Spring 2014 Election

Two incumbents, former member, newcomer elected to Evansville School Board

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Gina Duwe
Tuesday, April 1, 2014

EVANSVILLE—A strategic plan is key to the decisions that the Evansville School Board faces as it discusses going to referendum, two candidates elected Tuesday said.

Incumbents Kathi Swanson and John Rasmussen were the top vote-getters in Tuesday's election. Voters also elected former board member Melissa Hammann and Amanda Koenecke, who was chairwoman of a citizens advisory committee.

“I am very excited,” said Hammann, who served on the board from 2007-2010. “I'm really looking forward to working together with everybody and getting started with a strategic plan. I get a distinct feeling it's going to be important to get that into place very quickly.”

She said she doesn't see how the board can choose referendum questions wisely without closely studying a community survey that the district completed earlier this year.

Koenecke agreed, saying strategic planning should be a big priority for the board.

The district started the process in 2008-2009 but never completed it.

“It was a big disappointment … when people took time out of their lives for meetings to come up with a strategic plan, and the board just dropped the ball on it,” Koenecke said. “To have a successful district, you need a strategic plan.”

Koenecke chaired the committee that studied the community survey results and made recommendations to the school board last month. The recommendations included considering a fall referendum that would address curriculum, safety and security, facilities and technology. 

Improvements in those areas could cost $5.52 million, according to audits the district completed as it prepared for the survey.

“I want to see the board follow our recommendations that the committee put forth,” Koenecke said.

She said she's excited to join the board and thankful for the community support.

Rasmussen said he's looking forward to the referendum discussion in the coming months.

“The people gave us their opinion, and I think we need to listen to them,” he said of the survey and committee's recommendations.

“I don't think w can do it all,” he said of the referendum recommendations, “but we need to set priorities and go with them.”

He said he would take one issue at a time and use common sense and make educated decisions.

The new board will be seated at the reorganization meeting Monday, April 28, Hammann said.

Swanson could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

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