The Allen County Election Board received two filings for the November school board elections Wednesday, the first day candidates were able to file.
By the end of the day, the board had received filings from Terry Jo Lightfoot, a current board member in East Allen County Schools, and Chris Baker, a New Haven resident who plans to run for a seat on the same board.
Twelve school board slots in Allen County are up for election this year, and candidates have until noon Aug. 24 to file. This will be the first year that all school board elections are held in the November election.
Previously, many school board elections in Indiana took place during the May primary, when turnout is typically lower than in the general election. In Allen County, Fort Wayne Community Schools was the only district to have a November election for school board members.
But last summer, the General Assembly changed the rules in hopes of encouraging greater voter turnout.
Chris Baker, a regular at East Allen School board meetings, has said for months that he intended to run for the District 4E seat currently held by Alyssa Lewandowski. Lewandowski accepted a second-shift job last fall and has attended only a handful of meetings since.
Baker is the manager of the Etica Group in New Haven, an architectural firm that provides services to corporate, institutional, educational, public-sector and private-sector clients in the Midwest.
He said New Haven has been missing a strong voice on the board and that the group needs to get better at listening to the community. Baker also expressed concern about the districts finances and academic performance.
Weve got to become fiscally responsible, and we need to get the academics turned around and headed in the right direction, he said. In the mid-1980s, EACS was considered a flagship district. Throughout the 90s it has been allowed to drop. Now we are at an unacceptable level.
Another New Haven resident, Bob Nelson, has also decided to run for the East Allen County Schools board. He said he plans to file Monday for the District 5R at-large seat now held by board President Janice Witte.
Nelson is a 1975 graduate of Woodlan High School and, since 1996, has been self-employed in the marketing field. If elected, he said he hopes to focus on three areas: academic excellence, communication and fiscal responsibility, and accountability.
Lightfoot, who filed to run in District 7E, has been on the board since 2000. She said shes running again because she cares about providing children with a quality education and because she thinks the district could benefit from her experience, particularly as East Allen moves forward with its district redesign.
Theres lots of work to be done, she said. Obviously, Ive been there to go through the transitional process. ... I think its important to have people who have had experience listening to people and seeing what the concerns are as we go into the building projects and the redesign.