Community Teachers Association, Owensville Chamber of Commerce present questions to R-2 candidates

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 5/28/20

Candidates for the Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education submitted answers to a questionnaire from  Kari Nolting, Owensville High School physical education teacher and coach, on behalf of the …

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Community Teachers Association, Owensville Chamber of Commerce present questions to R-2 candidates

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Candidates for the Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education submitted answers to a questionnaire from  Kari Nolting, Owensville High School physical education teacher and coach, on behalf of the Owensville Community Teachers Association and the Owensville Chamber of Commerce.

Each of the candidates, including the two incumbents and three candidates, are competing for three open seats on the board of education. Incumbents include Glenn Ely and Nona Miller while new candidates include Jean Baker, Jason Crowe and Kara Meyer. The candidates’ answers are printed below in alphabetical order by last name.

Please note, school board candidate Dennis Frahm has withdrawn his candidacy to serve on the board and declined to participate in the questionnaire. His name is, however, on the June 2 ballot but he asks that voters “not waste your vote by choosing my name. All of the candidates for school board are fine people with only your children’s best interests at heart, and I recommend any three that you might choose.”

He cited the COVID-19 pandemic and family considerations as reasons for taking his name out of consideration for the school board.

Jean Baker - 2020 Board of Education candidate

1. Why did you decide to run for school board this year? 

As a retiree from GCR2, I would like to make a meaningful contribution to the district’s future, and I feel that the best way to do this is by being a member of the school board.  I can help make positive decisions that impact all students, parents, and staff. The world has changed since I made the decision to run for school board, and now, more than ever, I feel it’s important to have the perspective of a former educator on the board.

2. What are the district’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?

I feel the district’s greatest strengths are its teachers and support staff who day in and day out go above and beyond to provide meaningful learning opportunities and meet the needs of all students.

As for weaknesses, from my view as a constituent of the district, not all financial decisions appear to benefit all learners equally.   

3. How would you handle parent/staff/taxpayer concerns that are brought to you individually?

If someone comes to me with a comment or suggestion, I will listen to their thoughts and make remarks based on what the situation is, keeping in mind that I must maintain confidentiality. Their thoughts and comments would be brought to the board as needed. 

4. How do you believe board members can best receive input from school employees on salary and other policies that affect them?

In the years that I was on staff with GCR2, there was a teacher/staff liaison team created by volunteers from each building which met monthly. In between meetings, the liaison members would ask input from staff concerning salaries, insurance, calendar and other big decisions. Staff may attend the monthly meeting to hear questions and concerns from the team. I believe this is an effective way to receive input. I would also be open to in-person conversation or email. In addition, there is also an active CTA chapter in GCR2, which would offer insight to what the thoughts of the faculty might be. 

5. What specific goals and plans do you have to maintain and improve the quality of education in this district?

  My only goal is to  ensure that all learners in the district are provided the education that is best for them. This can be obtained by hiring quality teachers and support staff, implementing a high caliber curriculum, and collecting data to evaluate and change programs if necessary.

6. Should teachers be involved in the interview process and evaluation of administrators?

Absolutely. 

7. Why should I vote for you?

My husband Brad and I have lived in the GCR2 district for most of our adult lives and are proud to say we bleed Orange and Black. Our children went to school here and now our grandchildren are attending. I retired in 2018 after teaching for 31 years, 16 of those years in the GCR2 district. While teaching here, I held a position on the OHS Leadership Team which was created by Dr. Kurt Keller many years ago. While on this committee, I learned much about the enormous amount of decisions made daily impacting our district’s faculty and students, not only on the local level, but also the state and national level. In addition, I was part of a task force with DESE to write GLE’s (Grade Level Expectations) for the Fine Arts, held an executive level office in our Missouri Choral Directors Association, was President of the Central District Music Music Educators Association, and was asked to provide professional development at state conferences, and for other school districts. Some of my favorite presentations were: Music and Literacy, Rocking the High School General Music class with Rock and Roll, and integrating other topics into the music classroom.  In 2007, I was chosen by the Owensville Chamber of Commerce as the Teacher of the Year.

I would appreciate the opportunity in this extremely challenging time to be a part of moving the district forward. This includes being financially responsible, educating all students, ensuring the safest environment to learn, implementing the best education practices available and staying competitive with salary and compensation packages. We have some of the finest teachers and programs in the state of Missouri right here in Owensville and Gerald. If I am elected to the GCR2 school board, I will do my very best to maintain or develop even more the level of expectation of this great school district.

