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Jackson hopefuls say new school needed

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Jackson School District will need to build a new elementary school at some point to handle growing enrollment, school board candidates said Tuesday night.

Three of the four candidates seeking two positions on the school board attended a candidate forum at the Jackson Middle School library. The candidates -- Dan Stover, Marc Harris and incumbent Gerald Adams -- answered questions posed by a moderator and members of the audience.

The election will be held April 3.

The fourth candidate, mechanical engineer Brian Dameron, didn't attend the forum.

Adams said classrooms are getting full and that the district's enrollment is growing by about 2 percent a year.

One kindergarten class in the district has 27 students, said Adams, who wants to reduce class sizes.

Stover, a retired teacher, echoed Adams' view. "We know we will have to build new schools," Stover told the crowd of about 40 people.

He said large class sizes hamper education.

Harris, a Jackson insurance agent, said school officials need to spend the district's current tax revenue wisely.

Harris also said that quality teachers in the district should be promoted and the school board should consider their views in managing the district. "The school board must continue to listen to them," he said.

All three candidates said the district properly balances academics and athletics.

"I feel a well-rounded curriculum includes extracurricular activities," Adams said. "The more activities we have, the better it is."

Stover said, "Everyone knows I am a sports fan, but I am an academic fan too."

"You have to have well-rounded children," Harris said, but learning has to be the top priority.

Stover said the school shouldn't rubber stamp the recommendations of the district's administrators. Board members, he said, should take an active interest in how the schools operate. "School board members need to get out and see what is going on," he said.

School board members, Stover said, need to reflect the attitudes and values of the community. "I think you have to be a good listener," he said.

Adams said the school board serves as a liaison between school administrators and the district's residents. As a school board member, Adams said, he gets calls from parents, teachers and patrons.

Harris said board members must be accountable. "My goal is accountability, accountability for myself," he said.

"I am applying basically to be part of the team," he said of his candidacy.

Adams, who was involved in planning for the new construction at the high school, said he hopes to be re-elected so he can see the project completed.

All three candidates said the district has done a good job of putting computers in the classrooms. But they said the district must continue to upgrade technology to meet the demands of a high-tech society.

The Jacksonian Charter Chapter of the American Business Women's Association sponsored the forum.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123


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