Three seek two Clark-Pleasant School Board seats for Clark Township

Three Whiteland Community High School graduates are running for two seats to represent Clark Township on the Clark-Pleasant Community School Corp. School Board.

Kent Beeson and Craig Koch were both appointed to the board since the last election and are asking voters to elect them to serve full terms on the board. They were appointed to the school board this year and in 2019, respectively, after members resigned.

Retired teacher Linda Polesel is also seeking the office.

The five-member school board is responsible for setting the school district’s annual budget, approving teacher contracts, hiring and reviewing the superintendent, setting policies and procedures, and make decisions regarding construction projects and any school redistricting that may be necessary.

The Daily Journal emailed questions to each Clark Township candidate asking about their experience and goals, if elected. With some edits for grammar and length, here’s what they said:

What drew you to run for this office?

Beeson: Once I moved out of the town of Whiteland limits, and was no longer eligible to


hold a position at the town, I decided I would like to help in other areas. With having three young boys attending CPCSC, and seeing some areas I believe I can help with, I decided to apply for the current school board position I currently hold.

Koch: Over the years I’ve tried to engage in the school community as much as possible as a volunteer and youth sports coach. I was drawn to run for school board as a continuation of that engagement. I had one previous attempt (in 2014) at running for the school board but was unsuccessful in my campaign. Despite the loss, I stayed engaged with parents, teachers and administrators, voicing support and concern when needed. When the opportunity arose to fill a vacant seat, I was enthusiastic. No one would say school boards have had it easy over the last few years. Even so, I have still enjoyed the eye-opening opportunity and a seat at the table to help ensure our children get the best possible education, no matter what the corporation is facing.

Polesel: I have lived my entire life in Whiteland, and this community has been good to me and my family, which includes four generations of Whiteland graduates. I want to help provide the best possible education for my grandchildren and all of the children in the district. Besides my family of Whiteland graduates, I am a former teacher of music at Clark Elementary, retiring in 2020 after 38 years of service.

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

Beeson: I have seven years of government finance experience, on the founding board of the TIF district for Whiteland, running a successful business within the school district for 22 years, and currently sit on the RDC of Whiteland as the school board representative. I served on the Town Manager’s advisory board, after leaving my town council position. I have advised nearly every school corporation within Johnson County on ways to improve their projects and save taxpayers’ hard-earned money. Having a business in Pleasant Township and living in Clark Township, I believe I can speak with and understand the taxpayers of the entire school district.


Koch: Over the past three years I have served as a member, secretary, and president of the school board. I was also the CPCSC representative to the governing board for Central-Nine Career Center. It has been a trial-by-fire experience, but it has been very rewarding. I do not bring a set agenda to this election, except to do what is best for our students, faculty and staff. I’m a concerned listener, eager to hear where we might be able to make improvements in the system.

Polesel: Through my career, I feel I truly understand the pressures being placed upon our teachers today at a seemingly ever-increasing pace. As a mother and grandmother, I also understand the responsibilities and challenges of raising a family and the need for working in partnership with the schools.

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

Beeson: I believe there are four areas that I can focus on, that can help the school district not only survive, but thrive (not necessarily in this order): Increase parent involvement; Advocate for all populations; Ensure fiscal responsibility; Ensure safety.

Koch: Growth and the challenges that come with that growth continue to be one of the most pressing issues facing the corporation. Ensuring we have the correct balance of physical space, faculty, staff, bus drivers, et cetera for this moment in time while planning for future growth. Our corporation is becoming much more diverse as it grows in population. Do we have resources in place to meet the needs of that diversity? Do our teachers feel supported and valued, or do they feel like they are being managed every minute to make education more efficient? … All of this requires that we attract and, more importantly, retain the best faculty and staff. Facilities are aging and will require significant improvement and/or replacement. The corporation is on the cusp of a five-year, $230 million renovation and addition to the high school that will help to address some of those growth needs. This will be a challenging process as nearly every square foot of the high school will be touched in some way.


Polesel: The primary function of the schools is to pursue academic excellence and an environment of safety and security for all students and staff. This is the only way to enable our students to reach their full potential.

What are your top three goals, if elected?

Beeson: Focus on the best practices to attract and retain talented staff to CPCSC; Ensure the upcoming WCHS renovation stays on track, under budget, and improves every student’s experience and education at CPCSC; Become, and influence others to become, an advocate for CPCSC, to make the school district the ideal public school corporation for our community.

Koch: Reinforce a sense of stability and direction for the corporation. Help our faculty and staff know they are supported and appreciated … ; Maintain the strong financial position the school corporation currently enjoys. Through good fiscal responsibility, ensure CPCSC has the resources it needs to face the challenges of the future; Ensure CPCSC is looked at as the corporation that has its act together and knows what it stands for. The one that, as a parent, you want your children to attend. The one you want to work for as an educator. One that doesn’t waiver from what it knows is right based on the mood of day.

