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Candidates for Springfield School Board Election Part 1

Tuesday is the school board election for the Springfield R-12 school district. There are five candidates who are vying for two seats. All of the candidates say they have important qualities to bring to the table. In this first part of our two-part series, we look at candidates who come from within the district as former educators. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann files this report.

Carl Herd is one of the five candidates running for the upcoming school board election. He says that his long-term experience as a teacher has prepared him well for this role. Herd says that many of the district’s problems reflect problems in the overall economy, and says its significant that as many as half of Springfield students are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. He adds that Springfield is becoming what he calls an “urban district,” and that brings about many new challenges.

“Teaching math for 30 years I know the school system very well. I know its strong points and I know many of its points that need improvement. I was very instrumental in leading a group of citizens to have the first ever state audit of the school system,” Herd said.

Herd says that one of the areas that could use improvement deals with getting students ready for the world after graduation. Herd says that reading is fundamental for all areas of a student’s life, regardless of what his or her future goals may be.

“We offer too many choices. Have you ever heard of the history of American baseball as being a real viable choice for a student to select as part of their high school curriculum? By offering too many choices students kind of opt for the easy courses. And I think they avoid the math and the English, and some of those core subjects that are really needed,” Herd says.

A second candidate is L. Denise Fredrick, who currently serves as director of secondary education at Missouri State University. She says that she herself was educated in the Springfield public school system and feels that she received a quality education. Fredrick went on to complete undergraduate and graduate work at MSU, and complete her doctorate at St. Louis University. She feels that her hands-on experience working within the Springfield public schools in several roles has helped prepare her for the job. “My entire career has been associated with public education. I have learned a lot and had a lot of experience. I really want to bring that to the board to help make very, very important decisions to continue the quality of education that our students receive,” Fredrick said.

Fredrick say she has three main goals if elected: the first would be to promote quality teachers, through competitive salaries. She says she also would work to ensure safety of both children and teachers, and to provide fair and consistent evaluations.

She says the three things the school district must do is to more efficiently use its staff and money, to get rid of or suspend programs that aren’t effective, and to redistribute funds to those that are working. Fredrick says an additional goal for her is to get everyone involved with education.

“Expand positive partnerships with all stakeholders. That is, engaging our students, parents, families, business and organizations, and even just concerned citizens in support of our schools. The district currently has three major goals; increase student achievement, increase attendance, and improve the graduation rate. I would also like to really see a fourth goal focus on parent, family and community involvement,” said Fredrick.

The polls open Tuesday at 6 a.m.

We will have the second part of our series on the school board candidates on our local newscast Monday morning at 7:30 a.m. You can find links to both parts of this series on our website: ksmu.org.

For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.