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Columbia School Board Candidates Answer Questions from Local Democratic Group

Claire Banderas

The Boone County Muleskinners hosted a forum Friday for the three Columbia Board of Education Candidates. Christine King, the current president of the school board and Darin Preis, another incumbent were both present. However, the third candidate, Derek Wade was not present.

Preis has served two terms on the school board. He says achievement, enrichment and opportunity are key to academic success.  

Each candidate was given five minutes to give their opening remarks. Then candidates were asked a series of questions from members of the Muleskinners.

Addressing the problem of drop-outs

One of the tougher questions the candidates faced was what the next steps should be when addressing the school drop-out rate.

Pries said that the school board should focus its attention on the achievement gap of minority students and developing resources for students to explore different career options.

King addressed the issue from a different perspective. She said this issue can be addressed in early education so that students enter kindergarten prepared.

School boundaries

Another issue that the school board is facing is considering the factors of race and socioeconomic status when redrawing school boundaries.

Preis said that balancing demographics is one of his main priorities when considering school boundaries.

“I know that diversity adds to our strength, as a school, as a community, as a neighborhood,” said Preis. However, the difficulty arises when trying to balance diversity without breaking up neighborhoods into different school zones. Pries said continuity of neighborhoods is also important.

King said this issue also brings up the obstacle of transportation. She said the board should keep in mind transportation for kids and the travel time they will face coming and going to school.

A relationship with city government

The candidates were also asked about the best way to foster a relationship with city and county government.

King said that keeping an open dialogue is important.

“As we continue to move forward with some of the challenges that face Columbia as a whole, we need to have more intentional conversations,” said King.

Preis said the best way to foster a good relationship with city government is finding a common issue or idea that both are invested in and agree on and working from there.

Other issues that were discussed at the forum included energy conservation, safety for young drivers and education for students with disabilities.

Elections for the two open positions on the board will be on April 7.