Sunday, March 9, 2008


Many thanks to Jennifer Wingert's Fifth Grade Class at Grant Elementary for providing these questions to local political candidates. And many thanks to the candidates for answering.

We're going to mix it up a bit, with our first batch of answers from 1st Ward Council Candidates John Clark and Karen Baxter; School Board Candidates Rosie Tippin and Darin Preis; and County Commission Candidate Skip Elkin.

ROSIE TIPPIN for School Board

How will you ALL work together to improve Columbia and Boone County?

"To coordinate efforts to ensure that all Columbia children receive a quality education."

How does the School Board help decide what curriculum students learn in school?

"To my knowledge, the School Board does not actually decide the curriculum for the school system. That is left to the professionals and the school board's responsiblity is to support them via research."

DARIN PREIS for School Board

How will you ALL work together to improve Columbia and Boone County?

"We will continue to support City, County, and school district staff working together on issues that affect all of us. Those individuals meet regularly and need to be given opportunities to trouble-shoot, plan, and communicate progress so that each feels it is contributing to the whole. Likewise, I think it would be valuable for the Commissioners, Council members, and School Board members to meet an additional time during the year to build relationships that will support more open communication."

How does the School Board help decide what curriculum students learn in school?

"The School Board establishes the process by which curriculum gets updated or amended. Each curriculum area is on a five-year program evaluation cycle. Every year each content area is in one of the five steps. The steps are as follows: Program Evaluation, Rewrite, Implement, Monitor/Adjust, and Monitor/Adjust. Parents are involved in several of these steps, as are teachers, principals, community members, and university faculty. Through this process the priorities of the community are reflected along with research-based best practices and we end up with curriculum that both challenges students and prepares them for the future."

SKIP ELKIN for County Commissioner

How will you ALL work together to improve Columbia and Boone County?

"A lot of planning and communication is involved in all governments whether it is between the County and City, the County and State or the County and Washington DC. We meet monthly with the City of Columbia to talk about issues that are of importance to both our governments. I think it is important for governments to communicate so we all know what each other is doing. Sometimes we can work together to accomplish joint projects that benefit us all. Sometimes we will agree to do a certain project and the City will agree to do another project. What we don't want to do is plan and prepare to do the same projects independently. This would be a waste of time, money and resources and is termed as "duplication of services". Working together is the key to improving our community."

Why is Columbia continuing to build houses/buildings when so many are vacant at this time?

"Home-building is a function of our economy and is considered a private enterprise. It is based on the availability of money (in the form of loans or private investments) and market demand. If those two factors exist, then the builders/developers will continue to sell their product. We are seeing a significant slowdown in home building. I think the availability of money is lessening and certainly there are not as many people looking to buy new homes."

JOHN G. CLARK for First Ward City Council

How will you ALL work together to improve Columbia and Boone County?

"The various local governments largely serve the same people, but in different ways. Each of them cannot serve their constituents well all by themselves. They need the other local governments to do what they do. I would ask each local government body (City Council, County Commission, Columbia Public Schools, etc) to tell each other, honestly, what they need the other governments to do so that they can can do their job well. Our governmental bodies have never done this before. The Visioning Plan suggests that they start doing so."

"For example, the Columbia Public School District might ask the City and County to plan growth better so that the School District could plan for new schools better. Or they might ask the City and County stop subsidizing population growth so that the School District could catch-up. The District is now 5-6 elementary schools behind."

Why is Columbia continuing to build apartments/buildings when so many are vacant -- like empty shopping centers -- at this time?

"There are lots of reasons. The main reason is that investors, builders, and developers think they are making good investments that will make them money. They may be wrong. They may have thought that the population would grow faster than it has. Thus, vacant buildings."

"But there is another reason - huge public subsidies of the cost of these apartments/buildings. The citizens of Columbia are subsidizing the cost of these buildings through their taxes and utilities fees. I estimate that for each apartment unit of 750 sq ft, we are subsidizing the true cost to the tune of about $6 -8,000. This the amount of money needed for the new schools, new sewers, new water mains, new public infrastructure - to serve the people who will live in these apartments."

"Wouldn't you build a lot of apartments whose true cost was $45,000 per unit if you only had to $37,500 per unit? Lots of developers, investors, builders have been doing just that. It is up to City Council and the people of Columbia to end these public subsidies. I will work to do so if I am elected."

KAREN BAXTER for First Ward City Council

Read Karen's answers at her blog,



  2. Why not let them ask the fifth grader questions?

    Ask a fifth grader .com