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No council races, big school board field

When voters go to the polls next week they will have no city council races to decide. The race for two school board seats will have voters choosing from a field of 10 candidates.

As for the city council, all four incumbents are running for an additional term. Larry Forsythe will return to Ward I, Lynn Crites to Ward II, Darrel Holdman to Ward III, and Mark Kellogg to Ward IV.

Voters in the school district will have several candidates to consider to fill the two available seats. School Board President David Buerck is not seeking another term, while incumbent Jane Bates is hoping to return. The list of candidates include Bates, Donna ByFord, Dr. Sunil Chand, Lindell Barton, Joan Sullivan, Dolores Howard, Greg McPhail, Bill Henson, Phyllis Hargis and Jeff Lawson.

Donna ByFord

Donna ByFord is running for the Farmington Board of Education. She and her husband, Jeff an Operator Engineer and sons Cody a sophmore at Farmington High School and Wyatt an eighth grader at Farmington Middle School have lived in the school district for 14 years. They choose Farmington because it has so much to offer and a great school district that was in the top 10 in the state.

She is a Realtor with Goodson Realty and makes her own schedule. She said she has always been available to assist the schools for whatever help was needed and will continue to do so whether she is elected or not. From day one, she has been a volunteer in the schools- not just a room mother, but helping teachers in any capacity that was needed, for example, making copies, giving make-up tests, hanging pictures in the hall, even asked by Joan Sullivan to be the Wicked Witch for Map celebration done by the teachers. She’s made decorations for school dances and chaperoned those same dances. No task was beneath her. She would take turns eating lunch with her boys in the school cafeteria, especially on hot roll day. She’s been active in the PTOs at any school her boys attended and has even dodged buckets of water during a rain storm collecting leakage from roofs in need of repair. She received the “Heartland Hero” award this year from the district for all of her volunteering.

She said her goal is better communication between parents, the school board and administrators. She said it would be nice for the school board to earn the respect of the teachers and staff in the district.

“Remember in class when the teacher would tell you not to be afraid and ask a question because there was someone else in class that had the same question but was just afraid to ask? Well, I’m the one with my hand raised,” she said.

She’s not afraid to ask those questions or make suggestions and knows she’s not the only one who has those ideas, but she’s got the personality to voice them for those who don’t.

“Whatever decisions that will be made will affect my boys and there is nothing more important to me in this life than Cody & Wyatt.”

Jane A. Bates

Jane A. Bates, incumbent has been married to Tom Bates for almost 42 years. Tom is a recently retired investigator of abuse for the Division of Aging. They have two daughters: Jennifer (Scott) Aholt, and Janna (Josh) Hagerty. Jennifer is a fifth grade teacher at Lincoln Intermediate and Janna is a Speech Pathologist at Washington/Franklin Elementary, both in the Farmington R-7 District. Jane and Tom have been blessed with grandchildren Sloane who is in third grade at Washington/Franklin, Jonah is in first grade at Washington/Franklin, and Jersey is 1 year old. Jane is the daughter of the late Melvin and Florence Bone. Her mother was a retired teacher and board member of Farmington R-7 School District and her father was a construction worker. Their entire family is active members of the First Baptist Church, DeLassus. She has always lived in Farmington and they are presently in their fourth generation of family going through the Farmington School system.

She retired after 31 years of teaching in elementary education. She has regular responsibilities at their church, such as teaching Bible study classes and volunteers regularly at the Parkland Pregnancy Resource Center by teaching four parenting classes every Monday.

For several years prior to her election in 2009, she wanted to run as a candidate for the R-7 School Board. However, her job as an educator did not allow enough time for her to fulfill the responsibilities of a board member if she were to be elected. When she retired, she spoke with her mother about running for the position and her mother told her how rewarding it was. She also told Bates of the many meetings, decisions, criticism, and never ending reading and review of policies and procedures.

“I do not regret, not one little bit, my decision. I have given and will continue to give as much time as needed to the position. I have not missed a meeting in the three years that I have served on the board,” said Bates.

Bates said there are some areas of the current school board she would like to change. She would like to change the perception that the public has of them. Oftentimes, they can’t explain why some decisions are made due to the laws that govern their sessions.

