Marion School Board Forum: Variety or Consistency?

(Originally posted on GrantCOnnected.net’s website on October 30, 2014)

The incumbent Marion school board members encouraged voters to elect the same board this year while the two new runners pushed for change at the Marion school board forum Tuesday night at WIWU-TV at Indiana Wesleyan University.

The candidates are incumbents Katie Morgan, Scott Murphy, Catherine Moritz (who was not in attendance) and Gregory Kitts and the two new candidates are Shonda Gladden and Todd Nicholson.  Gladden and Kitts are running for the District Four seat while Morgan, Moritz, Murphy and Nicholson are running for District One, which is three seats.

Even though Nicholson is not on the current school board, he said he thinks there should be more diversity.

“Too often I think the school board thinks the same, acts the same, votes the same… they all endorse each other,” Nicholson said. “They didn’t want to run against each other they wanted to run against the people who were challenged.”

Kitts did not agree with Nicholson, saying, “In order to make sure success continues is to keep the same board in place to keep the change that has occurred.”

Morgan said if Nicholson had attended the school board meetings, he would have seen “split decisions” by the board. She also says she has seen “tremendous progress” since 2009. Murphy also disagreed with Nicholson, saying, “This board continues to look for change.”

Nicholson gave his negative views on the current school board, saying the school board “is in trouble” and “the budget for next year does not make a lot of sense.” He and Kitts did not agree on the surplus as Nicholson said it was at $8 million and Kitts said it was at $16 million. Nicholson talked to the superintendent Monday and saw the numbers.

“They went over some of those figures with me … it basically showed the surplus … that has shrunk from $21 million in 2012 to about $8 million right now.”

Morgan wanted people to know how she is connected with Marion as she has grown up in the city and graduated from Marion High School. Now she has children attending Marion High School which has led her to want to be on the school board.

“I feel absolutely compelled to serve the best education Marion can serve for my child and your child,” Morgan said.

The candidates discussed the A-F Accountability at the forum, saying they do not agree with it.

“I do not think they are fair. I don’t think they work,” Nicholson said.  “They get complaints from all sides.”

Kitts said a change in the A-F Accountability would “involve more people sitting in groups and come up with a new system.” But he, Murphy and Morgan said they “have to live with it.” Gladden said the school board does need to deal with the accountability and “we must live up to the grade.”

Grant County will find out if the voters want to have a different school board or keep the current one next week on Election Day.

Watch video of the election forums online at WIWU-TV.

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