School Board candidate election profiles

School Board candidate election profiles

Renata Poet Williams

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[tab title=”About” target=”self”]
On April 7 Columbia residents will vote to fill two at-large seats on the Columbia Public Schools School Board. Two incumbents, Christine King and Darin Preis, are running for re-election, and Derek Wade is the newcomer.
Bearing News asked each candidate to answer questions in order to reach out to young voters. Click on a candidate’s tab to read their responses.
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[tab title=”Christine King” target=”self”]
Christine King 2013Age: 49
Hometown: Westerville, OH
College: Miami University (Ohio) B.A. 1988
Grad school(?): N/A
Current Occupation: Currently work with two realtors for ReMax Boone Realty, President of the CPS Board of Education and serve many volunteer groups.
Why do you want to be on the school board?
In 2009, I chose to run the first time.  There were nine candidates and two openings, and no incumbents chose to run.  My platform then, as it is now, is to help improve and continue to communicate the message of CPS to the community, families, students and teachers.  This town is rich in education, both public, private, home school and higher education.  As part of the CPS Board of Education, it is the duty of the Board to help lead the district so that all students achieve at a high level in our classrooms.
In 2012, I was re-elected to my second three-year term and during that election we passed a Bond and a Tax Levy.  This was a huge accomplishment for the Board and our community.  It proved our community not only values public education, but it was once again trusting of what the Board, Administrative Team and Teachers were doing for the students of CPS.
Being on the Board allows me to help make change at a higher level, and impact our community, family and student achievement in a unique way.  It is important to me for myself and my peers to be accessible to those who want to discuss concerns, listen to students and employees with their ideas and concerns, be available to the media and journalism students as they help communicate our message.
As a strong public school advocate for all in our community, I further want to serve in order to contribute to the difference CPS makes in Columbia.
How will your election onto the board effect High Schools?
In my opinion the students and staff at a high school has the most dramatic impact on the high school itself.  Certainly, when issues come before the Board that may impact High School aged students, it is important for us to listen to the students, parents and staff of those schools to gain a perspective.
Self advocacy by all students is very refreshing for me to see.  I enjoy receiving emails, phone calls or have conversations with students and hear what is on their minds.  As future leaders, politicians, business owners, teachers, coaches, etc, what you do each day in High School probably has a more profound impact on me that what I do today may have on your life.
What are the main issues you hope to tackle if elected?
In October 2015 we plan to have a World Cafe on Bond and Tax Levy.  The Board of Education has begun discussing the need for a Tax Levy, but need to have further discussions in Finance Committee and Board Meetings to help fully vet this very important, and sensitive subject.  The need for a Tax Levy has everything to do with the State of Missouri being incapable or unable to fully fund the portion of the Foundation Formula that is promised to CPS.  We currently receive about 35% of our funding from the State.  When that amount drops, then we may not be able to focus on the items that need funding the way we want.
We strive to be the greatest district in the state.  In order to do that, we need all students achieving in the classroom.  We need to work at getting resources and materials, and obtain and retain the best teachers for the classrooms/buildings with our most at risk and socioeconomically challenged students and families.  At the same time, we need to challenge those students who are performing at appropriate levels to do more and go deeper with their thinking and problem solving skills.
As a school district, using all public money, we need to be good stewards of that money.  This means how do we strike a balance with building schools, additions or facilities in a timely manner, without creating overcrowding, but without over building, keeping mind we want to provide equal learning environments for all students.
Our School Board strives to recruit and retain the best teachers.  This means looking at creative ways to not only make teaching more desirable to a variety of diverse individuals, but how do we retain those individuals.
These are some of the important and very intertwined topics the Board of Education has been working on, and will continue to work on for years to come.
Is this your first time running for election?
No, third.
What’s your history with public education?
My history prior to CPS was being in a leadership position at State Farm for 20 of my 22 year career.  After graduating college, I began my career in Ohio, and moved for two leadership positions within Ohio, then moved to Bloomington IL for an Instructor of Claim School position.  In 1999 we relocated to Columbia in which I was a Training Team Manager before starting some other claim units.
My children both attended Columbia Montessori School for infant and pre k schooling. Although a private school, I was on the Board of Directors for 5 years and learned how to work with a large board, who needed to reach consensus and supervise one employee, the director.  It is very much like my role now on the CPS Board of Education.
Why are you passionate about education?
As many of us who have children, I am passionate in general about education because without a good educational foundation, a community’s children will not thrive.  The greater the ability a community to educate its children is, the greater long term the success a community has.  Greater employment, better housing options, more opportunity for everyone.
Columbia is a town that values education.  We have a wide range of choices for our families, both within CPS at the Pre K-12 level, and within the community.  Columbia values higher education with our wide arrange of universities and colleges.  The Columbia Business Community is highly vested in education and has become more active in our mission as a school district.
For all these reasons and many more, I am passionate about leading Columbia Public Schools down a path in which we see all students go beyond what they think they can accomplish, prepare all students to be productive, independent and problem solving citizens who will help lead our community, state, nation and/or world in the future.
When you were in High School, where did you see yourself being (as in the job or achievements you’d have at the age you are now)?
