Melissa Karotka

I believe in creating a better community through more effective and consistent communication between students, faculty and the school board so that together we can achieve the desired Excellence in Learning for All as stated in the Southern Boone School mission statement.

I believe I can contribute to the school board by guiding the schools through their next levels of growth and learning and to keep the positive momentum going forward to create a more team focused relationship between the school board, faculty and the community. I bring a fresh perspective of leadership, strategy and teambuilding to the district to contribute to the already diverse backgrounds already present in the current leadership teams.

I ask you to allow me the opportunity to have a seat at the table, to represent you on the Southern Boone School Board. I will do my best to guide the school through the next stages of growth, challenges and successes.

A little about me. I moved to Ashland 10 years ago not knowing anyone. I arrived with my husband, 4 children, 2 dogs and 1 cat in the middle of a school year. When the 2 school aged children went to their first day of school they weren’t sure what to expect. They were excited the students and faculty were welcoming, helping them quickly acclimate to their new schools. It was a big relief for my husband and I, we are thankful we made the move here. With two already graduated, and two more on their way to graduation, they will all be proud Southern Boone Alumni.

April Georgetti

“Our students are an opportunity, not an obligation.” This was a statement shared at a recent literacy conference. So, when pondering why I would want to become a member of our school board, it’s simple; the children in our community deserve a quality education.

My husband and I have lived in Ashland for several years now. We have two children currently attending school in the Primary and Middle School buildings. I have been a classroom teacher for over 11 years, with my most recent years right here in Ashland. During my classroom teaching experience, I had amazing opportunities to work on military posts while my husband served, as well as the opportunity to see how other states focused on education.

Recently, I decided to take a leap and step out of the classroom. My goal was to have a bigger impact on student and teacher success statewide. My current role as a state literacy grant director allows me to work with classroom teachers, administrators, and university faculty across the state of Missouri, as well as throughout the nation, to improve student outcomes in literacy. As a state literacy grant director, my work involves developing guidance for schools to support their efforts in creating and sustaining a comprehensive literacy plan, collaborating on district continuous improvement and multi-tiered systems of support teams, and attending monthly state board of education meetings. In other words, I continue to gain valuable insight encompassing multiple education issues in Missouri, which creates more passion for the success in our community.

As an experienced educator and a committed member of this community, I know I can be a strong asset to our local school district. Lastly, having taught in the district for several years, I still have quite an attachment to all the students who have passed through my classroom. I treasure each visit to the schools not only to see my own children flourishing in their classrooms, but also to see my past “kids” flourishing in theirs as well. I’m confident I can help make a difference in our community by serving on our local school board.

Karen Kraus Bill

My name is Karen Kraus Bill and I’m running for a seat on the Southern Boone County R-1 School Board. I’m no stranger to this position as I previously served for 18 years on the board, from 1990 through 2008. My husband and I moved to the Southern Boone district in 1978 and raised five children who all graduated proudly from Southern Boone High School.

My years on the board were rewarding and provided a sense of connection to the school and community. I have come to miss that. There are so many new faces in our community and I would love to get to know these members of the community and listen to new ideas for improvements to our district. My grandson will be attending Southern Boone schools in a few years so this seems like a great time to reconnect with the district.

As an attorney for over 30 years, I am familiar with reading and interpreting policy and I understand the ethical requirements of board members and the importance of confidentiality.

I have no hidden agenda or axe to grind. My only goal is to help the district and I feel like my prior experience will allow me to be of immediate assistance with minimal adjustment. I’m aware of the time commitment and general expectations of board members and I’m ready to meet that challenge head on.

As a board member, I would support the district to ensure it consistently meets or exceeds the goals set by the board and administration. I strongly believe it is important for our district to have competitive salaries to attract and retain the best teachers. I’m also in favor of keeping class sizes as small as possible to guarantee teachers are able to provide each student with a positive learning environment. Continued repair of the roof and updates of the high school building would be a priority for me. In addition, public schools exist to educate all of our children and I feel it’s important to make sure we have academic programs in place that allow every student to reach their full potential. It is also important to continue our strong record of excellence in all extra curricular activities , from sports to fine arts. As a board member, I would be mindful of my role and it’s boundaries and encourage communication with the public. At times I may disagree with other board members but I would do so respectively. And of course, I would safeguard the school’s resources to maintain adequate fund reserves.

