SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Seven Springfield School Board candidates will appear on the April 6 ballot. In preparation for the election, we interviewed and got to know each of them.
Candidates running for SPS School Board:
- Brandi VanAntwerp
- Danielle Kincaid
- Jill Patterson
- Maryam Mohammadkhani
- Kelly Byrne
- Scott Crise
- Daniel Ogunyemi
“I am a mom of four. Our oldest is now twelve. When he was four years old, we determined not only is he a gifted learner, he had behavioral delays,” VanAntwerp said.
“I want to be a voice for our kids who need someone to speak up for them,” said VanAntwerp. ” I want to be a voice for teachers who need more resources for kids like him and I want to be the voice for parents who may have a hard time navigating the resources that we have.”
If elected, VanAntwerp says she plans to advocate for equity and inclusion.
“Whether it’s children [who are] neurodiverse like my son, whether it’s children of color, whether it’s children who are LGBT, I want to make sure all of our kids have a voice,” said VanAntwerp.
Danielle Kincaid is an attorney and has served on the Springfield Public School Foundation for a number of years. Kincaid grew up in the Kansas City area and moved to Springfield in 2002.
“I have seen the needs of our students and our educators and I know I can make a bigger difference stepping up to SPS Board,” said Kincaid.
Kincaid said her service on different boards and being a small business owner sets her apart.
Kincaid’s platform also focuses on mental health.
“We have to make sure that our partnership with Burell and some of our other community members continues,” she said.
Incumbent Jill Patterson says she’ll focus on balancing online and in-person learning if re-elected.
“That is one of the things about education right now that we have to pay a lot of attention to,” said Patterson. ” I am really impressed with our faculty and staff. I want them to feel supported and I just like to make sure we are giving a lot of opportunities for learning.”
Patterson has served on the board for six years and is the sole incumbent running in 2021.
“I look forward to serving more,” said Patterson. “I have a very strong relationship with the board members who are going to be staying and I look forward to more opportunities to do so.”
Dr. Maryam Mohammadkhani
Candidate Dr. Maryam Mohammadkhani’s platform focuses on utilizing technology, in her words, the correct way.
“We have students graduating that can’t write their checks, they can’t really effectively read a legal document,” said Dr. Mohammadkhani. “No one is leaving high school and running out and buying a $200 dollar Chromebook. Because with a few hundred dollars more you can buy a real computer when you show up in university when you show up at your job because there’s a lot of technology in so many jobs. They’re not Chromebooks.”
Dr. Mohammadkhani is a retired physician. She says her training and experience as a pathologist have given her the ability to communicate effectively and make difficult decisions.
Candidate Kelly Byrne says he is focusing on real change starting at the top.
“We do have a new superintendent coming in. It’ll be a great opportunity to change culture and perspective at the top of the administration and then down through the district. I look forward to doing exactly I would with any other superintendent, which is I think we need to ask more tough questions,” said Byrne.” I don’t believe the board did with Jungmann. He’s just been given the keys to the kingdom a little too much, especially as related to the virtual schooling and COVID .”
Scott Crise believes his experience with project management and long-term planning set him apart from his competitors.
“My first priority of objective would be to review each focus area of strategic plan in the data within administration presents information focusing on a semi-annual basis in a time to use review gaps in the data,” said Crise. “However, I believe that more gap analysis is required to determine how staff plans to decrease those gaps. For example academic achievement. Furthermore, I plan to review the operating budgets, being the proposition S budget, to determine what is best for the children.
Daniel Ogunyemi plans to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“Making sure that from a board perspective, that I’m helping to allocate, reallocate, distribute whatever it looks like, the resources necessary to create the most equitable school system that we can,” said Ogunyemi. “I have my undergrad and my masters both in the mental health field of psychology and counseling, and so just ensuring that all of our kids, teachers, staff, administrators, everyone that is served by SPS can have access to high-quality mental health services, to make sure they’re able to show up as their best selves. The other big thing as I mentioned earlier is the transportation plan. And so as a new board member, my hope would be to come in and help with that plan, help continue to adapt it.”
With a low voter turnout for the last school board election, candidates are reminding everyone to please go out and vote.
“This is such an important election,” said Dr. Mohammadkhani. ” And plus we pay for it. This is the majority of your property taxes. If you think that well my kids are grown, or my kids are in private school or my grandkids are in private school, they’re homeschooled, think again.”
To listen to each candidate’s full interview, visit our 2021 Schoolboard Candidates Page.