Voters will choose from five candidates for Cole County R-5 school board in Eugene. Two incumbents and three newcomers want one of two three-year spots on the board.
The candidates are listed as they appear on the April 2 ballot: Charles (Chuck) Angerer, Deanna (Dee) Smith, Spencer K. Hoskins, Kris Graham and Kevin Stokes.
Charles (Chuck) Angerer
After working with the school board for three years, incumbent Angerer wants to continue serving the community. If re-elected, he said, he wants to grow his experience and stay informed on happenings with the district.
Previously a service manager at a car dealership, he said he brings these experiences to the board. He currently works as a financial associate at Thrivent Financial in Jefferson City.
"I was always dealing with finance and rules (regulations), the community, customers and personnel," Angerer said.
He has two children in the district and said he is driven to be involved in the community, specifically with youth, any way he can. He coaches community sporting leagues in his free time.
"I felt that I could make a difference and always had the best interest of the kids in mind," Angerer said.
He said he feels the district is facing some issues, including losing some students to parochial schools like Calvary Lutheran and Helias Catholic high schools in Jefferson City.
Part of the solution is to introduce more programs, Angerer said.
"They took away some of our attendance, and we're trying to get back on to be a little more proactive to get the kids here," Angerer said.
So far, the district has consolidated staff and teachers to be "more efficient with personnel" to help financially, he said.
Deanna (Dee) Smith
Smith is a mother of four children who plans to be in the district for the next 18 years. An Eldon High School graduate and current PTO member, she said she wants to do more.
"I love being involved," Smith said. "I wanted to be on my children's school board since I was a senior in high school."
Smith is currently an employee at MFA in Columbia. She said she has curriculum-building experience from her master's degree in agriculture education. Prior to that, she spent two years managing 12 county boards as a U.S. Department of Natural Resources' Soil and Water Conservation Program employee.
"I'm super familiar with boards and the parliamentary procedure, the ins and outs of boards, the goods and bads with them," Smith said.
Getting others involved beyond the current administration is a goal she said she would pursue, if elected.
"Administration seems to hold a big role, and their time is limited," Smith said. "If we use the brain power of a whole district group, then I think we can go a lot further on pushing for progress."
She said committees to focus on certain issues could benefit the district.
"I would really be a big supporter of committees that involve teachers, parents, maybe even a high school student, and administration and the board," Smith said.
The special education department at the school is one area she believes could benefit from a committee. Although she doesn't have a child in the program, she said she's heard the opportunities in the district aren't pleasing some parents.
Smith is involved with sports ministry with Hickory Hill Church as a coach, referee and coordinator.
Incumbent Hoskins said he is running for re-election because the board has made progress in the time he's served on it.
Born and raised in the area, Hoskins graduated from Jefferson City High School.
Manager of the engineering department at Central Electric Power Co-Op, Hoskins has a high school junior in the Cole R-5 district.
Originally, Hoskins said, he ran for school board after getting to know the faculty and staff.
"For the longest time, I was the only dad on elementary PTO," he said. "I felt we had a really quality elementary school, but there were some things going on on the high school end that I wasn't really happy with."
Since he joined the board, he said, there have been improvements, but there is more work to do.
One issue he believes the district is facing is addressing the needs of the special education program.
"I would like to see some of those concerns and some of those issues resolved," Hoskins said.
Beyond being on the board for three years, Hoskins said his master of business administration is an asset to the board.
A former U.S. Air Force Veteran, he is also president-elect of the Brazito-Honey Creek Lions Club.
If re-elected, he said, he would want the board to focus more on academics.
"I believe that we have a quality group of teachers (and a) good set of administrators," Hoskins said. "I would like to see us continue to retain these quality people."
Graham is a graduate of Eugene High School and has been in the community for 30 years.
Throughout his career in sales, he said, he has developed strengths in leadership, communication and teamwork.
He currently works as national sales manager for Protective Asset Protection. He previously worked for Honda in Jefferson City for 15 years.
"I attribute much of my personal success to the educational foundation I received while attending school at Cole R-5 Eugene," Graham said. "I am running for the Eugene school board to ensure all children in our district have the same opportunity and that we continue to provide a safe and nurturing school."
He has a middle school student in the district and said he wants to ensure students, parents, teachers and staff "feel welcome and that they belong."
"My focus point while on the school board will be to make sure decisions made by our board are always putting children as the top priority," Graham said.
Helping increase school safety and making the district's finances go further are also major focuses, he added.
"I believe we have many highly qualified teachers and administrators," Graham said. "We need to create an environment that is conductive to retaining and attracting them here."
He added the board should have a vision and be accountable.
"I believe that a school board must be responsible and receptive to parents, staff and the community at large," Graham said. "By working together, we can all share in satisfaction that we have provided for the educational needs of all children."
Stokes wants to bring his voice and the voice of the teachers to the school board. A Helias High School graduate, he said he offers different insight to the board as a parent and spouse of a teacher.
"Not only do I have the parent side of things, but I have the aspect of hearing first-hand details in the classroom and the other faculty — what they're seeing and what they need," Stokes said.
His two children attend the elementary school, and he wants to be involved for them, he added.
Stokes is currently employed with American Family Insurance and said after a decade doing business in Miller and Cole counties, he is familiar with the residents.
"I think that being on the board and using my analytical skills and logical thinking that I do in business — there's things that we can enhance from the budgeting aspect for the students," Stokes said.
He also would push for a better special education program, funding support for teachers' professional development and a competitive benefit program, he said.
"I would say this district is slightly behind fellow districts in the Mid-Missouri area," Stokes said.
Advertising for good teachers to join the district and being prepared for the upcoming vacancies of those approaching retirement is also important to him.