Out-of-state education reformers have given $34,000 to one candidate for the Indianapolis Public Schools board.
Caitlin Hannon, who is in a three-way contest for the IPS District 1 seat, has raised $62,437 this year and spent about half that much through the last reporting period, which ended Oct. 13. Jim Nixon and Larry Whiteman are also running to represent the east-side district.
Hannon has the largest war chest in the race, which groups like the Mind Trust and Indiana Democrats for Education Reform see as pivotal to improving the management and performance of IPS. Two other candidates, Gayle Cosby and Sam Odle, also raised five figures.
Others reported raising and spending hundreds or a few thousand dollars. Nixon, for example, reported raising $300 through Oct. 13.
With backing from wealthy reform activists like Kent Thiry of Cherry Hill, Colo., Dave Goldberg of Atherton, Calif., and Charles Ledley of Boston, Hannon said she’s fielding questions about whether she’s beholden to special interests.
Hannon notes that she announced her candidacy and posted her platform a year ago, before the Mind Trust issued its report calling for sweeping changes at IPS, including giving control of the district to the mayor of Indianapolis.
Hannon considers herself a reformer but said she doesn’t support mayoral control, and she didn’t enter the race to push for charter schools.
“I think public schools have to be better if they’re going to be the schools people choose,” she said. “I didn’t run to start more charter schools. I ran to fix IPS.”
Endorsements from Indiana Democrats for Education Reform and the Indiana chapter of Stand for Children probably put her on the national radar, Hannon said. The 28-year-old is a former IPS teacher who now works at the not-for-profit Teach Plus.
In District 2, Cosby faces incumbent Elizabeth Gore, plus two other challengers, Alvin Esper and Sharon Dunson. Cosby reported raising $16,880, including $5,000 from Hannon’s campaign, through the October period.
Odle, a retired IU Health executive running for an at-large seat against Larry Vaughn, brought in $41,500, mostly from local, deep-pocketed donors. Odle’s support comes from both ends of the political spectrum. Democratic attorney Lacy Johnson and Republican private-equity investor Al Hubbard each gave him $5,000.
Hannon said if she prevails Tuesday, she’ll spend the rest of her campaign money to host meetings with her east-side constituents and create literature. “It’ll be used within the district,” she said.