VALPARAISO | Just because the Porter County Council now has to approve the Valparaiso Community Schools budget, the City Council is not ready to back the movement for an elected rather than appointed school board.
Councilman Michael Baird, the council's liaison to the schools, asked at last week's council meeting if the new legislation giving the county final say over the School Board's spending meant it was time to consider such a change.
Those who responded said it was premature and also said they weren't happy with the legislation.
"It angers me," Councilman Joey Larr said of the two-sentence change in the 30-page law affecting only appointed school boards and not other appointed boards, such as libraries. "Just because the County Council has the duty now, it should not affect whether we have an elected board. I fully support an appointed board."
Blaming much of the discussion, media coverage of the debate and the ongoing petition drive to switch to an elected board on election year rhetoric, Larr said he doesn't think those seeking a change will get the support needed.
"I think the system we have works fine and keeps the politics out of it," he said.
Council member Deb Butterfield agreed.
"I don't think the County Council's review of the budget has any bearing on whether the board should be elected," she said.
Butterfield was one of those who said during the last election that she would support the change to an elected board if that's what residents want, she said. However, she thinks it is premature to discuss the issue or express opinions on it because it could have an impact on the public perception, she said.
"We have well-intentioned people on the board, and they are on a better course than they were three or four months ago," she said. "We should continue to look for ways to strengthen the accountability between the board and the council and back to the citizens while we are on the right track, rather than when a crisis occurs."
Councilman Jan Dick said, "We don't need a knee-jerk reaction. We have an exemplary School Board, and we don't need to change."