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The Journal Gazette

Monday, May 15, 2017 10:20 pm

Four vie for open NACS seat

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

The Northwest Allen County Schools board members learned more Monday about who might soon sit among them.

In separate interviews, the board asked the four candidates - Kurt Germann, 35, Melissa Helmsing, 41, Kristi Schlatter, 44, and Ann Branning, 38 - about the district's strengths and weaknesses, how they would handle public criticism after a controversial decision and, among other questions, why they were the best person for the job.

The board is seeking to fill the vacancy caused by member John Hilger's death in April.

Helmsing, who works in human resources at IPFW, said her conflict mediation and collaboration skills would be an asset to the board, and her knowledge about Title IX issues makes her uniquely qualified.

As an HR professional, she said, she knows what it's like to make unpopular decisions - such as terminations and employee discipline - that are in the best interests of the majority.

Germann, who works in the golf course industry, said he is eager to serve. Working for a 200-member golf course has prepared him to handle any criticism he may face as a board member, he said.

Board President Kent Somers noted that Germann is married to a teacher. He asked Germann how he would balance that conflict of interest. Germann said he would make decisions based on what's best for every child in the district.

Schlatter, a former educator and stay-at-home mom, described herself as a hard worker who would serve whole-heartedly. She said she has felt a "growing, unexpected enthusiasm" since applying for the position.

She said NACS excels at providing opportunities for all students and, like other candidates, views the district's growth as a potential challenge.

Branning doesn't yet have a child in NACS but has a background in special education and was encouraged by others to apply for the position. As a board member, she said, she would aim to speak for the community members.

"That's why I'm here," she said.

Board members plan to deliberate their options at their meeting next week, at which time a decision could be made, Somers said.

Whomever the board selects will serve the remainder of Hilger's term, which expires Dec. 31, 2018.