VALPARAISO | Kevin Cornett said he and others have just about collected the 3,200 signatures needed to advance their effort to transform the Valparaiso Community School Board from an appointed to an elected body.
The group has collected 2,500 signatures and intends to gather a little more than needed to make sure they come out in the end with the required number of valid names, he said.
Cornett said the majority of those approached with the petition have responded favorably and are in favor of starting a conversation about change.
There are 15 appointed school boards across the state, according to the Indiana School Boards Association.
Valparaiso will soon be the last appointed school board in Northwest Indiana as a result of East Chicago making the switch to an elected school board this fall.
Cornett said once the required number of signatures are collected and verified with the Porter County Clerk's office, they will be presented first to the School Board, he said.
If that board decides to do nothing, Cornett said he will take the issue to the area's state lawmakers.
"I want accountability from people who handle a $67 million budget," he said.
State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said he does not believe an elected board would be more accountable than the current group appointed by the Valparaiso City Council and Center Township Board.
He voiced confidence in current members and the health of the Valparaiso Community School Corp.
"Give me a reason to change something that is working," Soliday said.
Soliday said he has not heard a public outcry for the proposed change. If change is what the public wants, he said he is prepared to introduce legislation, but predicted the result would be a hybrid board of elected and appointed members that gives the majority to the latter group.
State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said he has yet to be presented with a reason to consider changing the appointed school board.
He does not believe any of his constituents have contacted him in favor of the change, but would hear their arguments if they reach out.
Charbonneau believes the issue should be worked out at the local level.