Incumbents Ryan Carrender and Jennifer Bradley, as well as challenger Sarah Strobel, are vying for the two available seats on the Cole County R-5 (Eugene) Board of Education for the April 6 ballot.
Carrender, of Henley, is a Jefferson City Fire Department captain and the current school board president.
Carrender said he would like to continue the progress the district has made in recent years. His goals are to add a soccer program, continue to increase the budget reserves and increase teacher salaries. He also wants to ensure the district provides the necessary teaching materials, maintains the facilities and hires quality teachers as the district grows and the teacher shortage worsens.
As Charley Burch joins the district next school year as the new superintendent, Carrender also wants to help him get acclimated.
"We've started some projects with the old superintendent, and now, I'd like to work with the new superintendent and continue those projects, see some things through and just continue to do the best I can to provide a positive environment for students to learn," he said.
Carrender said his top priority is to do what's best for the students, staff and community.
"My main goal as a board member is to just make sure that we're providing a good, positive learning environment for our students and a welcoming and positive work atmosphere for our teachers and our staff," he said.
Bradley, of Mary's Home, is a retail sales and experience manager at Commerce Bank and the current school board vice president.
She said she decided to run for re-election because she has enjoyed being a part of the board and wants to continue the progress the district has made. Since she has three children in the district, she wants to stay connected and be involved in the district's decisions.
"It's been a great opportunity to be out there in the community talking to people," she said. "It's been an enjoyable experience, and I hope to continue it."
If re-elected, her first priority would be to work with the new administration to help them get acclimated to the district. The district will have a new superintendent and two new principals for the 2021-22 school year.
Her other goals are to increase teacher salaries, provide every student with an electronic device, fulfill the track completion and provide teachers with all the resources they need.
Teacher compensation is especially important as the teacher shortage worsens, she said, and technology is especially important amid the COVID-19 pandemic when students and teachers may have to transition to virtual learning at any time.
Strobel, of Eugene, is a teacher in the School of the Osage School District. She said she decided to run for the school board because she is passionate about education.
"I want to work with everyone in the district — whether it be educators, administrators, certified or classified staff — to ensure that all of our community and its resources are being utilized to the fullest extent that we can just to provide the best education for the students," Strobel said.
She said she wants to be on the school board to contribute to the progress the district has made.
"I believe that the district is doing an amazing job at being great advocates for our students," she said. "They are doing the best with the resources they have."
If elected, her goals would be to provide more economic resources to the district such as grants it hasn't explored yet; stay current with curriculum and education as it changes; prepare students for college and careers; provide more technology opportunities to students; and partner with local communities, programs and resources to enhance education.
"The biggest thing is making sure the needs of all of our students are being met and that they are provided with every opportunity available to them," she said.