In the first part of a three-part question-and-answers series, Camdenton R-III School Board candidates explain their reasons for running and their thoughts on public comment policy.

Three seats are up for election on the Camdenton R-III School Board, those held by Selynn Barbour, Jackie Schulte and John Beckett, who is not seeking re-election. Voters will head to the polls April 8.

Where do you live in the district? We live in Osage Beach.
How long have you lived in the district? 25 years
What is your occupation? Co-owner of Country Crossroads
Education background: I graduated from the William Allen White School of Journalism, University of Kansas with a B. S. in editing, magazine layout with an emphasis in public relations.
Do you currently have children in the district? Yes, my husband and I have two Laker children, Blake, 20 and Brenden, 15. 

Where do you live in the district? Camdenton
How long have you lived in the district? 38 years
What is your occupation? Physical Therapist, Director Camdenton Rehab
Education background: K-12 Camdenton R-III; Bachelor of Health Sciences –Physical Therapy University of Missouri- Columbia, multiple career-related certificates
Do you currently have children in the district? Lauryn 7th grade

Where do you live in the district?  Greenview Area off of EE
How long have you lived in the district? 9 years
What is your occupation? Superintendent of Schools, Richland R-IV School District (9 years with district)
Education background:  Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, Master’s in School Administration (University of Missouri), Specialist’s in Educational Administration (Lincoln University).  Junior High Social Studies Teacher 15 years, Elementary Principal 7 years, JH Principal/Superintendent of Schools 1 year, Superintendent of Schools 8 years.
Do you currently have children in the district? No.

Where do you live in the district?  I live in Camelot, which is off of Bear Paw road.
How long have you lived in the district? Three and a half years, moving here from my hometown in Iowa.
What is your occupation?  I am a stay at home mom, raising for my 4 daughters.
Education background:  I have a degree in Communications from Iowa State University.
Do you currently have children in the district?  Natalie, 14, Caroline 12, Lily, 10, and Faith, 8

Where do you live in the district?  Linn Creek
How long have you lived in the district?  Over 12 years
What is your occupation?  As an executive scheduler, I manage the day to day operations for a  financial  wholesaler located in Chicago.
Education background:  I have an associate degree in paralegal studies, and I am a certified paralegal.
Do you currently have children in the district? Yes, all three of my children attend Camdenton R-III schools.  I have two daughters in the high school, and my son attends Oak Ridge.

*Editor’s Note: Candidates responses were not altered in any way. Candidates were provided a word count for answers. Some responses exceeded the requested word count and were cut off.

1. Do you think the current school board policy regarding public participation allows for sufficient opportunity for the public's voice to be heard? Do you support the current policy or if elected would you seek to make changes to the policy?

Barbour: Yes, I believe the recently-updated school board policy facilitates engaged communications with our students, parents and patrons.  We truly want to hear from our public. It's their school.  We recently enhanced this school board  policy with an email address so our patrons can access all board members at exactly the same time from our school district's web site.  We have received emails, returned replies and heard positive responses from the public because of this additional and convenient use of technology. This is in addition to the options of writing us letters as well as speaking during every public portion of our school board meetings.
Yes, I support this policy. We will be monitoring its progress.  We also will continue to be cognizant of new technology as it emerges to communicate with the public exemplifying transparency and participation.  
I invite you to peruse our website, There you will easily find exciting student highlights and important information.  Please click the "school board" tab to learn and/or leave any questions, concerns or comments.  We are here to work together for our awesome LAKER NATION!

Hulett: First of all, I believe that communication between the public and a public school is essential to the vitality of the school and community.  I believe that transparent, open lines of dialogue can aide in the direction of the district and prevent disruptions that hinder progress at all levels.  Awareness of situations as they arise is key to correcting them and will strengthen the district as a whole. E-mail has proven to be an efficient method to communicate.
Second, I do believe that concerns should be filtered through proper channels.  There are many issues that are most appropriately handled by the teachers and administrators who work closely with the students.  This will allow everyone, including the board of education, to most efficiently perform their duties in a timely manner.  It also allows continued focus on delivering the best possible education and work environments for our district, which is our goal.
Lastly, if an issue warrants board attention, best practice is inherently to give all parties preparation time.  This allows improved communication and input, which will expedite resolutions so that we remain focused on our goals.

