Township school board races

Perry Township school board candidates concerned about overcrowding

PHOTO: Scott Elliott
House Bill 1100 would encourage districts to consider sharing services, like busing, by offering grants.

Perry Township is one of 10 school board races in Marion County. Check back with Chalkbeat Indiana throughout the week for more information on the other township candidates.

 

District snapshot

Perry Township, located on the South side of Indianapolis, is the third largest township school district in the city, one of six large townships that together serve more than half of the children attending traditional public schools. Like several of the large township districts, Perry has undergone rapid changes in recent years, including strong growth in the percentage of poor children and children from ethnic minority groups. The district’s ISTEP scores have been above 70 percent passing and close to the state average the past four years, and its most recent graduation rate was 91 percent. The district, overall, was rated a C the last two years.

Key school district data

  • Enrollment: 14,718 students
  • Ethnicity: 59.7 percent white, 14.4 percent asian, 13.7 percent Hispanic
  • Eligible for free and reduced-price lunch: 60.6 percent
  • ISTEP math and English passing rate 2014: 72.2 percent
  • 2012-13 graduation rate (most recent available): 91.7 percent

Candidates

  • Stephen Maple, 70, professor at University of Indianapolis and attorney, running for re-election in District 1.
  • Jon Morris, 73, retired teacher, administrator and adjunct professor, running for re-election in District 1.

The following candidates could not be reached or did not respond to the survey questions.

  • Edward Denning, running for re-election in District 1.

Why did you choose to run for the school board?

Maple: I am running to continue and to improve Perry Township education.

Morris: I chose to run again for a school board position because I feel that I can bring a perspective to educational matters that is unique to other school board members and to the community.

What issues will you focus on?

Maple: Ways to enhance learning and managing overcrowded schools.

Morris: I would continue to focus on academic issues within our school, the growth in number of students in our schools, fiscal restraints our community expects from board members, and highlighting the many great things going on in our large corporation.

What is the most important issue facing your district?

Maple: (see #3)

Morris: I believe the most important issues at the present time reflect the large number of students and a lack of adequate and appropriate classroom space, especially at the elementary and middle school areas. Also, we presently have 47 different languages being spoken by our students, which demands additional help in ESL classrooms. We presently have kindergarten classrooms where only two students speak English.

Anything else about yourself you’d like to share.

Maple: I have served on the school board for 20 years — four as president — and I was named Indiana School Board Member of the Year in 2004.

Morris: This present year, I have served as president of our school board and have had my eyes opened to many facets of education of which the average taxpayer is unaware. This has also permitted me to share in decisions that affect thousands of our students, parents, and the community as a whole.

Answers have been edited for length.

meet the candidates

These candidates are running for Detroit school board. Watch them introduce themselves.

Nine candidates are vying for two seats on Detroit's school board in November. Seven submitted photos.

One candidate tells of a childhood in a house without heat.

Another describes the two-hour commute he made to high school every day to build a future that would one day enable him to give back to Detroit.

A third says her work as a student activist inspired her to run for school board as a recent high school grad.

These candidates are among nine people vying for two seats up for grabs on Detroit’s seven-member school board on Nov. 6. That includes one incumbent and many graduates of the district.

Chalkbeat is partnering with Citizen Detroit to present a school board candidate forum Thursday, Sept. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at IBEW Local 58, 1358 Abbott St., Detroit.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet each candidate and ask questions in a speed-dating format.

In anticipation of that event, Citizen Detroit invited each of the candidates to make a short video introducing themselves to voters. Seven candidates made videos.

Watch them here:

School safety

Report lists litany of failings over police in Chicago schools

PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Police officers stand alongside Lake Shore Drive in August as protesters decry violence and lack of investment in African-American neighborhoods and schools

The Chicago Police Department doesn’t adequately screen and train the officers it assigns to Chicago Public Schools, and their roles in schools are poorly defined, according to a sharply critical report released today by the Office of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

The report lists a litany of failings, including basic administration: There is no current agreement between the police department and the district governing the deployment of school resource officers, or SROs, and neither the schools nor the police even have a current list of the officers working in schools this year.

The inspector general’s report also mentions several sets of SRO resources and best practices created and endorsed by the federal government, then notes that Chicago hasn’t adopted any of them. “CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” says the report.

Chalkbeat reported in August about incidents in which SROs used batons and tasers on students while intervening in routine disciplinary matters.

Scrutiny of SROs is nothing new, and is part of the broader CPD consent decree brokered this week between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That agreement calls for better training and vetting of SROs, as well as a clearer delineation of their roles on campuses—including a prohibition against participating in routine school discipline — beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Read more: How the police consent decree could impact Chicago schools

But the report from Ferguson’s office says that the consent decree doesn’t go far enough. It chastises police for not pledging to include the community in the creation of its agreement with the school district, nor in the establishment of hiring guidelines; and for not creating a plan for evaluating SROs’ performance, among other recommendations. In addition, the report criticizes the police department for delaying the reforms until the 2019-20 school year. A draft of the inspector general’s report was given to the police department in early August in hopes that some of the issues could be resolved in time for the school year that began last week. The police department asked for an extension for its reply.