VALPARAISO | Hoping to rekindle interest in the petition drive to change the city's School Board to an elected body, organizers are taking the campaign to the Web.
The group has collected about 2,500 signatures toward its goal of 3,500 in order to force the change. Valparaiso is one of only 12 districts in the state with an appointed school board. The group has been circulating petitions for almost a year, but a spokesman said the effort has slowed since the elections were over.
Collin Czilli, a high school student who set up and is maintaining the Web site www.electvalposchoolboard.com for the group, said Monday campaign workers circulated petitions while canvassing the neighborhoods on behalf of candidates. With the election over, not as many people were available to do that.
Czilli said he worked as a volunteer with state Senate candidate Deb Porter in the fall and created her Web site before getting involved with the elected school board group, which is headed by Kevin Cornett. The group still plans to take petitions door to door, but the online petition is an effort to get more results faster.
"We have already gathered thousands of signatures in person," Cornett said. "To surpass our goal, online signatures are necessary. It is much easier to reach all of the voters in Valparaiso with an online petition."
Although the website officially launched Monday, Czilli said it has been available since Jan. 20 and had collected 31 signatures by Monday evening.
The reasons the group wants an elected board is that an appointed board lacks accountability and the board has had "budgetary issues and a lack of stable leadership," according to backers.
"It is time that we move to where 96 percent of other school boards are," Cornett said. "There have been no answers to how money is being spent and to the problems the Valpo schools are facing."
Anyone interested in signing the petition or becoming involved in the petition drive can visit the Web site or email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Czilli said the goal is to wrap up the drive during this nonelection year. Only registered voters in the school district can sign the petition.