingseed, who served as mayor of the Dayton-area community for 12 years beginning in 2003, says it’s critical that a city to work hand-in-hand with the local school board.

Strong schools make strong communities, he says, and help draw young families that put down roots for 20 or 30 years.

“The public schools in Centerville are crucial to the identity of the community,” Kingseed tells host Joel Gagne. “It really has a huge impact on the property values, which is crucial, of course. If they have the opportunity and the economic resources, they (young families) are going to move into a community that’s got great schools.”

Kingseed acknowledges good schools don’t happen without investment, but stresses a balance can be found.

Communication is key to ensure residents know their tax dollars are being put to good use.

“The school board and the other institutions in the community, the local government… there’s got to be, ideally, a lot of communication flowing back and forth,” Kingseed says. “The political leaders in the community need to understand what the needs of the school board are. There needs to be a pretty clear pathway of communication so that no one is blind-sided with levies that are put on the ballot that are more than what people expect – or weren’t expected at all.”

With this week’s podcast conversation revolving around the relationship between communities and schools, Kingseed says he feels community-based schools are a better alternative to charter or “regional” schools.

Communities shouldn’t want decisions to be made in Columbus or in Washington, D.C., he argues, when they can be made at the local level.

“I think it’s a mistake to drain money away from public schools to support charters and private schools,” Kingseed says. “I just think that the public schools have such a historic importance. From an equity point of view… we have to absolutely ensure the public schools have the best teachers, the best equipment.”