VALPARAISO | As proponents of an elected school board continue to gather signatures, a change could be coming in how the appointed board is selected.
The City Council makes four appointments to the board, one each year, while the Center Township Board makes one every four years. Township Board President Stephen Buck said it might be time to change that to give the township a larger representation on the board.
"This was set up in 1957, but when you look at the ratios of assessed value and student population today, the township is underrepresented by only having one appointment and only one opportunity every four years to apply. In 1957 it was an appropriate ratio, but now it's not.
"That makes it even more important for us to get it right," Buck said.
Mayor Jon Costas said he and Buck have discussed this issue, and he agreed it is time to revisit the balance on the School Board.
"The ratio should reflect the actual attendance inside and outside the city," Costas said. "It's time to take a look at that."
The board's makeup was established by state law and would require action by the Legislature to change it, but Costas said he doesn't think that would be a problem.
"If we are in agreement, I don't think that would be an obstacle," he said. "We will look at the numbers and work with the Township Board to get it done and see what changes are relative to those percentages."
As to this year's appointment, the council will hold the first of two interviews of its three candidates for the appointment beginning at 4:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The candidates will answer questions from the public at a second session in two weeks before the council takes a final vote.
The Township Board met narrowed the list of six applicants down to three finalists last week. They will be interviewed at 7 p.m. June 20 at the Porter County Administration Center before the board makes its decision.
The council's three candidates are Jim Jorgensen, who now holds the position, Kent Meihofer and Joseph Espinosa. The finalists chosen by the township are Mark Maassel, the current School Board president, along with Debra Fray and Stephen Crock, both of whom formerly worked as assistant principals at the high school.
Buck said one of the applicants was eliminated because the person lived in the city limits, and, although the township appointment is an at-large one who could live inside or outside the city, "We want to make sure the people outside the city get represented."
"The three are just standouts in terms of their education backgrounds and love for kids," he said. "It seemed like the perfect trilogy. I just think it's too bad we only get to do this once every four years."