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Five candidates vying for two R-I Board positions

The April 3 Municipal General Election will include three ballot measures. They are the Marquand-Zion School District’s “Proposition Kids (Keep Improving District Schools),” the Madison County Health Department Proposition (further explained on page 3A of this issue), and the Madison County Use Tax. There are also four contested races which some local voters will be considering. Those include the races for two Clearwater School Board members, Marquand Mayor, Madison Medical Center Trustee, and two Fredericktown R-I School Board members.

The five candidates who are running for the R-I School Board were each asked to answer the same questions and their responses are in the profiles below. They are listed in the order they will appear on the April 3 ballot.

Xandra

Xandra “Sandy” Sonderman

Xandra “Sandy” Sonderman

Biographical information

I am 71 years of age and have been a resident of Madison County for 60 years. I am a graduate of Fredericktown High School. My husband, Bill and I have been married for 51 years. We have 2 children and 6 grandchildren. Before our retirement, we owned and operated a business on the court square for more than 40 years.

Experience

I am currently a member of the Fredericktown School Board and during my years of service, have worked diligently with other members to successfully overcome many hardships our district has encountered over the years to move our district forward. I have completed the required training set forth by the Missouri School Board Association. I have also continued my training by attending many additional workshops covering such topics as student safety, board operations, policy development and student achievement. I have also earned the Advanced Certification Achievement Award from MSBA.

What are some of the qualities and characteristics of an effective school board member?

A desirable school board quality is brining your training and experience to the table with effective listening and communication skills. A school board member must be dedicated to the school district, its students and its staff. As an elected official, you must be mindful and diligent in knowing the decisions made will not only impact today’s students, staff and community, but also future generations. An effective board member is a part of creating a partnership between education and family.

What would be your top priorities if elected?

There is much to be learned and even more to be gained by serving on our local school board. The commitment is not one I have taken lightly. There is not a day that I am not aware of the opportunity that I have to make a difference. As a school board member it is my duty and priority to be diligent in the hiring and placement of quality teachers. My priorities have always been to help provide the best education for our students; to serve the students, school system and community in a manner which will ensure a quality education for our children; and, to continue to provide an open line of communication between the school and its patrons.

Brandon Scott Hale

Brandon Scott Hale

Brandon Hale

Biographical information

My name is Brandon Hale, and I appreciate this opportunity to run for your school board. Fredericktown is my home. I was born and raised in Madison County, and I’m proud of that. I am currently 37 years old. I attended and graduated from the Fredericktown School District, Mineral Area College, with an associate’s degree and Central Methodist College, where I completed my bachelor’s degree. I am currently employed at First State Community Bank, where I specialize in technology support.

I’ve lived here my entire life and have been very active in the community. I have served in many capacities over the years from city alderman, to azalea festival board member, to optimist soccer coach, Mineral Area College Instructor, little league baseball coach, church board member and Sunday school Instructor. I have a strong Christian faith and believe all things are possible through God. I have two children of my own, both of which attend the Fredericktown School District. Marissa is in high school, and Brigg in intermediate. I have a vested interest in the success of the school district, and value the education of all students, not just my own.

Experience

I have worked in schools for many years, taught in classrooms, and have served on many community boards where I have managed large scale projects and budgets. I have a strong background in technology, where the future lies for our students.

What are some of the qualities and characteristics of an effective school board member?

I believe communication, transparency and listening are the three main characteristics of a board member. Communication is a key element for any organization. I would like to see more communication with faculty, students, parents and community members. I welcome and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Transparency, I believe information should be readily available and easily accessible, on issues both large and small, including financials. Last but certainly not least, listening, I have found you can learn more by listening than reacting. I believe we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason.

What would be your top priorities if elected?

If elected my top priority is to serve the staff, students and the community to the best of my God-given abilities including but not limited to:

Ensure the safety of our students and staff – the recent school tragedies cannot be pushed off to a later date, policies should be reviewed on a regular basis and procedures should be ever evolving.

Keep jobs local – several jobs have been outsourced from our district and this hurts not only the district, but also, the entire community.

School pride – revitalizing pride in our academics, arts and athletics. Working together with individuals and businesses to create an atmosphere both in, and out of the classroom, where we can attract and retain staff and coaches who would like to make a career at the school district, and instill a sense of community-wide pride in our students.

College level/dual credit courses – many districts in the area offer every student the ability to graduate with their associate degree. I would like to see Fredericktown students have that same opportunity.

Richard Allgier

Richard Allgier

Richard Allgier

Biographical information

I have lived in Madison County for 50 years. I am a graduate of Fredericktown High School class of 1980. My wife, Bobbi and I have been married for 28 years and have two daughters, Bridget and Brandi. We have been business owners in Fredericktown for 22 years.

Experience

I have been fortunate to serve as a member of the Fredericktown School Board since 2009. During this time, I have worked through building projects, budget dilemmas, and other activities that are part of the board duties. I continue my training through the Missouri School Board Association, and receive the MSBA Board Bulletin to help keep up to date with issues facing our school district.

What are some of the qualities and characteristics of an effective school board member?

An effective school board member must listen to and consider all the facts available on issues before making a decision. One must be committed to implement clear goals that get us closer to the vision of the community and district. All while meeting the needs of the school district and being fiscally responsible.

What would be your top priorities if elected?

As a school board member, my top priority is to hire and retain quality staff and provide our district with the resources for our students to have the best education experience that they can. We must be conscious of the safety of our students and staff and keep evaluation our safety plan and facilities. We have to continue to keep the overall infrastructure of our schools in focus and have plans in place to maintain our facilities.

