Railroad Township Questioned on School Board Appointment Process

BluejayThe process of appointing North Judson-San Pierre School Board members was discussed during Wednesday’s Railroad Township Advisory Board meeting. School officials, as well as local residents, are considering whether the appointed school board should be changed to an elected one.

As part of that process, Larry and Deb Wappel approached the Railroad Township Advisory Board to learn more about how it goes about appointing school board members. Advisory board member Gus Eckert said the process is pretty simple. “We vote on them,” he said. “Basically, when Pat [Goin] came up, there was a recommendation. I forget who even was going out at the time, and then we just voted on them and she was elected. And that’s the last we’ve ever had to do.” He adds that over the past several years, the township has simply reappointed Goin, since no one voiced any objections and no one else expressed interest in the seat.

The Wappels were concerned that the township didn’t do more to notify the public when the position would come up for reappointment. Railroad Township Trustee Mandy Thomason says that will change when the seat is up for reappointment again next year. She says the township will advertise for a school board member, and the public will have a chance to offer input.

However, she adds that state law doesn’t seem to provide much guidance for how appointed school board members may be chosen, other than saying that the decision’s up to the township advisory board. “I’ve not read all of the Indiana codes; we will be following those to the T,” she said. “I don’t know if we can form a committee kind of to pick out three good candidates from a committee and then have the board approve from there. It will be something I’ll be looking into.” Thomason also pointed out that Railroad Township’s school board member also represents Cass Township, even though Cass Township residents have no say over who is elected to the Railroad Township Advisory Board.

While Deb Wappel clarified that she had no complaints about Goin’s service on the board, Wappel was more concerned about the appointment process itself. She says that under the current system, new school board members often end up being chosen by their predecessors on the board.

More information on the appointment process is expected at the October 5 Railroad Township Advisory Board meeting. Meanwhile, the North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation will hold a public hearing on an appointed versus elected board Monday at 7 p.m. in the N.J.-S.P. High School auditorium.