Two men with histories of extensive service to the Goshen community are seeking the District 4 Goshen Community Schools board seat.
Allan Kauffman, former mayor of Goshen, and Keith Goodman, the incumbent school board member, are the candidates.
Goodman is married to Regina Goodman. They are parents of two children.
He is employed as a commercial banker at Lake City Bank. Goodman graduated from Goshen College in 1986 with a degree in business.
He has served on several boards, including Lacasa and United Way. He is a member of Goshen Noon Kiwanis and is vice president of the school board and treasurer of the Goshen High School building trades program. Goodman was first elected to the school board in 2016.
Kauffman served 18 years as Goshen’s mayor. He also served as District 2 City Council member, at-large City Council member and was a member of the Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety. His party affiliation was Democrat. School board elections are non-partisan.
Kauffman is a 1971 graduate of Goshen College. Kauffman and his wife, Carol, are parents of two grown sons.
District 4 consists of the area south of C.R. 36 on the west side of the Elkhart River to the Harrison and Jackson township lines to the west and south and generally south of Plymouth Avenue on the east side of the river and south to take in the Waterford Crossing subdivision. A small wedge of District 2 disrupts the districts’ continuity by extending south of Plymouth Avenue west of South Main Street. A complete view of District 4 and other Goshen school board districts can be viewed online at www.goshenschools.org/public-records/school-board-district-maps.
What are your qualifications, as well as life and work experiences, that will help you perform your duties as a member of the Goshen school board?
GOODMAN: I am the current vice president of the Goshen school board representing District 4. I am a Goshen Community Schools and Goshen College graduate. I have been involved with Goshen schools since graduation in numerous volunteer capacities, including Junior Achievement, athletic and band parent, current building trade’s treasurer. I have served on the United Way and Lacasa boards. I am a member of the Goshen Noon Kiwanis Club, whose mission is helping children. I currently work as a commercial banker partnering with businesses and non-profits to bring my experience and financial expertise to help them attain their financial goals.
KAUFFMAN: Serving 16 years on City Council, 20 years on the Board of Works and Safety and 18-2/3 years as mayor gives legislative and administrative experience along with understanding of municipal finance, all transferrable to understanding school issues and budgets. I’ve dealt with state legislators and followed and testified on legislation affecting local government and public education. Prior to government experience, I worked 30 years for a local office products business, ending as vice president of operations. I served nine years on the Goshen Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, chairing the board one year. Business experience is a benefit.
The Goshen schools student body consists of about 62% minority students while the staff is 94.4% white. As a school board member, how would you move the staff to a more inclusive representation of the racial and cultural makeup of the student body?
KAUFFMAN: It’s difficult to answer the question without knowing all the things already being done to attract minority staff. The administration is trying. I’ve been told they’ve tripled the percentage of Hispanic teachers in the past several years. But it’s still a low number, going from about 2% to 6%. Sadly, it’s a shrinking pool of people choosing education as a career because teachers aren’t treated and respected as professionals. Graduates often gravitate to corporations with higher pay, or where teaching is easier than in a diverse corporation with significant poverty. Minorities have to apply before they can be hired.
GOODMAN: The teacher shortage, that has existed for several years, contributes to the challenge of hiring any new teacher. Goshen Community Schools has made a commitment to “increase diversity across its employee base.” We have partnered with several colleges/universities from the Southwest to the Midwest to actively recruit diverse graduates. Goshen works on recruitment of student teachers working within the system and has a student internship/mentor program for students with interest in teaching. This has begun to create a pipeline of future teaching professionals who are likely to stay in the community.
After the passage of a $65 million referendum to build an intermediate school and renovate the middle and high schools, do you see the need for more taxpayer-supported school referendums during your term on the school board?
GOODMAN: No, the current referendums included an increase to our operating funds helping us raise salaries for teachers and staying competitive with surrounding school systems. The COVID crisis has negatively impacted the state’s tax revenues. This may impact state funding for schools over several years. Schools will need to adapt and continue to watch efficiencies and expenditures carefully. Indiana’s voucher program and funding for culturally diverse needs like Goshen’s continue to be a major challenge. Being in touch with our elected representatives and lobbing as a community are paramount to ensure Goshen schools state funding levels are on an equitable basis.
KAUFFMAN: I could serve one or more terms. If the question is only about the first one, I’m not aware of any referendum currently being considered. But one of the recent referenda was for general fund operations. If state funding doesn’t improve, it most likely will need to be renewed at some point. Property tax caps challenge capital projects budgets. State legislation has crippled public education across the state. To minimize future local referenda, current legislators’ attitude and philosophy about public education needs to change. If they won’t rethink and revisit past decisions, they should be replaced.
Indiana Department of Education data (https://inview.doe.in.gov/corporations/1023150000/proficiency) shows Goshen students are below grade-level proficiency standards in language, science, mathematics and social studies and above average in reading. What will you do as a school board member to improve those areas where Goshen students fall below state standards?
KAUFFMAN: It’s not uncommon for urban, diversified corporations with significant poverty to score lower than less diverse corporations with lower poverty. When Jim Kirkton was Goshen High School principal, he dissected aggregate scoring to its component categories. It showed that each category fared well, sometimes better, when compared to surrounding, less diverse corporations. Teachers are working harder, with new and different teaching methods adopted. We must continue to seek the best approach in a changing environment. We will always seek to hire the brightest and best. It’s a challenge in a shrinking pool due to bad legislative decisions in Indiana.
GOODMAN: We aren’t where we want to be in terms of proficiency but we should highlight what we are doing well. Looking at growth, we are above the state average in most demographic areas. Teachers and staff are working hard to close the gap by focusing on the growth of each student. This will get us closer to our proficiency goals. Language diversity and poverty have affected results. It’s not an excuse but a recognition that it’s a partnership with students, parents, teachers and community that will help make continued progress. Volunteer when the call goes out and help Goshen win.
Please tell the voters what initiatives you would undertake in 2021 as a member of the Goshen school board.
GOODMAN: I believe in public education and the opportunities that it has given the youth in our community.
I will continue to use my professional skills to review financial and performance efficiencies and identify ways to work within our financial means and carefully review dollars spent.
I know our elected state representatives personally. I will continue to make contact and voice concerns on education/funding bills that affect us.
I will continue to use my presence as treasurer on the Building Trades Board to advocate for career tech opportunities.
I will continue to support innovative plans to improve our student achievement results.
KAUFFMAN: I’m not a single-issue candidate. I will attempt to get state legislators to better understand their responsibility for public education. Too much funding is diverted to private and charter schools with disappointing results. Vouchers are falsely promoted as a way for low-income families to move their students to different schools. But those parents are least able to provide transportation to other schools. Vouchers have been expanded to families with higher income. When families that can afford to provide transportation move their students, it increases the difficulty to educate the population left behind. Schools need restored and stable funding.