Chesterton Tribune

Elected School Board needed for Valparaiso Schools

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Guest Commentary

By Kevin Cornett

Of the 293 school corporations in Indiana, 281 have elected school boards. Of the remaining 12 districts, the Valparaiso Community Schools is the largest with an appointed board.

The appointment process allows the Valparaiso City Council to select 4 members and the Center Township Advisory Board to appoint 1. To be specific there are nine white men and one woman who have selected five white men to sit on the board of education. Of those five men, there are three lawyers, one economist and one retired principal.

This is not a very diverse group to represent a school district of approximately 40,000 people. This undemocratic appointment process protects those appointed to the board  from being accountable to the taxpayer. If you have been to a school board meeting in the last year you would see their arrogance.

Does this body of ten people believe that they are far smarter than the common taxpayer?

Do they believe that we lack the intelligence of the other 99% of Hoosiers who elect their school boards? Or is this actually a way to suppress the vote in Valparaiso so they can remain in control? A 20 percent voter turnout kept the city council in office in 2010. Having a chance to elect the school board may bring more people out to vote.

Why do the mayor and city council continue to cling to an appointed board? They have all said in the last election that they would support an elected board if the citizens wanted it. I am finding that after collecting hundreds of signatures that over 90% of the people asked want an elected board.

The only people that are reluctant to sign the petition for an elected board are people that either work for the school system or the city of Valparaiso. Both of these groups are worried about retaliation against themselves or their children if they show support for an elected board.

Approving the budget and hiring the superintendent are two of the school board's responsibilities. Hiring a superintendent has become an embarrassing problem seeing how will have had 5 superintendents 5 years. The state law, HB1072, that was passed has made the county council responsible for the VCS budget, further substantiating that the appointed school board has become a liability.

The city council could move us to an elected board now and we could have people on the ballot for the school board for election day.

If you are tired of the appointed school board please sign our petition.
We will be collecting signatures at the Porter County Fair this week. You can also sign the petition at the CTDC office at 259 Indiana. Contact us at electvalpoboard@yahoo.com

or call 219-262-7616

Posted 7/23/2012