Jackson School Board candidates talk about construction

Monday, April 6, 2009
Pat Wissman

Jackson school board incumbents are proud of the construction done at the high school, but some candidates said the process could be improved for future phases of the project.

Incumbents Brent Wills and Cathy Goodman will face Pat Wissman and Robert Aubuchon in Tuesday's election. The two candidates with the most votes will assume three-year terms on the board.

"We've had some bumps in the road," Goodman said of the construction. "So I am a little disappointed that we are so far behind."

She said she would support adding a penalty clause to future contracts when bidding opens for the library, part of the next phase of construction. She said this will require contractors to stay on schedule.

Wills said minor weather-related issues slowed down construction but the quality of the building and education was not compromised.

"It's going to be a very good, very efficient structure," Wills said. "It's just taken a little longer to get there."

Wissman said rewards should be built into future contracts to give contractors incentive to complete early.

"I'm not happy with it," he said of the project. "It should've been done sooner."

Wissman, said the district should have been more firm with its contractor when problems arose with its subcontractor last year. The roof of the event complex had to be replaced because of weather damage from rain and ice storms.

Wissman, a retired truck driver, owned a trucking company for 11 years.

If elected, he said he wants to work with parents of children with special needs, a task he started when is daughter, Amanda, was in school. He said students with special needs should be put in classrooms with other students to encourage them to push themselves.

Wissman said his daughter had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which made it difficult for her to walk and use her hands. He said he encouraged her to do what she could during physical education even though the district exempted her from the classes.

"Let them achieve," Wissman said. "You hold a child back by not letting them do something."

Wissman also said he wants to work with not-for-profit organizations to establish a pilot program to offer free lunches for students in elementary schools. He said the current economic conditions force more parents to make difficult budgeting choices.

"A child has no control over his parents," he said. "The children are the ones that suffer from the layoff."

Goodman, a patient representative at Southeast Missouri Hospital, has been on the board for six years. Her two children graduated from the district. Throughout their education and her time on the board she said she has been involved with several volunteer activities, including tutoring, the parent-teacher association and advisory committees.

Wills, who owns an insurance company, has two children who attend the school. Throughout his nine years on the board, he said he built a connection with the community, by working with the Chamber of Commerce and helping organize and raise money to build the city soccer park.

He said he wants to continue to raise education standards for the district.

"You have to be looking to improve the educational quality for students," he said. "The bar's continually raised each year."

Aubuchon did not return phone calls inquiring about his candidacy.

abusch@semissourian.com

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