school board forum

March 22, 2008
School funding is No. 1 issuePike School Board candidates offer ideas at forumBy Robert Annisrobert.annis@indystar.com
Candidates for Pike Township School Board debated the district’s financial future during the Traders Point Association of Neighborhoods meeting Thursday.
Challengers Ricky Hence and Brownell Payne joined current board members Larry Grau, Larry Metzler and Nancy Poore in a forum attended by about 30 people at Traders Point Creamery.
Four of the five candidates will be elected May 6.
Money received the most attention because the legislature this year changed the way schools are funded and capped property taxes.
Hence and Payne suggested the board look for nontraditional funding sources, including foundations supported by Pike Township businesses. Metzler said the district aggressively seeks corporate and government grant dollars but emphasized cutting costs as well.
“Being on the board, sometimes you have to make uncomfortable decisions,” Metzler said.
Poore emphasized investing in quality products that will last over time, citing the new geothermal heating system to be installed in Eastbrook Elementary School. While the district would spend more money up front on the geothermal system, Poore estimated that money would be made up through energy savings within five to 10 years.
Payne, whose wife is a teacher at New Augusta Public Academy North, expressed concern about employee morale, noting that Pike teachers are working without a contract and that bus drivers are not allowed to vote on forming a union.
Grau countered that pay increases could force the School Board to discontinue programs and services for students.
Hence and Payne are endorsed by the drivers and the local American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees union that seeks to represent them, but said they are more than one-issue candidates. They called for more emphasis on special education and under-performing students.
“We need to take care of the least fortunate, because they’re the ones that need the most help,” Hence said.
While the incumbents stressed their experience, several audience members expressed dissatisfaction with the district’s standardized testing scores and under-performing schools. Metzler and Poore pointed to increasing numbers of students coming from Indianapolis Public Schools and those who speak English as a second language as some of the reasons why test scores have dropped.

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About Ross Reller

I am pleased you have expressed interest in learning more about the historic Traders Point area in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1980 to 1982 I was employed in the PR department at Conner Prairie Museum in Hamilton County. There I learned about William Conner, an important figure in Indiana's pioneer days. A decade later I became interested in the history of the Traders Point area and was surprised to learn that William Conner had been the first land owner in the area. In 1823 he acquired, through the Federal land office in Brookville, a patent for an 80 acre tract carved by Eagle Creek and an Indian trail that was about to be named the first toll roadway through the township (Lafayette Road). Thirty years later a village took shape within this tract. A grain mill on the creek, houses, churches, stores, restaurants, and two gas stations would take shape here in the creek valley hamlet of Traders Point. By 1962 all improvements (except a farmer's co-op) had been removed by the Indianapolis Flood Control Board to make way for Interstate 65 and a new reservoir. This blog is dedicated to preserving evidence of this historic area but I will occasionally use it to discuss related topics. To activate this follow, simply click the confirm button below. If you don't want to follow, ignore this message and we'll never bother you again. I am also a member of the Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery, a non profit association still selling burial plots for those who would like to spend all eternity in Traders Point, and I am an officer in the Pike Township Historical Society and the Traders Point Association of Neighborhoods.
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