Jason Crowe — 2020 Board of Education candidate

1. Why did you decide to run for school board?

I grew up in this community and have always enjoyed being a part of it and giving back to it. I've been very involved in community organizations in the last 11 years since moving back to the area and wanted a new challenge and a new way to connect with this wonderful community. My children are in the latter part of elementary school and I thought the timing was now if I wanted to have the biggest impact over their years in school. Also, I believe that our district has tremendous momentum right now and I want to ensure that the momentum persists.

2. What are the district’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?

I believe our greatest strength is our culture that our staff has developed over the years. Although not everyone may always agree with each other, the culture of putting the students interest above all is strong in our district and is of the most importance to carry forward.

Instead of weaknesses, I like to think in terms of opportunities. I believe that the greatest opportunity in our district is to lead the changes that we are seeing all around us today. I heard a quote recently that “change has never happened so fast and will never happen so slow again.”  Embracing the change around us and showing leadership through that change is our greatest opportunity.

3.  How would you handle parent/staff/taxpayer concerns that are brought to you individually?

I believe in showing each individual the respect that they are due.  This respect comes by truly listening to people, showing empathy toward their situation, giving them the confidence that what they tell me is in complete confidentiality and working with them to come to resolution that is reasonable.

4. How do you believe board members can best receive input from school employees on salary and other policies that affect them?

I believe employees should have options on how they would like to communicate with the board. I believe there should be an anonymous outlet for concerns as well as a more direct venue. Everyone should have the opportunity to express how they feel without having a shred of concern about being judged for their opinions.

5. What specific goals and plans do you have to maintain and improve the quality of education in this district?

Specifically, I believe that hands on learning is the key to having kids ready to enter the next phase of their life journey, whether that is furthering their education through college or entering the job market.  Continuing to enhance things like our STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program is very important. Whatever we can do to prepare our youth for real life is where we need to put our focus.

6. Should teachers be involved in the interview process and evaluation of administrators?

Our teachers have to have a voice.  Of course they should have a part of the decision making process; they are engine that drives the entire district.  The details on what that looks like should be handled in a collaborative manner through input from teachers, administrators and board members alike.

7. Why should I vote for you?

You should vote for me if you want someone who understands leadership. Someone who understands that leadership is being present, listening, seeing things from others point of view, being objective, be rational and being calm. I am not coming at this with an agenda. I am not looking for a platform. I am coming at this with one angle alone and it is that of service. I believe in our community and I believe in our district and I believe that I can serve in such a way that will help move everyone forward. In any decision, what is best for the student will be at the center of my thought process.

Thank you for your vote!  Go Dutchmen/Dutchgirls!

Glenn Ely — 2020 Board of Education Incumbent

1. Why did Glenn Ely decide to run:

I strongly believe in public service and advocating for public education in our community. We have an amazing community and we need to leverage our commitment of local citizen control to advocate on behalf of ALL of our students and schools.

2.  District strengths/weaknesses:

Our school district has a strong tradition and culture with broad support from the public. Our staff and district’s focus on student growth has been recognized by DESE as accredited with Distinction. The strong educational values-based perspective our staff exhibits from custodians, cooks, para-educators, bus drivers and teachers provides a strong foundation for our students to grow.  We are blessed with people that care about our kids and community.

We need to ensure every student has the opportunity to grow and reach their potential. Attracting experienced teachers and continued growth of our existing educators through a culture of professional development is an important element of fortifying the opportunity for student growth.

3.  Communication with stakeholders:

A respectful relationship should be established between the board and all stakeholders on trust and clear understanding of scopes of responsibility. Communication to the board should generally be mediated through the superintendent; however it should be made clear that the board and the staff are working corroboratively toward a common purpose and results in student success.

4. Communication to the Board:

Leveraging current communication touchpoints can be very effective of communicating district, staff and building needs and concerns.  Each building communication plan and liaison representative should ensure that there is confidence and support of an open dialogue within each building. There are so many great tools like Google Forms and Survey Monkey that can help support inclusionary conversations within buildings and our district.

5. Goals & Plans:

Alignment and commitment to delivering Gasconade County R-II School comprehensive School Improvement Plan in Strategic focus areas: Academics (Increase Student Achievement and Performance), Business (Financial and Service Support for safe facilities and facilitate learning) and Community (provide essential tools and services to engage students, staff, and the community while promoting student achievement).

It is essential that advocating for all students and providing opportunity for each student to grow be a driving perspective around every decision that is made.

6. Teacher’s involvement:

Teachers have an important voice providing input about what leadership qualities they value. Sharing those needs to the Interview committee helps facilitate choosing the best candidate for the position. This voice and its influence in recruiting, training and retaining the best staff has the most impact for the education of all of our students.

It is important to receive multi-rater feedback from various stakeholder groups (teachers, staff, students and/or parents) to ascertain the principal’s performance as a school leader. Multiple sources of data provides perspectives and context surrounding the school learning environment from those directly impacted by it.

