Scott City School Board candidates discuss bullying, facilities, academics

Monday, April 6, 2009
Keith Simpson

Bullying is not limited to the Scott City School District, but the school board has done its part to contain the problem there in recent months, according to two board members.

Incumbents Keith Simpson and Gary Miller will face Karen Pobst and Gary Haynes in Tuesday's election. The two candidates with the most votes will assume three-year terms on the board.

"I certainly feel like something needed to be done and it was taken care of," Simpson said of the bullying issue.

He said teachers monitor halls more, especially in problem spots, when students eat lunch and switch classes.

In February, several parents confronted the school board about bullying issues in the school. Miller said teachers are enforcing policies better and the situation has improved. He said counselors are working more with students on character building and conflict resolution.

"They've discussed this right and left with all the students," he said.

Miller, who moved back to Scott City after he retired from railroad work in 2002, has been on the board for three years.

He said a bright spot in his tenure was when he helped build a $20,000 concession stand with restrooms for the baseball and football fields. He said he also helped initiate a bidding process for bus repair contracts.

As Missouri Assessment Program scores continue to drop, he said the administration should monitor and document teachers better.

"It's all about you who you hire and promote," Miller said.

Simpson has been on the board for three years and has two children who attend school in the district. He owns a grading and paving company.

Simpson said he wants to start the A+ program at the school within the next three years. Participation in the program qualifies students for state money to attend community colleges.

Simpson also said he wants to expand the technology available at the school so that the elementary, middle and high school each have a lab and technology coordinator.

"Our computer labs that we have now are pretty much booked solid," he said.

Pobst, who works as a supply technician at Saint Francis Medical Center, has three children who attend school in the district.

"I love kids," she said. "I just think I could help the school help the kids out there."

Pobst said the school should offer more sports and work on its facilities, including a new track, an electric board for announcements, and bleachers and lights at the baseball field.

Haynes said he would like to look at fundraising activities to fund a rubberized track.

"Our track facilities are not adequate for hosting events," he said.

Haynes owns a raw ingredients supply company and has three children who attend school in the district.

He said he wants to use his business background to help with budget and spending decisions.

Originally from Colorado, Haynes said he would like to bring an outsider's perspective to board decisions. He said the hiring process should be re-evaluated to eliminate personal agendas. It seemed like the process was hurried in the past, he said.

"You've got to look for the best candidates and not rush decisions," Haynes said


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