Cassville School Board candidates explain platforms

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Carolyn Bowen, Cassville School Board member running for reelection, right, describes herself at the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce Ballot Issues Luncheon Thursday. From left: Cindy Carr, Cassville South Ward alderwoman candidate; Ann Hennigan, Cassville North Ward alderwoman seeking reelection; Jon Horner, Cassville North Ward alderman candidate; Ken Cieslinski, South Barry County Ambulance District board chairman, who is seeking community support for the April 7 ballot measure to implement a half-cent sales tax in place of the district's property tax; Wade Hermansen and Dale Phelps, challengers in the school board race; John Sullivan, Cassville School Board president seeking reelection; and Carolyn Bowen, school board member seeking reelection. Jason Johnston reporter@cassville-democrat.com

2 incumbents, 2 challengers face off on April 7

Cassville School Board candidates defined their goals and expectations at Thursday's Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce Ballot Issues Luncheon.

Incumbents Carolyn Bowen and John Sullivan, and challengers Wade Hermansen and Dale Phelps, are vying for two, three-year openings. Voters who live in the Cassville school district will decide the outcome during the April 7 election.

Bowen, who was elected to the school board in April 2009, said she grew up and has lived in the area all her life. She, her husband, Don; and their two daughters graduated from Cassville High School.

"I came from an educator family," she said. "My dad was a high school principal. He coached football and basketball, and he taught math. He was later a county superintendent when we had a lot of rural schools.

"I have two aunts, a cousin and a daughter who have all taught at Cassville. Our oldest daughter has been an educator for many years, and our youngest daughter is a clinical research nurse at St. Luke's in Kansas City."

Bowen worked for many years in the Cassville School District's Title I program and at the Cassville High School. She and her husband have owned a local small business for 22 years.

"What I think we need to do for the future is we constantly need to be changing," Bowen said. "With the new technology that we've added in the last three years has just been tremendous. By the time we get all of that finished, I'm quite sure it will be time to update. The teachers are working fabulously hard to get that technology in their school.

"My goal as a board member is to be continually changing and doing what we need to do. I would like to see every student graduate and go on and become great, productive citizens and leaders of our next generation."

Hermansen said his three children are students in the Cassville School District, and his wife is a ninth grade communication arts teacher.

"The board seems to have gotten a little bit out of balance," he said. "We have six [members] who don't have any students in the district. Carolyn and John have done a wonderful job, but it requires an energy and a perspective of a parent.

"The success and energy that goes along with education has to be prevalent within our school. If it is not, my family will not receive the entire benefit of that education, and my kids are going to grow up, go to college, and they are going to be competing against kids from Kansas City, St. Louis, Republic, Springfield. And, they have to have the absolute best, energized teachers with an educational purpose."

Phelps, who is a volunteer firefighter with the Cassville Fire Protection District, said he has two children who are going through the Cassville school system. He acknowledged that Bowen and Sullivan did a good job on the school board.

"But, you know, sometimes parents need to be on the school board, too," said Phelps, who graduated from Cassville High School in 1990.

John Sullivan, who has been on the school board for nearly 24 of the previous 27 years, said the school's priority is to create a pathway for every student who graduates from Cassville, whether that path leads to a four- or two-year college or a vocational school.

He said both sides of his family have been in Barry County since the 1850s.

"I'm proud to say that my mother and my father were both graduates of Cassville High School," Sullivan said. "One in 1939, and one in 1940. My wife and I are both graduates. Our kids are graduates. The school is one of the most important things we have in our community. We will never stop building on the school."

According to the Missouri School Boards' Association, a candidate must be a U.S. citizen, a resident taxpayer of the district, a resident of Missouri within one year and at least 24 years old. Elected board members must complete 16 hours of orientation and training within one year of their election.

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