Interviews begin to fill South Bend school board vacancy

The fast-talking process of finding South Bend’s next school board member got underway today.

“We’re asking them, allowing them to make a four minute statement and we have four minutes for questions,” said South Bend School Board President Roger Parent. “And that’s because of the numbers; I mean we would like to give them more time.”

A total of 31 candidates have applied for a single vacancy on the board. Today marked the start of candidate interviews, although there are so many candidates that the interviews won’t conclude until tomorrow.

The board hopes to be in a position to make a final decision at a meeting on June 25th.

While candidate Walter Braunsdorf isn’t the front runner for the position, today he was the leadoff man. “I got to be the first candidate today that they heard from,” said Braunsdorf. “My wife and my family moved into a neighborhood others were moving out of, because we wanted to kind of be a catalyst for change over there.”

With the clock ticking, 14 candidates went before the school board today

“I think there’s no doubt that our schools are currently and have been for some time facing a challenge and I like a good challenge, and I like a good opportunity and I think this is both,” said candidate Kyle Chamberlin.

In the 2008 election, Chamberlin ran for the at large seat that was recently vacated by Stephanie Spivey. “I felt I was the best person for the job at the time and that conviction remained unchanged today which is why I’m here appearing before the board,” Chamberlin said.

Cory Gathwright is a minister who had no problem fitting his ‘sermon’ within today’s time constraints. “I’m a proven leader in the community, I’ve worked with problem children as well as mentoring in the community,” said Gathwright. “So I feel that I didn’t have to come and do a song and dance, just tell the facts.”

Fact is, one candidate for the vacant seat has more experience as a South Bend school board member than any sitting member, although Marcia Hummel wasn’t sure how far those 16 years of experience would get her.

“I don't know whether I stand a chance,” said Hummel, “Because knowledge is dangerous, I suppose.”

Hummel today told the board that it wouldn’t have to hit the brakes if she was the replacement. “If this board and I think this board wants to move ahead, move on, they don’t have time to train on board roles or background information,” Hummel said. “If they want what’s best for the corporation, if they look for experience in the superintendent, I think they would look for experience in a board member.”

The at-large seat that was vacated by Stephanie Spivey runs through the end of 2012.

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