Four candidates are running in the April 4, school board election.
Candidates Justin Hauke, Tara Scheer, Jo Doll and Grace Lee are running for three three-year term school board positions.
According to the Webster Groves School District website, Courtney Schaefer also ran for a school board position but suspended her campaign.
The terms will run from April 2023 to April 2026.
A school board member must be a U.S. citizen, 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,” according to the Webster Groves Board of Education Overview page.
All candidates were reached out via email asking to set up an interview.
Hauke was appointed in 2017 to serve on the Finance Advisory Committee. Hauke unsuccessfully ran for the Board of Education in April 2022.
“I think a lot of the issues I thought of last year have become more apparent, with some of the things like the fact that the enrollment of the district have continued to decline, and that’s causing a budgetary issue on state reimbursement funds for the district.
“I think this district has a lot of very positive things going for it, but one of the things that I think has been apparent, and maybe even become more apparent to me over the past year is that people that maybe don’t feel as successful in the district don’t always have a voice, and I don’t know that their concerns are always heard, and so I think there’s opportunity for a board that is more engaged with the community, that has more public meetings and takes criticism more positively and uses that as a tool to make the community better,” Hauke said.
Scheer is currently a director of the Board of Education and was elected in 2022. Scheer originally ran after helping her children through virtual school and seeing the school district start its strategic planning process. Scheer believes in keeping independence for the school district regarding state legislation.
“I want to ensure that our school district keeps its independence,” Scheer said.
“To me it’s important that our school district reflects the needs of our local community, and that’s what I hope to do,” Scheer said.
Scheer also encouraged young people to be involved in local elections.
“I do want to emphasize the importance of local elections. They impact our daily lives more than any other election,” Scheer said.
“Young people, new voters need to understand the importance of local elections, and they can make such an impact,” Scheer said.
Doll is the current president of the Board of Education and serves as the District 91 Representative in the Missouri House of Representatives. Doll was first elected to the Board of Education in 2017 and has served two successive terms. Doll originally ran because of her involvement in local schools.
“There was an opening, so I decided I wanted to take it to the next level, so I ran, and I continue to run just because we’ve done a lot of good things, and we have momentum, and I just feel like I want to continue to see that, and now I think especially coming out of COVID I feel like we have work that we need to keep focused on, and I just hope I can provide that leadership to the board,” Doll said.
Doll’s position as a school board president helps her in her work as Missouri representative.
“I think it’s helpful to the state legislature to understand how school boards work and how school districts run, so that you can speak to things that are trying to go through the house,” Doll said.
In addition, as a Missouri representative, Doll uses her knowledge of policies in the House to prepare the school district.
“As a school board member, it helps just to see what’s coming or can be coming to help prepare for that,” Doll said.
Lee served as principal of Hixson Middle School and participated on the Curriculum Coordinating Committee.
“I believe deeply in public schools. I am a product of public schools. I had a career in public school before I retired,” Lee said.
“I think we also have a lot of innovative teachers, a lot of great ideas, people that are willing to take risks and want to push to grow, to create meaningful experiences for kids. I definitely see that enjoyment and that love of learning that comes from my own kid at home. To be able to support that in any way that I can, if I can lend my voice, if I can lend my experience, that would be an honor for me to be able to do that, just to be a behind the scenes support for the people on the front lines who are doing the hard work every day,” Lee said.
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This will be Luca Giordano’s first year on ECHO Staff, but he also made several contributions while taking journalism class his junior year.