- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Indiana’s revamped State Board of Education had no disputes Wednesday during a first meeting with five new members.

That was in contrast to numerous clashes over the past couple of years between the board dominated by appointees of Republican Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz - who is expected to announce Thursday that she’s entering the 2016 governor’s race.

No major policy issues were on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting at Purdue University - and no references were made during it to Ritz’s political plans.

Ritz declined to discuss her gubernatorial intentions after the meeting, other than to say that education helps drive the state’s economy.

“I hope to share some of that information tomorrow,” Ritz told reporters.

Pence and GOP legislative leaders last week appointed five new members to the education board under changes to the panel adopted by the Legislature this spring in response to the repeated conflicts over control of education policy between the board and Ritz. Pence reappointed five others members, including some who have been frequent critics of Ritz.

Ritz remains the board’s chairwoman as the Republican-dominated Legislature delayed a contentious proposal from Pence to allow the board to elect any member as its leader until after the next state superintendent’s election in 2016. Democratic lawmakers and other Ritz supporters argued the suggested change was a political power grab.

Ritz said she was pleased with Wednesday’s board meeting and that she was working to set up individual meetings with the new panel members.

“I think we had a lot of action items that went pretty quick,” she said.

One decision expected by the board next month will be the selection of a vice chairman.

The board membership bill approved by lawmakers created that new position, with that person having joint responsibility with Ritz for the panel’s agenda. Ritz supporters say that position will make board leadership less clear and could lead to more disagreements.

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