It would be my honor to serve as a board member for the Southern Boone County R-1 school system. If you have questions for me please feel free to contact me on my Facebook page, Karen Kraus Bill for Southern Boone County R-1 School Board.

After all, we need a Karen to count on !
Go Eagles !

Richard Martin

I am Richard Martin, candidate for the Southern Boone County school board. I am a lifelong resident of Southern Boone County and Ashland itself, I graduated from SoBoCo in 1996, I received a degree in Construction & Civil Technology in 2012 from Linn State (now State Tech), and I am close to completing a Bachelor degree in Business Management from Columbia College. My family and I are active members in Walk In Faith church as well Encounter Ministries, and supporters of our great SoBoCo school system in both education and athletics.

I have 3 kids in the school now, the youngest being in 2nd grade, so I am going to be involved for a long time to come. I have spent most of my life after high school in the construction and building maintenance industry. In these fields I have gained valuable knowledge that I can bring to the table to help in the growth of our school system with its continuous building construction and future plans.

I believe that the parents and school should work together in the education of the kids, and that the parents should have the ability to have some kind of input into what curriculum their children are taught, and that the students have a safe environment to do so. I also believe that we should work just as hard at teacher retention and quality of education as we do at our athletic programs.

Also I feel that the conditions of our current school buildings should be addressed in the same urgency as the condition of our sports complexes. Ashland is a growing community and the need for school growth is not going away, I feel that my background in management on jobs and knowledge in the construction industry can play a vital role in helping with making sure our funding is spent efficiently on projects in hope to be able to spread money out into other areas that need it as well.

I am a good team player and can work well with other board members to achieve our goals in this great school system. We have a lot of excellent teachers on staff at Southern Boone and I would like to find ways to slow down the turnover rate and find ways to get them to stay because its the children that ultimately pay the price. I care a lot about this School district, the children and staff in it, as well as the Southern Boone County community as a whole. It is my hometown and if elected to the School Board I will do the absolute best job possible to help create a strong safe learning environment for the students, Improving our facilities, continue growing our respected athletic department as well as a positive transparent school board that is welcoming to the parents of the community as needs and obstacles arise.

Thank you for your support and I look forward to serving the community of Southern Boone County.

Mason Neff

My name is Mason Neff, and I am running for Southern Boone School Board.

I am just like you. I have never been an administrator or a former superintendent. If I am elected to the School Board, I want to make sure I am asking questions on behalf of our community, staff, and our students. Parents need a voice, and so do our students.

I have been involved with kids in our district as a girls’ soccer coach for the Optimist Club soccer teams from 2014-2021. I am currently the Sales Director for Primrose Retirement Community in Jefferson City. I have a child going into High School, and one going into kindergarten this fall. I have lived in Ashland since 2005 along with my beautiful wife, Amanda.

With the continued growth of our schools, we will eventually be faced with many of the problems the bigger schools in the surrounding area are facing today. Parents are entitled to know what is being presented at field trips, and what is being presented in the classroom. I will ensure our schools are being transparent on all levels.

I believe we need to modernize our social media policies. I have spoken to students and parents about this a lot. I have seen numerous videos of students being harassed and even physically hit. It’s unacceptable and many of these events happen on school property. Do we want to be known for allowing this type of behavior? I want to make sure our school administration has the tools and training necessary to address issues that respect privacy and respect parents. There is a mental health crisis on our hands. Let’s continue to support our kids, and the teachers who educate them.

One issue that might be coming up is moving the district to a 4-day school week. If this comes up, I want to make it clear WE MUST hear from you. With little kids and both parents working, this may pose supervision issues during the week. This could cause added stress where families do not have the extra income to put kids into a daycare or have a family member who can watch them. If I am elected, I would be honored to hear from our community on this any other issue we may face.

You and I are the same. All we want is a place for our kids to feel safe at school, and to get the education they deserve from our teachers. Our school is one of the top reasons people are moving to Southern Boone. With the increase in students and the growth in property tax dollars, we must hold our district accountable and respect your tax dollars.

