This article was co-published by Chalkbeat Indiana and WFYI as part of a collaboration ahead of the 2022 school board elections. Join Chalkbeat Indiana and WFYI to hear from candidates for IPS school board at a forum at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5 at the Indianapolis Public Library, Central Branch. RSVP and submit questions here.
All candidates in the election for the board of Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township are uncontested. Four of seven school board seats are on the ballot for the district in the western part of Marion County, which educates more than 16,000 students. Thirty-seven percent of students are Black, 30% are Hispanic, and around 67% identified as low-income during the last school year.
This year, nearly 12% of Wayne Township students passed both the math and English sections of the ILEARN test — a 12-point drop from before the pandemic. The district’s most recent graduation rate is 79.6%, below the state average of 87%.
The district is currently creating a strategic plan that will address issues around differences in student achievement along racial and income groups. The plan is expected to include some of the strategies outlined in the Indiana Black Academic Excellence Plan developed by the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP.
This November, incumbents are running in each of the races with no challengers. Voters residing in the district boundary can vote for all at-large candidates.
Who votes and how to vote
Voters within the school district boundary can vote for all of the races.
Voter registration for Marion County residents ends Oct. 11. Early voting begins on Oct. 12 at the Indianapolis City-County Building, and additional early voting sites open on Oct. 29.
On Nov. 8, Marion County residents can vote at any of the county’s vote centers.
Meet the candidates
Four incumbents are running unopposed for their at-large seats.
Rameika Graham, at large
Graham was appointed to the board in July 2020 and is currently the vice president. She has two children who are graduates from Wayne Township schools, and one child currently attending a district school. Graham said she expects the biggest challenge this upcoming year will be the ongoing debate regarding curriculum and “divisive concepts” fights that emerged from the national debate over critical race theory.
Brandon Bowman, at large
Bowman is running for his third term, and he is currently the board secretary. Bowman is a graduate of Ben Davis High School and works as an operations manager for a mechanical service company. Bowman said his main priority in this next term is finding ways to hear from all constituents.
Michael D. Nance, at large
For 28 years, Nance has been a member of Wayne Township school board. His children graduated from Wayne Township schools. Nance said his main priority for the upcoming term is fiscal responsibility and making up education time lost during the pandemic.
Benjamin Wakefield, at large
Board President Ben Wakefield is a pastor at Lynhurst Baptist Church and has three children in Wayne Township schools. Wakefield said his plans for the next term are to focus on hiring more teachers and improve educator retention.
Contact WFYI economic equity reporter Sydney Dauphinais at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @syddauphinais.