Polesel: The primary duty of school is to teach students the basic skills needed to function in society, such as reading, writing and mathematics. This needs to be accomplished in well-disciplined classrooms that emphasize a culture of respect for one another, and is supported by the administration, family and community. Our curriculum should teach that all are created equal, have equal moral value under God, our Constitution and the law. Our schools should equip students with knowledge of America’s founding principles, a deep reverence for their liberties and love of country; The area of fiscal responsibility is two-fold: we have must provide the very best tools for learning while at the same time being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. There is no room for either extravagance or waste; I believe we must ensure that our school district reflects the values and standards of our community, rather than those handed down through governmental channels. This would require open communication between parents, staff, board members and community.

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

Beeson: According to the Committee for Children, the definition of SEL is “the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work and life success.” On the surface, this definition sounds great and has always been taught in schools. Many times, I have found that our society puts a label on a process that’s already being taught or instilled in others, which ends up having a negative net impact. As a current example, my two elementary-aged children, have recently become part of a school-wide initiative to do what they’re told, the first time they’re told to do it. These types of things have always been taught to our children, but only more recently have we labeled them SEL.Often, parents believe the school corporations aren’t being transparent, or perceive that the school is trying to do the job of the parent, due to the labels.

Koch: SEL is the teaching of employability skills and has been shown to increase student achievement and overall academic scores. It is learning how to deal with all people and situations, while better understanding who you are as an individual. When I was in school, I think they called this learning soft skills. It boils down to learning how to be a good person and treating others well. These skills are first taught at home and have always been reinforced through the educational system. Yes, it has a place in the educational process. I think it is complementary learning to traditional reading, writing and arithmetic.

Polesel: We have all seen examples of a policy that is labeled in such a way for us all to be on board, but either at its foundation or over time, it transforms into something deeper. I believe SEL falls into this camp. The school is not responsible for the heart and soul of the child; that responsibility has been entrusted to parents and family. Where problems arise, parents and schools should work in partnership in the child’s best interest, and where needed, the school should be able to point a family toward outside help.

How would you define critical race theory? Is it being taught in this school district?

Beeson: CRT is a concept that has false roots. Your inherent race has less to do with how you develop and function in life. Your environment, education, exposure to opportunities and experiences are much more responsible for the person you are to become. I do not believe it has a place in the school, taught in a manner that divides in lieu of unifying race differences. You can see daily how the major media uses this tactic to divide races.

Koch: It is the belief or theory that race is a social construct; that racism isn’t just an individual problem, but has been woven into the fabric of the American legal system, business world, government, et cetera. It is a college-level conversation. No, I do not think CRT is being intentionally taught in CPCSC schools and I don’t believe it should be.

Polesel: The fundamentals of CRT can be rooted in Marxism, the idea that all people are divided into two groups, the “oppressor” and the “oppressed …” This is how Communism takes over; ask anyone who has emigrated to America in search of freedom and to escape such systems … This is the antithesis of the dream of Martin Luther King … Our schools must ban any curriculum that promotes partisan opinions, activist propaganda, obscene material, or that pits students against each other on the basis of race.

What else would you like to say to voters?

Beeson: I question the “why” behind what we’re doing at CPCSC. I want to make sure our children are safe and educated in the appropriate manner. I think this can be done without costing taxpayers extra money. I’m not afraid to have hard conversations, to get the best for our children and our community.

Koch: I’m a parent of four children in the district. I have a lot of skin in the game, and I want the same thing most voters do. I want our schools to be a safe place for our children to learn and teachers to work. I want our schools to provide a quality education that prepares our children for today’s workforce or college education. I want our schools to help hold our children accountable and teach them to be respectful, honest and kind. I think we currently have all these things at CPCSC, and I will continue to do my part to support the corporation.

Polesel: Students who are taught to understand America’s exceptional principles and America’s powerful history grow into strong citizens who respect the rule of law, understand the importance of families, believe that free enterprise leads to prosperity, protect against the dangers of big government, and cherish the blessings of liberty that were conferred to them by our Founding Fathers. As a board member, I would remember that I represent the community and work hard to ensure we give our children what they deserve — our very best.

The Beeson File

Name: Kent Beeson

Age: 42

Family: Wife, Leslie; three children in Clark-Pleasant schools

Occupation: Owner/Operator of Beeson Mechanical Service

Educational background: Whiteland Community High School; IUPUI

Political experience: Whiteland Town Council, 2012-2018; Appointed to Clark-Pleasant School Board in 2022

Memberships: None

The Koch File 

Name: Craig Koch

Age: 43

Family: Wife, Amy; four children

Occupation: Project manager, Browning Construction

Educational background: Whiteland Community High School; Indiana State University; Indiana University

Political experience: Ran unsuccessfully for Clark-Pleasant School Board in 2014; Appointed to Clark-Pleasant School Board in 2019

Memberships: Volunteer Youth Basketball Coach; Scoutmaster – Boy Scout Troop 265; Member, Our Lady of Greenwood Catholic Church

The Polesel File 

Name: Linda Polesel

Age: 66

Family: Husband, Richard, four children

Occupation: Retired music teacher

Educational background: Whiteland Community High School; Ball State University; IUPUI

Political experience: None

Memberships: 56-year member of Greenwood Christian Church; Gingham Homemakers Extension