Voters in the Jefferson R-7 School District in southeast Jefferson County will choose at least one new school board member in the April 2 election.
There are two three-year terms up for election, and while one of the two incumbents, Wayne Surratt, is seeking a second term, the other current member, Jon Eisenbeis, decided against filing for a third term.
Voters will choose two candidates from a crowded field that in addition to Surratt includes Tammy Grayum, Lewis Kasten, Justin Metiva, Ryan C. Klump and Shane D. Wolk.
Kasten did not return a Leader candidate questionnaire.
SURRATT, 52, lives at 106 Pembroke Place, in Festus. He and his wife, Heather, have three children. He is an associate director for education project management in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is a retired lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Air Force Medical Service Corps. A graduate of Alconbury American High School in England, he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Northern Michigan University, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Montana and graduated from Health Services Administration School.
He is active in Boy Scout leadership, the R-7 Little League and the R-7 Parent Teacher Organization. He has been involved in the First Baptist Church Upwards soccer program as a coach and was a coach of the R-7 Blue Jay Bombers basketball team.
GRAYUM, 46, lives at 14171 Hwy. TT, Festus. She and her husband, Kent, have one child. She is a private practice dietitian, working with skilled nursing facilities and senior living communities. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Southeast Missouri State University in 1995 and is a 1996 graduate of the VA Medical Center dietetic internship program.
She active in Cub Scouting and with youth programs at the First Baptist Church of Festus-Crystal City, is a volunteer judge with junior AAU swimming and has been a committee member with the American Heart Association and the St. Louis Dietetic Association, for which she also was a career chair.
METIVA, 41, lives at 906 Natchez Trace, in Bloomsdale. He and his wife, Hattie, have three children. He is the full-time youth pastor at Good News Community Church in Festus. He has an associate degree in early childhood education and is pursuing a bacehlor’s degree in leadership ministry from Grace Christian University.
KLUMP, 40, lives at 5 Pelham Point, Festus. He and his wife, Amy, have four children. He is the chief operating officer for Saxony Securities and Patrick Capital Markets LLC in St. Louis. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southeast Missouri State University.
While in college, Klump served on several executive boards for his fraternity and was a member of the School Advisory Board for the College of Business. He is a member of Our Lady Catholic Church and has coached in the CYC and R-7 Little League and has assisted with the Blue Jay Bombers.
WOLK, 35, lives at 1227 Paulanna Estates Drive, Festus. He and his wife, Dr. Deanne Wolk, have two children. He is a process engineer for Buzzi Unicem USA Inc. A Ste. Genevieve High School graduate, he has an associate degree in industrial automation from Jefferson College and a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from Southeast Missouri State University.
He has participated in the district’s Watch D.O.G.S. program for two years and is a member of the R-7 Bluejay Foundation.
What are the biggest problems facing the district and how would you address them?
Surratt: We face potentially explosive student growth and we don’t have a plan to manage it. Plattin Primary will need to be replaced someday, but we should not raise taxes to do so. In fact, if property valuations continue their pattern, we should consider a tax cut. We need to equip teachers with the tools and training they need to provide more upper-end advanced courses in high school. Finally, we need development of moderately priced homes and appropriate commercial development in appropriate places.
Grayum: Safety is a concern for all schools. I would like to ensure we have a plan for all issues that may arise on school property or on transportation. There also seems to be a high amount of emotional distress in kids today, leading them to harm others or themselves. I would ensure we have appropriate counseling services and staff who can recognize when something is not right.
Metiva: One of the potential threats I see is a disconnect with parents and their students. Providing resources for families to help them be more successful is crucial. In some ways, technology has replaced discipline and has become a way to occupy our young people. In my experience, parents are overwhelmed and could use tools and training to better handle the issues our young people are facing.
Klump: Continuing to fund the district to meet our short- and long-term goals is the biggest problem, whether it is the open enrollment issue or growth. We need not only strong leadership but leaders who can be flexible and creative in dealing with the many financial issues we are sure to face. I will support our superintendent as long as it fits with the district’s policies and principles.
Wolk: The infrastructure of the district. We have an excellent high school, performing arts center and preschool facilities, but the other buildings have aged. Increased costs to operate and maintain these buildings takes a toll on a budget. Additionally, as homes are built, these aging facilities will not be prepared to handle the growth. If legislation passes for school vouchers and charter schools, our district could not accommodate the extra growth. My experience with projects would serve as an asset during the engineering and construction phase of any restructuring.
Why should voters elect you to this position? List your goals, if elected.
Surratt: We are a young board, and my re-election will slow down the turnover and keep proven experience. I’ve proven myself a fierce advocate for the taxpayer and our kids and I’ve achieved results. Our board must balance careful oversight with empowerment, if we want to repeat our recent 99.6 percent (APR) “report card” from the state. An experienced leader, educator and board member with a strong resume behind me, my goals are simple. I want to be part of a team to engage the entire community, give our kids every opportunity and be responsible to the taxpayer.
Grayum: I managed a food and nutrition department for several years, overseeing budget, staff, policy and procedure, and these skills would be an asset to the district. I have lived in the district for 18 years, so I know the concerns for the school. My goals are to:
■ Work as a team to provide top quality education.
■ Ensure school safety and the well-being of each child.
■ Maintain a strong budget to support high quality operations, programs and staff.
■ Improve community involvement and awareness to residents.
Metiva: I desire to be a voice for those who currently do not have one. Every student matters. Part of my role as a youth pastor is to help young people find their purpose and help them pursue it. I want our district to be known for the quality of young people we are unleashing on this world. When a young person leaves our district, they should have the tools needed to be a success, no matter what they do.
Klump: I am not a lifelong resident of this community, but I have chosen to make this my home. With my 16 years working in the financial services industry, I have a strong background in finance and working within policies and procedures. I would like to make sure we are providing the best possible education to all students and are attracting and retaining great administration and teachers. As a board member, I will represent all stakeholders and make decisions that are in the best interest of the community, the teachers, our administration, but most importantly, our children.
Wolk: The past 10 years have shown a dynamic transformation in the district, and there is still much more that can be accomplished. My diverse training in engineering, projects, computers and electronics along with my experience of being on the hiring committee, preparing budgets, preparing and reviewing bids, and managing people would provide a unique skill set. My goals:
■ Provide a first-class education to every student.
■ Provide teachers and staff a great working environment with the resources they need.
■ To be fiscally efficient with taxpayers’ money.