Clark-Pleasant School Board, Pleasant Township seat, candidates Kimberly Crawford, Beatrice Dunn and Bryan Neer.

Four candidates hope to snag one seat representing Pleasant Township on the Clark-Pleasant Community School Corp. School Board.

Incumbent Kimberly Crawford, of Greenwood, was appointed to the Pleasant Township seat in 2021, and will be going before voters for the first time in an election for the school board this fall.

Three new candidates are also running for the seat. Beatrice Dunn, of Greenwood, is a former Clark-Pleasant educator and former school board member, and Bryan Neer, of Greenwood, is a veteran and a Clark-Pleasant parent.

Amber Treasure, of Whiteland, is the fourth candidate running for the Pleasant Township seat. She did not respond to multiple requests from the Daily Journal to answer questions sent to all candidates. Her answers are not included.

The Daily Journal asked the candidates questions about their experience, reasons for running and goals for the school district. Here’s what they said:

What drew you to run for this office?

Crawford: My children have been in this school district their entire lives. I’ve been involved at their elementary schools, the middle school and the high school by volunteering in their classrooms on field trips and field days and after-school activities. When there was a vacancy on the board last year, I was drawn to the opportunity to further help and support the community and school district. Now that I’ve been a school board member, I want to continue helping and supporting the community and school district with all of the challenges and opportunities in front of it.

Dunn: As a patriot and conservative with a proven record of leadership in the Clark-Pleasant School District, I care deeply about our families, community and country.

Neer: I decided to run for three reasons: personal, organizational, and philosophical. Personally, I have a daughter who is in Clark Pleasant Middle School so first and foremost I am an actively involved parent in my child’s school experience. … Organizationally, I feel my proven track record as a local business owner can be utilized as a voice of efficiency, always being dedicated to being a “Good Steward” of not only the public’s funds but of the public’s trust. Philosophically, I feel that the current board has lost sight of the fact that the school board is empowered by the community to be the servant to the community.With the key role of creating a school system that strives for educational excellence.

Treasure: Did not respond.

What qualifications do you have to serve on a school board?

Crawford: I am a parent of two children who have come up in the school district and I am a current school board member. I have a familiarity with and knowledge about the school district that the other candidates do not. In addition to having experience with the school district at the elementary, middle school and high school levels from the perspective of a parent, I have attended board meetings, work sessions and executive sessions to learn more about the school district, its needs and what it is doing to meet those needs. On top of this, I have a deep field of experiences based on my career as an attorney and engineer to draw from to support the school district and the community.

Dunn: I have a proven record of leadership with Clark-Pleasant: 16 years high school business teacher, department chairman, coordinator for high school North Central Accreditation, PBA chairman, two years as corporation technology coordinator; five years assistant principal; seven years high school principal; five years corporation director of curriculum and instruction; eight years school board member.

Neer: I am a resident of the Township of 18 years. I actively manage an organization within a fixed budget. I meet the criteria to be on the ballot. I am willing to dedicate the time to be a good steward for the next four years and set the groundwork for others like me to get involved as well.

What are the most pressing issues facing your school district, if there are any?

Crawford: I believe the two most pressing issues facing our school district and the school board, of which I am a member, are 1) growth and 2) safety. It is easy to see that our community has grown rapidly over the last 10 to 15 years and it is going to continue to grow. The school district’s enrollment is projected to increase about 20% in the next 10 years. The recent Whiteland Community High School renovation project is one way we, the school board and myself, have increased capacity to accommodate our growth while not raising our taxes. However, I believe that we are not done and we will need to continue to strategically plan for this growth. Safety is another issue facing our school district. I believe we all want to keep our kids safe at school. One way we have addressed this is in the WCHS renovation project. All the students will be in one building with safe and secure entrances that allow better supervision capabilities. We’ve also added a SRO Sergeant to the Clark-Pleasant Police Department and renovated the entrance at Break-O Day Elementary to increase safety of the students and staff.

Dunn: Growth and academic excellence.

Neer: Bus driver retention; teachers and assistant retention and hiring; school safety; fiscal policy; quality of fundamental education.

What are your top three goals, if elected?

Crawford: Maintain the current strong fiscal status in Clark-Pleasant Community School Corp., while funding core academic and facility needs; make CPCSC the employer of choice by increasing teacher and staff retention, overall job satisfaction and morale, being competitive and attracting talent from tradition and non-traditional resources; make CPCSC the school of choice by providing a challenging educational experience for all students that will be both rigorous and stress individual responsibility, all while continuing to build relationships throughout the school corporation by increasing transparency.

Dunn: Clear and open communication with staff, parents and the community; help make the corporation a place where there is a commitment to a vibrant civil and moral society, parents are engaged and respected, and the focus is on education that prepares students with the knowledge and skills to participate effectively as a member of society; find ways to deal with the growth within the budget.

Neer: Be creative in recruiting bus drivers and teachers; being transparent with the community where it comes to budget/promoting an environment that gets our students back to the basics of core curriculum; creating the ability for an open forum for parents and guardians, allowing me to genuinely be a community advocate on the school board.

How would you define social emotional learning? Do you think it has a place in schools?

