First person files for open school board seats

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | 5:47 p.m. CST; updated 9:26 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 10, 2009

COLUMBIA — A 75-year-old Columbia woman was the first person to file for one of two open spots on the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education. Voters will cast ballots on April 7 .

Jeannine H. Craig, who submitted her application Monday, moved to Columbia four years ago from Florida with her husband, Norm.


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Craig served on a school board for 12 years in Cary, Ill., and spent 11 of those years as president. Though the school district was much smaller than Columbia Public Schools, she said she sees many of the same problems she faced in the past here, particularly a failing budget.

In April, voters rejected a 54-cent tax levy that school officials hoped would help pull the district out of  a roughly $10 million budget deficit at the time. Craig shakes her head at the thought of another levy.

“It’s not time,” she said. “Sometimes you have to slow down. We might have a few rough years before it gets better.”

Columbia Public Schools will face a series of changes in 2009: choosing a new superintendent, implementing a new math curriculum and attempting to reconcile a budget deficit in the midst of a growing population and faltering economy.

Craig said she wants to figure out how to make it all work.

As a senior citizen, Craig hopes to give a voice to other seniors and taxpayers, but she said she knows some may question her choice to run. She said she is up to the task because of her experience and ability to devote her attention to the job.

“Time is what I have,” she said. “I have no job or business like some of the board members do.” Craig said time is a must for making an informed decision.

She also said she can be objective in her decision-making because she has no direct ties to anyone in the district.

While Craig is the first person to file, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lynn Barnett said Craig is unlikely to remain the only candidate. Barnett said the district expects to see more applicants because it is unlikely they would face incumbents in April. Current board president Michelle Gadbois has said she will not run, and vice-president Steve Calloway has said he is unsure whether he will run.

“Usually with two incumbents coming, people shy away,” Barnett said.

Applicants must be a Columbia taxpayer, a U.S. citizen at least 24 years old, and must file in person at 1818 W. Worley St. Those interested in running have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 20 to file.

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Ray Shapiro December 31, 2008 | 4:08 p.m.

Don't trust anyone over 40. (I've been told that 40 is the new 30.)

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