AKRON — Contested races and the guarantee of at least two new faces will make the election in November for Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation’s Board of Trustees significant for that southern Kosciusko County/Fulton County school system.
Current board member Stan Miller announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election in District 3 when his current term is up.
Lacy Wise of Akron filed her candidacy in that district and said she was encouraged by school district patrons to run for the seat. Wise is a school counselor at Manchester High School.
“I decided to run after having many conversations with community members and board members about policy within schools,” Wise said. “I realized that after 10 years of creating, maintaining and improving other school district’s policies, I could really benefit my community with that knowledge. Also, my experience working with students, families, and teachers really helps me to understand the different needs, desires and even frustrations that people may feel with public education. I believe that all employees and Board members of public schools work for the community. I’m looking forward to serving mine.”
In District 4, sitting board member Bryan Murphy decided to not run for re-election. Two men filed to fill that slot.
Tom Bauters grew up in rural northern St. Joseph County and graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in accounting. The certified public accountant has worked in finance for more than 30 years and said he is hopeful that his professional background, combined with what he says is a deep involvement in the school corporation and community will add value to the district’s students and community.
“My wife, Lanette, and I live in Henry Township where our children graduated from the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation,” Bauters said. “Our granddaughter is now enrolled in pre-school at Akron Elementary School. I served six years on the Tippecanoe Valley School Improvement Steering Committee, five years as treasurer of the Viking Booster Club and numerous years as a Mentone Youth League baseball coach. In addition, I am an active reserve deputy for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department.
Akron farmer Kristopher A. Fear is also vying for the District 4 slot. Fear is a Tippecanoe Valley alumnus from the class of 1987. After high school, Fear joined the U.S. Air Force and began farming after his military tour. He is the owner of Fear Farms. Fear’s wife Lisa is also a TVHS graduate and the couple has four children.
“Our schools are small, which has its advantages, but we have big school opportunities,” said Fear. “The fast-paced, changing world is a challenge that our students and staff face every day. My experiences as a farmer can help contribute to the TVHS board. There isn’t a single day that is the exact same as the one before. There are no days where you don’t work hard. There are hard days and a lot of times, even harder days. It’s not an easy or smooth job. I know how to handle challenges. I know how to think strategically about long-term growth and health of things. I also know how to balance the short-term needs. The knowledge of owning my own business makes me efficient at getting the maximum benefit out of every dollar.”
In District 5, Akron resident Craig A. Durkes will challenge incumbent Todd Hoffman of rural Rochester.
Durkes and his wife Shari have four children and have lived in the district for 20 years.
“The reason I am running for Tippecanoe Valley School board is to make a difference for the students, faculty and parents of the Tippecanoe Valley school system,” said Durkes. “With my professional background, as well as my involvement within the school system over the past 12-plus years, I know that I can add value and meaning to the school board. I am invested in the TVSC with having 3 children still in school. TVSC offers wonderful opportunities to students that will lead them to the next level in their lives, whether that is pursuing a college degree or joining the workforce right out of high school. I am excited to bring my knowledge and leadership to the school board to see how we all can continue to make Valley great as well as strengthen the foundation of what being a Viking means.
Durkes serves on the Fulton County Chamber of commerce board and is a past participant of the Fulton County Chamber Leadership Academy.
For Hoffman, running for re-election is about finishing what he started.
“After serving the past four years on the Tippecanoe Valley school board, our team faced some difficult challenges,” said Hoffman. “We built a solid team that trusts each other and works as a whole for the better good of our school and as a voice of experience. I took pride in being a part of that team. As a parent of recent Valley graduates, I know how important our responsibility is to listen and respond to the parents, staff, students and the community. If re-elected, I will continue to invest in the Tippecanoe Valley school system and look forward to taking on the challenges ahead.”
Hoffman said current initiatives of the board have been successful and said he would like to see those programs through fruition.