ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Seven candidates running for Parkway School District board positions shared their platforms and stances on the top issues facing the district at a public forum Monday night at the school’s welcome center.
The League of Women Voters of St. Louis hosted a candidate forum so voters could get a better understanding of who they want to fill three board positions that are expiring on the April 4 election.
“We are going to have to be innovative in our thinking and how we educate our children,” said Tiffany Mapp Franklin, a board member for the Parkway School District.
The seven candidates, three of which are current board members, voiced their strategies for success.
“We are still in the top 10 to 20 percent in the state of Missouri, some of our scores,” said Deborah A. Hopper, a board member for the Parkway School District. “But there are still work that needs to be done, could be done better.”
“We have a little too much social and cultural and worrying about things that aren’t necessarily academic,” said Mark Ivancic, a candidate for Parkway board member. “We need to put the emphasis back on mathematics and science, you know the basics of school.”
Safety was one of the top issues.
“Safety in the school, as Mr. Ryan had mentioned, that needs to be worked on too, and extreme discipline,” said Kathy Guerra, a candidate for Parkway board member.
Teacher shortages and mental health were also priority.
“I think the number one thing the school is challenged is the social to emotional, logistically, it’s impossible,” said Matt Ehlen, a candidate for Parkway board member. “It’s just way too much on teachers’ plates, they have enough as it is.”
“I think our highest priority is addressing mental health issues, it’s something we’ve been working on for several years,” said Jeff Todd, board president for the Parkway School District. “The staffing shortage is facing a lot of districts across the country, unfortunately.”
Franklin said it’s also important to increase wages for aides, custodians, and other support staff.
“We should be paying our support staff, who in general take care of a lot of what goes in our schools, a living wage,” she said. “So we have been taking steps to increase the wages of our support staff, which in turn hopefully allow more people to get involved in our schools.”
“My first-grader has 40 children in their classroom and two teachers as part of a pilot program,” said Ryan Kerr, a candidate for Parkway board member. “There’s aspects to that are good, there’s a lot of distraction, and she’s been home twice as many days this year as our kindergartener.”
Kerr has been under fire recently for a controversial video from 2016 where he made derogatory comments about two women.
In the meeting, he apologized and said “he wasn’t a fully form human” and vowed to be better.
You can rewatch the forum on the school’s YouTube page.
The candidates’ biographies can also be found on the district’s website.