“It would be easier if they could just let everyone know what is actually said and done that contributes to those decisions, but that is not possible. That being said, with all due respect, I feel that if we need to change anything on the board, I would prefer to address that with the other members in person or at a board meeting. To air any problems that we may or may not have would serve no purpose,” said Bates.

“They have a very diverse school board at this time and we have lots of discussions sharing different points of view some which I agree with and others I don’t.” However, their discussions always end when they close the session and they remain on friendly terms. They share common interests in the district and all feel free to express our thoughts and concerns.

Bates is running for this position because she believes education should be the first concern within the district. They are here to serve the children and prepare them for life. She believes they need to ensure their ability to make good decisions and stand for what is right. She feels it’s important that they support the staff and equip them with the proper resources to do their jobs. In 2014, education is going to make another drastic change and it is important that they are ready for it.

“Even though money has been cut, enthusiasm has not. The district is currently watchful for new and innovative programs that will aid us in achieving our goals,” she said. She believes that a great deal of research and appropriate facts will guide the tough, and sometimes unpopular, decisions she must make to help improve an already extraordinary school system.

If Bates is re-elected she hopes to continue to help keep the district as one recognized for its excellence. “They have a wonderful staff and terrific students. The parents and the community are great supporters and are always willing to give the extra time and energy. It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve on this board,” she said.

Dr. Sunil Chand

Dr. Sunil Chand is running for the Farmington School Board. He and is wife Dr. Nilima Chand have lived in Farmington for more than 15 years and have raised their daughter, Sunita, in this community. Dr. Chand is a physician in Farmington.

Dr. Chand said, “The Farmington School District is the largest in a 70 mile radius. They currently offer the students a benefit of somewhere between $7,000 and $8,000 dollars per year with a tax base which is the 9th lowest of the 30 competitive school programs in our district. We should be very proud of that. A lot of concern has arisen regarding the new $17 million bond issue for capital improvement and a subsequent rise in taxes; these moneys are being allocated to improvement of facilities. The buildings leak, the driveways have potholes. They need basic functional buildings in which to teach our children.

“Teachers and students must expand their horizons to encompass a wide range of experiences. With this will come change, tolerance, acceptance of new ideas and give our children limitless possibilities.”

His daughter is in the Robotics Club in Farmington. The club recently came back from Springfield and districts in Rolla. What was very interesting to see on the faces of these children, he said, was the look of wonderment on their faces.

“This is what they need to see in every child’s face. We as parents, we as teachers, we as community members owe this to our children,” said Chand.

He went on to add that Farmington needs commitment to Internet Technology and flexible curriculum that is self passed. Technologies such as Kindle books, electronic libraries, are the future. “We in Farmington need to pave the way for these activities. Students learn in different ways and as educators need to optimize their learning patterns and a rigid classroom setting may not be the optimum way of teaching. Online classes need to be offered,” he said.

Farmington had a financial crisis with the summer school program and many of the advanced curriculum were on the chopping block. He would like to commend the school board in correcting their financial deficit and keeping these vital programs alive.

He believes he has the time to dedicate to the school board and said he has always wanted to run for this position.

Lindell Barton

When contacted by the Daily Journal for a candidate interview Lindell Barton declined. He said due to personal and professional obligations that have come up since he filed to run for school board, he is no longer wants to campaign for the vacant school board seats.

Joan Sullivan

Joan Sullivan is running for a seat on the Farmington School Board. She is married to Jerry Sullivan, who is a trio director at Mineral Area College and she has two sons, Tim and Dan Sullivan. They are both Farmington High School and University of Missouri graduates. She has lived in Farmington almost 40 years.

In May 2011, she retired from her position as an elementary school counselor in the Farmington R-7 School District. Her decision to run for the school board seemed to be a natural continuation of her almost 30 years of involvement with Farmington R-7. She started as a parent volunteer and served as an officer in the PTA at the elementary, middle and high school levels. She was hired as a teacher’s aide and during that time, completed her elementary teaching degree. She worked as a kindergarten teacher and after finishing her Masters degree she became an elementary school counselor. She said the variety of experiences she has had in the school district will give her an understanding of the concerns of certified, non-certified and community members.

