Columbia residents weigh in on CPS superintendent finalists

Mar 12, 2014

Dr. Dred Scott
Credit Columbia Public Schools
Dr. Peter Stiepleman
Credit Columbia Public Schools

The search for a new superintendent for Columbia Public Schools is almost over.

Columbia Public Schools held a “Meet and Greet” event for the two finalists Tuesday evening.

The finalists are Dr. Peter Stiepleman, Columbia Public Schools assistant superintendent of elementary education, and Dr. Dred Scott, deputy superintendent of Independence School District in Independence, Mo.

Superintendent Chris Belcher will leave a vacant superintendent position when he retires at the end of June. Belcher has since accepted a position at MU’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

Arnulfo Peat is a Columbia resident and attended Tuesday’s “Meet and Greet.” He said he thinks both candidates are qualified for the job.

“Well I’m open. I support both candidates right now. I just want to learn a little bit more about their philosophy, what they’re talking about, their education styles and what their plans are,” Peat said.

Individually, each candidate was given a five-minute introduction, followed by a moderating question and answer portion and a five-minute concluding statement. After, the public was able to interact and meet each candidate personally.

Stiepleman went first.

James Ritter moderated the question and answer portion between the two candidates. Ritter spent more than 40 years in the field of education, 33 of them with Columbia Public Schools.

Emily Duarte is a Columbia resident and an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor for the adult education program for Columbia Public Schools.

Duarte said she wasn’t sure which candidate she supported, but voiced concern over what will happen to the adult education program.

“It’s important for us to keep that program alive. However, right now, come June we don’t have a place to go,” Duarte said. “We really don’t have any support from anybody right now to get a new place to continue our program.”

Jeffrey Hempstead is a Columbia resident and worked for Columbia Public Schools as an electrician for 14 years.

Between the sessions Hempstead said he supported Stiepleman due to Stiepleman’s experience with Columbia Public Schools as the assistant superintendent of elementary education.

“I haven’t heard from Dr. Scott yet, but I know Dr. Stiepleman. I kind of favor him a little,” Hempstead said.

Neither candidate spoke with the media Tuesday.

School Board President Christine King said the Columbia Board of Education is scheduled to meet Thursday, March 13 at 5 p.m. to make a decision between Stiepleman and Scott for the superintendent position.

King said she was not sure when the announcement between the two finalists would be made public.