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.
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
- 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.