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School issue opponents offer to work for future

Four people who support building a second senior high — as opposed to a constructing a single high school to replace the existing campus — stepped forward Monday night to announce their willingness to help the Jefferson City Board of Education plan for future growth.

A fifth speaker lamented the loss of an opportunity last week to provide a higher-quality learning environment for the districts.

They delivered their remarks in an open forum at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting Monday night. Their comments came in the wake of last Tuesday’s election, when voters rejected the board’s plan to build a replacement high school by more than two votes to one.

Rod Burnett, a co-leader of the “Citizens for 2 Public High Schools” campaign, told the board: “I will volunteer to be on any future planning committee. I know there is a valid need there. I look forward to being involved.”

Dan Ortmeyer, Burnett’s co-leader, said that “the entire community needs to be involved in this process.”

Jackie Coleman, a former member of the Jefferson City School Board, said she wants to help, as well. “I’m looking forward to making sure we’re doing the best thing for our kids.”

Harold Coots, who ran unsuccessfully for a school board seat, said he spoke out against the plan for a single, replacement high school because he didn’t feel it was the best plan for future growth.

“And not just because it was a tax,” he said.

One resident — Lisa May, mother of a sixth-grader in the district — expressed her dismay that voters rejected a plan that would have provided more and better resources for children and teens in the district.

“Jefferson City condemned its own children to an unsafe, overcrowded and unproductive learning environment,” May said.

Also on Monday, the board heard a presentation from businessman Larry Potterfield, owner of Midway USA, a wholesaler of hunting- and gun-related products. The Columbia-based company markets its products online and via catalogs to more than 1 million customers both in the USA and overseas.

Potterfield’s company was the 2009 winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Potterfield himself is an enthusiastic proponent of the Baldrige Program, a public-private partnership that teaches organizations — like the Jefferson City Public Schools, but also private corporations and non-profits — how to excel by sharing best-management practices, principals and strategies.

The program, and the award, are named after Malcolm Baldrige, who served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Ronald Reagan.

Distilled to its essence, Potterfield said the Baldrige program helps organizations improve and succeed by posing a series of “really, really tough questions.”

The program is being promoted by the Missouri School Boards Association as a way to help districts improve student achievement.

Potterfield said the program teaches leaders 30 distinct leadership and management principles. Those principles include ideas like “maintaining an effective mission statement” and “understanding the core competencies of your organization and develop new ones.”

“All you have to do is these 30 things right, and I can tell you, you’ll achieve great results,” Potterfield told the school board.

Superintendent Brian Mitchell has been involved in bringing the tenets of the Baldrige Program to Jefferson City.

“It’s all about continuous improvement and making sure we are doing everything we can to be better,” Mitchell said.

In other business Monday, the board:

• Adopted a calendar for the 2013-14 school year.

• Congratulated JCHS assistant principal Andrew Runzi on completing his doctoral degree in education.

• Recognized outgoing board president Joy Sweeney for her contributions.

• Administered the oath of office to re-elected members Doug Whitehead and Dennis Nickelson.

• Elected Tami Turner as board president; Nickelson as vice president; and Whitehead as treasurer.

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