School board seats soon to be filled

Your inside guide on the candidates

Anna Eggers, News Editor

Exercising your right to vote can be one of the most exciting activities for an American. Whether you’ve just turned 18, have been voting for the past 50 years, or are voting for the first time after receiving citizenship, there’s plenty of reasons to look forward to the event.

However, the only problem many people face is being uneducated about candidates. Even if randomly bubbling in names on a ballot still counts as using your vote, everyone can benefit from having a little bit more awareness of what that bubble can mean.

Looking toward the school board member candidates during a candidate forum gives us some insight into what it means to vote for them.

The candidates in the school board member race include people from many different backgrounds. Brandon A. Bowman was born and raised in Wayne Township and has served on the school board before.

The same goes for Mike Morrow, who was born in Kentucky but spent most of his youth in Wayne Township before becoming a school board member for nearly the past eight years.

Mike Nance didn’t go to Wayne schools, but he loved the township enough to send his children here and campaign to be a school board member. Nance has the longest amount of service on the board of any current candidates, raking in 24 years worth of service between being a school board member and on a Building Committee.

Dexter Suggs has been a positive force in Wayne since he won a Milken Educator award in the IPS middle school Emma Donnan in 2007. After this honor, he has gone on to work at North Wayne Elementary as an Assistant to the Principal. Suggs has an interesting input when it comes to the school board because his wife, Shenia Suggs, is actually assistant superintendent in Wayne.

Moving on to Charlie Carlino, we find another candidate who attended Ben Davis and has had direct input with our school by working as a routing specialist for busses and technological support. As one of the youngest searching for re-election, he seems full of new ideas.

Ben Wakefield was another candidate who had strong ties with Wayne Township due to being on the board of the Lynhurst Baptist Church preschool. When he isn’t campaigning or enjoying time with his kids, he serves as a pastor in his church.

Finally, the last candidate who attended the forum: Steven Stiegelmeyer. Stiegelmeyer attended Ben Davis and found a love for foreign language that allowed him to travel across the country advocating for better language taught in schools. After traveling for Bilingual Nation USA and being a Marine veteran, he’s settling down and hoping to make a change here. In addition,

Walter Miller is another candidate running for the school board, although he was unable to make the forum.

The first question of the night was concerned with what each candidate believed was the greatest challenge facing Wayne Township. Although many of the candidates agreed that lack of funding was one of the biggest, Morrow suggested that it is also important to realize what schools are doing.

“How do we educate students on jobs that don’t currently exist? We want a pathway for success,” Morrow said.

In order to create better opportunities and futures for our students, we have to make sure we’re preparing them for a career that will be possible to achieve. Suggs was worried about a similar problem to Morrow concerning students success.

“We need to increase academic achievement in order to have students adequately prepared to perform,” Suggs said.

Students in Wayne genuinely need to increase the success they strive for in the school. If students aren’t doing well in school, whether it be in educational classes or vocational, they won’t be able to match up compared to other people when we actually face college or the job market. In addition, Wakefield brought up an important point about who are students are.

“Our students are diverse. Over 70 languages are spoken in this township- we need resources to reach all of them, and we need to be creative with funding,” Wakefield said.

Another question asked was about the safety of Wayne Township and how we could make students feel more secure. Every candidate had pretty interesting ideas in regards to what improvements could be made. Suggs started the discussion off with an interesting talk about how by creating better relationships between students and teachers, as well as watching technology more closely, we would prevent many safety problems before they could even happen. Wakefield agreed, and further extended the argument.

“If students don’t feel safe, they won’t be able to learn. We need to know what to look for and how the students feel,” Wakefield said.

Wakefield’s ideas on how to prevent this included locked doors all the time, background checks on everyone who enters a school, and better training and technology.

Bowman introduced an interesting concept that parents must also be held accountable for being aware of their students to keep them safe. He also was the first to mention that the mental health of students is extremely important to how we approach the issue of school safety.

Carlino suggested more officers placed in schools. Only one officer is in each middle school and Ben Davis University doesn’t have any officers whatsoever. To him, this disparity is lowering our safety because a powerful figure isn’t always nearby to stop a bad situation.

However, Morrow, a longtime school board member, refuted Carlino’s claim. $113,000 is spent for every additional officer added to the school system, and in a township with notoriously low budgets, certain sacrifices must be made. He believes that trading additional officers for better communication within the school would have the same results.

Most interestingly, Stiegelmeyer went straight to the cause of the problem to solve it rather than the symptoms.

“Teachers shouldn’t have to defend kids. Right now, there’s a culture of violence. We must teach a better culture,” Stiegelmeyer said.

By teaching children not to be violent and showing them better ways to address their issues, with time, all of our society’s violence problems could be addressed.

Each candidate has a thrilling take on the future of Wayne. No matter who you decide to vote on, take their beliefs and who they are into consideration. The Wayne School Board elects members for four years, so with four out of seven spots up for grabs, this choice is utterly important. Be sure to vote on these school board members, as well as all other open public offices within Indiana, on November 6.