Valpo council picks incumbent for school board
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent June 24, 2013 8:16PM
Updated: June 24, 2013 10:02PM
VALPARAISO — The public participation portion of the City Council’s Valparaiso School Board candidate interviews was non-existent Monday.
No questions submitted beforehand. None asked by the three adults, or even the couple of children, who attended the meeting.
So after brief final remarks by incumbent Jim Jorgensen and Joseph Espinosa, a newcomer to the school board selection process, the council made their decision, with a 7-0 vote to return Jorgensen to the board for another four years.
His second term begins July 1; he joins fellow incumbent Mark Maassel, who was selected for a second term last week by the Center Township Board.
The council had three candidates for the post but one had to drop out because of changing job responsibilities. The township board, meanwhile, had six applicants and interviewed three of them; the other two were retired Valparaiso educators Debra Fray and Stephen Cronk.
Council members commended Espinosa, a prep cook and dishwasher at a local restaurant who also is a former substitute teacher, for applying for the school board.
“I think Joe brought a couple of valid points,” said Councilman Jan Bowker, adding those included holding school board meetings in the schools to reach out to the neighborhoods, which the board is already doing.
But Espinosa was not well informed about the school corporation’s finances, Bowker said. “Joe is not prepared at this point to take the position.”
Jorgensen outlined for the board the challenges they face going forward, including evaluating school facilities; continuing to stabilize the school corporation’s budget; bringing up the achievement level of the 12 percent of students who are not meeting state standards; and redefining post-high school career paths to include two-year programs, apprenticeships, and other choices, as well as four-year colleges.
Jorgensen thanked the council for their selection.
“It’s a great honor, and I would like to thank Joe for taking the time and putting himself at risk,” Jorgensen said. “If he has time, I would like to buy him coffee and hear some of his ideas.”