Each of the four people running for three at-large seats on the Grain Valley school board mentioned continuing growth in the suburban district as the greatest challenge facing the board in the coming years.
Fifteen-year board member Jan Reding recalled that her son’s graduating class in 1990 had 66 students. This year’s graduating class will number 217, she said, and next year’s class is expected to be between 300 and 330.
“We’re growing so fast we’re busting at the seams,” Reding said. “The community has supported bond issues the last 16 we’ve had — the last one by 80 percent. It’s not a problem. It’s a blessing.”
The district’s total enrollment this school year is around 3,750. There are four elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school, plus one early-childhood education center.
The most recent bond issue, passed in February, will be used to expand the high school and add security features to all the schools, among other things.
“We’re working on technology,” Reding said. “We’d like to be as up to date as any school district around. If we could just get the state to fund our foundation formula fully, we’d be happy campers.”
Board member Jeff Coleman, seeking a second term, says there is no end in sight to the growth.
In addition to what he knows from his work with the local Chamber of Commerce and Grain Valley’s economic development entity, Coleman said, “You can drive around the neighborhoods and see all the housing going up.”
Coleman said the district is in a deficit position right now, with regard to its $52 million annual budget.
“But we might be in the black in July,” he said. “We’re going through our annual budgeting process now. Every year it’s different.”
Coleman said he would like to see the high school gymnasium and theater expanded, but doesn’t foresee funding becoming available to do so.
After being on the inside of a governing entity, Coleman said, he is reluctant to criticize state lawmakers for not fully funding the education formula the past few years.
Phil Hutchinson is in his 13th year on the school board and serves as president of the Missouri School Boards’ Association.
He said the state’s failure to fully fund the foundation formula means that Grain Valley has received about $3 million less than it was promised from Jefferson City each year, although the state does provide about 40 percent of the budget.
If the state contribution grows, Hutchinson said, he would favor spending some of it on expanded early-childhood education to help pre-kindergartners who need it to get up to speed.
Tisha Vogel says she can offer “fresh ideas and perspectives” if she is elected.
“I am really concerned with our growth,” she said. “I don’t want our kids to suffer. I want to ensure small class sizes.”
Vogel said she is also interested in ensuring that Grain Valley students have access to the latest educational technology.JEFF COLEMAN
1009 N.W. Hickory Court, Grain Valley
Owner of cfs Wealth Management Group
Graduated from Oak Grove High School, two years at Graceland University
Currently president of Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce; president of Grain Valley Economic Development; president of Grain Valley Industrial Development Authority; Grain Valley school board member
NonePHILIP D. HUTCHINSON
628 S.W. Lakeview Drive, Grain Valley
Certified Public Accountant
Bachelor’s in accounting, Southern Illinois University
In 13th year on Grain Valley school board; board member, Missouri School Boards’ Association, 2005-2011; later served as vice-president and president-elect of state association; currently MSBA president
• Website: NoneJAN REDING
33400 E. Truman Road, Grain Valley
Retired after 37 tears as building manager at Power Light Building
Bachelor’s in business administration at Central Missouri State University, now University of Central Missouri; master’s certification from the Missouri School Boards’ Association
Grain Valley school board, 15 years including three years as president; University of Central Missouri Foundation board director, past vice president and now director emeritus; director of Grain Valley Educational Foundation and Grain Valley Assistance Council; past president of Grain Valley Historical Society and FOCUS for Grain Valley
1815 N.W. Elmwood Drive, Grain Valley
Senior billing administrator at SMB Medical Billing
High School diploma, Longview Community College, no degree
President, Grain Valley Lions Club, 2009-2010
•Website: Facebook: Tisha Vogel for Grain Valley School Board