PORTAGE | Three people are challenging incumbent Debra Ekdahl in next month's race for the at-large seat on the Portage Township School Board.
Leonard Clark, Rex Hood Jr. and Ken Lorenz are challenging Ekdahl, who is completing her first term on the board.
Ekdahl said she is running again because she believes having a teacher on the board is beneficial. She added that although the district is improving, there is more work to be done. She is an English teacher at Hammond's Morton High School.
Clark said he chose to run for school board because he attended a meeting and was "taken back by the experience. Some individuals on there were for only their personal and professional gain."
Lorenz said he has been active in the community and a strong supporter of schools and believes serving on the board would be useful to the district and allow him to use his leadership abilities to "take a more common sense approach to some issues that we face, as opposed to relying heavily on outside consultants."
Hood did not respond to requests for information for this story.
Lorenz, a lifelong Portage resident, is vice president of Samuel Insurance Agency and is a member of the city's park board as well as the Portage Rotary Club and the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce, which named him Outstanding Public Citizen of the Year in 2011.
Lorenz said he wants to work together with the district's leadership to improve and increase vocational training. He also would like to see greater use of the city's newly opened University Center to help students prepare for college. He said he would be highly visible and open to suggestions from citizens.
Clark, a 1982 graduate of Portage High School, who taught at the University of Evansville and is involved in emerging media technology as well as hosting the University of Notre Dame's pre-game radio program, "Game Day AM," said he has an eclectic background.
"I want to bring a level of respect to the academic administrators. I want to make it less confrontational," said Clark. "There is a lot of room for growth in Portage, and we need to focus on the retention of good people."
Ekdahl, who is a state certified teacher mentor and recently was appointed to the Indiana Department of Education Reform Cabinet, said she has been active in the community including being a member of the city's park board and parental involvement in the schools.
"ISTEP scores have gone up, ECA (end of course assessment) scores increased and our graduation rate has increased. I'm also doing a job that I love," she said, adding that there is more work to do to improve education within the district. She added there are issues, such as school finances and maintaining a transparent board.