This is one of 10 school board races in Marion County. Check back with Chalkbeat Indiana throughout the week for more information on the other candidates.

 

District snapshot

With Pike Township serving a growing share poor families, it is changing processes at the district level to support them. Superintendent Nate Jones said the district is trying to offer more learning opportunities for students who aren’t seeing success with traditional methods, as well as giving them more support outside the classroom with mentoring and after-school tutoring programs. A new emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math skills has been adopted to better equip students looking for jobs after high school and college. The district is building its own career center, which will open in 2015.

Candidates in this race recently discussed the issues on Amos Brown’s radio show.

Key school district data

  • Enrollment: 11,069 students
  • Ethnicity: 59 percent black, 20.6 percent hispanic, 11.6 percent white
  • Eligible for free and reduced-price lunch: 64.1 percent
  • ISTEP math and English passing rate 2014: 66.7 percent
  • 2012-13 graduation rate (most recent available): 92 percent

Candidates

  • Michael Downs, 47, director of conventions and meetings for Kiwanis International, running as an at-large candidate.

The following candidates could not be reached or did not respond to survey questions.

  • Philip Abrams, running as an at-large candidate.
  • Regina Randolph, running for re-election as an at-large candidate.

Why did you choose to run for the school board?

Downs: I chose to run for the school board because I am a parent with kids in the township schools. I have one daughter who graduated from Pike High School in 2014, and have a daughter who is a junior at Pike and son who is in 8th grade at Guion Creek Middle School. I believe that our township schools provide a quality education for my children and all children in our township. I want to make sure that we continue to perform at a high level for our students.

What issues will you focus on?

Downs: The main issues that I wish to focus on are teachers, training and technology.  If we expect the best, we must be willing to invest in the best.

What is the most important issue facing your district?

Downs: Our most important issue is to continue on the path that we are on and not to enjoy our successes and become lazy. We need to continue to invest more in our students and teachers and to work with staff district wide to encourage excellence at all levels.

Anything else about yourself you’d like to share.

Downs: I am an active community volunteer. I coach soccer in my spare time. I am an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church and have been married to my wife Abby for 22 years. We have lived in Pike Township for 14 years.

Answers have been edited for length.