Until she becomes an active school board member, she doesn’t feel like she can respond to specific areas that might need to be changed. As a former employee, she does believe there is room for improvement in open communication between administrators and staff and keeping the community up-to-date with school issues. As a recent retiree, she does have the time to devote to attending the meetings, training’s and events necessary to be an effective board member. If elected, she hope to work with the other board members to provide the best possible educational experience for the students in the community. She also wants to maintain an environment for the educators in the district that will allow them to meet the challenges of educating the children and feel supported in their efforts.

She believes they have always had devoted educators in the district and would like to help preserve the traditions of the schools and retain personnel who have a high level of commitment to the district and the community.

Dolores (Hamor) Howard

Delores Howard is running for a seat on the Farmington School Board. She has been married to Jim Howard, son of LeRoy and LaDon Howard, for more than 26 years. They have three children who have all attended the Farmington R-7 School District. Jennifer Vaughn, who is married to Nick Vaughn, is a Patient Services Rep for FirstSource. John Howard attends college and works at MFA. He is pursing a degree in Web Development and currently holds a degree in Computer Electronics. Joshua Howard is a certified welder and works for Maxim Construction in St. Louis. She is a lifelong Farmington resident.

She worked for Farmington R-7 School District for more than 15 years and in December 2011 decided to change careers. Her career change currently consists of taking care of the family farm operation. Volunteering is an important part of their lives and they believe in giving back to what has been good to them. Currently, she serves as the St. Francois County 4-H Council President, she is also a University of Missouri Extension County Council member, and recently elected to the University of Missouri Extension State Council. She has always tried to do what is best for kids because she believes they are our future. As Herbert Hoover said once “Children are our most valuable resource.” Therefore, she believes we have to invest in them or we won’t have a future.

What she hopes to accomplish if she’s elected to the school board is to make sure the students are receiving the best education the teachers can give them. She said the district has a good group of teachers, and as a school board member she wants to make sure the teachers are allowed to teach the students what is necessary to accomplish their goals. “I do feel have adequate time to fulfill my obligation as a school member,” she said.

“Being a life long resident of this community and a past employee of the Farmington R-7 School district. I feel I have the knowledge and commitment to help our students and district. It is important to me that every child is given the opportunity to be successful and that everyone that is a stakeholder has a voice and representation.

Greg McPhail

Greg McPhail is running for a seat on the Farmington School Board. He is married to Robyn McPhail and they have three daughters Ashlynn McPhail, Alie McPhail and Victoria McPhail. He is an Area Coach (District Manager) for Taco Bell in St. Louis and they own McPhali’s Pizzeria & Pub in Farmington. He has lived in the area for about four years.

He hopes to accomplish putting the children first in all the decisions they have to make and is willing to devote as much time as it takes to the district.

As an outsider looking in, he is not sure of the inner workings of the board yet. So, he doesn’t know of any areas that need change. He is running because he has a daughter in high school and as a father, member of the community and as a business owner in Farmington he would like to give back to the community and be more involved.

Bill Henson

Bill Henson is running for a seat on the Farmington School Board. He is married to Barbara, who works in Food Service at the Farmington High School. They have three children, two sons and a daughter. Their son, Brant (Bo) works as a Postmaster for the Postal Service, daughter, Bobbi is General Manager for radio station KHIS in Cape Girardeau, and son, Justin works as Project Lead IT Support Specialist for the Centene Corp. They have eight grandchildren, four of whom attend Farmington Schools. He was raised near Doe Run and has lived in Farmington since 1984.

Bill is a retired Federal Mine Inspector from the US Department of Labor During the past 30 plus years he has had the opportunity to work and manage non-profit organizations, personnel, and budgets. His work experience with industry and labor organizations is extensive in both private and government sectors. Prior to starting his work career, he served in the US Army with combat duty in Vietnam and proud to say currently serves as Commander for Farmington American Legion Post 416 and serves as Adjutant for Farmington VFW Post 5896. He considers it an honor to be able to work with veterans and their families and will continue to serve them however he can. He would consider it a privilege to represent students, employees and members of the community by serving on the Farmington R-VII School Board.

