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Joplin Board of Education Candidates Answer Question on Spending - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Board of Education Candidates Answer Question on Spending Money

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

The Joplin Board of Education election is on Tuesday. There are 8 candidates running for 4 open seats. We asked each candidate the same question, "how do you intend to balance the responsibilities of being a school board member who will guarantee that tax dollars are being spent wisely and provide students with the best education possible?"

Two of the seats are for a 3 year term.

Mary Gaarder, a retired teacher, says, “we've got to find money to raise our teachers’ salaries. Right now Joplin teachers make like $2,100 less per year than Webb City teachers and over a 30 year career that’s $65 thousand. Retaining teachers and keeping the best and most experienced teachers has got to be a bigger focus than other things that are nice, but not that laser focus."

Sharrock Dermott, an attorney with Empire District Electric, says, "you'd have to look at the budget line by line and decide what is an unnecessary expense and what is an expense that we have to maintain and if there are opportunities to decrease funding in one area in order to create greater opportunity in another, than obviously that’s what you have to do."

Jennifer Martucci, a current board member, says, “I would like to see more of our programs be grant funded rather than coming out of the general fund because that means we can put that money back into our students and curriculum or teachers or staff or wherever we need to put it. That will actually build up our classrooms and the education that our kids are getting and free up some of that money as well."

And Melissa Rodgers, a banker, says, “we have a lot of children in our system right now that are on free or reduced lunches. That equates to the fact that they may not have funds to be able to go to college so we need to make sure our kids are prepared so that they can go out and find those scholarships have that education, those things that are needed so that they can go to college and further their education also so that they can be the best that they can be.”

There are 2 candidates vying for 1 seat that holds a 2 year term.

Lori Musser, former principal at Columbia Elementary, says, “as close to the classroom as we can get it, that’s where the money needs to be spent. So on things like teachers, getting their pay and benefits competitive with our surrounding districts and then also providing them with the resources, professional development, whatever they need to make sure they're providing the best instruction possible for their students.”
And Joe Brown, an employee of Allgeier Martin, says, “we need more money in order to raise teacher salaries and pay the staff more because they're the ones that are dealing with the students every day. But at the same time, they deal with the money end of it just like I do my own. I don't go out and blow money on things I don't need, try to make the best use of what I have and eliminate as much waste as possible."

And 2 others are running for the seat that is a 1 year term.

Christopher Sloan, a church pastor, says, "I’m very tight with my own money, and here at the church I’m very tight with the church money and I will be of course with the school. I believe there’s some savings to be had, I believe there’s some saving in administration that can be had and if we do that, then we can make the best impact for the kids."

And Carlos Haley, Vice President of Compliance at Freeman Health System, says, “I think the first thing we need to do is balance the budget and be fiscally responsible for the tax dollars we receive. The key decisions we have to make in doing so, we got to make sure that we put students first in those decision and things that are not necessary or needed for those decision to provide a quality education should not be a big priority as far as putting into our budget."

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