South Bend school board interviews continue
SOUTH BEND -- South Bend school board members are nearly halfway through the process of interviewing candidates to fill an at-large vacancy on the board.

The person chosen will serve for the next six months, filling out the term of trustee Stephanie Spivey, who recently resigned.

Of the 30 people who applied, 14 of them sat for brief interviews Monday with the school board. Each candidate was given four minutes to make a presentation, then board members were given four minutes to ask questions.

The candidates interviewed Monday included some familiar names in the community: Marcia Hummel, who previously served 16 years as a South Bend school board member; Loretta Kollar, who served on the school board in the 1980s when it was an appointed board; Jim Jasiewicz, who served for 20 years as facilities director in the South Bend schools; Phil Byrd, director of real estate for South Bend Heritage Foundation; Kyle Chamberlain, an attorney who previously ran for a school board seat; and John Hess, a principal in the Mishawaka public schools and former teacher for 27 years in the South Bend schools.

One by one, the candidates offered their ideas for improving the South Bend Community School Corp.

"I feel all the instruction has to change," said Elizabeth Conner, a former longtime teacher who taught at LaSalle High School.

Candidate Cory Gathright is a local minister and president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. He said the school corporation needs to seek out partnerships with the religious community, and that a mentoring program should be created so top administrators and principals can help develop less experienced colleagues.

Hummel said her long experience on the board would allow her to easily move into board work without a lot of training required.

Annette Malone, a local hair salon owner, said the biggest challenge facing the South Bend schools is the threat that some schools may have to be closed because of funding shortages and declining enrollment.

"Funding is a significant issue, especially siphoning off of funds to parochial schools," Byrd said, referring to Indiana's school voucher program.

The remaining 16 candidates will be interviewed from 4 to 8 p.m. today at the Education Center, 215 S. St. Joseph St. The interviews are open to the public.

School trustees will decide after today's interviews whether to invite some candidates back for further interviews. Trustees expect to vote next Monday on a replacement, and the new member is expected to be sworn in July 11.

For a complete list of the candidates' names, see:
www.southbendtribune.com/news/sbt-30-seek-open-seat-on-south-bend-school-board-20120612,0,2034657.story.

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Staff writer Margaret Fosmoe:
mfosmoe@sbtinfo.com
574-235-6329