New school board member Redick says possiblity of school closures is ‘complicated’ issue

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Jason Redick is particularly concerned about School District 55’s discussion the past couple of years about possibly closing schools.

Redick began serving an at-large term on July 1, joining three other new board members: Leena Neuschwander, Jeff Lynn and Ken Roberts.

“I’ve always thought that it was important to be involved as much as possible,” Redick said. His wife, Amanda, has always been involved in the classroom. Redick said running for the board was his way of getting involved.

“The biggest thing actually was the debate over the Holley-Crawfordsville issue,” Redick said.

The Holley-Crawfordsville issue refers to a debate on what to do with the two schools. Both schools cost more per student than the larger in-town schools. They serve fewer students, and closing the schools could save the district money overall.

The board has been reluctant to close either school but has discussed using one building for a charter school or developing a “magnet” school to either attract revenue or decrease costs. Parents in the Holley and Crawfordsville communities have opposed closing either school.

Redick’s son attended Crawfordsville when the debate began. Redick moved his children to Sand Ridge Charter School in the Lebanon School District after discussions about Holley and Crawfordsville began.

“I kind of felt the debate was detracing from my bnoy’s education because no one could make a decision,” Redick said. It was the unknown, particularly, that caused the problem.

“He’s smart enough,” Redick said. “He knows what’s going on. That prompted us to put them into Sand Ridge.”

It also prompted Redick to think about ways to get involved, he said. This was the time.

“It’s a complicated situation either way you look at it,” Redick said, and the outcome of any decision may not be good. The smaller, community schools involve parents more than the larger schools.

“At the same time, it needs to be seriously looked whether we’re getting a return for those dollars,” Redick said. “I have my leanings, but I’m not full convinced either way. I lean toward having a school in each area. I am impressed with the charter school idea. I think that could be a good option.”

A charter school maintains a community school and increases parental involvement, Redick said, but he is not completely sold on creating a charter school in Holley or Crawfordsville.

“I’m not convinced of where the revenue issue will end up,” he said. “I like the idea of a charter school, but I don’t know if it’s right for everyone.”

Like home schooling, it’s a good fit for some families and children, Redick said.

In finances, Redick sees a state trend cutting special programs, like music and vocational programs. He would like to protect the funding for those types of programs, especially the vocational programs, like welding, autoshop and woodshop.

“These things are kind of a part of this community,” Redick said. They are “skills that can be used locally. There are kids that aren’t going to go to college. That will be the training they get to go out into the work world.”

Funding “is going to be the biggest challenge for the whole School Board,” Redick said. The board has no control over how much money it has to operate. It must take the dollars given and decide how best to spend those dollars for the benefit of the children.

“Right now, I’m kind of in a phase of learning a lot about this,” Redick said. “This is different than anything I’ve ever done before. I’m not going to get in and run my mouth off about sometehing I don’t know about. My goal is to research everything fully in order to make the best decision.”

Redick was born and raised in Redding, Calif. He moved with his family to Sweet Home in 1989, when his father became pastor of the Highway 20 Church of Christ, his sophomore year in high school. Redick graduated in 1992 from Sweet Home High School.

He works at Target Distributors in receiving. He is taking classes through Summit Theological Seminary in Peru, Ind.

He has two children, Gavin, 10, and Gabriel, 8.

Redick enjoys fishing and hunting. He enjoys old cars, and jokes that he has two he said he needs to fix.