About two months after the two highest-ranking members of the Clark-Pleasant school board resigned from their posts, the board has chosen two new people to fill those seats.
The three voting members of the board, Butch Zike, David Thompson and Craig Koch, unanimously approved two new members, Kent Beeson and Kimberly Crawford, both of whom have multiple children in the district.
Beeson, owner of Whiteland-based Beeson Mechanical Service, graduated from Whiteland Community High School and served as president of the Whiteland Town Council for four years. He will represent the Clark Township seat on the school board, and has three children at Clark-Pleasant schools, according to a news release from the district.
Crawford, an attorney and engineer at Rolls-Royce, has an engineering degree from Purdue University and a law degree from Indiana University. She will represent the Pleasant Township seat on the school board, and has two children at Clark-Pleasant schools, according to the news release.
The vacancies came after former school board president Beth Poe and former school board vice president Laura Cope resigned from their positions after a September school board meeting. That meeting ended after some attendees refused to wear masks despite a district-wide mandate at the time. Cope and Poe left the meeting immediately after adjournment, and resigned the following day.
Thompson, Koch and Zike remained despite the advertised meeting being over, violating Indiana’s open-door law that says a majority of school board members cannot have public meetings unless 48 hours public notice is given.
During the Oct. 26 board meeting, the three-person board reorganized, appointing Koch the board’s president, Zike the board’s vice president and Thompson the secretary. With the addition of Crawford and Beeson, Clark-Pleasant once again has a five-person board.
There was a lot of interest in the two vacancies, with 21 people applying for the Pleasant Township seat and six applying for the Clark Township seat. Applicants had to submit a letter of interest and complete a questionnaire. Twenty-four of them interviewed with the school board after three dropped out, spokesperson Rick Hightower said.
The number of applicants shows how involved local parents are, Koch said.
“We had to fill two seats and the response was overwhelming. I think it speaks volumes about how involved our community is,” he said.
As a student at Whiteland in the late 1990s, Beeson was involved with every sport and FFA. He now has three boys at Clark-Pleasant schools, in second, fourth and eighth grades.
“I submitted my letter of interest to the school board because I feel they can use help from somebody who has experience dealing with tough issues and confrontation in a public setting,” Beeson said in an email. “There are some very important topics currently that can be hard to communicate on and come to a resolution that makes sense for everyone. I believe I can help navigate this.”
Critical Race Theory and mask mandates have been topics of heated discussions during public comment in the past several months.
“We must have ongoing discussions, using intelligent, fact-based guidance, not giving into fears or social pressures,” Beeson said.
Crawford did not return a request for comment by deadline.
Beeson and Crawford are the best for the job because of their expertise, Zike said.
“We had outstanding candidates. We could’ve chosen a lot of different people,” he said. “These people stood out. They fit what we needed. One has experience with (Tax Increment Finance) districts, is in business and actually was in government itself, and the other lady is an attorney that knows law. It was a really great fit for us.”
The duo will serve at least through the end of next year, and will have a chance to extend their terms during next November’s school board election.