Crowd of candidates vying for SB school board seat

There’s a single job opening on the South Bend Community School Corporation Board of Trustees and 31 candidates are competing for it.

Those 31 candidates can basically be divided into two categories: Those who view the job as temporary, and those who don’t.

“I’m offering them experience, I would think that’s what they need to look for, for a short term six month stint,” said former South Bend School Board President Marcia Hummel.

Hummel served on the school board for 16 years until she lost her re-election bid in 2010. While she has no plans to run in another election—she won’t sit idly by if her help is deemed needed.

“I don’t think in the next six months that someone who hasn’t been in that seat can be effective, I think there’s a transition and a learning curve,” said Hummel.

The term on the now-vacant seat expires at the end of 2012—in about six months’ time. Hummel is one of two former board members willing to serve the remainder of the current term—and nothing more.

“There are some critical decisions that need to be made and they need to be made now so that we’re not turned back over to the state, when I was on the board before, the state controlled us,” said Loretta Kollar, a board member back in the 1980’s when she was known as Loretta Jacobson.

When Kollar last served on the board, it was an appointed body. In fact, Kollar herself was appointed by then-mayor, and now School Board President Roger Parent.

“They’re not going to have to train me, they’re not going to have to tell me, oh, we have to do this and this budget does this, and the other budget does that, I know all of that,” said Kollar. “Right now, knowing what critical situations they’re in, some of it was because of some of the decisions we made 27 or 22 years ago, and I think we need to fix it fast.”

While Dustin Saunders has never served as a board member before, he believes he does stand out in what has become a crowd of candidates. “Like I said in my letter of intent, I don’t, I have a full time job, I don’t need any of the perks and the benefits that come with the seat, so I wouldn’t take any of the pay or the insurance, I don’t need them, for me it’s about my kids and other families’ children.”

Saunders is one of three applicants who ran for the now-vacant at-large seat in question in the 2008 election.

“It’s frustrating to me, that there’s 30 candidates just from the perspective of when I ran four years ago, there were 17 or 18 and when the election ended, they all disappeared. I’ve continued to go to meetings (school board meetings) and continue to show up and hold them accountable for what they’re doing, and now all of the sudden Miss Spivey resigns and all these people come back,” said Saunders.

Saunders says he’ll run for a full four year term on the seat in the fall—regardless of who is appointed to fill the last six months of the term.

All 31 candidates will be interviewed by the six sitting members of the school board next Monday and Tuesday.

A target date of June 25th has been set for the board to make a final decision.

If the board deadlocks and is unable to name a replacement by July 4th, then the responsibility goes to the Judge of the St. Joseph Circuit Court.

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