Five candidates seek TR R-X board

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

The Twin Rivers School District has five candidates vying for three available board seats which will be decided April 4. Candidates in the running are returning incumbent Josh Johnson and new candidates Brandon Vancil, Bobby King, Jennifer Morse and Kade McBroom.

The winners of the school board vacancies will serve a term of three years if elected. Candidates were provided a list of questions and their answers are included here with minor edits for clarity or length.

Candidates are listed in ballot order. Johnson did not provide responses to the questions.

Brandon Vancil

Age: 42

Spouse: Corey Vancil

Children: Emma Vancil, Ella Vancil and Jude Vancil

Occupation: 22 years as an electronic technician for Union Pacific Railroad

Education: High School

Current Affiliations: Three Rivers Shrine Club, Poplar Bluff Lodge 209 and Qulin American Legion.

Why are you running for school board? To ensure our children get the proper education they deserve.

What characteristics make you a good candidate? I went to Twin Rivers and have lived in the area most of my adult life. I know the people in our community. I will try to make the best decision for the betterment of our district, students and staff. I also have experience managing a budget and employees. I will strive to make Twin Rivers the best district it can be.

What do you hope to accomplish? I want to provide our students with the best education possible and keep our district within budget.

Are there recent actions you agree or disagree with? No response provided.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the district and how would you address them? No response provided.

Bobby King

Age: 36

Spouse: Latashia King

Children: Poppy King, Kye King, Khloe King and Kalea King

Occupation: Barber at Boss Hoggs Barber Lounge, property manager at King Design LLC

Education: Poplar Bluff High School 2005, Eclips Barber School 2014

Current Affiliations: Redemption River Church, Twin Rivers Booster Club, Kaleaís Dreams.

Why are you running for school board? I am incredibly involved with the district and the students. I volunteer and help whenever Iím needed. I was approached by multiple people about running this cycle. I believe TR is headed in a great direction and I would like to help continue that. I believe my experience in small business and dedication to the community would make me a good fit for this office.

What characteristics make you a good candidate? I am a small business owner. Iím a co-founder of Boss Hoggs Barber Lounge and founder of King Design LLC. Being in the business, I have learned that you have to be flexible and sometimes go out of your comfort zone to accomplish goals. I think that the same philosophy should be brought to the board. I am an active member of the community and want to see the students and teachers succeed.

What do you hope to accomplish? There has been a lot of talk of a junior high expansion at the high school campus (and) blending Qulin and Fisk Junior High classes. I think this is not only a great idea but long term a necessity.

Are there recent actions you agree or disagree with? The four-day school week has gone over better than anyone anticipated. With the drastic rise in fuel prices, this has proven to be a savvy move to help the budget and improve morale.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the district and how would you address them? Currently I think the biggest challenges are financial. I donít think there is a blanket, one size fits all, fix to this situation. I believe it is going to take a lot of diligent planning and a lot of back and forth from all the board members, administrators, and the community. I do believe this is something we can manage.

Jennifer Morse

Age: 33

Spouse: Doug Morse

Children: Two sons in elementary school

Occupation: Dispersed recreation specialist with Mark Twain National Forest

Education: Associate of applied arts Ė forestry technician from Three Rivers College in 2012, associate of arts in agriculture from Three Rivers College in 2014, bachelor of science in recreation and parks administration from Southeast Missouri State University in 2017.

Current affiliations: Fellowship General Baptist Church

Why are you running for school board? I believe that our childrenís education is a critical building block for the future of their lives and our current and future community. Given the pending vacancies on the board, I felt that I could make positive contributions to the Twin Rivers School District. I would like to engage parents, administration and staff to make sure that positive and solid decisions are being made and communicated transparently.

What characteristics make you a good candidate? I consider myself to be an honest, direct person who faces both positive and negative issues with the same attitude. While I am not from the community, my husband is a life-long resident, and I think being a transplant will be a benefit. I feel I can be objective in ways that other candidates may not be able to be. I am forward-thinking and realize decisions need to be made for the future, not just the here and now.

What do you hope to accomplish? Whether a student is going on to continue academic learning or is joining the workforce, they should have what they need to be successful. I think we have a strong athletic reputation; however, I would like that same reputation to be for robotics, IT, business or agriculture programs. As a rural community, which is a heavily agriculturally based region, we need to be building knowledge and skills that will help students return to the community. I would like to see our test scores and ratings be more comparable to other small school districts near us.

Are there recent actions you agree or disagree with? There have been several decisions made that I think had good intentions but the rollout was handled poorly. The decision to go to a four-day school week could have been handled differently. Passing it during the summer with a short preparation period was hard. I think we could have provided more public forums for parent discussions, both pros and cons before a decision is made. I think that it was hard for teachers to condense a curriculum designed for five days to four days with very little lead time. I think there is a misconception that I am opposed to a compressed week. That is not the case. I am pro-quality education! I am glad that we have a new curriculum staff position and we are moving toward both campuses being consistent in their teaching, but the introduction of two new curricula and a new school day format was a difficult adjustment for our students to make. I think a phased approach would have been better all around.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the district and how would you address them? I believe our biggest challenges are budget and staffing. I think we will continue to have a hard time retaining and hiring qualified teachers when salaries are significantly higher in surrounding districts. We have a large district with multiple, aging campuses ó the reality is that it is expensive to operate and we need to be looking for reasonable solutions. I also believe there is a perception of nepotism within the school board and decision-making. Things like school board meetings that happen during working business hours make it difficult for parents and interested parties to feel involved.

Are there any needs you want to address? I think that an after school program is needed. Many of our families have working parents or guardians who need safe and reliable places for children to go. This is a necessity. I also think we need to provide more and better resources for children who may learn differently or have additional accessibility needs.

Kade McBroom

Age: 35

Spouse: Shana McBroom

Children: Molly McBroom, 10, Maggie McBroom, 7, and August McBroom, 5

Occupation: Farmer

Education: Associateís degree from Three Rivers College in 2008, bachelorís degree from Missouri State University in 2010.

Current Affiliations: St. Teresaís Catholic Church

Why are you running for school board? My wife and I care deeply for the school. We try to support, donate and volunteer when we can and running for the school board seems like the next step in service to the school.

What characteristics make you a good candidate? I care a lot about the school and take great pride in its successes. I try to use common sense when evaluating issues. I will also treat everyone with respect when it comes to handling issues.

What do you hope to accomplish? I just hope to serve the school, support our faculty and staff, and provide as many opportunities for our students as possible.

Are there recent actions you agree or disagree with? There are going to be decisions the board has made that I agree and disagree with. I do, however, agree with the boardís recent decision to stay with a four-day school week again this year.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the district and how would you address them? I think our budget is our biggest issue. Figuring out how to best utilize our resources and make investments that benefit the school seems to be a constant and ongoing process. Eliminating unnecessary costs so that funds can be used on student opportunities and faculty compensation is always the objective.

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