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G-C pares candidates for board spot to 3

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GREENFIELD — The Greenfield-Central School Board named three potential replacements for Kent Fisk at its regular board meeting Monday.

The board’s last meeting of the year was also the last for Fisk, who was elected to the Hancock County Council in November. Fisk, whose term on the school board was not due to end until the end of 2014, will take his seat on the council Jan. 1.

The board met in executive session to consider five applicants; one was disqualified because of not living in District 2, which Fisk represents.

“I think we had five good candidates,” said corporation attorney Dan Strahl, who collected resumes on behalf of the board.

Of those five, the board narrowed the candidates to the following three, who were announced at Monday’s board meeting, for an interview: Steve Menser, Brooke Palmer and Willie McKinney.

Palmer, 33, is a graduate of Purdue University, where she received a degree in elementary education. A former teacher and high school volleyball and basketball coach, Palmer now works at State Farm in Greenfield as an insurance agent.

Palmer has no political background but said she became interested after hearing about the opening from local teachers.

“I want to do whatever I can to help Greenfield schools stay successful because that’s going to … keep us on the map,” she said.

Palmer believes a board’s members should come from diverse backgrounds, and her three years of teaching in the Pendleton school system give her a unique perspective.

“It definitely gives another insight to the board and what the teachers are dealing with every day in the classroom,” she said.

Menser, 44, graduated from Greenfield-Central High School and went on to study at the IBEW Electrical Training Institute. Menser resigned last month from his position as a journeyman and said Tuesday he is looking for another position.

Meanwhile, he would like to give back to the community.

Menser ran for county commissioner in 2010 and was defeated by Derek Towle but said he never lost the desire to serve.

“I just want to do something to give back to the community and offer my expertise,” Menser said. “I’ve always been interested in public service.”

Menser has served on several boards, including the now-defunct Indiana Adult Literacy Coalition.

McKinney received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Eastern Illinois University and works as a CPA for Kemper CPA Group in Greenfield.

McKinney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Board President Retta Livengood and first Vice President Dan Leary will conduct private interviews with the candidates and then make a recommendation to the board at a public meeting at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 19 at the corporation’s administration building, 110 W. North St.

Superintendent Dr. Linda Gellert said she sought clarification on the appointment process from the Indiana School Board Association’s attorney.

State law allows the board to narrow the pool of candidates during an executive session, but the board may not interview the candidates behind closed doors, Gellert said.

The interviews of the remaining three candidates will not be open to the public, however.

It made more sense to have Livengood and Leary interview the candidates apart from the board because they are the only members who will serve with Fisk’s replacement, Livengood said. The terms of board members Michael Summers and Dan Riley end Dec. 31.

Livengood and Leary are legally within their rights to interview the candidates privately. A meeting of two members of a five-person board does not constitute a quorum and therefore does not require a public meeting in accordance with Indiana Open Door Laws.

Livengood said the board wanted to screen the candidates closely and also answer any questions they might have about the position, even though the interviews aren’t a required part of the process.

“I believe we could even just make the appointments from the resumes,” she said.

On Jan. 1, newly elected board members Kathy Dowling and Ray Kerkhof will take their seats on the board alongside Livengood, Leary and Fisk’s replacement.

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