Two school districts based in Maries County each have three board seats up for grabs on Tuesday's ballot.
Vienna R-1 has five candidates running, while four candidates are competing on the ballot in the R-2 district covering Belle and Bland. The top three vote-getters in each race will earn three-year terms on their respective boards.
Penny Schoene, who's served on the school board for six years, is a certified public accountant who has lived in Vienna most of her life. She hopes to continue working to improve the curriculum, teacher salaries and sports programs.
"We've made lots of progress, but with all the budget issues, I feel like there are still things we need to do," she said.
She also notes it's important for the school to make sure students are prepared for college, if they choose it, or a trade.
Attempts to reach board president Vicki Bade, who also is running for re-election, were unsuccessful.
Regina Kilmer is retired from 29 years service in the Army and volunteers for the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corp in Jefferson City. She also is a substitute teacher in the district, but said she'll be required to give that up if elected to the board.
"We've lived in the community 27 years and I'd like to give back to the community," she said of her second attempt to be elected to a board seat.
She said the need to provide competitive salaries for all school staff and expanding technology education are two pressing issues for the district.
Cindy Petershagen also is making her second attempt to be elected to the board, partly because she wants to become more involved in her children's education.
She also believes the skills she uses at her job can be used to promote "an effective and efficient structure that provides quality education for all students."
A business analyst with RKV Technologies in Jefferson City, she said, "We help customers analyze their business process." She and her husband also operate an Angus cattle farm at Vienna.
Robin Helton, who also has sought election to the board before, is a former R-1 school employee now teaching online education classes. She and her husband, along with their children and a grandchild, all have graduated from Vienna.
"I feel a big issue is ensuring graduating students are fully prepared to go to college or work," she said, adding she'd like to see an on-the-job training program in the district as part of that effort.
Amy Kiso Bledsoe is a licensed mental health professional and executive director of the Governor's Council on Disability. She has served on the local board for six years and also has been active in the Missouri School Boards Association.
Her priorities for the district include school safety, student achievement, and recruiting and retaining the best qualified teachers.
"We have to provide the best education we can for all our students," she said.
With his masters in accounting, Garret Bialczyk, whose job is nursing facility policy and reimbursement manager for Missouri HealthNet, believes he can help the district with its budgets.
Bialczyk ran unsuccessfully for school board in 2016 and is running again because he still wants to "give back to the community."
At age 27, he said it's important for the board to have representation from the next generation of parents. "I have two children going into school in a few years, and I'd like to be proactive to make sure school is ready for them."
Anthony (Tony) Baretich has lived in the district since 2000, is employed as a Belle police officer and was appointed in May 2016 to serve an unexpired term on the school board. Now he wants to be elected to a new three-year term.
"The school is the backbone of the community," he said.
He added the district needs to stay competitive with area school districts while maintaining fiscal responsibility and getting as much for its money as it can.
Attempts to reach candidate Brent Stratman were unsuccessful.