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Ivy Tech's Keith Klein named to MCCSC school board

By Andy Graham
331-4215 |
November 24, 2009

Keith Klein, chair of Ivy Tech Community College’s Communications and Life Skills program, will join the MCCSC school board Dec. 1.

The board announced its selection of Klein to replace John Hamilton as its District 5 representative today. Hamilton stepped down in October, in the wake of his family’s move to Washington D.C.

“It’s both humbling and awesome,” Klein said of his appointment. “The learning curve is steep, given everything on the plate of school boards these days, but you just have to get in there and work as hard as you can and as fast as you can to help prepare for what’s ahead.”

During his board interview last week, when asked what primary issues face the board, Klein replied, “Dare I say money?” He also cited dropout rates, preparing students for an ever-changing job market and dealing with what he perceived as some adversarial recent state policy decisions.

Jeannine Butler, Monroe County Community School Corp. board president, praised Klein and the others who came forward as candidates — Indiana University administrator Kathleen Sideli, IU business professor Charles Trzcinka, financial consultant Brian Werth and Rogers-Binford parent Bettina Kehoe.

“I just think the board just felt Keith was a good fit at this particular point in time,” Butler said. “It was a very difficult decision to make, not an easy thing to do at all. It’s too bad we couldn’t have all five of them come in.
“We had five people who were very qualified and very interested in serving. We appreciated all of them and hope the ones not joining us right now will see their way to lend their input and expertise to us in the future, in whatever capacity.”

Klein, formerly Cook Group director of public relations and WTIU program manager, began his career with NBC News in Chicago. He holds bachelor’s and a master’s degrees from IU. “My degree is in education and one of the great things about it from my current end of it, the teacher end of it at Ivy Tech, is it keeps you young, constantly working with young people,” Klein said. “It’s invigorating.

“I’m looking forward to approaching education as a MCCSC board member, too. That’s not to say I’m not a realist about what faces the MCCSC and all school systems in Indiana right now, with the state talking about possibly having to hold back funding. We’re going to have to come to grips with some things. I just saw that Lawrence Township up in Marion County is having to cut millions from its budget (with a projected $3.2 million shortfall).”

Klein previously made an unsuccessful run in MCCSC board race won by then-incumbent Joan Hart, and noted he’d also come up short in a city council campaign. “I had retired from actively seeking political office with a 100 percent record of never having won,” he said with a chuckle.

Klein said he knows there have been disagreements among board members, but expects the board to be collegial and publicly supportive of majority decisions. “There isn’t always going to be unanimity,” he said. “But I’m a firm believer in the sort of approach where you make your point, but if you come up on the short end of a vote, on the other side of a decision, you take a deep breath and move on.

“That doesn’t mean you surrender, or abandon what you believe, but you give it your best shot and then go on. You’re there to work together.”