Four candidates are vying for two seats on the Smithton R-VI Board of Education — incumbents Jason Brown and Becky Williams and challengers Stacey Luttrell and Bill Grose. Terms are for three years. Each candidate was asked to fill out a questionnaire about their candidacy; Luttrell and Grose did not submit any responses. Answers may have been edited for length.
Why are you running for office?
Jason Brown: “I have enjoyed being involved with the students, teachers, administrators and the community as a board member. Throughout my last term, I was actively involved with issues put before the board. I enjoyed being in the community and being able to provide a voice to help with the education of our students in the Smithton community.”
Becky Williams: “As a graduate of Smithton High School and having three children that have graduated or continue to be educated in the district I feel I have a vested interest in the successes and growth of our district.”
What are your qualifications?
Brown: “Being on the board for the last three years has provided me many learning opportunities with school board operations. I have been actively involved with hiring a new superintendent, development of a Community School Improvement Plan (CSIP), and several large facility upgrade issues. These experiences have provided me with a strong working knowledge of school board operation issues. … For the last 12 years, I have been the office manager with the Sedalia Social Security Office.”
Williams: “I have been an active member of the Smithton School Board for the last three years. I have worked in the Human Resources profession for the last nine years. I feel my experiences help me be objective when making critical decisions regarding our district. I am also a Christian and am always prayerful over decisions that we make as a board to ensure in my heart that I am doing what is best for our district.”
What do you think are some of the top issues facing the Smithton School District that need to be addressed soon?
Brown: “Our biggest issue going forward is the implementation of the CSIP. Doing so will allow us to update our school facilities, provide relevant learning opportunities for all our students, and ensure can recruit as well as retain quality educators.”
Williams: “A low cost Early Childhood Program is a top priority for our district. Recruitment and retention of the highest quality teachers by offering competitive salaries and benefit packages is also a top priority. In addition technology enhancement for our students’ educational growth and to help them better prepare for their future careers will need to be addressed as well.”
What do you think about the tax levy ballot issue for the Smithton School District?
Brown: “I support and am fully in favor of Proposition KIDS. This is the no-tax increase levy issue that will be on the April ballot. The passage of this issue will allow us to meet the goals our community felt was most important. Specifically, we would be able to use the money to ensure our teachers are within the top third of all conference schools, improve school safety and security, as well as the opportunity to provide better early childhood programs to students within the Smithton community.”
Williams: “I am absolutely in favor of the no-tax levy. I think the no-tax levy increase will play a vital role in helping us meet our goals that we have set forth in our strategic plan. Due to the past and present leadership and the ability of our board to be good stewards of our district’s money, we are about to pay off debt we incurred to build our existing high school gym and additional classrooms.”
What goals do you have for office if you are elected?
Brown: “Over the next three years, my biggest goal will be to ensure the CSIP plan is fully implemented by the district. I plan to continue our district’s transition from good to great by ensuring our students have access to top quality teachers and administrators. I will support and encourage continued communication and positive relationships between the school and the community. I will ensure we maintain a healthy financial outlook while continuing to utilize our tax dollars in the most educationally efficient manner possible.”
Williams: “We recently completed our CSIP, which is the governing document for our district. My goal would be to keep that document in the forefront of all of our decisions that we make as a board. This sounds easy but it is very easy to get sidetracked. When you have a plan you have to look at the plan, talk about the plan and make decisions based on that plan or the time and effort put into that plan was for nothing.”
Why should people vote for you?
Brown: “I care about the success of our Smithton community. I feel a successful community is dependent upon how well we teach our children.
“I am comfortable with listening to new ideas, asking questions, and making decisions on issues. It is important to be able to ask tough questions or make difficult decisions in a timely manner. I am able to address sensitive issues in a positive and professional manner that leads to successful resolutions.”
Williams: “I feel my experience as an active parent and board member for the last three years is of great importance when looking for someone to represent our district. I have very strong ethics and feel my integrity as a board member is a vital characteristic when looking for someone to represent our students, patrons and personnel of the district. I have seen such positive change occur within our district during my three-year tenure.
“I had the privilege to participate in the development of our current CSIP plan with 35 plus members of our community. This experience was one of the highlights for me due to the fact that we were all involved in developing a plan for our future to enhance the educational opportunities for our students and improve the district as a whole.”