GREENFIELD — Voters and election watchers who hoped school board races would spice up the election this fall will be disappointed: Only two of the eight school board seats up for election will be contested.
Southern Hancock and Eastern Hancock each have one contested race and one race in which an incumbent is unopposed. Two incumbents also will run unopposed for the Greenfield-Central School Board. Two newcomers are running for the two at-large seats on the Mt. Vernon board.
Voters in Southern Hancock and Eastern Hancock, at least, should expect to see some grassroots campaigning in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 4 election.
“I have some ideas, and I’d like to be a part of the discussion: How can we improve the schools? How can we help protect our kids?” said Gayle Beebe, who is running for the District 3 seat on the SH board.
Beebe is challenging incumbent Craig Wagoner, who has held the seat just over a year after being appointed to fill the vacancy left by Meghan Morrison, who resigned.
Wagoner says he’s enjoyed his time on the school board and wants to continue to serve. SH has been fortunate with strong staff and Blue Ribbon status, he said, and the board will have to face state-mandated funding challenges in the future. When it comes to choosing between him or Beebe, Wagoner said voters should decide whether they like the current direction of the district or they want a change.
“Folks are just going to have to look and say, ‘Are we satisfied with how the schools are going?’” Wagoner said.
Both are parents in the district. Wagoner owns a heating, cooling and plumbing company; Beebe is a senior instructional designer for Exact Target. Beebe is also married to a teacher at New Palestine High School. She said said that could help her serve.
“I see it as an advantage because having heard for the last nine years, things that are good, things that could be improved, I have an inside track almost about what goes on in the school and opportunities that might be missed by other people because they don’t have that relationship with other teachers,” Beebe said. “We’re grown up enough and smart enough to be able to separate business and personal – keep that conflict of interest in mind.”
Beebe recently launched a Facebook page to campaign for the seat, and she plans to be at community events to campaign. Wagoner says he doesn’t really see the school board seat as a political position and plans minimal campaigning. He says he has learned a lot about school administration in the past year.
Brian McKinney, incumbent SH board member, is uncontested.
In Eastern Hancock, Tammy Settergren is challenging longtime incumbent Tom Younts for the District 1 seat.
Settergren, a businesswoman and mother of two EH students, said she feels as if now is the time to join the board.
“I just think with my background in business and being an involved parent, I have a lot I can offer the school board and the parents of the community,” Settergren said.
Settergren, who develops computer programs for hospitals, says she’s been involved in the schools over the years because she’s able to work from home. Campaigning will be minimal and self-funded, she said, but she might place a few yard signs and distribute some T-shirts.
Younts, who has served on the EH board 16 years, could not be reached for comment this week. Younts teaches agriculture and biology at Fishers High School.
Michael Lewis, who was sworn in just this spring to fill a vacancy at EH, filed for re-election and is uncontested. G-C incumbents Steve Menser and Retta Livengood are also uncontested.
Two newcomers are running for the two open seats on the Mt. Vernon school board. Kellie Freeman and Shannon Walls filed for election but do not have opponents.
MV incumbent Vernee Eads did not seek re-election. The other at-large seat is currently held by Nancy Werner, who was appointed just this month to fill a vacancy. Brian Tomamichel had held the seat a short time; Tomamichel resigned from the school board because he took a job as the school corporation’s business manager.
SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES
Eight school board seats are up for election this year, but only two are contested. Here’s a look at who’s running:
Greenfield-Central School Board, District 2
Greenfield-Central School Board, District 3
Eastern Hancock School Board, at-large
Eastern Hancock School Board, District 1
Southern Hancock School Board, District 5
Southern Hancock School Board, District 3
Craig Wagoner Sr.*
Mt. Vernon School Board, at-large (two seats)
* denotes incumbent