Eight candidates apply for open Columbia School Board seat

Friday, June 5, 2009 | 7:23 p.m. CDT; updated 10:06 a.m. CDT, Saturday, June 6, 2009

COLUMBIA — Eight people have applied to take Rosie Tippin's seat on the Columbia School Board. They are former board candidates Dan Holt and Sam Phillips, computer consultant Jonathan Sessions, professor emeritus John Miles, parent activist Robin Hubbard, youth basketball coach James Whitt, early childhood agency director Philip Peters and concerned mother Martha Tomlin-McCrary.

The application deadline was late Friday afternoon to fill the vacancy created last month by Tippin's resignation. Tippin resigned for health reasons.

Holt came in third in a field of nine for two seats in the April election and has decided to try again. Holt helped establish the Make High School Count program in Missouri, which works to help middle school and junior high students meet curriculum requirements for graduating high school.

“I understand the needs and value of the elementary and secondary education to help each individual achieve their potential,” Holt wrote in his application for the open seat. He has a background in economics, finance and education finance and has worked for 18 years at Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, Sallie Mae and as an education finance consultant.

Hubbard is a familiar speaker at school board meetings. “I believe in the parent-school-community partnership process for creating effective learning environments,” she wrote in her application.

Hubbard has taught in a variety of learning environments, including working with preschoolers and head-injured and mentally handicapped adults. She has served on the Head Start advisory council and on the University of Missouri Athletics Standing Committee, where she was responsible for overseeing finances and student achievement, she said.

“I’m a long-term thinker," Hubbard said. "I can see the implications and consequences of a short-term decision, and what it will cost down the road. I follow both what is going on in CPS, the education industry as a whole and the governmental policies.”

Miles is a semi-retired professor emeritus in the College of Engineering at MU. He has served two three-year terms on both the Columbia Rotary Club Board of Directors and also on the Columbia Energy and Environment Commission.

In Miles' application he wrote that he holds the view that a "quality education is a vital element in the future prosperity of our city and nation."


Peters is executive director of First Chance for Children, an early learning system for children in Boone County. He is on leave from his position as the Ruth L. Hulston Professor of Law at the MU School of Law.

"I believe the quality of public education is the most important factor in Columbia's future," Peters wrote in his application. "I want to help the school district maintain its strengths and shore up its weaknesses."

Phillips also ran in the April school board election. He has fiscal management experience working as vice president and executive trust officer at Exchange Bank for five years and as deputy chief disciplinary counsel and interim chief for four years, according to his application. He also has a background in education, serving on the Jefferson City Public Schools Strategic Planning Committee and its Foundation Board of Directors. Phillips was also president of the Jefferson City Rotary Club for a year.

"I would like to help provide analytical and cooperative approaches to the very difficult financial decisions that will face the district over the next years," Phillips wrote in his application.

Sessions is a Columbia native who went to Hickman High School and MU. He owns a computer consulting business called Tech 2.

“I know what Columbia was and is, and what Columbia can become,” Sessions wrote in his application. “The current and continued success of Columbia is rooted in a strong public education.”

Tomlin-McCrary is a mother of a Columbia Public Schools student with knowledge of the school system, she wrote in her application.

"I would like to build a relationship between the schools, teachers and the parents," Tomlin-McCrary wrote. "I would like to make it possible for kids to reach their full potential, and to attempt to reach out to the children that are on the edge of the system."

Whitt runs the nonprofit organziation cPhase Sports Association, which works with youth in both sports and academics.

"(I have) become very familiar with some of the challenges facing many of our young people. Challenges that have prevented some of them from reaching their highest potential," Whitt wrote in his application.

Whitt also has a managerial background from working in a senior management position at General Electric Corporation, he said.

"There are always opportunities for improvements," he said. He would like to help create policies to improve the community.

Applicants will be interviewed by the board on June 11 and the appointee sworn in June 18. To remain on the board, he or she will have to file for the position in December and run for it in April 2010.

Missourian reporter Michelle Pais contributed to this article.

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Silence Dogood June 6, 2009 | 9:45 a.m.

I've known John Sessions for many years. Even though he is young he is very qualified to serve on Columbia School board. He's a great example of the kind of person CPS can produce.

In addition he started and runs his own computer networking business. He understands how technology is changing and what role it can play in public education.

(Report Comment)
Richard Hayden June 7, 2009 | 11:57 a.m.

Age is no limiting factor here, Jonathan is a skilled and delightful young man that will bring many valuable assets to the board. From one old Kewpie to another, Go Jonathan!

(Report Comment)

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