This article was co-published by Chalkbeat Indiana and WFYI as part of a collaboration ahead of the 2022 school board elections. Join Chalkbeat Indiana and WFYI to hear from candidates for IPS school board at a forum at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5 at the Indianapolis Public Library, Central Branch. RSVP and submit questions here.
Three of seven school board seats are up for election at Perry schools, a district of around 16,000 students located in south Marion County.
Like other districts, Perry is grappling with the effects of the federal decision to end free school meals for all children this year. In August, the district announced it would apply for a community eligibility provision waiver in order to serve free meals to all students regardless of income.
The district is also looking ahead to longer-term plans. In 2022, Perry voters approved a renewal of the district’s $154 million referendum that funds its teaching workforce, bus routes, and popular STEM programming.
This November, there are seven candidates running for three at-large seats. Two of the candidates, Lee Shively and James Hernandez, are incumbents, while a third current board member, Hannah Dale, is not running for re-election. The newcomer candidates running in this election are Cameron Clark, Chris Lewis, Hre Mang, Samuel Snideman, and Astin Vick.
As with other districts, the newly elected Perry board will oversee the district’s spending of its federal emergency relief money as the deadline to allocate the funds nears. They’ll also provide oversight of the operating referendum voters passed this year.
Who votes and how to vote
Voters can vote for all the at-large candidates. The top three vote-getters will join the school board.
Voter registration ends on Oct. 11. Marion County residents can register to vote at indianavoters.in.gov.
Early voting begins on Oct. 12 at the Indianapolis City-County Building at 200 E. Market St. Additional early voting sites, including one in Pike Township at the Indianapolis Public Library’s Pike Library Branch, open on Oct. 29 and can be found online at https://vote.indy.gov/early-voting/.
On Election Day on Nov. 8, Marion County residents can vote at any of the county’s voting centers, which can be found at https://vote.indy.gov/.
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Meet the candidates
James Hernandez, at-large seat
Incumbent candidate James Hernandez has served on the board since 2019. According to the board website, Hernandez is from Gary, Indiana, and moved to the Indianapolis area to attend the Indiana University School of Law. His two sons attended Perry Township schools, and he has served in various capacities in youth sports. His biography is available at the Perry board website.
Hre Mang, at-large seat
Hre Mang is a pastor at the Falam Christian Church of Indianapolis, an adjunct professor at Crossroads Bible College, as well as a founding member of the Chin Community of Indiana, a social services organization. He holds multiple degrees, including a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Grace Bible College in India, as well as an Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University. His website is available here.
Lee Shively, at-large seat
Lee Shively is the current president of the Perry school board and has served since 2019. Shively is a 2002 graduate of Perry Meridian High School, where he met his wife. His three children all attend Perry schools as well. Shively, a teacher at Beech Grove High School, said this primary goal as a board member is to be a voice for educators.
He said he will also prioritize being a good steward of the referendum dollars passed by Perry voters, as well as ensuring academic growth and a welcoming environment for students. His campaign website is available here.
Samuel Stewart Snideman, at-large seat
Samuel Snideman ended his campaign on Oct. 10. He will still appear on the ballot.
Samuel Snideman is a Perry resident and parent of a Perry Elementary School student. He’s a graduate of the district’s Leadership Academy and a former board member for the Perry Township Education Foundation.
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His goals include attracting and retaining high-quality teachers and support staff by making the district an employer of choice, while also diversifying the district’s staff to mirror the diversity of the student body. He would also like to “continue the district’s track record of prudent fiscal management,” and use partnerships with the community to increase the number of students going to college or into a career field. He also wants to advocate with the Indiana General Assembly for more funding for K-12 education.
His campaign website is available here.
Astin Vick, at-large seat
Astin Vick has worked for Perry schools as a substitute teacher and special education teacher’s aide, and currently serves as an assistant track and field coach at Perry Meridian High School. She holds a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification and a Ph.D. in sports management, and her research focuses on better understanding the student-athlete experience.
As a board member, her goals include raising the standard for excellence and increasing feedback and engagement from teachers, parents and the community. She’d also like to evaluate the programs the district is using and ensure the transparency of its board meetings by offering easily accessible board minutes, notices of meetings, and decisions explained in lay terms and multiple languages. Her campaign website is available here.
Cameron Clark and Chris Lewis could not be reached for comment.
Aleksandra Appleton covers Indiana education policy and writes about K-12 schools across the state. Contact her at email@example.com.