Nine apply for one open seat

The new school board member will be appointed in June.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:43 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

United by the similar goal of improving Columbia Public Schools, a varied group of local professionals has applied for one open seat on the Columbia School Board.

Nine people applied by Tuesday’s 4:30 p.m. deadline to fill the unexpired term of Don Ludwig, which ends April 2008. Ludwig resigned last month after his wife, Sally Beth Lyon, was hired as the district’s curriculum director.

The nine candidates

  • Michael Tan
  • Cande Iveson
  • Marsha Fischer
  • Rob Gaines
  • Rob Myers
  • Ines Segert
  • Tom Rose
  • Mary Ratchford Doug­lass
  • Cheryl Washington Howard

In addition to Cande Iveson and Michael Tan, who applied earlier, Marsha Fischer, Rob Gaines, Rob Myers, Ines Segert, Tom Rose, Mary Ratchford Douglass and Cheryl Washington Howard will now be considered for the open seat.

Fischer is an attorney in Columbia who specializes in employment law and personal injury. She has two young children who will soon go through the Columbia Public School district. She said she hopes her personal and legal background will help her offer a well-rounded perspective to the board.

“I’m not offering a particular agenda to the board that I’ve already made,” Fischer said. “I have young children and want Columbia to offer the best education to its community.”

Gaines also has children about to enter public school and said he wants Columbia’s schools to be the best before his children walk through the doors. He owns a computer consulting company in Columbia and said he hopes his background in technology will bring the board a new area of expertise.

“With the recent bond passage, we are going to build buildings that will last a lifetime,” Gaines said. “This is a unique window we’re working with, and we need to build for the future.”

Myers is the founding director of the Jefferson Institute, a nonprofit agriculture education and resource center in Columbia. He has two daughters in the Columbia public school system and said he wants to expand his involvement beyond the PTA by sitting on the board. Myers is interested in exploring Columbia’s future growth as a district.

“My concern is that we keep up with the growth in the community. We need to look forward,” Myers said.

Tan is an associate professor at William Woods University in Fulton and ran in the April 3 election, receiving 8,400 votes. He has emphasized a desire for communication between the board and the community and is a supporter of merit pay for teachers.

Iveson operates Citizens for Missouri Children, a company that lobbies for early childhood education causes.

Douglass, a lifelong Columbia resident, has two children who went to Columbia public schools and still has a son at West Junior High School. She is currently working on her doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis at MU.

Ines Segert, Tom Rose and Cheryl Washington Howard could not be reached before publication. Segert is a psychology professor at MU, Rose is a veterinarian with Rolling Hills Veterinary Hospital and Howard is the director of Columbia’s Nora Stewart Memorial Nursery School.

The school board will select candidates to be interviewed in a special public session tentatively scheduled for May 17. The new member will be appointed at the board’s regular session June 11.

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