Reform-minded candidates secure IPS board seats

The Indianapolis Public Schools board will have a new look in the new year.

Reform-minded candidates Caitlin Hannon, Gayle Cosby and Sam Odle were elected Tuesday to the seven-member board, which governs the troubled urban school district. Incumbent Diane Arnold had no opposition.

IPS has been under fire after decades of decline. It has lost more than 5,000 students to charter schools in recent years and saw 350 of its students sign up for vouchers to attend private schools.

Survey results released last month show a majority of district residents are dissatisfied with the school system.

In December, local education-reform group The Mind Trust proposed a series of sweeping changes, including transferring control of the district to the mayor of Indianapolis.

Hannon, a 28-year-old former IPS teacher, considers herself a reformer but said she doesn’t support mayoral control or widespread expansion of charter schools.

“I think public schools have to be better if they’re going to be the schools people choose,” she told IBJ. “I didn’t run to start more charter schools. I ran to fix IPS.”

She beat challengers Jim Nixon and Larry Whiteman to represent District 1.

In District 2, Cosby faced incumbent Elizabeth Gore and two other challengers, Alvin Esper and Sharon Dunson. Cosby is a teacher and the mother of three.

Odle, a retired IU Health executive who supports the Mind Trust plan, won an at-large seat, defeating fellow newcomer Larry Vaughn.

Arnold, executive director of Hawthorne Community Center who represents District 4, has been on the board for six years but nevertheless has said IPS must reinvent itself.

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