In the midst of implementing a $119 million building project, three seats on the Fort Wayne Community Schools board are up election.
Board member Steve Corona is running unopposed for the District 5 seat. The board has a total of seven members, two being at-large. Each is elected to a four-year term and is paid $2,000 a year and $62 or $112 for extra meetings.
In District 2, Glenna Jehl is challenging incumbent John Peirce. Jehl is active in Republican Party politics and attended the partys national convention as a representative of Allen County.
She also was campaign manager for Matt Keltys unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2007.
Jehl, a local real estate agent, said shes passionate about seeing the school district improve academically.
I want to be a voice for students throughout the district to obtain a first-rate education to prepare them for a career or school of higher education of their choice, she said.
She said one area in which she is at odds with her opponent is in regard to the $119 million building project. Peirce spearheaded the campaign.
Theres no tax increase (Peirce) is not in favor of, she said.
Peirce also led the campaign in favor of a $500 million building project through a dueling petitions process that was defeated in 2007.
Jehl said she would have voted in favor of the most recent project because of the dire need for building improvements, but she said the board should have been more responsible in budgeting for routine maintenance.
Peirce said in his next term he would like to focus on spending the $119 million in taxpayer dollars wisely, making every district school an excellent school and ensuring students are prepared for life after high school. Accomplishing these goals would help the district stay competitive with other educational options, he said.
He said the board has accomplished a great amount by talking about and addressing issues as a team.
As a board weve addressed tough issues: We closed Elmhurst, we outsourced custodial workers, he said. Were willing to make those tough decisions to balance the needs of the community and the students we serve.
Peirce also spent time at Harvard University last year for the Advanced Leadership Initiative. He said he brought back a model to engage K-12 education, businesses, nonprofits and higher-education institutions to develop the regions workforce.
Peirce is a consultant to the United Way for early-childhood education initiatives.
In District 3, incumbent Becky Hill is running for her second term on the board and faces two challengers in Michael Davis, an information technology consultant and small-business owner, and former Snider High School teacher Kerry Miller.
Hill believes the biggest issue is the financial viability of the district. But to be financially stable, the district must continue to achieve academically; understand community, parent and student needs; improve student supports; market the district and its success; and ensure a successful beginning to the building project, Hill said.
She said she has a number of contacts in the community to help explain the needs and accomplishments of the district.
I am a passionate advocate for public education, she said. I can tell the stories about the incredible opportunities in Fort Wayne Community Schools.
Miller, who graduated from FWCS and taught for 42 years in the district, believes the current board does not have the proper priorities.
I think the schools are top-heavy with administration and dont put the interests of students first, he said.
He also said teachers in the district are not treated as professionals and are demeaned by the administration. His experience as a teacher gives him insight into the effects of top-down directives and the extra burden they place on teachers, he said.
I dont think students do better when teachers are miserable, he said.
Davis also thinks the current board could do better by focusing less on making the district look good and more on helping the district perform well.
I believe the school board needs to provide better leadership, communicate with the community and better represent constituents, he said. If that happens, other points fall in line.
Davis other points include school safety, spending money wisely and transparency. He said the best way to come up with solutions is to include input from all stakeholders in an open and collaborative environment.