Crothersville residents look to fill two school board seats


Two members of the Crothersville Community School Corp. board of trustees have challengers for their seats in the upcoming general election.

Linda Luedeman represents District 2 and looks to serve another four years, while Carly Blevins is her opponent.

District 3 has incumbent Ralph Hillenburg, Becky Butler and Tiffany Reynolds as candidates.

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James Land is unopposed in District 5.

In the Nov. 6 election, the top vote-getter in districts 2 and 3 will win the seat. All races will be on every ballot in Vernon Township.

Luedeman is wrapping up her first term as a school board member.

“I desire to continue as a board member and hope to have a positive impact in this leadership role,” she said.

Luedeman taught at Crothersville for 16 years. After obtaining her principal’s license, she was an assistant principal at East Washington Elementary School and then was a principal at Seymour-Jackson Elementary School.

As she worked on her educational specialist degree and superintendent’s license, she became the principal at East Washington Middle School and also served as director of programs and operations for the corporation.

“I feel very blessed to have had these opportunities and to have worked with many extraordinary colleagues throughout my career,” Luedeman said. “I believe these experiences will be quite valuable in my role as a school board member.”

Blevins said her children are her motivation to run for school board.

“I believe in investing in our future generations, in the unlimited power of education and in our school district,” she said. “I want to not only retain our current students, but I also want to see our district thrive.”

She said she fell in love with Crothersville when she moved from Michigan. Then when her oldest child started attending preschool, she fell in love with the school.

Two of her sons attend the elementary now, and her third son will, too. She also coaches middle school volleyball.

“My family and I have a personal relationship with the district,” Blevins said. “My husband and his side of our family have attended this district. I, however, did not. I grew up in a district that was much larger, and because of such, I am able to bring new ideas and different perspectives to our district while keeping the standards and traditions of Crothersville alive.”

Since the early 2000s, Hillenburg has served on the board for 14 years. He’s a Crothersville graduate along with his three sisters, two daughters and two grandchildren. His father served a term on the school board and was a bus driver for eight years, and his mother was a school cook for at least 14 years.

He said his connections in the community and school and 53 years in the Christian ministry have put him in touch with hundreds of people.

“I have served on six different church boards, two Christian camp boards,” he said. “I am the Crothersville school’s representative to the local Crothersville TIF board. I worked for five years in the field of public relations for Louisville Bible College.”

Butler is a Crothersville graduate and a lifelong resident of the town. She was a teacher at Crothersville Elementary School for 34 years, including the last nine as the Title I program administrator/teacher.

“While coordinating this program, I was actively involved budgeting it with state-funded money,” she said. “I have spent most of my life involved with educational values and concerns of the public. I feel my experience as an educator would be very beneficial in decisions made at the board level.”

Reynolds said her 20-plus years of management experience have prepared her to be successful as a school board member. In leadership roles, she said she has used creative and collaborative thinking to inspire and motivate others.

“These skills have helped me overcome many challenges,” she said. “I take pride in a job well done. I don’t stop when times are hard. I respect my peers and work well with others to reach common goals. Throughout my life, I have stood up for what is right and will continue to do so in serving my community. The community can trust that my character will not be compromised when it comes to making decisions about what is best for our school.”

As for the corporation’s three most pressing issues, Luedeman said they are funding, student enrollment and community involvement.

“Our funding is very regulated and directly tied to our average daily membership,” she said. “By increasing our enrollment and being good stewards of our finances, the future of our school system will brighten. Tough decisions that directly affect our students need to be studied and addressed. These decisions need to be openly discussed with our stakeholders in the community.”

Community input and board transparency would greatly benefit the decision-making process, and students and staff are crucial voices that need to be at the table, Luedeman said.

“I often hear comments about our students being forced to take classes in neighboring districts and parents wondering why they cannot take these classes at Crothersville,” she said. “I also am questioned on noncertified staff teaching elementary and middle school classes. These are great questions that need addressed.”

Blevins said the top issues are growth and sustaining current students, transportation and maintaining and expanding upon faculty and staff who excel in educating students.

“In order to maintain and attract students, we need to listen to and take action on what our community needs or wants to make Crothersville a top choice in Jackson County,” Blevins said.

Creating efficient and convenient bus stops for students and creating a solid foundation of support for staff and faculty will not only transfer positively to the classroom, but that also will lure other teaching professionals to seek Crothersville for employment, she said.

“All in all, the more enticing our school is, the more students we will gain and the more funding we would acquire and the better school we can create,” Blevins said. “Being a small school means we need to work twice as hard at making it the best choice for our community and adjacent ones. We can be the Crothersville everyone wants it to be.”

Hillenburg said the top issue relates to funding.

“I believe that small school corporations have been squeezed by the state of Indiana for a long time,” he said. “We do not always get our fair share of funding. Almost every year, we lose some percentage of funding in some way — not always the same way. In my estimation, (Superintendent) Terry Goodin has done a fantastic job of figuring out a way for us to make it through the new year. We owe him a debt of gratitude.”

Butler said the main challenges are a decrease in state funding for public schools, especially small schools; declining enrollment mostly due to students leaving to attend larger schools that offer more extracurricular activities; and communication and community understanding.

Although state funding is decreasing, keeping the public informed is very important, she said. Crothersville introduced new pathways to graduation, but she said a small number of parents attended a meeting to learn about them.

“Parental involvement is a big part of the line of communication,” Butler said. “I would like to reach out to the public and help make them more aware of the issues facing our school and to help them understand why there is a need for change. Crothersville needs a positive voice, and I would like to be that voice.”

Reynolds pointed out the dwindling student population, offering required classes in the school and finding funding to hire certified teachers to instruct classes.

She said if students want to take art, band, choir, technology or second-year foreign language classes, they have to be bused to another school. That has resulted in students enrolling elsewhere so they can take the classes required to obtain a high school diploma.

“Finding the resources, teachers and class selection to provide required curriculum within our own walls at our own school would be a step closer to continuing the future success of Crothersville Community Schools,” Reynolds said. “Creative budgeting along with community involvement would be a great place to start.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Blevins file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Carly Blevins

Age: 30

Occupation: Pricing analyst for Cummins Inc.

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Luedeman file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Linda Luedeman

Age: 60

Occupation: Retired principal/educator for 30 years and currently managing son’s small business in Crothersville

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Butler file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Becky Butler

Age: 61

Occupation: Retired teacher and currently works for the town of Crothersville as second deputy clerk

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Hillenburg file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Ralph Hillenburg

Age: 71

Occupation: Minister for 53 years

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Reynolds file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Tiffany Reynolds

Age: 43

Occupation: Senior marketing associate for Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance


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