Four candidates are hoping to snag two at-large seats on the Greenwood Community School Corp. Board for the Nov. 8 general election.
Incumbents Brian Ford and Mike Metzger are facing challenges from newcomers Peggy Daeger and Chad Shaffer. Daeger is a bus driver for Greenwood schools, who upon her possible election, would retire from the district. Shaffer is a member of the Southwest Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.
The Daily Journal asked the candidates questions about their experience and their goals for the district. With some editing for grammar, formatting and length, here’s what they said:
What drew you to run for this office?
Daeger: With all my experience with the school, the children, parents and employees, and being at the board meetings for 35 years, I thought I could better serve them by being on the board.
Ford: I chose to run again for the school board to continue the work we have started and the work still to be done that will build on the corporation’s success. I have always been actively involved in our community and in the schools. This is an additional way to stay involved and contribute to the community. I am passionate about Greenwood and would appreciate the opportunity to continue serving my community.
Metzger: My daughter was in kindergarten when I was asked to join the PTO and soon asked to be the PTO secretary. It quickly sparked a flame to be more involved in my children’s school life, their school building, and then the entire district. I soon started the first All Pro Dads Chapter in Greenwood schools at Isom. With PTO and All Pro Dads, I was able to observe the perspective and hardships of students and parents from all walks of life, as well as the struggles, roadblocks, successes and goals of teaching staff.
Shaffer: After attending school board meetings for the last year, I believe that we can do better at communicating school board activities with the community that it represents, as well as create additional channels for the community to communicate with the board. Also, I would like to bring my skills and experiences in the technology industry to support new technology enhancements across the school corporation.
What qualifications do you have to serve on a school board?
Daeger: I’m a concerned parent and a concerned employee and I have been to every school board meeting in the 35 years, with the exception of five meetings.
Ford: I have served on the school board for the last four years and we have accomplished many positive things despite the pandemic. That experience is invaluable as we continue to move toward pre-pandemic levels in academic achievement and normalcy. I have also been fortunate in my professional career to lead strategic initiatives, execute budgets, develop business plans and lead people.
Metzger: My background and expertise come from K-12 infrastructure. I’ve been in countless school buildings and universities in Indiana and have seen firsthand in how they operate … I’m an advocate, public speaker, and supporter of vocational, technical and career education … I currently have served two terms on the Greenwood board, am the current board president and in that time the schools have had the highest enrollment in our history, brought our starting teaching pay up from dead last to the highest in Johnson County, built a new middle school while never raising taxes, employed an Indiana superintendent of the year, hired a superintendent, and sold the old middle school site to the city, kindling a restoration of our downtown. I’ve also served eight years on the Central Nine Career Center Executive Board and am the current secretary overseeing both high school and adult education.
Shaffer: Professionally, I have been managing teams, budgets and projects since 2006. I have worked in the education, nonprofit and consulting industries and have a good working knowledge of how business operates within these types of organizations … Personally, I am a dedicated husband and father of four children and invest my personal time volunteering as a youth sports coach, am an active member of the Southwest Elementary PTO and a devoted Christian.
What are the most pressing issues facing your school district, if there are any?
Daeger: Declined to answer.
Ford: Given our district boundaries and no ability to organically grow our student population, we need to continue to make Greenwood schools an attractive alternative for out-of-district transfers (and) continue to find ways to properly compensate our teachers and control health care costs for all employees.
Metzger: Safety is always a high-priority issue. With recent occurrences, we’ve implemented stop arm cameras on all buses coming into our fleet, for example. With our recent superintendent hire, some immediate items were policies and procedures with staff in terms of evaluations and open lines of communication. We have several infrastructure issues requiring updates that have been long overdue. We are in the process of completing renovations at our high school, Northeast Elementary and several sports facility updates.
Shaffer: Greenwood has been a stable school district for many years, to its benefit I believe. However, our community is aging and our enrollment has been decreasing recently. This is going to impact the funding we receive from the state and may affect financial and operational decisions in the near future. Secondly, our community demographics are becoming more diverse and our staff and administration must be aware of and prepared for these changes so that all students are afforded a quality education in Greenwood. Lastly, we know that there is a teacher and support staff resource shortage which must be managed wisely so as to not negatively affect our children’s education.
What are your top three goals, if elected?
Daeger: Declined to answer.
Ford: First, continue developing a strategy that sets the school system up for the next decade with thoughtful improvements to our schools and athletic facilities. We have begun this by recently installing lights for baseball, softball and tennis, major improvements to the soccer stadium, and the classroom renovations being completed at the high school and Northeast Elementary. Second, keep school safety as a focus area while continuously reviewing our resources and protocols so that if we see opportunities, we can move quickly. Third, always make decisions that are in the best interest of the kids and school staff and bring no personal agendas into the board room.
Metzger: To be fiscally strong is always a goal. We have always touted being responsible with the community’s tax dollars and have always operated within budget as long as I have been on the board. I plan to maintain that conservative spending mindset if elected. (Also, cultivating) a culture in the corporation that is positive and embracing. Our teachers and staff feel deflated. Students feel lost, still finding their groove after coming back to the norm. With positive culture, it can cause a positive effect on teacher retention, morale boost for both students and staff, and the end goal of a higher graduation rate.