Ridgeway: After reviewing Board Policy “BDDH-Public Participation at Board Meetings” and attending several Board meetings it is evident to me that the Board is allowing a public comment time during the meeting.  As outlined in the policy the public comment period is only designated for items that are on the agenda for that month.  However, the policy also states that any member of the public may request an item to be placed on the agenda for discussion as long as it is received seven days prior to the meeting.  Certain items regarding personnel, student issues and legal matters may need to be addressed in closed session.
Perhaps better communication to the public with regards to this policy and the procedures to be heard at a Board meeting whether it is during the public comment portion of the meeting or getting an item placed on the agenda for public discussion.
Not knowing what the public wants changed I would have to support the current procedures in the policy manual, many school districts in the state do not allow a public comment time in their School Board meetings, this is a local decision.

Sales: I do not support the current policy on public comment.  I attended the board meeting last fall where the MSBA came in and spoke to the board when recommending that they limit public comment to those items approved to be on the agenda. I was disappointed when the board, including 2 of my incumbent challengers, voted to approve that policy.  When the question was asked of the attorney who was trying to convince the board to alter policy to put heavy limits on allowing the public to speak to the board,  if there had been instances where a board had ever been sued as a result of public comment.  She answered, "no, but it could".  Thus, the policy was changed.  I do not think that is fair to the community that we are serving. I believe that the board is elected to be the voice of the people.  I do NOT think we should limit their opportunity to be heard. Might a meeting go on for a long time if we have lots of comments?  It might!  But when else does the public have an opportunity to speak to the entire board?  The board meeting is their only opportunity, and I

Schulte: I do support this policy.  Our policy allows the community to request topics of concern to be placed on the agenda which allows the patrons AND the district to prepare for an educated discussion. I believe this 7-day policy supports a professional and cooperative environment.  Board members  are responsible for protecting our staff and students;  allowing anyone to speak on impulse could open the district to possible legal repercussions.   This past year the board unanimously voted to introduce a board email address.  This line of communication provides patrons an avenue to contact us with any issues and concerns while allowing us to continue focus on the goals and progress of students and staff.

2. Why are you running for the Camdenton R-III School Board?

Barbour: There are numerous reasons that I am seeking re-election to the school board.  Based on my many years of positive, educational experiences with our Laker sons,  now 20 and 15, provides a solid foundational reason. As I have worked alongside students, parents and teachers from room mother,  book fair chairperson to P. T. O. President, volunteer and a member on our district strategic planning committee I found I tremendously enjoyed my experiences.
Also because of the support from the community of our business, Country Crossroads, for over 25 years, I wanted to give back to our beloved community.
My decades of business, hands-on experiences lend well to being a knowledgeable board member.
Finally, being on the board has solidified my affirmations of what a great school we are!  I am continuously inspired to work alongside our striving students, supportive parents, community and dedicated staff to ensure our continued success!

Hulett: I am running for Camdenton R-III school board to promote the continuity, longevity and stability of the district. I would like to see our district continue the excellent traditions in academics, sports, music and art that have allowed this district to evolve into what it is today.  I believe there should be an emphasis on continuing fiscal prudence so that we are able to hire/retain the best staff around the state, while providing an inclusive education for all students.  A dynamic district should foster growth potential to all staff and students alike.
As a native of Camdenton with current and future Lakers, I have a vested interest in this district and its sustainability.  I would like the opportunity, as an elected official, to give back to the community and to maintain the integrity of our outstanding school district.

Ridgeway: I believe with the knowledge I have accumulated in my thirty-three years of public education and the input I will receive from the public I will be able to make well-informed decisions with regard to what is best for students of the Camdenton School District.  Our students in this district have to be our number one priority; we have to continue to offer them high-quality educational and career programs in preparation for careers after high school or entering in a two or four college or university.  We also need to make sure that our buildings are safe and secure in nurturing a learning environment.
I do not have the backing of any special interest group or belong to any special interest group therefore my decisions while sitting on the Board will be based upon my knowledge of the educational system and what is best for students.

Sales: I am running for the board because I love this school district.  I feel so fortunate to be raising my kids in this community while having access to the wonderful diversity of opportunities that are offered the children of Camdenton.  As a parent with four school aged children I have had the rare opportunity to invest in this district over many grade levels.  As an involved parent I feel that I am in tune with the teachers and the parents in our district and would use those relationships and the insight they offer to best represent the will of the people.

Schulte: I want to ensure our students are given every possible educational opportunity.  My goal is to continue to help create a collaborative culture of learning in our diverse community.   I have been amazed by the achievements our students. Recently, at the Horizon's Tea, we had the opportunity to witness young adults share their talents, their successes, and their dreams.  (I wish I could put into words the excitement I have for them and their futures.)  I also want teachers to have confidence in board support and feel empowered to use their education, knowledge, and skills  to prepare our students to reach their fullest potential.  Honestly, the past 3 years have been some of the most challenging, yet most rewarding of my life.  I look forward to the honor to continue!