Five candidates are running for two open spots on the Columbia Public School Board of Education, to be decided by voters in the Tuesday, April 6th election. KBIA's Logan Franz spoke with each candidate - here's a breakdown of the issues and goals they have in mind.
Teresa Maledy is the only incumbent running for the CPS Board of Education. Maledy has 40 years of experience in public banking. She has served as the chair of the district’s finance committee for two years. She also has served as the chair of the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee
Maledy said her main focuses are closing the achievement gap, maintaining quality teachers and ensuring the community’s confidence, trust and consistent financial support.
“I would say that I am a very fair person, that I try to represent all constituents, not just a special interest group, and that I don't have my own personal agenda.” Maledy said.
Jeanne Snodgrass works as the executive director of the nonprofit Mizzou Hillel. She also has experience as an educator and has owned a small business with her husband for five years.
Snodgrass’s main focuses stem from the past year during the pandemic and providing academic, mental and emotional support to students. She also emphasizes providing these opportunities to students in a fair and equitable way.
“I want all families to have a positive experience with the Columbia public schools to feel like their students, their children, our families are really getting the support that they need.” Snodgrass said.
Aron Saylor is a web developer and who says his biggest focuses would be the recovery from the pandemic and how it affects the future of the school board’s budget.
Saylor said he considers himself to have a high level of integrity and is in this simply to make education better for families in Columbia, and he says he believes he would be an asset to the school board because he is a logical thinker.
“ I saw a problem that I thought that I could help solve," he says, to "help bring up the education. And ... just decided to volunteer.”
Katherine Sasser has been a teacher for 15 years and has experience teaching at Columbia Public Schools.
Sasser says her greatest value is wanting to do what is best for the students.
“ And we have to remember that, especially in our educational system, we're all here for the same reason, we might be getting there in different ways but we all want what's best for our students.” Sasser said.
Sasser is also driven by wanting every student to have access to learning, and making sure underrepresented students have the same opportunities as all other students.
Sasser also wanted to encourage everyone to go out and vote.
“Take the last few days to get educated and get out and vote on Tuesday, April 6.” Sasser said.
Luke Neal is the director of Young Life, which works with community high school students, in addition to spending 16 years as a track coach at Hickman High School.
Neal said his primary goals consist of recovery from the pandemic, which he believes will allow them to get back to their goals before the pandemic like closing the achievement gap, literacy and decreasing suspensions for students of color.
Neal also believes that students’ increased use of technology is harmful.
“There's so much research out there, that would tell you, the importance of reading physical books and using a pen and pencil to write are so healthy for brain development.” Neal said.
Neal also wanted to stress the importance of voting.
“ I want to encourage people to get out and vote. I genuinely mean this when I say it. I'd love to see a high voter turnout, even if it means I don't get elected.”