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Election Coverage

at a glance
District 6 at-large seat
Name: Amy Orr
Age: 35
Education: B.S. in music theory and composition from Indiana Wesleyan University
Occupation: Publisher of Wabash Valley Living magazine; helps with her husband’s law practice
Political experience: Two years on South Adams School Board
Name: Debra Gerber
Age: 47
Education: High school graduate; earning an associate degree in medical billing and coding
Occupation: Certified nurse’s assistant
Political experience: None
Name: Gresham “Bud” Bearss
Age: 75
Education: B.S. in education from Manchester College; master’s degree in educational administration from Purdue University
Occupation: Retired educator; spent 19 years as principal and curriculum director at South Adams High School
Political experience: None District 2 seat
Name: Arlene Amstutz
Age: 56
Education: High school graduate
Occupation: Small-business owner
Political experience: 12 years on South Adams School Board
Name: Cheryl Caffee
Age: 36
Education: Master’s degree in nursing
Occupation: Children’s director at First Missionary Church of Berne; fitness class instructor; works on family’s farm
Political experience: None
Election 2012

5 vie for 2 seats on South Adams School Board


Voters in Adams County will decide two contested races for seats on the South Adams School Board.

The four-year terms pay a salary of $2,000 per year.

Cheryl Caffee is challenging Arlene Amstutz for the District 2 post on the seven-member school board. Amstutz has been on the board for 12 years.

Caffee said she has no gripes with the board and acknowledged the school system is in good shape, fiscally and otherwise.

“I would like South Adams to remain a place where children feel safe and parents are confident about their child’s well being,” she said.

Caffee, a mother of three, said her children have had positive experiences in the schools and that she thinks it’s important for parents of students to sit on the board.

Amstutz, also a mother, said she’s running again because she wants to keep serving the community. Her re-election “would foster a continuity of the mission and goals of South Adams: to inspire every student to be a lifelong learner,” she wrote in an email.

Amstutz, president of the board, believes its main focus should be on providing a safe academic setting for students and facilitating communication between everyone with a stake in the schools.

District 6

In the race for the District 6 at-large seat, three candidates – Debra Gerber, Gresham “Bud” Bearss and Amy Orr – are vying to replace Stephen Dobler, who opted not to seek another term.

Orr, who holds the District 3 seat, said her main concern as a board member has been representing not just her district but also the entire school system.

Assuming an at-large position, she said, would be a natural progression from what she’s already doing.

Orr said the biggest issue the board faces is being able to meet the schools’ needs while staying within a shrinking budget.

“We’re having to be creative right now and very careful with our spending,” she said.

Hiring good school employees and giving students access to new technology, Orr said, are tasks a tight budget can make difficult.

“We’ve got to have our students trained to work with the technology that’s out there,” she said. “We’ve got to figure out ways to attract quality people.”

Bearss said he is running for a seat on the school board so he can apply his nearly 40 years of experience in the education field. He said his priorities would be maintaining financial accountability and giving students the best possible teachers, resources and learning environment.

For him, a key issue for the board is implementing the state requirements for teacher evaluations. “We just need to provide … administrators with the help and time they need to do that,” he said.

Like Bearss, Gerber is a newcomer to politics.

She said she is hoping to inject the school board with “fresh blood.”

“I just feel we need to get new people and young people” on the board, she said. “We need people that are active.”

Gerber believes the workings of the board should be more transparent to parents, so they can be more involved. “We have to work as a team here,” she said.

She also said she wants the prices of athletic tickets to be reduced and would like to see monitors riding school buses on routes where problems arise.