The Springfield News-Leader has joined a coalition of community organizations working together to produce nonpartisan school board candidate interviews ahead of the April election.
The interviews will air online and on KSMU Ozarks Public Radio in late March.
Five candidates will be on the April 5 ballot and the two with the most votes will be sworn in mid-April to serve three-year terms. They include:
Kelly Byrne, real estate developer
Chad Courtney, family law attorney
Steve Makoski, director of compliance, Rapid Roberts
Charles Taylor, professor of communications, Drury University
Brandi VanAtwerp, executive director, FosterAdopt Connect
Byrne, Courtney and VanAntwerp have children enrolled in Springfield schools. Makoski and Taylor have children who graduated from the district.
Taylor is the only incumbent. Board president Alina Lehnert opted not to run again.
The seven-member board hires and evaluates the superintendent, sets policy, approves a budget and oversees a long-range plan.
The candidates elected will join Scott Crise, Denise Fredrick, Danielle Kincaid, Maryam Mohammadkhani and Shurita Thomas-Tate.
The coalition produced candidate forums in 2020 and 2021. The groups, all nonpartisan, share the goals of educating voters and engaging candidates with citizens.
In addition to KSMU, the interviews will also be posted by the partner organizations for convenient viewing on their social media and websites.
In addition to the News-Leader, the coalition includes these organizations:
Be Civil, Be Heard
Drury University’s L.E. Meador Center for Politics & Citizenship
Junior League of Springfield
KSMU Ozarks Public Radio
League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri
Ozarks Technical Community College’s Social Sciences Department with Politically Active, a nonpartisan student organization
Springfield-Greene County Library District
Editor-in-chief Amos Bridges noted the News-Leader traditionally has partnered with the League of Women Voters to produce candidate guides during presidential election years.
"The coalition that the League and others put together provided a vital service during the pandemic last year producing candidate videos when an in-person town hall wasn't possible," Bridges said. "We jumped at the chance to join with these nonpartisan groups as they continue to provide the Springfield community with trustworthy information they can use when deciding who to trust with the stewardship of our public schools."
Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Know before you vote: Where do SPS board candidates stand?