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Candidates
Huntington County Community Schools
District 1
Thomas “Thom” Duncan
Age: 36
Education: Master’s degree in educational administration, bachelor’s degree in secondary education, both from Ball State, associate degree in environmental and hazardous materials management from the University of Findlay
Occupation: President of Avalon Insurance and Financial Services
Political experience: None
Scott R. Hoffman
Age: 55
Education: 1975 graduate of Huntington North High School; associate degree in business operations from Indiana University
Occupation: LP gas and petroleum sales representative for North-Central Co-Op
Political experience: Huntington County Community Schools board for 10 1/2 years
District 7
Rex E.
Baxter
Age: 73
Education: Business degree from Huntington University; studied graphic arts at Indiana Wesleyan and culinary arts at Ivy Tech
Occupation: Retired chef
Political experience: Served on the Huntington County Community Schools board for 12 years; ran unsuccessfully for Huntington County Council and Huntington City Council.
J. Ryan Wall
Age: 36
Education: Huntington North High School graduate; bachelor’s degree in 2000, Purdue University
Occupation: Associate information systems director for Huntington County
Political experience: Unsuccessfully ran for Huntington County Community Schools board
Election 2012

Incumbents, foes emphasize experience

Baxter
Wall
Hoffman
Duncan

There are two contested races for seats on the Huntington County Community School board and, like other government bodies, everyone is concerned about money – how to responsibly spend what you have or come up with more.

In the nonpartisan contest, incumbent 1st District representative Scott Hoffman faces a challenge from former teacher Thom Duncan. In the 7th District, incumbent Rex Baxter is facing another challenge from J. Ryan Wall.

The four-year term pays a base rate of $2,000 a year, with additional money for executive sessions or special meetings.

District 1

Hoffman has been on the school board 10 1/2 years, having been elected twice. His goal is seeing each and every student receive the best education possible, as well as providing a safe and secure environment for all teachers, staff and students.

Hoffman wants to see the parents and guardians of the students become more involved in their students’ educations. He said he remains committed to working on the technology issue and implementing it into the school system.

His parents went to the now-nonexistent Roanoke High School, and he and his wife and children have all gone through Huntington County’s sole school system. He hopes to see his grandchildren attend Huntington’s schools as well.

“I have a vested interest,” he said.

Hoffman’s wife is a teacher, his daughter and son-in-law teach in a different district and his son’s fiancée is also a teacher, Hoffman said.

But he remains mindful of the tax burden on county residents.

“We need to spend our tax dollars wisely,” Hoffman said. “We’re being taxed enough already. I want to serve for our teachers, our kids and our taxpayers.”

His challenger, Duncan, believes his prior experience as a teacher gives him a unique set of skills to serve on the school board.

“We need to build a team atmosphere in the Huntington County school corporation,” Duncan said. “This is vital because this is how we’re going to improve education.”

If teachers feel like they are supported, administrators feel like they’re supported and the community feels like they have a voice in the process, then the quality of the education will improve, Duncan said.

Duncan said that is something the board can improve upon. He said he’d planned on running for the seat since the last election, and it has been on his mind ever since.

Teachers constitute a highly educated workforce, and their knowledge and expertise can be tapped into.

“We have great teachers in Huntington County and great administrators as well,” Duncan said.

District 7

Wall is hoping the third time is the charm in this contest against Baxter, the incumbent school board member. And he believes that in the past decade, he’s amassed necessary experience in leadership and service to do a good job.

Since he first ran for the seat eight years ago, Wall has served on other boards such as the Boys and Girls Club and the Pathfinders Foundation.

“I’ve grown since my first eight years. I think I’m a better candidate now than I ever was,” he said. “I just enjoy giving back to the community and helping kids grow. I want to make sure that my kids get the best education possible.”

With his own children in the school district, Wall said he has a vested interest in the success of the district, and that will help all the children in the school system benefit.

He said his background in information technology and computers would fill a knowledge gap on the school board.

Recent technology additions, such as the 1-to-1 computer program involving iPads to all middle- and high school students, have not been rolled out smoothly, Wall said.

Baxter believes, though, that his own experience on the school board itself gives him the edge over the challenger.

“I’m up on everything that is going on,” he said. “Now more than ever, you have to know what’s going on.”

Baxter said it could take new board members six months to a year to acquaint themselves with the workings of the board.

State funding remains a critical issue, Baxter said, with money for student education following the child instead of staying in the district.

Students enrolled in charter schools who need additional help get that from the public school district, but the money paid by the state stays at the charter school, Baxter said.

“All the money is given out, and we’re obligated to educate them in what the charter schools don’t give them. I think that’s wrong and is something that is going to have to be changed by the state,” he said.

rgreen@jg.net

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