If he is elected he wants to be responsive to the needs of our children. He believes the education of the children should always come first and foremost. If elected, he will work to provide the students kindergarten through seniors with improved educational structure and resources that will place them on a more competitive level when they enter collage or the job market. He thinks the main focus should be to improve the delivery and the quality of education for the children. He will work to provide the children with the necessary tools and resources that make them competitive in tomorrow’s world.

He will also work to control spending and thinks the school district has engaged in excessive spending. He believes many of the current spending proposals could be reined in without having an adverse impact on the children’s education.

“We as parents and tax payers cannot afford a financially strapped school district rendering it incapable of providing quality education. When we spend tax payer dollars, I believe we should spend them wisely” said Henson.

As a retiree he will have ample time to commit to the business of the school board. As a district resident and member of the community he has concerns regarding several policies and procedures currently in place. These specifically have an effect on district employees and how board meetings are structured and conducted. He will work to get them revised. He would like to see more transparency in the school board operations and make the process more community friendly.  

Dr. Phyllis Hargis

Dr. Phyllis Hargis is running for a seat on the Farmington School Board. She said her mother, Gladys Hargis is her inspiration. She has lived in Farmington since 1981.

Phyllis is a retired educator where she was a school teacher, counselor and administrator and has a Doctorate in Educational Administration. For 32 years, education was her career. She was a teacher, a counselor, an assistant principal, and director of state and federal programs, 24 years of those were in the Farmington School District. Those grants supported innovations that were child-centered and teacher-driven and gave students life-long memories. Also, she supported grass roots innovation that supported teachers using technology in new and meaningful ways. Other grants involved research based teaching methods and techniques. She is very supportive of innovative technology in education, but knows that teachers must have the knowledge and skills to use it effectively to improve student learning. Without on-going, continuous professional development, technology is just technology – not an instructional tool that expands learning.

If elected she hopes to work cooperatively with other board members, administrators, and staff to improve student achievement and success. “To do this, we (the elected board mmbers) must seek to ease fears and improve open communication with all staff and the community,” she said. As a board member, she hopes to be clear and honest in her decisions; to increase confidence in the school district, to be watchful of district funds; and to do everything possible to ignite the love of teaching and learning. During this time of financial stress that touches most families, she thinks it is important for the school district to be even more responsible and transparent with the tax dollars of the citizens and to look at ways to lower class sizes by maintaining and/or adding teachers by reducing any non-teacher positions and spending that are determined to be “nice” but not essential to the success of teachers and students in the classrooms.

She is determined to devote the amount of time necessary to represent the students, staff, and community. She knows it will require more time than just attendance at the scheduled monthly meetings. She said it is premature to make judgments about the current board and what changes need to be made. However, she said she brings a unique educational experiences, perspectives and background knowledge to the board. Based on her years in education and this community, she believes she can anticipate the need for change and gain an edge to improvement by investigating other successful school districts. She is a questioning individual who examines situations from all perspectives and investigates them thoroughly. She has experience with Missouri educational law and Missouri school finance. She has worked within the policies which are the basis of Farmington School District governance. “These experiences lead me to believe that schools are in a continuous state of improvement and assessment that necessitates change,” she said. But, she does not believe in making unnecessary or untimely change.

She chose Farmington as her home more 30 years ago and retired here. She is vested in the district and the success of its students and staff. As she considered filing for the board, she said she was encouraged by teachers from all levels within the district and community members. She’s running for Farmington School Board to make a positive difference in the lives of students. She believes it is time for her to again become part of the educational challenges that face the district and play a leadership role in the shining future of the district.

Jeff Lawson

Jeff Lawson is running for a seat on the Farmington School Board. He is the son of M. David Lawson and Georgia Holdman and has brothers Scott, Chris, Eric and sister Michelle. He has lived in Farmington all of his life.

Lawson is currently the Superintendent of Electric Department (City of Farmington) and feels he has enough time to devote to the position. He feels like he can do some good and not just sit back and talk about issues that are wrong in the district and not fix them.

Lawson said the Farmington School District has problems and he thinks they need to be addressed and fixed right now because kids are important. He wants to make sure  the school district keeps striving to be its best.

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