When I was in high school, access to information was not as readily available to me as it may be to our current high school aged students across the nation.  You all are so fortunate to be able to explore your ideas and thoughts from your ipad, etc, to give you possibly an idea of what you may want to do.  For me, my path, looking back, seemed more narrow than that of the path I actually took.  But at my core, after graduating college (which from age 3 I knew I was going to college), I wanted to be a kind, productive member of society, give back when and if I could, and once getting married and having a family, raise my children to be kind, caring and productive; just as I was raised.
For me personally, if you have some key core values, regardless of the path you plan compared to the path you take, you will be successful. But, for the record, I had no idea what I wanted to do in High School.
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[tab title=”Darin Preis” target=”self”]
Darin Preis 2013Age: 44
Hometown:  St. Louis
College:  B.S. English from Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University)
Grad school(?): Masters in Public Administration from the Truman School of Public Affairs at MU
Current Occupation:  Executive Director, Central Missouri Community Action, a regional non-profit with a mission to “empower individuals and families to achieve self reliance.”
Why do you want to be on the school board?
Our community will be successful as long as we acknowledge that education, health, and economic stability are all interrelated.  I have dedicated my personal and professional life to linking these issues to make our community better.  I want to support the success of every student in Columbia Public Schools by supporting the best Superintendent ever, spending money wisely, and supporting opportunities for students to succeed.  My mantra is Achievement – Enrichment – Opportunity.
How will your election onto the board effect High Schools?
Two years ago we changed the starting times for high schools.  We read the research, listened to a lot of people, and were heavily lobbied by high school students.  As long as I am on the board I will support avenues for high school students to lend their voices to the issues we all care about.  I have heard students express their interest in maintaining lots of options for their education, and I have heard CPS graduates talk about how much more prepared they were for college than many of their peers from outside of Columbia.  I want to continue this trend and build on the amazing talents of the students in our district.
What are the main issues you hope to tackle if elected?
The growth of our community is the number one issue for the Board to tackle.  We have a ten-year plan in place and are on the verge of getting ahead of the growth for the first time in decades.  We have added several elementary schools and a high school to the Columbia landscape and now it is time to add a middle school.  Gentry has been overcrowded for several years, and we need to focus some attention on this.  Another challenge that continues to plague our district and those around the state is the issue of revenue.  I am the Chair of the Finance Committee and believe that our resources are running dangerously low.  We receive nearly two-thirds of our revenue from local property taxes and assessed value (the formula we use to determine how much we’ll get) has not kept up with growth.  In addition, the state covers nearly a third of our budget and hasn’t funded the very formula they created in nearly a decade.  I fear that our state legislature does not place nearly the priority on public education that Columbia does and I’d like to keep bringing that to their attention.  And finally, the federal government only supplies about 5% of our operating budget while many of the regulations stem from Washington DC.  Two quick examples: the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has added many regulations to the quality of food served at CPS.  I’m ok with these standards but the fact is that students don’t like the options available to them and they’re turning away from nutrition services.  At the same time Free and Reduced Lunch reimbursements (this is the federal program that helps students from households earning low wages to get low cost or free meals) do not cover the cost of the meals.  Simply stated, the people making the rules aren’t paying for those rules and CPS is having to subsidize this cost.  Another example of CPS getting the short stick:  the Missouri State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education pays $2 million for CPS to provide bus service for students.  Guess how much it costs . . . $12 million.
Is this your first time running for election?
No.  I served on the board from 2005-08.  I was appointed to the board again in 2012 and ran unopposed in the 2013 election.
What’s your history with public education?
My father was a high school math teacher and assistant principal at Parkway South in St. Louis. My high school and my mother was a third grade teacher.  My earliest memories are of them talking about the students in their classes and watching them grade papers.  I swore I’d never be a teacher because I saw how hard the work was, but I was drawn to public service.  My entire career has revolved around early childhood issues via the Head Start program.  The more we can prepare children for school before they enter kindergarten, the more likely they are to succeed throughout their school careers.
Why are you passionate about education?
Civilized, successful communities (and countries) rely on education to provide a foundation for their evolution, advancement, and economic power.  I have seen many people who have not had the same educational opportunities that I have had and it has set them back for a lifetime.  I can’t ever ignore that, and I am committed to making sure that everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential.
When you were in high school, where did you see yourself being (as in the job or achievements you’d have at the age you are now)?
Are you saying I’m old?! Seriously, I didn’t have a plan when I was in high school and I don’t think you necessarily need to have a super-defined plan at that point.  I joined the Army Reserves to help me pay for college and met an amazing group of diverse men and women that helped to form the person I am today.  I didn’t even declare a major until my junior year in college and only knew that I wanted to make the world a better place.  I’m not sure I knew what that meant at the time but throughout my career I have followed a path that is true to that sentiment, honors the potential in all of us, and reflects a sincere appreciation for the strength of our differences.  At the end of the day I like to be able to tell my son I’m doing the best I can to make a difference.
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By Renata Williams
Bearing News contacted Derek Wade, the third candidate, but he hasn’t responded. He was interviewed by the Columbia Daily Tribune.