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 Four Vying for Vacant CAB School Board Seat

August 20, 2008 - The Charles A. Beard School Board interviewed four candidates last week for the Greensboro Township seat left vacant with board member Ron Womack's resignation last month.

The interviews took place during a special meeting on Aug. 12. The four applicants, Kenneth Hunter, David Irwin, Tom Schaetzle and Jim Toth, were each given a few minutes for introductory remarks, then answered questions from the board's six members, who were expected to select Womack's replacement during last night's regular monthly meeting, which was held after the news deadline for this week's issue.

Three of the applicants, Hunter, Irwin and Schaetzle, currently have children enrolled in CAB schools. The fourth applicant, Toth, has two children who are not yet school age.

Hunter, an EMT and member of the Greensboro Volunteer Fire Dept., said that the redistricting proposal affecting Kennard Elementary students was a key issue that motivated him to seek the seat. He also said he has a desire to get more involved with the school corporation.

Asked to identify a top priority, Hunter said he wants to see CAB find a way to get a social worker for elementary students. This position was one of five that was eliminated in the spring of 2006 as a way of dealing with a financial shortfall.

"I understand why that position was eliminated," Hunter said. "I don't necessarily agree with it."

Irwin, a lifelong Greensboro Township resident, and former factory worker who now farms and is involved in tool sales, told the board he wants to be part of making CAB better. While he said he knew the job would be not be "a picnic," he said he was up to the task.

"I'm well aware that there's a lot of tough decision ahead," Irwin said. "I don't think anyone's ignorant of that." He said he thought one of the big challenges is trying to come up with a plan for air conditioning at the elementary schools.

"We've got to do something to make the kids comfortable," he said, noting that one of his own children experienced headaches last year due to the heat in her classroom. "That's not a good educational environment.

Irwin said he would also like to see local property taxes reduced further and to see improvements in CAB's educational performance. While he said education needs to always be the main focus, he said the school corporation can't break the bank to provide them.

Schaetzle, an executive for an information technology consulting firm in Indianapolis, told board members he and his family moved to Greensboro Township from Greenfield in 2000. He said both he and his wife had been actively involved at Kennard Elementary, and he saw participating on the school board as a way of helping to improve CAB.

"For me, it's being able to get more involved in the community," Schaetzle said of being on the board. "… To me, it's just another opportunity to serve."

In addition to overseeing 60-70 employees at his job, Schaetlze said his work involves analyzing strengths and weaknesses, setting goals and developing strategies for accomplishing them. He said he's good at doing these things and believed they are skills that would benefit CAB.

Although Toth, a chemist for Eli Lilly who moved to Indiana in 2000, was the only applicant who does not currently have children enrolled in CAB schools, he told the board said he still has a vested interest in seeing CAB be the best it can be. The father of a one-year-old and four-year-old said not having children yet in school could actually be a benefit, allowing him to look at and deal with issues without the conflicts that may present themselves to members who currently have children enrolled as students.

While he said CAB must try to provide students with the best education available, Toth said the financial burden on taxpayers must also be kept in mind. "We cannot forget the taxpayers because taxpayers made this possible," he said.

Toth told board members that research he did showed students graduating from Knightstown High School lag behind the state average in terms of how many continue their education after graduation. He said he thought reversing that trend needs to be a priority.

Working as an IHSAA football official, Toth said he thought CAB should consider building a new football stadium near the new high school. He said he thought the end result would benefit the community and help bring people together.

Hunter, Irwin and Schaetzle each said they thought the school corporation's staff was CAB’s greatest asset. Toth said he thought the greatest asset was the communities served by CAB.

All four candidates said they supported open government and described themselves as team players. They also all said that if they ended up on the losing end of the vote, they would have no problem supporting the decision made by the board.


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