Shaffer: First, to enhance communication opportunities between the community and the school board with a focus on increasing community involvement in our schools. Secondly, to advance technology used by students and staff to improve the educational experience and to prepare the students for the modern workforce. Lastly, to maintain the high standards of our board reputation with the aim of supporting our school staff and administration as they work to lead and teach our children.
How would you define social-emotional learning? Do you think it has a place in schools?
Daeger: SEL in the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, in work and in life. This is something that should be taught at home starting at a young age.
Ford: In theory, SEL is the process through which people acquire and apply the knowledge, skill, and attributes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, achieve goals, show empathy for others, develop relationships and make responsible and caring decisions that lead to success in learning, work and society. I believe this definition does have its place in schools. It goes back to good citizenship and allowing teachers to set expectations around behavior and accountabilities in the classroom. This leads to a productive learning environment where all can prosper and grow.
Metzger: A general definition of SEL could be summed up as character education. First, it’s required by law (IC 20-19-5), so as far as it having a place in the schools, that’s for the Indiana Department of Education and state legislators to decide. But out of all the SEL competencies, only a handful are identified as required skills in the Indiana Employable Skills Standards. There are parents who feel it is their place to handle their child’s emotional well-being or character. There are equally as many if not more students that don’t have any understanding or are not taught how to handle emotions, anger and interactions with others. In a perfect world, we merely facilitate education and real learning would come at home. But many aren’t so lucky. It has a necessary place in schools just as free and reduced lunches have a place. SEL oftentimes is vital for stability in classroom interruptions as well as that student’s own education. … This is public education. We need to make sure, as an administration, that we umbrella all children in our district, not a select few.
Shaffer: For generations, our schools have provided opportunities for children to grow mentally and socially, however, SEL shouldn’t be used within schools as a way to push personal political agendas or cause division. I feel that important academic learning time is being displaced by time spent on SEL education, which may be necessary for a few children in the class, but the majority of the class is learning this at home. If our schools continue on this path, many students will struggle to meet their full academic potential.
How would you define critical race theory? Do you think CRT is being taught in this school district?
Daeger: Declined to answer.
Ford: Merriam-Webster defines CRT as “a group of concepts (such as the idea of race) is a sociological rather than a 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.” No, CRTis not being taught in Greenwood schools.
Metzger: CRT is inherently the idea that despite civil rights activism, movements, education and litigation, that positive health, social, economic or capitalistic decisions and outcomes remain in the hands of the most powerful and wealthy, ultimately penalizing those that don’t hold social or economic power. This topic is not actually part of any curriculum. What I do believe needs to be taught is honest and true history … Our country has had many successes, oftentimes with our own brawn and work ethic. Oftentimes those successes come at the cost of others. These are the gut punches of American history that we need to learn from our past to make us a stronger, smarter and more vibrant country.
Shaffer: The concept of CRT sadly is being used to dissect our communities and pit neighbor against neighbor by espousing the theory as fact in all scenarios. I would not support any teaching or theory that divides our community by any race, color or nationality. I would expect the Greenwood administrators and staff to teach students to grow respect and appreciation for children who come from families different from their own. We cannot control the heritage of our ancestors, but we can control our own thoughts and behaviors towards our neighbors, understanding that we were all created in God’s image.
What else would you like to say to voters?
Daeger: I just want the students of Greenwood schools to have the best education they can get while I’m here and for years after I’m gone.
Ford: I would like to say thank you for allowing me to serve on the board these last four years. As a Greenwood graduate and life-long resident, I recognize first-hand what this community and school system have done for me. I have a passion for ensuring our continued success and positive impact on future Greenwood kids. It has been a privilege to serve on the board and I welcome another four years.
Metzger: If you know me, you know how many hours I’ve poured into this position and how hard I’ve worked for the education of Greenwood to move onward and upward. You know the passion I have for this seat on the board and how seriously I take my job. I love this community and this school district. I hope you can see this in my character and it resonates when you cast your vote on Nov. 8.
Shaffer: I understand that school boards have experienced unprecedented challenges in the past three years and I am grateful for the dedication of those currently serving on the board. I’m running to bring my unique set of skills and experiences to the work of the board. I look forward to bringing our community closer together and ensuring that Greenwood remains a place where families take pride in living and raising their children for generations to come.
THE DAEGAR FILE
Name: Peggy Daeger
Family: Husband, Mike; three children; four grandchildren
Occupation: School Bus Driver, Greenwood Community School Corp.
Educational background: Emmerich Manual High School, Indianapolis
Political experience: None
THE FORD FILE
Name: Brian S. Ford
Family: Wife, Jen; two children
Occupation: Assistant Vice President – National Property Claims, Travelers Insurance Company
Educational background: Greenwood High School; Wabash College
Political experience: School board member since 2018
THE METZGER FILE
Name: Mike Metzger
Family: Wife, Jennifer; two children
Occupation: Building Automation Controls Team Leader, Envelop Group
Educational background: Highland High School, Highland, Indiana; Lincoln Christian University, Lincoln, Illinois
Political experience: School board member since 2014
THE SHAFFER FILE
Name: Chad Shaffer
Family: Wife, Rebecca; four children
Occupation: Salesforce Consultant, Offprem Technology
Educational background: New Castle Chrysler High School; Ball State University
Political experience: None
Memberships: Southwest Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, Bargersville Church of Christ