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November 3, 2012

West Clark has two school board seats up

SELLERSBURG — Two at-large seats are up for grabs in West Clark Community Schools’ board of trustees this election with five candidates running for the positions.

While the district’s financial stability and growing enrollment have helped it keep away from the deep budget cuts of its neighbors, some of the candidates said they’d like to address issues of communication and how to handle the influx of students to the district.

Joe Basham, the sole incumbent in the race, said though consistently rising enrollment helps on the budget end, he doesn’t think the fluctuating student performance that comes with new students is going to be too big a deal.

“We’re doing plenty right for so many people wanting to transfer into our area,” Basham said. “I don’t think we have to make any major changes, we just have to make some tweaks to make things better.”

The 58-year-old heavy equipment mechanic said he thought his first term gives him an advantage over some of his competition. He said he attended several seminars and workshops throughout the state and kept up with the Indiana School Boards Association.

But Robin Long, one of the candidates running for the two seats, said the number of students coming in can have other problems, such increasing class sizes.

“I would say that my concern that we currently have is 150 new students in our district this year and that’s why we don’t have a budget shortfall,” Long said. “But I’m concerned with the class sizes and the number of students coming into the district and whether we can keep those families happy with good academics and resources.”

Nick Ray, the 39-year-old executive director of information technology at Indiana University Southeast, said he would put trust in the superintendent and his administrative team to handle some of those issues regarding instruction.

“On topics of that nature, I would definitely like to see what the superintendent has as far as goals and ideas to remedy that,” Ray said. “From my standpoint, we’re there to help the administration. Those are things that they should be professionally dealing with.”

Ray said, though, that he does hope to get a closer view at how the district handles its money and how it might get more for it.

But he also said he doesn’t have any particular agenda he wants to accomplish other than support the district.

“I think that I want to get in there and learn about how we’re spending our money, how we’re going about the educational academic goals,” Ray said. “One of the reasons I’m running is because I don’t have an overt interest in getting a particular sport or any other short-sighted goal when people run for school board.”

Celia Adams Winters, a 75-year-old Silver Creek High School graduate, said she just wants to help increase the relations to get community members more engaged in the school system.

“I think West Clark Schools in general are doing a very good job financially and really in any way,” Adams Winters said. “Especially in comparison to some local school corporations. And statewide, our attendance rates are above state average. I just think there’s needs to be more communication with the general community. I’m not sure how that might be handled.”

Richard Graf is also running for one of the seats. Attempts were made to contact him, but he was unavailable.

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