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Twelve now seek three seats on Vigo school board
August 27, 2016
Tribune-Star staff report
Twelve individuals, including three incumbents, have filed for Vigo County School Board seats.
The filing period closed at noon Friday.
Three of the board’s seven seats are up for election — two in District 1 as well as the District 3 seat.
Those filing this week include District 1 incumbent Mel Burks, Louis “Joe” Duby and Teresa Dwyer.
Burks, who is chief executive officer of Hamilton Center, is seeking his sixth term. Dwyer is an assistant director at Indiana State University’s Career Center.
Duby, who served 20 years on the Terre Haute City Council, said people suggested to him that he run. “People are not happy with what’s going on,” he said, citing the school district FBI probe, bat problems at Sarah Scott Middle School and mold problems at West Vigo High School. “They want a change.”
He previously worked for a construction company and has also been a meat cutter. He now operates a catering business.
Others who have filed in District 1 include incumbent Jackie Lower, who is seeking her third elected term, as well as Leah Myers, John Cunningham, Steve Ferree, Larry Faulkner and Cleytus Malone.
Burks and Dwyer could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
In District 3, incumbent Paul Lockhart has filed for re-election, and he is being challenged by Donald C. Barnett and Andy Theisz. Lockhart is seeking his seventh nonconsecutive term.
Vigo County school board filing starts today
The filing period for Vigo County School Board starts today.
Three of seven seats are up for election — two in District 1 (Harrison Township) as well as the District 3 seat (Otter Creek/Nevins townships). All three incumbents plan to seek re-election, Mel Burks and Jackie Lower in District 1 and Paul Lockhart in District 3.
Leah Myers has announced she plans to run for School Board in District 1.
The filing period ends at noon Aug. 26.
Those who run for the school board must be at least 21 years old; a resident of Vigo County and of the district they want to run in for at least one year; and an Indiana resident for the last two years.
School board members are elected at-large by voters throughout the county and they are paid $2,000 a year.
To file, candidates must have petitions that are signed by at least 10 Vigo County registered voters.
Copyright (c) 2016, The Tribune Star, Edition 7/27/2016
A Chance to Participate: Tribune Star Editorial August 11, 2016
Time right for people to get
involved in school board race
There was a time in Vigo County when school board races were among the more contested, and most competitive, on the election ballot every two years. Upward of double-digit candidates would stack the November ballot, and people from wide and diverse segments of the community would vie for spots on the board that provides critical oversight and direction for perhaps the most important public entity in the county, the Vigo County School Corp.
Oddly, that changed in recent years. While there were some occasionally competitive races, they were few, and the most interesting ones were those in which an incumbent who had been particularly aggressive in questioning administrative policies and actions was targeted and defeated by a new challenger who many believed was being supported, quietly or otherwise, by the administration.
It was a disconcerting trend, but critics of some corporation practices were silenced or ignored. On the other hand, the corporation enjoyed numerous successes in academic achievement and received well-deserved praise and credit for its efforts.
But now the school corporation, for good reasons, is under intense scrutiny from both outside and inside the community. On June 8, the FBI conducted a high-profile raid on the corporation’s administrative building downtown and at two other locations. The agency’s investigation is said to be centered on corporation contracts with vendors. Investigators and public officials won’t comment on the status of the probe but have said it will take time for matters to reach a resolution.
Meanwhile, there is a school board election taking shape.
We’re pleased to see several new candidates joining in the nonpartisan campaign. But we’d like to see more. All incumbents — Jackie Lower, Paul Lockhart and Mel Burks — whose terms are up for re-election on Nov. 8 are running again for their places on the seven-member board. Candidates run to represent districts, but are elected at-large. Every eligible voter in Vigo County can vote in all board races.
With the uncertainty hanging over the corporation and its immediate future, there has never been a better time for robust debate about all phases of public education in Vigo County, including administrative practices. One way for that to happen is for strong candidates to place themselves on the ballot and join the discussion.
Potential candidates have until noon Aug. 26 to file in the county clerk’s office. If you’ve ever considered lending your time and expertise to the public sphere, running in this school board election would be a good place to start.