ST. JOHN | Three incumbents and two challengers vying for the three at-large seats on the Lake Central School Corp. board said they see state funding, declining enrollment, the new A-F school grading system for school districts and new technology as key issues.
A loss of more than 100 students in the Lake Central schools this school year means a loss of nearly $500,000 in funding which combine to challenge the School Board and administration, said Don Bacso, 47, of Dyer, who is completing his first four-year term.
“We need to open up our borders and allow parents who want to enroll their children in the Lake Central Schools to do that,” said Bacso.
Incumbent John DeVries, 71, of St. John, has been a School Board member for more than a decade and agrees that low state funding is a top issue.
“We are dealing with a tremendous financial crunch because of low state funding,” he said. “Parents are concerned with numbers in the classrooms and, we have had to cut down on maintenance and custodians.”
The state’s funding formula puts Lake Central School Corp. at the bottom of Indiana’s 347 school districts, DeVries said.
That one-two punch of declining enrollment and low state funding is the biggest challenge for Lake Central schools, said Valentina Lozanoski, 52 of Dyer, who is completing her first term as a School Board member.
“Parents need to write to their congressmen and representatives to change school funding,” said Lozanoski. “What we need to do is keep our students here.’
Challenger Sandra Lessentine, 42, of St. John, said new technology being introduced in the schools opens up the world to students, and is something she has worked with for a number of years.
“I know about technology like SMART boards,” said the chairman of the math department at Crete-Monee High School.
Janice M. Malchow, 61 of Dyer, said as director of grants and professional learning for an Illinois school district that she is “very comfortable with budget limits.”
Her chief concern is the Indiana Department of Education’s A-F grading system for school districts introduced by state Superintendent Tony Bennett, she said.
“He is using Florida’s model and a lot of Florida schools are failing under that model,” Malchow said.