School board hopefuls say students are main priority

Sunday, April 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:49 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 5, 2008

Increasing achievement for the Columbia Board of Education’s main beneficiaries — the students — is a top concern for the five candidates running for two seats in Tuesday’s school board election. The question is what ideas they have for this important issue.

Martina Pounds, running for the first time, said parental involvement in the school district’s decisions could be a huge step in helping the school environment.

“Getting out there in the community by going to PTA and community meetings and just listening to what parents have to say could help the district a lot,” she said. Arch Brooks, running for the second consecutive year and a mayoral candidate, thinks better assessment will lead to better student success. “A better job of assessment is key to detecting problems early,” he said. “The district does not have in place or practice quality assurance and quality control, which highlights the administration’s lack of commitment to the taxpayer and the students.”

Henry Lane, running for the sixth time, said reading instruction at early ages needs to be a top priority.

“There needs to be a greater concentration of reading at the elementary level,” Lane said. “Not necessarily expanding school time, but a greater concentration of time in reading.”

Chuck Headley, an incumbent seeking his third term, said an extended school year and school day would help struggling students the most. He also would like to see greater community involvement.

“A good education is up to the district, students and parents, but also the community,” he said. “Even people without children in school should realize that a skilled society is a better one to live in.”

Incumbent Karla DeSpain is seeking her second term on the school board. She agrees that the student achievement gap could be closed by expanding instructional time for those who need it.

“More instructional time provides both more personalized attention for the students and the opportunity to explore concepts in depth,” she said. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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