Incumbent retains Franklin school board spot

Incumbent candidate Becky Nelson secured 56% of the vote to defeat challenger Matt Cree for the Union Township seat on the Franklin Community School Corporation board of trustees.

Jake Sappenfield ran unopposed for the Needham Township seat, replacing current member Ryan Waggoner, who didn’t run for a second term.

Nelson has served on the board since 2018 and is also the school nurse at Northwood Elementary School.

During her campaign, Nelson stressed the importance of recruiting and retaining qualified staff members as the school district faced a worker shortage affecting the entire country. She also took pride in the successful property tax referendum push in 2019, which led to more money for teacher raises and mental health services for students and staff members.

Nelson highlighted the need for enhanced student safety measures and ensuring students had access to the resources and qualified teachers they need for quality education. She also discussed the importance of social emotional learning as a way to teach children to show empathy, make responsible decisions and overcome and cope with challenges.

Cree, a first-time candidate, prioritized increased communication between the school board and Franklin families and helping students recover from learning loss they experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also shared a concern students were falling short in core academic subjects.

Cree, a Franklin College graduate who works as a bankruptcy attorney, discussed his experience in business and finance and said he could help the school district be fiscally responsible if elected to the board.

During his school board campaign, Cree was endorsed by Purple for Parents, a far-right group advocating for the removal of social emotional learning from schools. The group, however, rescinded its endorsement in October after Cree shared continued support for social emotional learning, which he said helps students develop self-awareness, self-control and intrapersonal life skills.

Nelson will begin her second four-year term in January.