Valpo School Board candidates face questions on Monday
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent June 11, 2012 9:18PM
Updated: June 12, 2012 4:28PM
VALPARAISO — From their thoughts on neighborhood schools to whether they would seek election if the position they sought was not appointed, five candidates for an open spot on the Valparaiso School Board faced a wide array of questions from the Valparaiso City Council Monday.
They were retired Thomas Jefferson Middle School Principal Paul Knauff; educational diagnostician Pam Hood; businessman Kevin Hagen; incumbent board member Brigid McLinn; and higher education professional John Novak.
The incoming board member faces an assortment of challenges, including a $3.2 million budget deficit, which has required the slashing of teachers aid positions and cuts to teacher stipends for extracurricular activities, among other measures; the almost certain hiring of a new superintendent, as Andrew Melin is on the cusp of accepting a job downstate; and the potential of a November referendum to make the school board elected rather than appointed.
Only Knauff told the council he would not run if the position were an elected one, though Novak said he would wait until his young children were older so he had more time, and both Hood and Hagen admitted they weren’t much on campaigning.
McLinn didn’t hesitate to say she would run for the spot, drawing audience applause. During her interview, she said politics don’t belong in the schools, but are there.
“People were placed on the board to get rid of (former Superintendent Michael Benway). That’s the politics, and it needs to go,” she said, adding the current city council hasn’t micromanaged the schools, “but we are living past politics. It’s causing friction.”
For the next phase of the process, council members and city attorney David Hollenbeck with gather questions for the public and pose them to the candidates. That will begin at 4:30 p.m. June 25 in the council chambers; the council will most likely select the board member then.
The school board member begins his or her term July 1.