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Candidate forum highlights priorities of Elkhart school board candidates

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- All eight school board candidates for Elkhart Community School Corporation participated in forum on Thursday.

Elkhart voters filled the classroom at Indiana University Elkhart Center. The candidates answered questions sent in by them and from others in the community.

“I want to hear that they’re going to make sure that our kids have every opportunity to succeed and they’re going to explore all avenues which to do that,” said Arvis Dawson, a voter and former Elkhart educator.

A couple of voters told ABC 57 News their main concerns were the $33 million merger taking place in the school corporation and the corporation’s funding. The merger will combine Elkhart Central and Elkhart Memorial high schools into Elkhart High School.

“I believe that that formula is flawed and has put us in a situation that we’re in but we’re going to do the best we can with what we have,” said Dawson.

At-Large candidates Troy Scott and Jeri Stahr along with District B candidate Glenn Duncan said they are in favor of the merger. Duncan’s opponent Roscoe Enfield Jr. and at-large candidate Kellie Mullins said the restricting should be going on in the lower grades, what they both called the corporation’s “foundation.”

At-large candidate Anne Von der vellen said she did not favor the merger. And at-large candidates Jill Szyarto and Babette Boling said the state is the reason the merger is happening.

During the forum, which was led by IUSB’s American Democracy Project and the League of Women Voters of Elkhart County, Dr. Elizabeth Bennion asked the candidates to name their top priorities.

Troy Scott, District B candidate: the referendum

Roscoe Enfield Jr., District B candidate: the corporation’s budget

Kellie Mullins, at-large candidate: listening to the voice of corporation employees

Troy Scott, at-large candidate: teachers leaving the district

Jeri Stahr, at-large candidate: the corporation’s new superintendent

Jill Szyarto, at-large candidate: WiFi accessibility for students

Anne Von der vellen, at-large candidate: loss of teachers

Babette Boling, at-large candidate: the corporation’s new superintendent

Rodger Pinto, with the American Democracy Project, said reoccurring feedback the group gets after debates or forums is taking questions head on and answering them.

“The process works better when you have people that are providing input and people that are responding to it,” said Pinto.

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