7. Why vote for Glenn Ely:

I have served for past nine years on the school board as director and recently as board president. My commitment as a learner and leader align to the values that we as community expect from our students and staff of Gasconade R-II School District.  My job as store manager of Walmart has provided valuable expertise that is an excellent resource for our district. The necessity and commitment to make informed decisions is demonstrated by hundreds of hours of accreditation that I have completed in the areas of student achievement, effective board operations and governance, school law and finance, school safety and security, and contemporary issues in education that have helped support informed, legal and student centered decisions within our district.

Kara Meyer — 2020 Board of Education candidate

1. What is the district’s greatest strength and weakness?

Our greatest strength comes from our community and their support. We have great facilities and people in place (teachers and staff) who take pride in their leadership and commitment to our children and school.

One would call it a weakness, but I’d like to think less of a weakness and more so an opportunity for greatness. Our School spirit, pride, accountability and involvement in our sports, band, competitive extracurricular activities; once an area we were known for as a strength in our district has weakened. I would do my best to see this through, for it builds character and helps give our children a sense of purpose in learning how to strive for greatness within themselves and school. More school social involvement of our children seek less non-school social activities they will have time for. Lastly, our ability as a district to really listen and prioritize concerns and ideas that are brought to the table that will implement our vision and direction we are striving for.

2. How would you handle parent/staff/taxpayer concerns that are brought to you individually?

As a board member, I feel it is important to respect and hear thoughts and opinions of those I’m representing. From there I feel it is important to share insightful input and feedback from those, as it pertains to the vision and direction of our board.

3. How do you believe board members can best receive input from school employees on salary and other policies that affect them?

I always believe face to face is more personal and allowing for a better understanding of any situation, I feel with certainty, (in most cases) employee's input is best filtered through our superintendent. As the COO of our district, it is his/her responsibility to funnel through the board.

4. What specific goals and plans do you have to maintain and improve the quality of education in this district?

My goal is to get our school district’s rating up year over year. Through effective collaboration and planning, my plan’s to improve and maintain the standard thorough accountability and responsibility of those we have oversight of and of myself. We have to always strive to be better than what we were yesterday. Additionally, we do what’s right because it’s right and we do it right.

5. Should teachers be involved in the interview process and evaluation of administrators?

I believe it should be the superintendent, principle and board member elects responsibility to drive, deliver and maintain the vision of the school district. This includes the interview process.

6. Why should I vote for you?

Giving back to my community has always been important to me and being involved in a positive way is something I instill in my kids. I am passionate and determined to do what is in the best interest and what is required to make our school district No. 1 in all areas of success. I am not about the politics, nor agendas, I am about the students in this community and keeping positive traditions and bringing back the involvement and excitement we once had. I am only one person, I am committed and driven to work with and listen to those who choose to be heard. This includes our ever so gifted teachers who are the educational backbone for our children! I have a significant amount of leadership qualities with a financial background that I will bring to the table. If I am elected this will definitely be an eye-opening experience that I’ll be honored to embark on.

Thank you for your support.

Nona Miller - Incumbent since 2018

1. Why did you decide to run for school board?

Running for re-election…proud of what we have been able to accomplish and hoping to do more because it takes a couple of years just to learn all the legal part of doing the job.

2. What are the district’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Strength: Mindful of keeping facilities and transportation in great condition to give students a safe learning environment.

Weakness: Need for a multi-purpose building for district-wide art show, band, dance and theatre performances, Grade level testing, and so much more.

3.  How would you handle parent/staff/taxpayer concerns that are brought to you individually?

All of the above are welcome to contact the Administration Building anytime with their concerns and I am happy to take concerns to the rest of the board for discussion and consideration.

4. How do you believe board members can best receive input from school employees on salary and other policies that affect them?

Through school building liaison committees or if not in a school building then contact admin to talk with superintendent or be put on monthly agenda for the meeting. Since district funds are based on student count (going down for several years) we can only do so much for the students, employees, etc. because those funds have four categories and cannot be spent outside their category.

5. What specific goals and plans do you have to maintain and improve the quality of education in this district?

Providing positive school climate for all.

Give students the best education in a safe environment.

Work to pay employees at the most competitive rate.

Work to attract and keep the best staff for students.

Making sure our district is financially stable.

6. Should teachers be involved in the interview process and evaluation of administrators?

There is a board policy that addresses the hiring process.

Surveys are given out to district employees to evaluate administrators.

7. Why should I vote for you?

School boards usually include business people from the community and I feel it is very important for the school boards to include members with teaching experience. As a retired teacher, I believe I bring input from the educational side which can be very different from the business side.

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