There are five candidates — including two incumbents — who are running for two available seats on the Board of Education for the Blair Oaks R-2 school district.
The candidates are incumbents Jason Paulsmeyer and Mark Brandt, along with newcomers Calvin Wilbers, Dale Verslues and Tim Luebbering.
Candidates appear in the order they will appear on the April 2 ballot.
Name: Jason Paulsmeyer
Occupation: Chief Counsel with Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System; incumbent Board of Education member
Why run? He's "very interested in the opportunity to give back to the community," in the same school district where his children attend.
Paulsmeyer wants to chart a course for the district's future
Jason Paulsmeyer said his first priority on another term on the school board would "setting a course for the construction of a new high school," were the ballot measures to authorize it to pass this April.
Paulsmeyer was selected by the board to fill a vacancy and was sworn in last July. He wants to maintain fiscal responsibility, but also take advantage of new opportunities that would be opened by a new high school — including the planned auditorium there that would allow for district-wide performing arts and other gatherings, and moving the current middle school into the existing high school's facilities that would offer science labs and other spaces and equipment that the middle school does not have now.
He added he would want to take a look at additional academic and athletic or other extracurricular programs. He cited multimedia opportunities — "that can mean all kinds of things," such as distance learning for students to have access to college-level courses they couldn't take otherwise, and ways to engage in multimedia learning in a variety of subjects.
Paulsmeyer has been in his current position with Missouri LAGERS for two years, and previously worked for Missouri's Public School Retirement System for seven years, as well as with a local law firm — known then as Andereck, Evans, Milne, Peace and Johnson.
In his spare time, he coaches youth sports; he's been involved with volleyball, softball, boys basketball, boys and girls tee-ball, and boys and girls soccer. He's a member of the Wardsville Lions Club.
As time allows, he hunts deer and fishes — "whatever's biting." Paulsmeyer also follows Blair Oaks and University of Missouri athletics — for the latter, football most closely, but also basketball when Mizzou is doing well.
Name: Mark Brandt
Occupation: Supervisor of Gas Technical Services at Ameren Missouri; incumbent Board of Education member
Hometown: Jefferson City
Why run? With children in the district, he wants "to be involved. It is an opportunity to volunteer, to give back."
Brandt believes in continuing district's high-quality leadership
Mark Brandt said he can't say that he has an agenda or vision for another term on the Blair Oaks school board, other than "so much as try to keep us on the same path," while also to "not be satisfied with where we're at."
Brandt was selected by the board to fill a vacancy and was sworn in last July. "It's really just kind of confirmed what I already suspected," he said of his time on the board so far having proven to him the quality of leadership in the district's school board, superintendent and other staff. He added everyone shares the thought that students are at the core of what they do.
He said the district will need to continue to be grounded in fiscal responsibility, were it to get a new high school, and the district will have to continue to attract high-quality teachers and administrators.
Brandt's had his current job with Ameren since January, but was a gas operations supervisor for four years and a gas estimator for 14 years. His latest job focuses on specialized services — regulator stations, odorization of gas, pressure regulation and computer control networks.
He previously worked for DeLong's, Inc., and he and his wife also had a small business on the side for a time.
He has two children at Blair Oaks High School and a third child at St. Stanislaus Catholic School. He's coached basketball when his daughters were younger, and also has helped with softball and soccer.
Brandt enjoys his family and friends' getting together for camping and fishing; he likes to catch bass and crappie, and he hunts a little bit, too.
Name: Calvin Wilbers
Occupation: Computer support specialist for Missouri Farm Bureau
Why run? "I believe I possess the skills and attributes to be a good board member."
Calvin Wilbers said if he were to serve on Blair Oaks' school board, he would "continue the success they've already established."
Wilbers is a 2008 Blair Oaks alum, and said he could be a person on the board that his peers of his generation — that have children as students in the district — could find easy to speak with.
He has a couple ideas of things to get done — put trashcans in the school parking lots and address what he said is a bottleneck on Falcon Lane during drop-off and pick-up times.
"They're doing the best with what they have," he said, adding while more parking is needed, "I don't want to break the school budget."
Wilbers would probably be the youngest person to serve on the school board in at least the past few years, if he were to be elected, but he said if he didn't think he could help, he wouldn't be running. "You get older and you look at things differently," he said.
In his spare time, he hunts deer and turkey and fishes — "just throw a few lines out, relax" — but he hasn't had time for either activity much lately. He also enjoys working on trucks, cars and other vehicles and cruising them around.
"I'm a Chevy guy," he said, adding he has a Chevrolet Nova he takes out on Sundays.
Name: Dale Verslues
Why run? It's about giving back to the community and preserving what it has.
Verslues wants to expand industrial arts offerings
Industrial arts are important to Dale Verslues, which makes sense, given that he's retired from a 40-year career as a union carpenter, which also included serving as a construction superintendent, estimator and business representative.
Verslues raises calves now — he has about 20 heads of steer — and in his spare time, he's working on building a planter and waterfall at his and his wife's home.
"We used to have industrial arts," he said of such classes as welding and drafting that he took at Blair Oaks, and in a rural community, he would want to have those opportunities available again. He graduated from Blair Oaks in 1975, and all five of his children are graduates from the district. Three grandchildren currently attend.
Blair Oaks does send students to Nichols Career Center, and Verslues said he would want to keep that partnership. He added that opportunity is only for a few students at a time, though, and having some industrial arts classes in-house would allow more students to be introduced to those skills.
Another priority on the board would be to "keep the community as involved as possible," and continue to provide the good education in a good atmosphere that the district offers, even as the community grows.
Verslues is also the president of the Cole County Historical Society, serves on an apprenticeship program, does charity build work, golfs — most of the time at charity events — and watches geese and feeds fish.
Name: Tim Luebbering
Occupation: Human Resources Manager for Fatima Schools (Osage Co. R-3); Secretary for Fatima's Board of Education
Why run? He wants to give back and is hopes "my input can see us into the future."
Luebbering offers insights on what serving on a school board is like
Tim Luebbering wants to bring his experience in running schools to Blair Oaks. "I bleed green," he said of his Blair Oaks alma mater — he's a 1981 graduate — though he added he bleeds "a couple drops of blue every once in a while" for Fatima.
Luebbering works for Fatima Schools and has been the school board's secretary there for six years. He has said previously that there would not be a conflict of interest were he to be elected to Blair Oaks' school board while still working for Fatima.
Fatima's a little smaller than Blair Oaks, he said, and "I don't know what we need and what we don't need" at Blair Oaks. He has one idea already from Fatima — an ACT prep class taught during the day by a Fatima teacher, as opposed to at night. He said something like that would be helpful for Blair Oaks students.
He's had three children graduate from Blair Oaks; he said he and his wife's youngest daughter is in the top 10 of her class at the United States Air Force Academy.
Luebbering appreciates Blair Oaks is open to new programs — his daughter at the Academy founded Blair Oaks' girls golf team. He said not having children in the district now will enable him to look clearly at the bigger picture.
Before his five and a half years so far working as Fatima's human resources manager, he worked for the Missouri State Treasurer's Office for 19 years, where he invested the state's daily surplus funds into the market. He also was in the Navy and served on a torpedo attack submarine for four of his six years in the service.
In his spare time, he enjoys golfing, fishing for crappie and traveling around the country — there's been a lot of traveling to the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, Colorado, over the past nine months since his youngest daughter arrived.