School stock

VALPARAISO — By a 4-3 vote, Valparaiso dentist Dr. Robert Behrend was chosen to serve as the City Council's next representative on the Valparaiso Community Schools board.

Behrend was one of four candidates interviewed twice for the appointed position to replace present member Jim Jorgensen effective July 1.

Other candidates were Kristin McMurtrey, Ron Donohue and Adam Rengstorf. 

The candidates were interviewed twice during the process. On Monday night, City Attorney Ethan Lowe posed nine questions to each candidate suggested by residents. The questions ranged from what they would do about bullying to poverty's impact on students, financial experience, charter schools and whether or not the board should be more transparent in choosing the next superintendent.

Councilman John Bowker, R-5th, nominated Behrend to begin the discussion, saying he supported Behrend because of his role in the School Board foundation and the lead he took on helping pass the school district's referendum.

Councilman Robert Cotton, D-2nd, said he opposed Behrend simply because of his "close ties" with Valparaiso schools Superintendent E. Ric Frataccia. Cotton said the two served on several boards with Frataccia and he felt the choice was being made from a narrow group of associates.

Councilwomen Debora Porter, D-at-large, and Diana Reed, D-1st, both supported McMurtrey.

Porter said she believed the present makeup of the School Board of four men and one woman was not representative of the community, the school employees nor the student body.

In the end, Bowker, Matt Murphy, R-3rd, Lenore Hoffman, R-4th and Trista Hudson, R-at-large, voted in favor of Behrend's appointment with Porter, Cotton and Reed voting against.

Porter asked, to show support for the new appointee, the council vote by acclamation to approve Behrend. Cotton was the lone opposition to the vote, saying he wanted his original vote to reflect his comments.

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Porter County reporter

Joyce has been a staff writer for The Times for more than 20 years. She is the municipal and education reporter for Porter County. She is an amateur genealogist and writes a blog, Remember your Roots, appearing online each Thursday.