Exeter voters add new face to school board

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Meyer 4 votes short of retaining seat

Four candidates faced off for three spots on the Exeter School Board in Tuesday's Municipal Election, with Kerry Mattingly, Gary Stringer and Kelly Lee earning the voters' confidence and fresh terms.

Stringer garnered 33 percent percent of the vote, with 96 total votes; Lee earned 28 percent, with 83 total votes; Mattingly received 20 percent of the vote, with 60 total votes; and Larry Meyer got 19 percent of the vote, with 56 total votes.

"I'm happy to serve the community," Stringer said. "I'm glad they trust me. It's an honor. We've got to do right by our kids."

His future goals include continuing to promote the trap shooting and archery programs, helping with growth of the FFA program and continuing to put technology in the hands of students.

"That's the way the world's going," he said. "We need to continue putting Chromebooks in kids' hands."

Improvements to the bus barn and parking lot were also on the list.

"Construction is nice and pretty, but I want to make sure the kids are getting what they need for success in life first, whether that's technology, the right teachers or new textbooks," he said. "That's the most important thing."

Mattingly said she is excited to be re-elected and is ready to serve another term.

"We all work with the same common goals for our kids that's the main purpose," she said. "I'm humbled and blessed to be able to do it again."

Mattingly said board members agree renovation of the bus barn is a priority, along with better communication among everyone from the top to the bottom, and parent involvement.

Lee, a challenger elected to her first term on the board, was excited and expressed gratitude to those who voted for her.

"I was on pins and needles because I was the challenger, and had no idea how the results were going to come out," she said. "I'm really happy, and my family is happy."

Lee, who has three children attending Exeter, said she is ready to get to work.

"I'm ready and it's going to be a privilege and honor to serve the community," she said. "And, like I've said before, I'm there for the kids and to make sure that our kids are receiving the best education possible."

Her goals are to see MAP scores improve, especially in junior and high school, and communication improve.

"Our school has improved a lot over the years, but I feel there are several areas the school can improve on," she said. "I feel the school has not done as well in communicating with parents with a lot of activities, and we really need to work on that. I'm excited to work with the school and community to make it a better school for everyone. Also, we have so many students at Exeter needing a challenge, and I want to provide that challenge to our kids. The school is great, the staff is great, so I think there's only room to grow."

Lee said the district's smaller size is one of its biggest assets.

"I grew up in a big city, so for my kids to go to a smaller school and have that one-on-one time is an advantage," she said.

Meyer was disappointed he was not re-elected, but was at peace with the outcome.

"That's alright, we're in good hands," he said. "I'm a little disappointed, but OK with it. Those who were elected will do a good job. I have confidence in them. I've known Kelly Lee a long time. I think she'll do great. Our kids will be taken care of."

Meyer said he may attempt to run again in the future, but either way, said he has put a lot of time into serving the school district and is committed to continuing when needed.

"If you're not willing to give up that time, you're not going to serve the children," he said.

Meyer said he has run the summer ball program for baseball, softball and community basketball for seven years at the school district, and will continue to run the basketball program.

"Probably the biggest thing I'll miss is all the training they give you," he said. "And being on that inside track to see when things change."

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