Melissa Kline

Melissa Kline

Melissa Kline

Biographical information

After 28 years of teaching, I recently retired from the Fredericktown School District. I am currently the College for Kids Director at Mineral Area College. While at FHS, I taught Biology, Applied Chemistry and Physics and sponsored the Beta Club. I also served as class sponsor, Career Ladder representative and rotating science department chair. I now enjoy working for MAC, teaching a free yoga class at Ozark Regional Library, serving on the board of the Madison County Extension and Fredericktown Foundation and volunteering at the local food pantry. I also enjoy volunteering at the various buildings in our school district.

My parents, Tom and Kathleen Broussard, also taught for the Fredericktown School District. Upon my retirement, I realized that my dad and I had been a part of the FHS Science Department for the past 46 years. Additionally, my sister, brother and I graduated from Fredericktown as did my husband and three sons. The school and community mean everything to me and I want to give my twenty-eight years of experience in education to serving on the R-1 School Board.

I believe serving on the school board should be about offering service to the students, parents, teachers, staff and taxpayers of our school district. The only agenda a candidate should have is the desire to work toward increasing educational opportunities for students, supporting classroom teachers, ensuring the safety of our students and staff and improving school facilities. I’ve come to the decision to run for school board with no other agenda than to offer the perspective of a recently retired teacher and a tax payer that believes in living within one’s means while actively pursuing school improvement.

Experience

The most obvious experience that I would bring to this position is a lifetime spent in education. I was a successful classroom teacher in a school district filled with learners of diverse backgrounds and experiences. I was a team player. My team included students, parents, fellow educators, and administrators. I have first-hand knowledge of what is happening in schools. Issues such as state assessments, ever changing education law, bullying, abuse, neglect, curriculum, compliance, trends in education, etc. are not just empty words and phrases to me. I’ve been on the front lines actively working on these issues for twenty-eight years. As a member of the Missouri State Teachers Association and Missouri Retired Teachers Association, I am continuously updated on what is happening in Missouri classrooms. Education is not my hobby; it’s my life’s work.

What are some of the qualities and characteristics of an effective school board member? What would be your top priorities if elected?

I have attended every school board meeting since my retirement and I have seen many great things happening within our district. The greatest strength is the highly qualified teachers and staff whose top priority is to meet the needs of all students. This staff is one of the most professional and caring groups of people your children will ever be exposed to. Another tremendous strength is the commitment to improve our facilities as we move toward the future. We are blessed.

However, over my long career, I’ve had many questions as to why some decisions were made. It’s inevitable. As a member of the school board, I would be asking a lot of questions, demanding full disclosure of all relevant information, and involving students, parents and teachers in decision making. I do not want to be a board member that “rubber stamps” anything placed in front of me nor do I feel like every item on the agenda needs to be looked at suspiciously. However, I would like to see more “open” discussion, greater transparency and documents such as audits, budgets and spending reports made easily available to the public.

A board member needs to start with the basic truth that this is a top notch school district with excellent teachers and administrators. However, there is always room to grow in a way that is financially responsible, educationally sound and works at keeping our best and brightest teachers. A serious problem on many school boards is the lack of first-hand knowledge of what is actually happening inside of the schools they serve. It’s crucial that board members know what questions to ask, when a proposal is useful and when it should be investigated more thoroughly. As an experienced educator, I have a unique opportunity to be a voice on the school board that has actually spent years inside a Fredericktown classroom. I can bring a kind of understanding that others cannot.

My time spent in the classroom has defined who I am. I am an educator. I want to continue being a part of the school district I love. I would appreciate the opportunity to serve the students, parents, teachers, staff and taxpayers of the Fredericktown School District. A new voice and a fresh perspective is often a great change to make.

Brandon Thomas Greene

Brandon Thomas Greene

Brandon Thomas Greene

Biographical information

I was born and raised in Southeastern Missouri, moved to Fredericktown in 1995 after graduating to attend Mineral Area College and then immediately became employed with the United States Postal Service thereafter. I am 40 years old and I am married to Rachel Greene with two young boys, Cole and Luke. I have now lived the majority of my life in Fredericktown for 23 years.

Experience

Life experience has a lot to do with forming a person’s character and thus, what he contributes to his fellow man as a grown up. I was raised in a Christian home and developed a caring attitude, a strong moral fiber and a good work ethic. As an adult I climbed the ladder quickly through the Postal Service and provided my leadership abilities as the Postmaster of Fredericktown where I still work today. I have been team leader and have served on numerous Labor Relations teams dealing with Contracts, Grievances, Consumer Affairs and Congressional Inquiries. I have been on many higher level assignments one being the Manager Post Office Operations. While being the MPOO I was over 1/3 of the Mid-America District. I had the administrative responsibilities of overseeing 183 Post Offices, over 1,000 employees, 563+ routes with a managing budget of $55 million. I have been employed with the Postal Service for 19 years.

What are some of the qualities and characteristics of an effective school board member?

For such an important position, serving the community, it is vitally important that a candidate be a visionary to always be looking toward the future and therefore thinking about the betterment of the school district in all of its aspects. A school board member must be able to work effectively with others. It’s imperative that one has a good solid judgement in areas such as: on-going business decisions, expansion of physical education facilities, highest quality hiring of all educational employees, overseeing direction of educational programs for the children – both academic and extracurricular, and via interaction with the parents and the community at large to join forces in making the Fredericktown School District the very best it can be. So that ultimately, all the children have an opportunity to have a superior foundation for their future. I am ready for this challenge and ready to serve.

What would be your top priorities if elected?

With two young boys, I have a serious vested interest in seeing the Fredericktown School District continue to be strong and reach new heights of excellence. I will be dedicated and use my life and career leadership experiences to help, to work hard, and give all the time necessary to ensure a better educational tomorrow for the children of the Fredericktown community.

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