Three more candidates file to run for Columbia School Board

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 | 8:14 p.m. CST; updated 11:37 a.m. CST, Thursday, March 8, 2012

For more on the 2012 Columbia School Board Election, click here.

COLUMBIA — Three new candidates have announced their plan to run for the Columbia School Board in the April 3 election.

Paul Cushing, 49, Russ Tandy, 61, and Melvin Blase, 77,  join Rex Cone and incumbent Christine King as candidates for the two open spots on the board. The filing deadline was 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Cushing, who works in information technology at Miller’s Professional Imaging, said he decided to enter the race after wondering how a proposed increase in the property tax levy would affect him and the community.

"I want to become involved," said Cushing, who does not have children. "I want to see what’s going on, and I want to see if I can help."

Cushing is interested in seeing more parental involvement, and although Cushing has complimented Columbia Public Schools as a system, he sees areas that could be improved.

"We are not excelling at educating all the kids the way they should be," Cushing said.

Tandy, a retired registered nurse, said one of his primary concerns is students who graduate without the basic skills they need to succeed.

"I think we’ve let them down," Tandy said, whose children attended Columbia Public Schools and whose grandson goes to Cedar Ridge Elementary School.

Tandy said he wants to look at how changes in philosophy about education might be contributing to this.

He, too, believes Columbia schools are doing a good job. But he said they can become even better.

"We could certainly make it an enviable place to have your children go to school," he said.

Melvin Blase, a retired teacher, researcher, author and adviser to developing countries, said he sees his decision to run as a way to give back to the public education system.

“It’s made me what I am,” he said.

Blase had three children graduate from Hickman High School.

He said he wants to contribute four different ideas in his bid for the school board: improving “excellence in teaching,” educating people to fulfill care-giving roles, addressing the potential effects of development on the "rural-urban fringe" and finding new sources of funding — both monetary and other resources.

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