Updated: 2018 MCCSC School Board candidates

John Kelly, Staff Writer

With midterm elections coming up in a couple weeks, you’ve probably seen those annoying ads of Mike Braun and Joe Donnelly bashing each other. With all the hoopla being centered around big senate races, local elections can sometimes be forgotten. The local school board has quite a large impact on students as well as schools, teachers and parents in the Monroe County Community School Corporation. Knowing what school board candidates stand for is important because they make the decisions that affect the social, environmental and educational aspects of schools.

District one has four candidates in the running: Eric Breidenstein, Jane Gouker, Thao Nelson and Elizabeth Ruh.

District three has two candidates running: incumbent Martha Street and challenger Byron Turner.

Brandon Shurr is running district seven unopposed.

District one candidate Eric Breidenstein was not present at the MCCSC school board candidate forum, held on September 17th.

Jane Gouker is a former MCCSC music teacher of over 40 years, who also founded the Hoosier Youth Philharmonic. Gouker stressed that though standardized testing is important, schools should certainly focus on other things as well. Gouker is very supportive of music programs at school and believes that music programs are very important for exposing students to different cultures. She is also very supportive of schools taking measures to ensure that students feel safe.

Thao Nelson is a mother of two MCCSC students and has been involved in education throughout her career. Nelson feels strongly about focusing on students individually and identifying where they can improve. She plans to work closely with teachers so that the needs and concerns of teachers can be understood. Nelson said that although her sons feel safe, she wants to continue to build a culture of vigilance in Monroe County Schools.  

Elizabeth Ruh currently has three students enrolled in MCCSC schools. Ruh attended MCCSC schools and has been a business owner in Bloomington, serving as a guardian for the elderly and disabled. Ruh believes that adding more social workers would be very beneficial for students. Ruh has quite a strong opinion on standardized testing, saying it is not the best way to evaluate a school/student.

Martha Street currently holds a position on the school board and is running again for the district three position.

Byron Turner, who is running against Martha Street for the district three spot, has worked as a teacher for many years and currently works for the Monroe County Department of Child Services. Turner feels that teachers are in the best position to evaluate students, rather than a standardized test score. Turner believes that the main concern facing the school system right now is economic segregation. Some schools have a disproportionate number of low income students, causing some schools to spend significant portions of their day focusing on other needs, taking away time that would normally be spent on schoolwork and curricula.

Brandon Shurr, who is running unopposed in district seven, has three children currently enrolled in MCCSC schools. He is very involved in the community placing students in non profit organizations. Shurr wants to set up policies that allow teachers to teach to their best ability and eliminate policies that place obstacles in the way of teachers.

Update: Elizabeth Ruh took district one in a surprise dominant victory over and will replace incumbent Kelly Smith.

District three will remain the same as Martha Street heads into her ninth year on the school board.

The district seven seat will now be held by Brandon Shurr, who ran unopposed. 

Both Ruh and Shurr are strongly in favor of redistricting, as well as  taking measures to make schools safe.