Eight candidates are running in the April 5, school board election.
Two positions are available for the three-year term (April 2022-2025), and one position is available for the one-year term (April 2022-2023).
To run for school board, a member must be a U.S. citizen, a resident taxpayer of a district or voters of the district in urban districts, a resident of Missouri for at least one year and at least 24 years old.
“The Board of Education is elected to represent the Webster Groves School District community in the governance of its public schools. The board’s chief responsibility is to evaluate and hire the superintendent of schools. Additionally, the board adopts policies and direct procedures for the governance of the District, with responsibility for implementing board policy and day-to-day operations of the district delegated to the superintendent. The board is also responsible for adopting an annual budget to enable the district to carry out its educational programs. All board actions are governed by state and federal laws and Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) guidelines,” according to the Webster Groves Board of Education page.
Every candidate was reached out to over email and asked “Why are you running?” Five responded.
Two candidates have already left the race, Rebecca Riley and Josh Rainey.
“Actually, I’ve decided to withdraw from the election. I’ve met with a lot of the other candidates, and they’re equally passionate about change. I came to the conclusion that too many new candidates running would cost each other votes and increase the chances of incumbents getting re-elected. The district needs change, and I don’t want to prevent the change,” Rainey said via email.
Candidate Allen Todd said via email, “I am running for re-election to our school board to ensure we continue to have calm, steady, experienced leadership in the turbulent times we find ourselves in.
“I believe that a school district’s role is to prepare our students for their future as a citizen of the world. Our role is to ensure the academics and culture of our schools prepare them for what’s next, whether that be college, technical school or the workforce.
“Every decision we make as a district is centered around that premise for me, and I will continue to fight every day for the best interests of all our students to ensure they are all prepared for what’s next.”
Candidate Tara Scheer said via email, “I am passionate about serving our school district, which has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I went to school here, and now my own kids go to those same schools – my daughter is in sixth grade at Hixson, and my son is in second grade at Bristol.
“At the start of the 20/21 school year, I left my corporate career in strategy development to support my kids’ education through a year of virtual learning. My daily life changed from working with executives to sitting on my kids’ bedroom floors and helping them with school lessons.
“It was a powerful experience that inspired me to want to give back to our school district in a more impactful way.
“Today, Webster Groves School District is facing a myriad of issues and also beginning a strategic planning process to determine its direction for the next three-five years. I believe my professional background in strategy along with my daily connection to our schools as a parent will bring a valuable and unique perspective to that process.
“I am committed to finding positive, community-oriented solutions that proactively prepare our district for everything it is facing now and in the years to come, while ensuring everyone within our schools feels happy, healthy, valued, safe and connected to our community.”
Candidate Alex Kahn said via email, “As an involved parent of a second grader in our district, the school board decisions that I’ve participated in making over the past three years directly impact me and my family. The experience that I’ve gained as a first-term board member over the past three years will be invaluable if I am elected to another term because it takes time to fully understand and gain perspective in your role as a school board member. This is not to suggest you can’t immediately add value, but most board members aren’t in the educational field, so it takes time to learn the inner workings.
“Having myself benefitted from a public-school education; I believe it’s one of our greatest strengths. Public education has provided the path to the ‘American Dream’ for so many. I will work to ensure our school district continues to blaze this path and remains one of the premier districts in the State while continuing to bring our community together.
“Unlike some of my opponents, I’m not running to advance a partisan political agenda or because I have personal issues with our school district, and I’m certainly not looking to run for higher office. I’m seeking a seat on the school board because I believe I can help maintain and improve our schools, with our school district’s fiscal health and overall success as my sole motivation. I put our students, their families, and our staff at the heart of every decision I make. I have been and will continue to be transparent about my viewpoints, as well.
“I hold every decision that I make, whether it’s a fiscal decision or a curriculum decision, accountable to our primary objective. That objective is ensuring both the fiscal health of the district and the personal and academic success of every student.”
Candidate Courtney Schaefer said via email, “I have always cared about young people and their future. For most of my life, I have advocated for children and youth, their families, and the people that support them, including teachers. As a mom, community member, and school social worker, I have noticed an increasing disconnect with public schools. As Webster Groves School Board Member, I plan to connect the Webster Groves community to our schools by listening to all stakeholders, focusing on the teacher crisis and supporting the student voice.
“My first priority is to focus on the needs of the students. We know that there are many students who are struggling through the effects of the pandemic. For those students it is important to support the school district effort to meet the increased needs for mental health supports. Part of those supports focus on teachers, to ensure that there they are able and available to connect and form relationships with their students. With the increasing teacher crisis, supporting, recruiting and retaining teachers is especially important.
“The most important education activities and relationships occur in a classroom between teachers and students. Learning requires a safe environment, where all students are seen and heard and where teachers are supported and encouraged. The classroom must be welcoming and inclusive, honoring the diversity that replicates all community members, as well as evolving to understand that diversity changes. In these safe classrooms, teachers can teach and students can learn, developing the skills and knowledge they need in their future.
“Increasing support for students to acquire and enhance critical thinking skills is increasingly important. It prepares them for the changing world and workplaces we now have. Those changes include social justice issues, environmental issues, technology advances and more.
“I entered this campaign fully aware that there is hard work to be done, and I am ready for that challenge.”
This will be Owen Crews’ first year on ECHO staff, but he made several contributions while taking journalism class his sophomore year.
This will be Izzy Poole’s first year on ECHO staff, but they made several contributions while taking journalism class their sophomore year.