Crawford: My understanding is that social emotional learning (or social and emotional skills) is one of four employability skills established by Indiana Department of Education, in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, and approved by the Indiana State Board of Education. It is defined as the process through which the knowledge, the attitudes, and the skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions is acquired. It includes: 1) connection, as demonstrated by the ability to network with others through social awareness and cultural sensitivity; 2) regulation, recognizing and managing one’s emotions; and 3) collaboration, working well with others in a team. Whether this belongs in schools has already been decided by the State. However, these skills are helpful beyond just talking about employability but also conflict resolution. They are skills we teach to our children, whether we’ve taken the time to define them as such, to use at school, work, home, church, wherever they may go.

Dunn: The original intent for SEL was supposed to be to help students gain employer-identified academic and social and emotional competencies as they prepared for their adult life as a member of the work force and society. However, state school boards and the Department of Education decided all children need support and social and emotional learning is now a school-wide intervention. In 2020 SEL became Transformative SEL which promotes an inclusive and equitable learning environment instead of focusing on preparing students with the basic skills and knowledge to be a functioning literate member of society. Too much instructional time is wasted on subjective activities and non-academic instruction that focuses on Transformative SEL activities of inclusion, diversity and equity.

Neer: Social Emotional Learning, in theory, is the process through which people learn, develop, and demonstrate the social, emotional, behavioral, attitudinal, and academic skills that lead to success in learning. First promoted in the 1990s, it originally had great success in teaching students the “grit” to strive to find the right answer. It has a place in schools however that implies trust in the educational structure that the student is being encouraged concepts in learning that 1) can be reinforced in the home when parents are involved with helping their student with homework and 2) are void of the teacher’s personal bias in areas outside the scope of the lesson.

How would you define critical race theory? Do you think critical race theory is being taught in this school district?

Crawford: Not being an expert in the subject matter, I looked it up and Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the term as “a group of concepts (such as the idea that race [] is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism [] pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system) used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States.” As for the second question, based on the above referenced definition, I don’t believe CRT is being taught in the school district. However, U.S. history is being taught in the school district and any discussion about U.S. history would include the topic of race whether we are talking about the American Civil War, segregation or the Civil Rights movement. Race and U.S. history are inextricably entwined. How can someone teach one without talking about the other?

Dunn: CRT is the indoctrination of students through diversity, inclusion and equity and that the United States is systemically racist and has created social, economic and political inequalities in white and nonwhites. Since 2020 the new definition is Transformative SEL and now is centered through the lens of racism and equity. If a school is using CASEL (Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning), Second Steps, and/or Panorama Education, they can quantify and measure subjective skills and create reports on individuals, groups, and schools. They are teaching, scoring, and tracking social and emotional skills as school-wide interventions of non-academic factors in order to receive federal money at the direction of the State Board of Education and ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act).

Neer: Critical Race Theory as labeled can be traced back to 1989 as a college opinion paper. It adheres to a non-proven “theory” that collided the concepts of race, racism and the law. Clark-Pleasant’s “official” position on this topic is that it is not being taught. I intend to be a voice to validate that position both in its commonly referred to acronym (CRT) or by any other name. I do not think CRT should be taught in our school district. Lastly, it is my belief that the Indiana General Assembly will take action on this matter, thus taking it out of the hands of the school boards. I fully support this action on a broad basis so as to eliminate the temptation by school boards and superintendents from manipulating this topic by using a new acronym to promote the same topic.

What else would you like to say to voters?

Crawford: I attended public school and my mom was a school teacher. I am a strong believer in the public school system and what it has to offer by way of diversity of both people and experiences. This is why I chose to send my children to public school and I want to continue to support the school district and the community by serving on the school board.

Dunn: As a retired educator and former school board member, I feel very strongly schools are going in the wrong direction and too many non-academic things are partly to blame. With my experience, knowledge and dedication, I need to get back in the fight to help restore some common sense and American social, moral and academic values.

Neer: I want more activated and engaged parents, and less social activism in the classroom. More ABCs and less CRTs. I want to represent you and your interests, not the interests of the board. For the last two years I have heard you. Your concerns are the same as my concerns. Your frustration is the same as my frustration. And your thoughts are valid.

The Crawford File

Name: Kimberly Crawford

Family: Husband, John; two children

Occupation: Contracts manager at Rolls-Royce

Educational background: Highland High School (Highland, Indiana); Purdue University; Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Political experience: Clark-Pleasant Community School Corp. School Board member since 2021

Other government experience: Deputy Attorney General for Attorney General Steve Carter; attorney in the Office of General Counsel for various state bureaus and departments during Gov. Mitch Daniels’ and Gov. Mike Pence’s administrations

Memberships: Vice President, Rocklane Ridge Homeowners Association; Indiana Bar and the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana

The Dunn File

Name: Beatrice Dunn

Age: 77

Family: Husband, Glenn Dunn (deceased); two daughters

Occupation: Retired Clark-Pleasant Community School Corp. educator

Educational background: Dilce Combs Memorial High School (Jeff, Kentucky); Midway College (Midway, Kentucky); Indiana Central University; Indiana Central, Indianapolis; Indiana University Indianapolis

Political experience: Clark-Pleasant Community School Corp. School Board member, 2011-2018

Memberships: Victory Baptist Church, Whiteland; Johnson County Garden Club

The Neer File

Name: Bryan Neer

Age: 49

Family: Not married; one daughter

Occupation: President of Neer Insurance Services Inc./Neer Insurance Agency

Educational background: Southport High School; Community College of the United State Air Force, Maxwell Air Force Base (Montgomery, Alabama)

Political experience: None

Military service: Active duty U.S. Air Force 1991-1999; Air Force Reserves 1999-2001

Memberships: Indiana Farm Bureau Incorporated