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Two more candidates file for school board

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 | 7:23 p.m. CST; updated 8:02 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 20, 2009

COLUMBIA — Hours before the 5 p.m. deadline on Tuesday, two more people filed to run for the two seats opening up on the Columbia School Board, bringing the number of candidates to nine.

Christine King, previously a claim team manager with State Farm Insurance Co., and Sam Phillips, deputy chief disciplinary counsel for the state, join Marc Bledsoe, Jeannine Craig, Greg Flippin, Dan Holt, Bill Merideth, Michelle Pruitt and Adam Sorg on the April 7 ballot.

Board President Michelle Gadbois and Vice President Steve Calloway have decided not to run for another three-year term.

King and Phillips said they considered the idea for a long time before submitting their applications. Both said discussions with members of the community and the fact that their children attend public schools ultimately triggered their decisions to run. They both have children in elementary school.

Phillips said the values he shares with the community will guide his leadership and re-establish trust between the district and the people it serves.

“It is not a matter of looking back with criticism but moving forward in a way that ensures the long-term success of Columbia Public Schools,” Phillips said.

He said that although success requires teachers to have the resources they need, board members should be people who will ask tough questions and demand fiscal accountability.

King said that she does not think candidates should enter the race with a specific agenda because the board must work as a team and that the other members will provide stability as everyone works to push the district further along.

Both stressed the importance of strong leadership.

“I won't come to the board believing I'm an expert,” Phillips said. He said he will consult teachers,  administrators and community members and examine situations analytically.

King recognizes an opportunity to bring a new direction to the district through the selection of the superintendent. Phyllis Chase retired in August after five years as superintendent, and Jim Ritter, a former superintendent, is serving in an interim capacity.

“I don't know how far along the process will be in April," she said, "but the board will have to come together, set expectations for the district and communicate those to that person.”


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