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Indiana Daily Student

Voter guide: Monroe County Community School Corporation Board of Trustees Election

<p>Bloomington High School South is one of multiple buildings in the Monroe County Community School Corporation. </p>

Bloomington High School South is one of multiple buildings in the Monroe County Community School Corporation.

The Indiana Daily Student sent a list of questions to the candidates in races in the region and state. Throughout the next week, we will be publishing the candidates' responses.

Four of the seven Monroe County Community School Corporation School Board positions are up for election in the 2020 general election. One candidate, Keith Klein of District 5, is running uncontested. 

District 2

Sue Wanzer (incumbent)

Wanzer is the current vice president of the MCCSC School Board. She has been on the board since 2001. She is also a part of Bloomington’s Housing Authority board and is highly in favor of hiring more social workers in schools.

What is your top priority if elected?

One of the major issues is the lack of money for public education, and I keep fighting for that. Another thing I’ve done is fight the state against ISTEP grades. It doesn’t really say anything about student success.

What attributes are you looking for in the next superintendent for MCCSC?

We need open and transparent communication. I believe in a place like Bloomington and Monroe County, we need to involve the public and make sure the public understands every step of the way with everything we’re doing.

Do you support raising teacher salaries?

I have always supported raising teacher’s salaries. To me, this is the most disappointing thing, they take out money to pay for charter schools and vouchers for private schools first. That’s a state issue, and until we elect different people in the state, I’m afraid that education isn’t going to get what we deserve.

April Hennessey

Hennessey a digital learning specialist and a former MCCSC English teacher. She has three children. According to her campaign website, her goals if elected are to ensure “equity within and beyond the classroom” and to close the income disparity gap between schools in the district.

Hennessey did not respond to the IDS’ request for an interview.

Matthew Smith

Smith works as a project manager with C&C Sheet Metal and is a father to two. He served in the National Guard for 12 years. Smith decided to run for school board after he said he felt concerned for his daughters’ future.

What is your top priority if elected?

If elected, Smith said he would reinstate a sense of leadership on the board.

What attributes are you looking for in the next superintendent for MCCSC?

I look for someone who’s already been working in a challenging environment. If they were successful in a district that doesn’t have all the resources we do, then I would imagine them to excel here where they have more resources at their disposal.

Diversity does not play a role to me at all. I want the most qualified person. I don’t care who they are or what their makeup is or where they’re from.

Do you support raising teacher salaries?

I’m always going to be in favor of raising teachers’ salaries whenever it’s feasible and in a reasonable manner. I don’t believe in going into debt to raise teachers’ salaries. That would be irresponsible.

District 4

Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer (incumbent)

Fuentes-Rohwer is the current president of the MCCSC School Board and mother to four. She is running for her second term after joining the board in 2017. In addition to her role on the school board, she is the co-founder and president of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

What is your top priority if elected?

I’ve been doing a lot of public education advocacy because I’ve seen that there has been an attack on public education and an effort to privatize it from the state and federal level. 

What attributes are you looking for in the next superintendent for MCCSC?

I think we will need to help this person transition into a new role and going on preparation for a referendum in two years because that’s a big deal, and you need to start making those relationships as a superintendent.

Do you support raising teacher salaries?

Of course I support teachers’ salaries. I would like nothing more than to raise teachers’ salaries. We are headed into some really difficult times when it comes to our budget for public education. We’re going to have to fight for public funding in this session.

Marsha Lovejoy

Lovejoy is a full-time communications professional at Cook Medical and has three children. She said she ran for school board to be a voice for the working parents in the community. 

What is your top priority if elected?

Over the past several months, I’ve realized that there’s a real need for clear communication. I am a communications professional, and that’s a specialized skill set that could be of real value to the school board.

What attributes are you looking for in the next superintendent for MCCSC?

I would want to make sure that the superintendent aligns with children first and equity for students — someone who is going to listen and communicate clearly.

Do you support raising teacher salaries?

We have a recruitment and retention problem with teachers, and we need to do a lot of work here. One of those things would be looking at salaries to make sure they are competitive and adjusted for the cost of living in Bloomington. 

District 5

Keith Klein (incumbent)

Klein joined the school board as a representative for District 5 in 2009. He is a part of the adjunct faculty at Ivy Tech Bloomington where he previously was the chair of the communications department. He is also a part of WGCL radio.

According to his response to the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s questionnaire, he seeks to “oversee financial affairs of the district in a fiscally prudent manner,” and “advocate on behalf of students.”

Klein did not respond to the IDS’ request for an interview.

District 6

Jacinda Townsend Gides (incumbent)

Townsend Gides joined the school board in January of this year. She said she returned to Bloomington in part because of MCCSC and what she said it has been able to provide for her children. She is a novelist and was Berea College’s Appalachian Writer in Residence this past spring.

What is your top priority if elected?

I would like to preserve as many teachers and staff jobs as possible because if we lose teachers, we lose what makes MCCSC so good.

Do you support raising teacher salaries?

Absolutely, teachers have never been paid enough. They’re being called essential workers, and it’s just shameful that we’re not paying them what they’re worth. They’re disease-screeners, social workers, tech gurus, on top of being teachers.

What attributes are you looking for in the next superintendent for MCCSC?

I think transparency is a big value that we should be looking for, someone who doesn’t shy away from saying the hard things.

Philip N. Eskew Jr.

Eskew sat on the IU Board of Trustees from 2006-2018 and was a part of the Carmel City School Board for 12 years. He is a retired physician and was the son of a superintendent growing up. 

What is your top priority if elected?

The full education and preparation of our students to be vigorous and productive members of society. We must prepare all students with the skills and educational background for jobs beyond high school, for Ivy Tech or college careers. To provide mental health support for all students and teachers in this stressful period. 

What attributes are you looking for in the next superintendent for MCCSC?

 I want a superintendent that has had experience as a superintendent in various sized schools,” Eskew said. “I think a superintendent learns something from every school they are in. Any superintendent that we hire has to have the ability to communicate with the public, teachers and students.

Do you support raising teacher salaries?

We must work with our local legislative leaders as well as the state legislature to increase teacher and support staff salaries.

This story only includes candidates who are on the ballot.

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