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Candidates for Springfield School Board Election Part 2

For part two of our coverage on the upcoming Springfield school board election, we take a look at three of the five candidates. These candidates come from the Springfield business community and say that they wish to bring their business sense and financial knowledge to the positions. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann spoke with each of the candidates and files this report.

Don Carriker is a local businessman with strong ties to the Springfield school district. He says that his lifelong connection, and many business strengths, especially with finance, give him the necessary qualifications.

“I think my background prepares me because I do have classroom experience. Indirectly, I have administrator experience through watching what my dad went through from being a principal, all the way up to professor and superintendent of schools, that kind of thing. [Also] my wife being a secretary with the school system, and my background in business and finance gives me the ability to read profit and loss statements, and financial documents,” Carriker said.

Carriker says that his main focus, if elected will be the district’s budget. He says that he thinks Springfield schools are doing well in the education department, but that financially there is a lot of waste. Carriker says that his goal would be to trim that waste and redirect money to improving teacher salaries, and educational programs. He adds that he would be a great liaison between the district and the taxpayer.

“I am not beholden to any union groups, you know, any type of ties to any particular companies or organizations with an agenda. I think we need to have a taxpayer’s person on the board to keep the lines of communication open to the common person, and to the taxpayers. So we can watch out, and just keep it running efficiently,” said Carriker.

Mark Heffington is a local businessman who says that he has wanted to run for school board for many years. He says that his connections with the school system during his son’s education have given him the knowledge and the passion to make a difference.

“The school systems have more impact over the future of a community than any other entity. And I live here, and work here, and worship here in Springfield. I plan on being a part of this community for a long time into the future, and I want to give back to a school system that has given so much to our family,” Heffington said.

Heffington said that during his campaign he has had the privilege to visit each of the schools within the district. He says that the community of Springfield is changing, and that the school district needs to be able to successfully adapt to those changes.

“I think our community is very mobile now. And we’ve got to recognize that and address that as a school system. I’ve gone around, and everyone that I talked to, their mobility rates have gone up, and up, and up. And that’s tough on the students we are trying to educate. So I think we need to get more creative with how to keep students in an environment where their education is not interrupted,” Heffington said.

Local physician and businessman Tom Prater is the incumbent for the election. He currently serves as the vice president of the school board. Prater was unavailable for comment.

According to his website, Prater says that the primary responsibility of the school board is to provide budgetary oversight, and to set policy. According to the site, Prater was born and raised in Springfield. He said that he has also developed many legislative contacts in Jefferson City during his current term. Prater says he wishes to, quote -- “maintain our quality of life, economic viability, and public safety, and that Springfield needs an innovative school system to educate our children.” – end quote.

To hear about the other two candidates, you can find both parts to this series on our website: ksmu.org. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.