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MV board member offers fresh perspective

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 Brian Tomamichel
Brian Tomamichel

McCORDSVILLE — Brian Tomamichel wants Mt. Vernon Schools to be successful, and not just because his 8-month-old daughter will start school in five years.

He hopes to be able to help lead the school district in the right direction. Tomamichel, of McCordsville, has been chosen to fill a seat on the Mt. Vernon School Board following a month-long selection process by other board members and school officials.

He will formally join school board members Tony May, Vernee Eads, Jason Shelton and Mike McCarty at the board’s next meeting July 21. He will fill the remainder of the term vacated by departing board member Shelton Oakes, who stepped down this month for personal reasons.

Oakes’ term is up at the end of the year, and Tomamichel said he intends to run for the seat in November.

Tomamichel, 26, wants to represent a younger segment of the Mt. Vernon community. That means making decisions that protect the quality of education for his own family in the future.

He got involved in the campaign to support the MV property tax referendum in the spring, citing his work experience at Beech Grove City Schools as an assistant business manager and pointing to that district’s successful referendum in 2009.

“Through that process, I met a lot of people on the school board and got involved that way,” Tomamichel said.

“I have a little girl who is 8 months old, and I am definitely concerned about the long-range sustainability of Mt. Vernon for my children,” added Tomamichel.

Now that the referendum has passed, Tomamichel said he wants to make sure the extra revenue goes and stays where it was intended.

“We have to make sure it just pays off the short-term debt. We’ll make sure it is used for that,” Tomamichel said, referring to critics’ fears that the school board will use the money for other expenses.

As an active member of the McCordsville community since moving to the area in 2011, Tomamichel said he saw firsthand the array of thoughts and ideas surrounding the school. He arrived in McCordsville in the middle of Mt. Vernon’s second unsuccessful referendum.

“There just wasn’t much community outreach,” Tomamichel said.

That’s something he hopes will continue to change.

There is plenty of work ahead for the Mt. Vernon School Board. Being on the board during the next year will include a search for a new superintendent. Bill Riggs plans to retire at the end of the 2014-15 school year, and the board will have the task of finding his replacement.

For Tomamichel, the characteristics of a good superintendent include collaboration and a willingness to listen to the school board and the community.

“I think my experience in the schools and working with superintendents and knowing a lot of people out there looking for the position; it all helps with the position,” Tomamichel said.

According to school board member Mike McCarty, the early stages of the superintendent selection process have already begun.

“We are working with different resources available to us to help us with the process that would identify good candidates that would fit with the school and with our longer range strategic plan. One of those key pillars is more community exposure and community involvement,” McCarty said.

Tomamichel plans to be heavily involved with the school during the next six months, at least.

“I absolutely plan on running,” Tomamichel said of the November election.

Other candidates who sought to fill Oakes’ seat on the school board included Jonathan Carter, Sean Simmons, Jeff Wilson, Henry Yee and Charles Gray. Interested candidates were required to be a resident of the school corporation for at least two years and be at least 21 years old.

“We had six very good, qualified candidates,” McCarty said.

School board members looked for both a financial- and school-related background in their prospective candidates.

“And the ability to engage with us about the strategic planning process over the next six months,” McCarty added. “We want to make sure we are connecting more with the community, too.”

 “It’s not an easy choice, because we’ve always been open to and want to encourage that community involvement,” McCarty said of the process of appointing a new board member. “We wanted to make sure we brought in someone with additional perspectives we might not have.”

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