Six St. Joseph school board candidates meet, virtually

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St. Joseph Post

Six candidates for St. Joseph school board gave their best
pitches online Friday morning as the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce
held a virtual candidate forum.

Rick Gillmore, a former business owner, favors pre-school from
three years old to Kindergarten.

“I think that would be very beneficial to prepare the students
socially and intellectually before they start their elementary school learning,”
Gillmore says.

Josh Hall, who worked at KQ2, wants to open elementary schools
earlier to serve free breakfast for students.

“Not just to allow for socialization, but for whatever we’ve
got to do to process the students in now,” Hall says. “I think if we can rebuild
the worker morale and the social scene at these schools, we’re going to be able
to change community perception and that’s what my big goal as a candidate would

Kenneth Reeder, a business owner, wants to increase
transparency in spending taxpayer dollars.

“That’s the most important thing,” according to Reeder, “to
build trust back with the citizens of St. Joseph and that very issue, the money

Brian Shewell, who came to St. Joseph to study at Missouri
Western State University and stayed, says teacher recruitment and retention is
a major issue for him.

“I believe that St. Joseph deserves to have the best teachers
in the entire state and that comes with retaining and recruiting the best,”
Shewell says.

Michelle Traster says education is especially important to her
family with a child entering Kindergarten next year. She says the district must
ease overcrowding.

“It’s not just overcrowded classrooms. It’s overcrowded
buildings. Some of our buildings were built for elementary schools; they’re being
used for junior high. They don’t fit there really well.”

Lori Witham, a former teacher, says when asked why she is
running, she discusses her interaction with students she taught when a teacher.

“That’s my why,” Witham says. “Those students that continue to
find you as an educator and say, ‘You helped me.’”

The forum was moderated by Barry Birr, the host of the KFEQ Hotline.