Nine candidates seek to fill four seats on WCCS board

Two of Whitley’s County’s school systems will have board of trustee races for Election Day next week.Whitko Community School Corporation filled its vacant spots during the primary election in May.At Smith-Green schools, Tanya C. Young of rural Columbia City is an at-large candidate for the school board in District One, while Cathy Petrie of rural Albion vies for the at-large slot in District 3. Candidates for school boards are, by rule, listed as non-partisan. Both are unopposed.Four seats are open on the Whitley County Consolidated Schools’ Board of School trustees with nine candidates vying for four of the slots.In Columbia City, incumbent Don Armstrong will join three challengers, Herschel Lee Aumsbaugh, Eric Horvath and Christopher Bechtold, in vying for the city’s two board spots.“The reason I’m running is that I’m very concerned,” Aumsbaugh said. “Because I have nine grandchildren, I’m concerned that we keep the teacher quality up because education is very important to me.“We’re going to have a problem here in the next three or four years. How do we keep quality teachers if our tax base keeps going down? We’re going to have to get creative.”Bechtold was also worried about diminished funding for schools by the state.“With the likelihood that we’re going to be facing a decrease in funding in the foreseeable future, we need to figure out how are we going to keep the educators we have as well as keeping classroom numbers low,” Bechtold said. “We need to meet the needs of all of the students, and doing that with less and less funding is more of a challenge.”Armstrong pointed to works in progress and his coordination with other board members as part of his strength.“I believe as a board member, I am part of a team,” said Armstrong. “While there are many known and unknown issues that arise, perhaps our present known priorities are highest student achievement; quality staff and the support of the staff; Effective supportive evaluation and wise use of funds and our investment in the future.Another incumbent, Timothy Bloom, will try to hold his seat against challenger Terry Smith.“We need some common sense and conservative principles behind school board decisions and I hope to bring some of this to the decision-making process,” Smith said.Bloom pointed to changes in the economic climate as the backdrop for his platform.“We have moved from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based economy, making education the most important factor in developing contributing citizens in the 21st Century,” Bloom said.For the spot on the board from Thorncreek Township, Brooks Langeloh faces challengers Richard Eckert and Leah Heaston.“I believe school board is one of the most important elections with regards to our community, its future and the success of our students, businesses and residents,” said Langeloh.Heaston said she’s willing to make tough decisions in the name of fiscal responsibility.“I’m a believer in education, but I do understand the economic times and don’t believe in school board trips out of state,” she said. “The money should be used for education.”Editor’s Note: The Post & Mail attempted to contact all candidates for public office in Whitley County for comments.