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Local boards for school districts prepare for elections

Monday, October 15, 2012 - 8:19 am

Candidates have filed to run for county school boards, and because of recent legislation preventing school board member elections from taking place in the spring, a number of seats are up for grabs for the November election.

Fort Wayne Community Schools

Three of seven seats are up for re-election in November in FWCS: Districts 2, 3 and 5. The current board approved a new boundary map for school board member districts, so districts may have changed slightly since the previous election. Current incumbents are John Peirce in District 2; Becky Hill in District 3 and Steve Corona in District 5. All three incumbents filed to run for re-election, but only Peirce and Hill have challengers.

District 2

Peirce made his name by running the unsuccessful campaign for the district’s $500 million building project back in 2007, but saw success in May as the leader of the district’s $119 million building project campaign. He has served on the board for more than four years after being chosen through an application process by the FWCS board in June 2008 to replace Carol Coen when she resigned. Peirce finished out Coen’s term and ran for re-election in November 2008.

Glenna Jehl will challenge Pierce for the District 2 spot. Jehl managed Matt Kelty’s unsuccessful campaign in 2007 to be the Republican mayoral candidate.

District 3

Incumbent Becky Hill is running for her second term on the FWCS board and is being challenged by former Snider High School Spanish teacher Kerry Miller and business owner Michael Davis.

Miller is a retired teacher who said he’s spent 54 years as either a student or a teacher in the district. His concerns are mostly related to the treatment and support of teachers, but said he’s not a one-issue candidate.

“Teacher morale is terrible,” he said. “Teachers are over-administrated and under-supported.”

He said he would like to have further conversations with central office administrators about the number of layers of bureaucracy. Other areas Miller believes are important are class sizes and the way teachers are supported in regards to student discipline. Miller admits he would just be one of seven members, but “I’m going to vote for what I think is right for students and teachers.”

Davis, the owner of an information technology business, said he decided to run because while the district is improving, he sees a greater potential for the district to improve in a number of areas like school safety, academics, spending locally and transparency.

“We need to be raising the bar,” he said. “But the debate becomes how.”

Davis, whose three children attended FWCS kindergarten through high school, said the district has awesome teachers but not enough support.

“We need to empower our teachers to do the job they were educated to do,” he said.

He also would like more action taken to prevent disruptions in the classroom, bullying and serious violence in schools. Davis believes that more open discussion between the community and the board is needed, particularly through televising the public comment part of the board’s meeting. A current policy of the board doesn’t include public comment as part of its meetings, so it isn’t televised.

Northwest Allen County Schools

In District 1, incumbent Donald Duff will face Kent Somers. Duff took over the District 1 seat from his late wife in January 2003, then won the seat himself in 2004.

District 2 representative Paul Sloffer is running for a second term, uncontested. Sloffer has served on the board since 1992.

Southwest Allen County Schools

In District 1, incumbent and board secretary John Blum will run against Joseph Greco. In District 2, Jason Kuchmay will challenge incumbent and board president Mark Gilpin, and Sherry Chapman and Meagan Milne will vie for the District 3 at-large seat. Both Gilpin and Blum have served on the board since 2000.

Chapman is no stranger to the board, but hasn’t held a spot for two years. In 2002, she ran successfully for the District 2 spot, which she held until 2010. She ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for the District 1 spot.

Editor's Note: A preview of the East Allen County Schools board races will appear in Tuesday's edition of The News-Sentinel and on www.news-sentinel.com.