When Camdenton School District voters go to the polls April 2, there will be several candidates seeking two open positions.
Five candidates have filled to fill the positions currently held by Nancy Masterson and Jim Besancenez, both of whom are running to keep their seats.
Other candidates are Darin Keim, Bill Moulder and Tom Williams.
The Lake Sun submitted several questions to each candidate, and their responses are as follows.
*Editor's Note: Some responses were cut off because they exceeded the set 250 word limit. The Lake Sun did not edit responses in any other way.
How would you describe what an effective board members role in the school district is?
The board should represent a diverse group of ideas and opinions where individual motives can be put aside for the sake of the constituents we serve. An effective board member never seeks retribution, or tries to slander another member for making a stand that is different from their own. An effective board member must be the voice of the people, and must carry out their oath to do this, always remembering this to be their foremost motivation to serve on the board. The students of Camdenton are our top priority. We must stay focused at all times in remembering that, above all else, we are here to serve the needs of the children and the teachers of the Camdenton R-III School District and create a safe and nurturing learning environment for every single child of this district every day. I have illustrated how I feel, have proven my leadership skills, and how I have been an effective board member over the past three years on my website: www.b4r3.blogspot.com
An effective school board member must view the board as a team and respect the varying skills and perspectives each board member possesses. They must operate with the belief that their peers have the best interests of the students, staff, system and community at heart, even when they have differing opinions on how to address a problem. As every board member has their own strengths they bring to the table, those skills should be put together and used in the best interest of the district with a focus on the “we” and not the “me.” An effective board member treats other board members and staff with respect and is a good listener; a good policy is to listen twice as much as you speak. You must be able to stick by your principles and discuss your position without attacking those with opposing views and you must support board decisions even when you are on the “losing” side. It is of utmost importance to always remain professional in speech and attitude: discord within the school board creates doubt in its effectiveness in the eyes of the community. Effective board members must be able to provide guidance to achieve excellence in education while being good stewards of the funds they have been entrusted with. Finally, I feel you must know your role and the difference between a member of administration and a board member. The effective board member knows that the board’s job is to make policy and it’s the
Page 2 of 3 -
Our job is governance. Our job is to ensure that policy is followed, and goals achieved. We evaluate the superintendent and how well he manages our district. We provide goals at the start of school. We monitor his achievement of those goals; provide him feedback on issues that are brought to our attention; and develop new goals as situations arise. Policies are frequently brought to our attention that need changes, and based on our local needs and community values these are rewritten and adopted.
A board member needs to read and gain a thorough understanding of current educational issues, especially new mandates that are imposed by state and federal government. When new programs, grants, or curriculum changes are brought to our attention, we should take the time to educate ourselves what the implications are for our district.
A board member should thoroughly understand the funding issues. This includes staying knowledgeable about the district’s yearly budget as well as state and federal funding and its role in the local budget.
A board member should be able to collaborate with the other board members and the superintendent with the goal of improving our district. We do this by productive discussion and supporting the decisions made.
A board member is the conduit that the community uses to bring issues forward. If a personal issue is brought to our attention, we should redirect that issue to the building principal or superintendent. Our role is to follow-up that a contact was made and situation
A school board member is a part of an oversight committee and his sole job is to act in the best behalf of the community which the district serves. Partisan politics, hidden agendas, and personal agendas have no place on a school board. A school board member has to be willing to put aside personal feelings and do what is best for the school district. The question that must be foremost in the board member's mind has to be, "what is best for this district and this community?" A school board member has to listen to the community and then work with the district administration to address the needs and concerns of all.
An effective school board member helps set the strategic direction of the district, while understanding that they are not responsible for carrying it out through micromanagement of Administration or staff. An effective board member should hold Administration accountable for meeting the strategic direction set forth by the board. They should then allow Administration to perform their role to hold teachers and other staff accountable for their work toward the strategic direction. I believe that an effective board member listens intently to the community they serve and aligns community expectations with the strategic direction they develop. A school is a very complex business, and I believe an effective board member should have a deep understanding of financial management, employment, and regulations. I also firmly believe an effective board member must be able to build successful partnerships: within the board, with the administrative staff, and our community. As well, an effective board member represents all children, never just a few. An effective board member never has an individual agenda; they constantly strive to better understand how the school can best serve all students and will never take an educational opportunity away from any child. This is the board member that I will be.
Page 3 of 3 -