On Tuesday, voters in the Neosho R-5 School District, will have their choice between three newcomers and one incumbent to fill two school board positions.
Polls open at 6 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7 p.m.
The two seats open in this week’s race are currently held by board secretary Mike Stauffer and board vice president Chris Parks.
Parks, who has served on the board since 2007, opted not to seek re-election this year.
Meanwhile, Stauffer, who is finishing up his third year on the board, is seeking a second-term.
He is being challenged by William Weber, David Pevahouse, and Jonathan Russell.
Stauffer, 47, works in sales at Marco Group, in Neosho. He says he chose to run for re-election because he feels it is important to finish the work started in his first term.
“We’re in the middle of trying to find short and long term solutions for being overcrowded at the schools and I think, being in the middle of that, it’s nice to have somebody on the board that has been working on that,” Stauffer said. “We’ve been working to find solutions for our problems with overcrowding and I would like to see that done before I get off the board.”
Stauffer said after playing a part in the hiring of incoming superintendent Dan Decker he also feels it is important to remain on the board to work with the district’s new leader.
“I’m holding myself accountable for the superintendent that we put in place,” Stauffer said.
Pevahouse, 39, said it is also important to him that the district work toward finding a solution to overcrowding.
“I know the school district is growing and they really need to expand the school system,” he said. “The schools need some changes to them. I’d like to see the eighth grade get off into their own school with seventh grade. I know they’ve talked about it in the past. That’s the only way they’re going to get rid of the overcrowding at the high school.”
A warehouse manager at Branco Enterprises, Pevahouse said he said he hopes to play a more active role in the school district. He has not previously served on any elected boards.
“I went to school here for awhile and my kids have went to school here and I just want to be a part of it,” Pevahouse said.
For Jonathan Russell, 33, a main priority is making sure students in the Neosho R-5 School District are given opportunities to succeed.
Russell has not previously served on an elected board, though he did spend a year as the chairman of the Bright Futures Neosho Advisory Board. He now serves as the board’s vice chairman.
“Over the time spent on the board of Bright Futures, I’ve just seen a lot of kids and a lot of situations where they don’t see a way out,” Russell said. “They’re in home situations where maybe both parents didn’t go to college and they just don’t know the answer out and what I want most of all for our school district and our students is for every kid to graduate and go on to a successful post secondary career.”
Russell, who works in sales at his family’s construction business, Garages and More, said one of the opportunities he would like to see Neosho graduates have is a jump-start to their college education.
“My biggest vision right now and probably my primary focus, and I know the school district is working on this now, is I would love to see our high school partnering with Crowder College and working to have our kids graduate from high school ready to go into a field,” Russell said.
He said transparency would also be important to him if elected to the school board, and noted that he believes board president Brett Day has done a great job in achieving that.
Rounding out the ballot for the Neosho R-5 Board of Education is attorney William Weber, 39.
Weber, who practices law at Evenson, Carlin and Cooper, LLC, in Pineville, has four children who will go through the Neosho School District.
He says after serving in the U.S. Navy, working construction, and practicing law for seven years, he believes he has experience that can make him an asset to the Neosho school board.
“A lot of things that these board members make decisions on, I’ve dealt with things like that, making the hard decisions, having to analyze decisions, seeing what long term implications are, and dealing with budgets,” Weber said. “That background, my legal background, the fact that I have four children and can relate with a lot of people in this district that have children, I think it would be a very rewarding thing and I think that I could do a really good job at it.”
Weber has not held elected office before, though he has served two years on the McDonald County Chamber of Commerce Board.
He said his vision for the district is to make sure each child is afforded the same educational opportunities and to tackle some of the issues he sees in Neosho schools, including homelessness and teen pregnancy.
“The homelessness and kids not getting an education because of what’s happening at home really hurts my heart,” Weber said. “I’ve heard a lot about it and that’s really the main motivator for me to get involved. I want to see every kid no matter where they come from come out of that school and have confidence to go and do whatever they can do.”