We need a fresh voice and a fresh prospective on the School Board. I can be that person. Let’s get to work!

Thanks for your consideration, and please vote April 4th!

Amy Begemann

The question has been posed, why should I be elected to the school board? Or in my case, why I should be re-elected? The answer is integrity and accountability. As a 16 year resident of the district, and a board member for the past three years, I have stressed integrity and accountability, during one of the most difficult times for board of education members, due to the pandemic. I have strived to be a positive role model as a parent and a member of the school board and to not be afraid to challenge the status quo.

The main role of a school board member should be to create a relationship with district parents as well as other members of the board and most importantly, to create a relationship of trust with the Superintendent of the district. As a member of the school board, I’ve attempted to ask vital questions that provide transparency to staff and the community and impact the district and its students, to build that trusting relationship. I have been consistent in making every effort to provide an environment for safe learning and teaching in the district.

We must ensure that school district resources, whether financial or human, are utilized to the highest potential. Are we spending our annual funds appropriately? Are we setting, measuring, and communicating goals transparently? Are we holding staff accountable for the jobs they are in place to perform? Are we following or creating policies to ensure standard processes so that people know what they are expected to achieve? These are the types of questions I have been asking since elected to the board in order to support a district that is second to none in academics and in extracurricular activities, and to motivate the staff that educate our children or maintain our facilities. All of these are assets that can’t be ignored.

The current board, of which I am a member, has placed a priority on creating standards for work with the hope of sustaining processes; and creating committees in partnership with staff to make improvements leading to full transparency, most notably in district finances. The board has unanimously supported raising pay for staff and approving increases in insurance covered by the district, while ensuring allocation of funds for professional development for administrators and teachers. This support by the current board for positive change has been evident in the votes that reflect consensus on important issues.

I want to continue this pattern of positive change. And that is why I hope members of this community will support my being re-elected. Upward and onward is the direction we all want for our district, and I am no different from other parents or community residents. I just happen to be willing to place myself out there for public vote. I ask for your support in allowing me the opportunity to forward this progression and re-elect me to the Southern Boone County School District Board of Education.

Christopher Felmlee

I LOVE the Southern Boone School District and our community! I fully support the current administrative team. My focus is to keep the best interest of our students first. As the district’s retired superintendent, I know the district’s history, its growth and construction, day-to-day operations, and most importantly educational finance.

Currently, the members of the board and administration are relying on a third party to oversee the district’s annual finances. I am deeply concerned that the new board of education will face the need to increase property tax due to cost overruns related to a lack of understanding of finance and budgeting. Southern Boone has one of the highest property taxes in the region. I feel it is critical that the members of the board realize the need for maintaining a balanced budget, regardless of the growth that our community is experiencing. I realize the need to hire more teachers, however, the board and superintendent must address the shortcomings of the existing salary schedule and find ways to locally fund this. Currently, in several cases, our first-year through fourth-year teachers are not receiving pay increases. This is due in part to the district’s reliance on state funding to institute a minimum teacher pay of $38,000.00. If this is not addressed quickly, it will affect the quality of instruction and students’ academic performance. I realize the need to create new teaching positions; however, we are doing our students a disservice if we cannot keep our teachers year-to-year due to wages that are not competitive. I am very concerned that the majority of the board will look to increase taxes to address this shortcoming while continuing to hire teachers for newly created positions. I am deeply concerned the majority of the board does not have educational financial experience and understanding of the budget over the long term and this will result in the depletion of the district’s reserves and necessitate the need for increased taxes.

I have the experience to assist with navigating the district financially over the long term. I have strongly supportive ties to the current administration; I will NOT micromanage the superintendent and his administration. My intent continues to be laser-focused on meeting the needs of our students. I have NO political agenda. I am committed to serving the school district regardless of the difficulty of the tasks at hand or pressures from a loud minority. I believe I have established myself as a community leader who is solely dedicated to serving our children first and foremost. Our quality of education is the reason for the growth that the Southern Boone region is experiencing; families move here because our educational programs are the best. I am passionate about continuing to serve our community. Your vote for me will ensure that we have the strongest board of education committed to financial stability based on existing tax rates, focused campus improvements without raising taxes, and increased salaries for district employees focused on meeting the state minimum salary.