One incumbent and two newcomers will vie for two open seats on the Phelps County R-III School Board in the April 2 election.
Eva Caroline Bradford, incumbent, is running against Justin Burrus and Kim Porter.
All three candidates were given questionnaires by The Rolla Daily News about why they are running, but only Bradford and Burrus responded by press time and their answers are below:
1. Briefly describe your background, including your education, work experience, organizations you are or have been involved in or volunteered with, previous public service experience, family or other related information.
Bradford: “My background is in social work, having retired from the children’s division with 31 years of service and still provide some volunteer services to the children's division. I am also self-employed as a Family Resource Development Specialist. Also I have some limited experience serving as office manager for a large construction company. I currently serve on the board of CASA of South Central Missouri and the Phelps County Adult Abuse Board and have previously served on the Phelps County Red Cross board and the Community Partnership board. I am an active member of First Baptist Church of Edgar Springs. I have 20 years experience on the Phelps County R-3 School Board.”
Burrus: “I am a U.S. Army veteran who currently works in the MO DNR Water Resources Center in Rolla where I help maintain the Groundwater Observation Well Network. I have an associate’s degree from Chaminade University plus Land Survey Certificate courses from the University of Wyoming. I was born and raised in the Moberly, Mo., area and have lived here in the Edgar Springs area for 10-plus years. I have been married to my wife, Sherryl, for 14 years and have a 13-year-old daughter who has attended PCR-III since kindergarten. I am a member of the Mo. Society of Professional Surveyors, the American Legion and the Westran High School Booster Club as well as the PCR-III Booster Club.”
2. Why are you running for this office?
Bradford: “My daughter and grandchildren all attended Phelps County R-3 School and received an excellent education here. I have a lot of pride in our school and what we have accomplished. My interest is in ensuring that the children in our district continue to receive the best education possible; that we have highly qualified staff in every area of our building from custodial to instructional staff; that our facilities provides a positive learning environment and are maintained and constructed in such a manner that our community can be proud of and that meets the learning needs of our students.”
Burrus: “I am running for this office because I want to give back to the community and school that have treated my family so well. I believe we have one of the best rural schools in the state and I want to do my part to maintain and improve upon that. Mrs. Heavin and the staff at PCR-III have done an excellent job of preparing our children for not only high school and college, but also life in general and I want to do what I can to assist them in that endeavor.”
3. What experiences or qualities do you possess that qualify you for this position?
Bradford: “Throughout my career I had a lot of experience with educational systems in central Missouri giving me a wide array of information to help me make the best decisions for our particular school. My past experience in the construction field will help me to better understand the building and renovation processes we are beginning with our FEMA Safe Room and providing a physically safe environment for our students and staff. I have a lot of experience working with the public both through my employment and community service organizations. My past experience as a school board member has given me experience working with the educational requirements of both state and federal government.
Burrus: “I believe my life experiences qualify me for this position. As a state employee, I know what it’s like to try and stretch a limited budget while at the same time giving the people of Missouri the services they have come to expect. My time in the Army gave me leadership qualities and helped strengthen my work ethic.”
4. How do you differ from your opponents?
Bradford: “Both of my opponents are very nice people. I would say that my past experience on the school board and my experience working with the public and community organizations would be the main difference.”
Burrus: “I don’t really know my opponents well enough to say how I differ from them. I’m sure Mrs. Bradford and Mrs. Porter are wonderful people who would do the best they can in the position. All I can say is that I would do the best of my ability and call upon my life experiences to help keep PCR-III operating at the highest levels possible.”
5. What do you think are the most important issues facing the Phelps County R-III School District and how do you plan to handle those issues?
Bradford: “Some of the main issues facing our school are new construction; renovations to ensure a more safe environment for our students and staff; and continuing compliance with all the state and federal regulations that are required of school districts. I try to stay informed of legislative issues related to education; read material related to current trends across the nation; visit with staff to determine how they see our needs as a district and what is and isn't working; and making sure I take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the educational process.”
Burrus: “I would say that the most important issue facing PCR-III is budgetary issues. In this economy, it is increasingly difficult for smaller schools to have the funding to continue to educate our children as they have in the past. If elected, I would strive to make sure our funds are spent wisely and targeted to the most essential areas so that the students of PCR-III continue to receive the best education possible.”
6. What, if any, improvements or changes do you think could be made at Phelps County R-III School District?
Bradford: “Some of the biggest changes in the near future related to the physical area are ensuring a safer environment: i.e., securing the building; having safety plans in place; etc. We need some additional classroom space and renovations to our kitchen and cafeteria. In regard to the actual educational process, providing the necessary state-of-the-art tools for both staff and students that make learning fun and exciting and provides the quality of education that prepares our students for their future.”
Burrus: “Some improvements I would like to see are a safer, more efficient access entry way to the school and improvements to the very small cafeteria. I would also like to see what technology we could use to better educate our children. A wish list I have would include a stage area and expanded seating in the gymnasium which can be very crowded during school functions. With the economy the way it is, I realize funding for that would be difficult but it is something I would like to at least see get explored.”
7. What is your stance on the Proposition Safety school bond issue?
Bradford: “The Proposition Safety school bond issue will give us the necessary financial means to update our current building to standards that ensure safety of all of our staff; provide the ability to complete the FEMA Safe Room in such a manner that it is functional for everyday use as well as being a tornado shelter; and help us make some additional changes within the building that will create a better working environment for our staff. I am 100 percent in favor of this bond issue.”
Burrus: “I will be voting yes on the Proposition Safety school bond issue. This would help fund much needed building upgrades and a tornado shelter that can be used by the community without raising taxes.”