One question posed to the five Trenton R-9 Board of Education candidates at March 18th’s forum was what their plans were to address recruiting, and retention in the district and not let Trenton be a stepping stone.
Michael Voorhies said teachers coming and going each year was a major issue, and any business does not want to see a lot of turnovers. He believes teachers use the district as a stepping stone because of pay, as they can get paid more in other districts.
He also thinks teachers don’t want to share concerns because of retaliation.
Voorhies believes all employees should be treated with respect.
Joshua Shuler said the high turnover rate is a sign of a culture problem.
Shuler noted everyone’s strengths and weaknesses need to be understood as well as what drives people. Faculty needs to have a voice.
He added that he knows the “cold, hard truth” because sometimes teachers or faculty are not what the district wants.
Bill Miller agreed that turnover is a cultural issue.
Miller said the pay gap needs to be addressed to show staff members they are appreciated. Incentives should be identified to help keep lower-paid staff members.
He also believes employees should be asked what they think before they leave.
Emily Lasley said turnover is a concern, and she wants to know why teachers leave. She believes pay is a “small piece of the puzzle.”
Lasley thinks part of the district’s problem is that it has many openings each year, and it is looking for applicants, knowing they do not plan to stay. She said that if the district can work together to figure out why so many employees leave and have fewer openings each year, she believes there will be more employees who want to stay at Trenton R-9.
Melissa King said she likes to solve problems, and the district needs to determine if turnover is a problem. She thinks the district should look at other jobs for spouses in the area.
After the five Trenton R-9 Board of Education candidates participating in the forum summed up why they should be elected, Voorhies asked the teachers in attendance what they expected from board members.
Early Childhood Special Education Instructor Anna Muselman commented that turnover needed to be addressed for a long time, and it was one of her biggest concerns.
She said her support staff members are qualified and “irreplaceable,” and she worries about losing them.
Trenton Middle School Computers Instructor Charley Crimi answered that staff members’ feedback indicated they wanted better communication with the board. She said they feel they do not have a voice, and they want to know the board is listening to them. She also said board meetings are uncomfortable.
Mindy Walker, with the Missouri State Teachers Association, was the moderator for the forum. She noted that Trenton R-9 is not unique in having board meetings that feel uncomfortable. Walker suggested teachers rotate and take turns speaking at meetings about good things happening in the buildings.
Voorhies mentioned he would like to visit the schools.
Trenton R-9 Board of Education candidates participating in a forum on March 18th were asked to give an example when they did not necessarily support an issue, but they were objective about it.
Melissa King explained that when she feels strongly about something, she will stand up for it and fight for it. There might be things she does not support and that she disagrees with, but she trusts educators to make decisions the best they can.
King thinks the community’s values should be examined to determine if something is important to stand up for. The board should be able to choose what is best based on goals and by putting students first.
Emily Lasley said she grew up in Vermont, so her background is different from many people’s. She has different ideas and opinions.
Lasley noted decisions could affect multiple students, and there will not always be one perfect answer. Matters should be evaluated to determine what is best for the Trenton R-9 as a whole.
Bill Miller gave an example of him coaching a little league baseball team for 20 years. He said coaches receive a lot of ridicule with the job.
He explained it could become a safety issue with some children “paid to play,” and there are rules about giving children time to play.
Miller does not know of any reason for the district to spend thousands of dollars on traveling if teams are not competitive. He believes there should be an emphasis on doing the best as a team. He wants people to realize not everyone will be a star athlete.
Miller also wants to look at the curriculum, see why the district is using it, and tell parents why it is being used.
Joshua Shuler said he makes decisions every day in his business with precision ag that he does not like, but he has to be objective.
When it comes to schooling, the education of students should be the primary focus.
Shuler does not believe in giving everyone a medal, and he noted life is not fair. Not everyone will be a star, and not everyone wins. He said that to build leaders, children must be pushed to do their best.
He believes people’s opinions should be listened to and respected, and decisions should be made on what is best.
Michael Voorhies said making decisions for others is not easy, and he has done it for six years at ConAgra/Nestle. He acknowledged that he is opinionated and speaks from the heart.
Voorhies believes it is important for board members to work together and determine what is in the best interest of the students and faculty. The needs of others should be put first. Members should also be able to explain to parents why a decision was made if there is an objection from parents.
Questions for the Trenton R-9 Board of Education forum were submitted from community members.