State superintendent Glenda Ritz chairs the State Board of Education, whose 10 members are appointed by the governor to four-year terms. The State Board is responsible for authorizing school funding, overseeing the statewide accountability system and intervening in struggling schools.
Oversight of the State Board’s operations and budget used to fall to the Indiana Department of Education. But in 2013, state lawmakers decided to fund the State Board as a separate line item with an annual operating budget of $3 million. That’s led to concern that the board — largely Republican — will not continue to work with the superintendent’s office.
Then, in August, Governor Mike Pence created a new state agency, the Center for Education and Career Innovation, to coordinate efforts between the State Board and other panels exploring career and technical education. The move didn’t sit well with Ritz, who says she was left out of the loop.
The other State Board members and Ritz have clashed frequently on issues such as A-F school letter grades and statewide academic standards in recent months, leading to the superintendent walking out of the November meeting. Board members have accused Ritz of not putting their items on the agenda for discussion. Ritz has counted that CECI is trying to strip her of authority as the Board’s chairwoman.
The 10 Appointed Board Members
Besides the superintendent, the board’s other 10 members include one representative from each Congressional district and an at-large member:
- Tony Walker, a Gary attorney who represents the First Congressional District, was appointed by former Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2010.
- David Freitas, a professor at Indiana University South Bend who represents the Second Congressional District, was appointed by Gov. Pence in 2013.
- Cari Whicker, a middle school teacher in Huntington who represents the Third Congressional District, was appointed by Daniels in 2010.
- Sarah O’Brien, an elementary school teacher in Avon who represents the Fourth Congressional District, was reappointed by Pence in 2013.
- Andrea Neal, a former journalist who now teachs at an Episcopal school in Indianapolis, represents the Fifth Congressional District. She was appointed by Pence in 2013.
- Brad Oliver, an associate dean at Indiana Wesleyan University, represents the Sixth Congressional District. He was appointed by Pence in 2013.
- Daniel Elsener, the president of Marian University in Indianapolis, represents the Seventh Congressional District. He was reappointed by Pence in 2013.
- B.J. Watts, an elementary school teacher in Evansville, who represents the Eighth Congressional District, was appointed by Daniels in 2010.
- Troy Albert, the principal at Henryville High School, represents the Ninth Congressional District. Pence appointed Albert in 2013.
- Gordon Hendry, a lawyer who advises public sector clients and education institutions at a real estate firm, serves as the board’s at-large representative. Pence appointed Hendry to take over David Shane’s term, which expires in 2014.