School board member says he won't run for reelection – Yahoo! Voices


Nov. 4—The most experienced member of the St. Joseph Board of Education looked back Thursday on his years of service to the school district in light of his decision to not seek another term.
Rick Gilmore, elected in 2020 alongside Lori Witham, said his decision is based upon personal reasons, namely family health and a desire to devote more time to his interests in construction and entrepreneurship. He will serve out his current term, which is scheduled to end in April 2023, after the election of his successor. Witham's seat will also be on the ballot; it is currently held by Phil Vandel, appointed in May after Witham resigned in light of a change of residence that rendered her no longer eligible to serve.
"You know, one thing I'm proud of since I've been on the board is, I feel like we have helped restore trust with the community," he said. "I would have really enjoyed to stay and help develop the plan a little more, and get buildings built and take care of that part, but I'm just not able to."
Superintendent Gabe Edgar praised Gilmore for his service.
"From a personal accomplishment standpoint, he's probably done more than anyone I know as a single board member," Edgar said. "There's been a lot of things that are positive that have been going on. Rick's been very instrumental in a lot of that. He exemplifies what you want in a board member."
Gilmore said he is most proud of having voted to support the expansion of preschool education via the St. Joseph Early Learning Center, which was established in 2020 within the renovated Lake Contrary School. He said he is excited to participate in the groundbreaking of a 22,000-square-foot expansion of the Hillyard Tech Center to occur before the end of the year.
A retired construction manager, Gilmore is the owner of several local businesses, such as Joe Town Mini Golf, and he is also a real estate investor. He ran on a platform of renovating the district and revising how the SJSD operates its buildings. He voted in favor of the April 2021 Proposition CARE which would have caused several elementary and middle schools to be closed or consolidated, and for Benton and Lafayette high schools to be converted for grades 6-8.
Gilmore said his successor will likely have to grapple with this issue in a major way.
"Our student population is less than 10,500, and our school buildings are constructed for a much larger enrollment," he said. "We have a lot of wasted space, and we spend a lot of money maintaining all these buildings when those funds could be used making the school experience better for students."
After voters rejected Proposition CARE, board members recognized that more public engagement would have to be done before a major reform can pass. This gave rise to Vision Forward, wherein Gilmore has served as a Board of Education liaison. Vision Forward has attracted between 100 and 200 people per meeting.
Gilmore said he believes it is a key reason why voters backed Proposition READ, an extension of current tax levies, by 71% in August. Gilmore will still be on the board when Vision Forward presents its formal action plan on Dec. 19.
Marcus Clem can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowClem
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