WHITING | Three seats are up for grabs in the Whiting School Board race.
*Incumbents Anthony Borgo, Michael Toth and Shawn Turpin are being challenged in their re-election bid by Bryan Ciers, Michelle Espinosa and Nina Pierce.
Discussing his accomplishments during three terms on the School Board, Borgo noted the growth of the school district to about 1,100 K-12 students through a new open enrollment policy.
That has placed the school district on more solid footing and helped avoid state-mandated consolidation with another district, Borgo said.
Under the leadership of the entire board, Whiting students are doing well in the classroom, sports and academic teams are finding success, and ISTEP scores are on the rise across the elementary, middle and high school, Borgo said.
School finances will continue to be a challenge, he said, but the district can realize about $70,000 in savings through a program to retrofit heating and air-conditioning equipment and install new energy-saving lighting fixtures in school buildings.
Turpin, who is seeking his third term on the board, also touted the success of the new open enrollment policy and energy conservation measures executed during his current term.
He said the biggest challenges facing the school district are keeping up with new state mandates, such ensuring the appropriate resources are in place to accommodate a longer school day, and merit-based pay for teachers.
“I’m dedicated to the school district and the city of Whiting,” Turpin said. “I’m never afraid to do what’s in the best interests of students, be it academics, athletics or extra-curricular activities.”
Challenger Ciers is making his second attempt at a seat on the board. If elected, he will study the benefits of a year-round, tri-semester schedule. An advocate for more vocational training in schools, Ciers says students could graduate from high school and enter the workforce sooner if they didn’t have summers off.
Ciers took exception with the “complacency” of the high school curriculum and said some fresh ideas should be considered.
Being Hispanic, he believes his presence on the board would be better representative of the district’s Hispanic student population.
Also making a second run is Pierce, who said her background in teaching and as a Realtor and property manager gives her an advantage. She would like to enhance relationships among the local library, the city and community groups for benefit of the school system.
“I’m running for the board to give back to the community, further develop our school system and continue the good work the board is already doing,” Pierce said. “I’m a grandmother, so I have time to give back to the community.”
Espinosa is making her first run for Whiting School Board. She believes her perspective as a newcomer and the parent of a Whiting High School student can deliver fresh ideas.
She said people who want to get involved in the community deserve a chance to show what they can do.
“I want to improve ISTEP scores,” she said. “Our scores are pretty good overall, but I want help the students who aren’t scoring so well.”
Incumbent Michael Toth did not return messages seeking comment.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected from an earlier version. The terms of Lindy Fisher and Kathy Murzyn are not up for election until 2014.