Eight candidates are eyeing three available seats on the Center Grove Community School Corp. School Board.
All the seats in this race are at-large, so all voters in the school district will get to select three of the eight candidates on the ballot to serve on Center Grove’s school board.
Because of the volume of candidates, coverage of this school board race will be split into four parts, each featuring two candidates. The remaining parts will publish in the coming days leading up to the first day of early voting on Oct. 12.
Incumbents Scott Alexander and Jack Russell, who have been on the school board since 2010, are running for reelection. They are also challenged by Doug Bohall, Bill Collins, Bruce Guiliani, Gary Robinson, Derek Payne and Nicholas Smither.
Current school board member Joe Hubbard’s seat is also up for grabs, but he is not running for reelection because he plans to run for Greenwood mayor next year.
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 making decisions regarding construction projects and any school redistricting that may be necessary.
The Daily Journal emailed questions to each candidate asking about their experience and goals, if elected. Part one features answers from Alexander and Bohall. With some edits for grammar and length, here’s what they said:
What drew you to run for this office?
Alexander: To continue to serve the community as a school trustee. As we emerge from the pandemic, we will be able to focus on the issues of funding, academic achievement and preparing the school corporation for continued growth.
Bohall: I have previous experience on a local school board (Greenwood schools) and I am willing to serve during this time of political and social divisiveness. I am hoping to add a stabilizing voice when there are so many distractions that pull resources and energy away from the educational mission of the institution.
What qualifications do you have to serve on a school board?
Alexander: My broad business background and previous experience on the school board position me well to continue our path of growth while keeping the tax rate flat. I understand the funding challenges a growing school district such as Center Grove faces.
Bohall: 42 years of working with people who often have varying viewpoints about how to accomplish the mission of the organization. I have functioned as a mediator and facilitator in establishing vision and direction of groups, boards and committees … Knowing the difference between student-focused governance and micromanagement is an especially important asset to bring to the position.
What are the most pressing issues facing your school district, if there are any?
Alexander: State funding and continued growth are the most pressing issues the school district is dealing with currently.
Bohall: Center Grove is an excellent school district providing outstanding educational and extra-curricular opportunities for the students of the district. As time goes on, opportunities and challenges arise, and every school district needs to continue to stretch for relevance to reach the changing demands of excellence for the success of the students. I especially think that ensuring that our schools are safe and healthy places to work and learn is of ultimate importance.
What are your top three goals, if elected?
Alexander: Continued dialog with state legislators about the funding formula. Center Grove is the 29th largest school district in the state, and we are funded 25th from the bottom out of 191 districts. Our funding does not match our size or academic success; Continue to prepare for growth in a proactive manner versus a reactive manner; Continue to enable teachers and staff to provide the highest quality education to all students at Center Grove.
Bohall: Creating an environment that encourages all students to engage meaningfully in the educational process. Education is the key that will unlock doors in their future that result in reaching their highest potential in life; Creating a premier workplace for teachers, staff and administration to fulfill their vocational calling.
How would you define social emotional learning? Do you think it has a place in schools?
Alexander: SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, establish and maintain positive relationships, feel and show empathy for others and make responsible decisions.
Bohall: Learning to work collaboratively with others and supervisors is of critical importance. Simply knowing the technical side of a job is usually not enough to succeed in the long term. Problem solving is a skill that brings flexibility to the toolbox of data and facts that are learned during school years. Learning goal-setting techniques brings reality-based context to tasks at work and in personal life. There are times to celebrate achieving our goals, and there is value in learning to reassess our goals when we fail to reach them.
In researching Social Emotional Learning, my understanding is that these are the main concentration areas of SEL. These can be taught at home by family members, but instruction at school is another opportunity to practice developing and mastering these important skills for student success.
How would you define critical race theory? Do you think CRT is being taught in this school district?
Alexander: CRT is a social, political lens used to focus on the concept of race and racism. CRT should not be taught in the classroom and is not part of the Center Grove curriculum.
Bohall: Racial awareness and sensitivity is a very difficult topic for our society, and has been for decades. When we commit to the concept that all men are created equal, we find ourselves faced with a challenge with countless perspectives. Unfortunately, many of the social struggles of the past decades … have found their way to the battleground of the educational institutions to battle out their differences. Using schools as the battleground can become a major distraction from the educational mission.
CRT is an advanced academic discipline that peels the onion of racism, examines its causes and its more subtle dynamics. Unfortunately, when racial awareness is discussed, it is sometimes mistakenly identified as CRT. There is an overlap of CRT and racial awareness at the intersection of racial consideration. I have no evidence that CRT is being taught in this system. Hopefully, racial awareness and sensitivity is and will continue to be considered.
What else would you like to say to voters?
Alexander: If reelected I will continue to be fiscally responsible as we continue to grow our community. We are quickly approaching 10,000 students and need to be prepared for continued growth.
Bohall: School board leadership is about governance, not micromanagement. Boards are charged to make decisions that result in an optimal learning environment. That includes budgetary, policy, programming, staffing, facility and extracurricular decisions. I take all of these very seriously because they will directly impact the success of our students. I believe that hiring the best administrators, educators and support staff is of primary importance. Then, we need to let these trained professionals do their work.
The Alexander File
Name: Scott Alexander
Family: Married; two children
Occupation: Chief Operating Officer for Intempo Software
Educational background: Center Grove High School; Purdue University
Political experience: Center Grove School Board member since 2010
The Bohall File
Name: Doug Bohall
Family: Wife; five children
Occupation: Minister at Honey Creek Church
Educational background: Greenwood Community High School; IUPUI; Bible College (Cincinnati); Anderson University School of Theology; Olivet University
Political experience: Greenwood Community School Board, 1994-97; Central Nine Career Center Board, 1995-97
Memberships: United Way of Johnson County; Greenwood Rotary board and board president, 1993-2000; Leadership Johnson County, 1995