MACON R-1 SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION - Questions and Answers


(MACON, MO) On Tuesday April 2nd, 2019, voters within the Macon R-1 School District will be given a choice between three candidates vying for two positions (three year terms) on the Macon R-1 School Board of Education. Those candidates are Joe Claypoole, Jerry Martie, and Chris Nelson. Both Claypoole and Martie are incumbents and have served two terms on the school board. We reached out to the candidates with questions seeking answers to provide to voters ahead of the election. Those questions and answers are as follows:


MARTIE: “My name is Jerry Martie and I am a candidate for re-election to the Macon R-1 School Board. I am a retired school teacher. I grew up on a farm south of Bevier and attended Bevier High School. Upon graduation I attended Northeast Missouri State Teachers College (Now Truman University) where I received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. In later years I completed 24 credit hours towards an MBA Degree with William Woods University. I am married to Pat Martie, a retired Macon R-1 teacher. I have two children…Jason Martie, the Principal at Bevier Schools and Jacque Clifton, a Science teacher in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in St. Louis. I am what I consider to be a school person as I have spent the majority of my life being associated with schools in one way or another, mostly as a teacher. I believe my familiarity with the operation of schools has been beneficial during my tenure on the board. I am running for another term on the board because I believe we have made some very big strides in improving our campus as well as the technology in our classrooms. As a board we have strived to provide the best education possible for our students success as they advance either to higher levels of education or go into the workforce. We have done this while operating with one of the lowest tax levies in the State of Missouri and still maintaining our reserve funds well above the required 22%. Our board has worked diligently to make our school one that our community can be proud of and one that might attract young families to want to make Macon their home. I would like to continue serving to see some of our goals become reality.”

NELSON: “My name is Chris Nelson and I am a candidate for the Macon R-1 School Board. The first question people ask is, “Why are you running?” Before I answer, I feel it is important to thank Joe Claypoole and Jerry Martie, along with the rest of the Board Members. It’s often heard that School Board Members have a “thankless” job. So...”thank you!”

My reason for running is two-fold. First, I am ready to “get off the sideline and get in the game”. I have always felt an obligation, as well as a desire, to serve in the organizations and institutions in which my children are involved. Most volunteer positions require a large amount of time, energy and passion, and I am sure those requirements are multiplied several times for School Board membership. I am ready to meet this challenge to ensure a top-notch education, in an up-to-date facility, administered by people who care, will continue to be the standard for Macon R-1. Second, I will look for ways to increase communication in all areas. Effective communication between the public and the Board, the board and the Administration, the Administration and the faculty, the faculty and the students, or between students and their parents will never be perfect. However, if we are not constantly striving to find improved ways to enhance communication for all, diminished communication will be the result. With the exception of 6 years, Macon has been my home. I was born at Samaritan Hospital in 1968, graduated from Macon High School in 1986 and have no plans to leave the area. I am blessed to be married to Rona (Richmond) Nelson for 26 years. We have four children: McKenna, Evie, Jacob and Elise. For the past 12 years, we have owned a local Insurance Agency and prior to that, we owned and operated a construction company for 7 years. My parents, Marianne Nelson and Bobby Nelson, still call Macon “home”, as does my mother-in-law, Martha Ridgely. My experiences through membership roles with Church Boards, the Macon Optimist Club, the Macon Baseball Association, the Maples Repertory Theatre Board and the Macon Athletic Booster Club have taught me how to work together for the greater good, and sometimes, with people with which you don’t see eye-to-eye. I am ready to go to work as a representative for you and your family as a member of the Macon R-1 School Board.”

CLAYPOOLE: “I am married to Kay (Shoush) Claypoole & we have four children and 4 grandchildren. I have owned Claypoole Construction for 25 years and Claypoole Nursery LLC for 5 years. I attended Atlanta High School and Macon VoTech. My wife & children all attended and graduated from Macon R-1 School and our grandchildren are attending Macon R-1 as well. I am currently serving my second term on the Macon R-1 School board and am running for my 3rd term Through the past 6 years I have been proud to represent the community at Macon R-1 and feel the board has made many improvements and progress during that time.”

QUESTION 1: What is the most pressing issue facing Macon R-1 and how could you improve/change it?

JERRY MARTIE: “I think our most pressing issue at this time is to finish the new elementary building, get a new playground built, and get the exterior work (parking areas, drop off zones, etc.) completed in time for the summer activities that occur in and around the school. I don’t see any major concerns at this time or need to make any changes.”

CHRIS NELSON: “Perhaps communication and civility could be improved throughout our community and our culture. It is in my opinion, if we are not constantly striving to find improved ways to enhance communication, then decreased communication will be the result. I feel as though there is a direct correlation between the excessive use of electronic communication and a lack of civility, by all parties. A handshake and a smile cost nothing, but are invaluable.”

JOE CLAYPOOLE: “Bullying is a big issue between student to student or between teacher and student or in some cases between teacher to teacher. Keep trying to educate on this issue or to make examples out of some cases that you have all the facts on this case and then take the proper action.”

QUESTION 2: In your eyes, how is the new elementary project going? Is there anything going the way it shouldn't be? Could be changed?

JERRY MARTIE: “As Mr. Jarvis stated in the Journal, the new building is within a few days of being completed on the interior. It is coming in well under budget and I think the students will benefit greatly in the coming years as a result of having it. The storm proof rooms will secure the safety of our children and give parents some peace of mind when a storm approaches. The building will have a secure entrance and all doors in the new addition as well as the existing elementary will be intruder proof. It should enhance the learning experience as well due to having the latest technology placed in all classrooms.”

CHRIS NELSON: “In my eyes, I see how the completion of the new elementary project could have been slowed drastically due to the weather, but fortunately I believe it is on schedule. Plus, it is my understanding the library housed in the new addition should be available for use by the students soon.”

JOE CLAYPOOLE: “In my eyes this project is on schedule even though we have had some bad weather. The contractor is doing a 100% fantastic job on this project and looks like as of today we will come in under budget. Oh and by the way the money we save on this project "cannot" go for any other project but the new elementary. No.”

QUESTION 3: What is one thing that Macon R-1 hasn't addressed that needs to be addressed? What is one thing that you think should be changed?

JERRY MARTIE: “As a board, I believe we deal with any and all issues as they present themselves. We cannot just sweep something under the rug. Sometimes the issues at hand are ones that may not be very popular with teachers, students, parents, or the community. We are elected to make these decisions and I believe our board makes fair decisions for everyone involved.. If something occurs that needs changing, we will deal with it as needed.”

CHRIS NELSON: “Community pride and involvement are and have always been instrumental to the success of Macon R-1. Reaffirming, continuing and enhancing that belief within the community and amongst the administration and staff should be a never-ending agenda.”

JOE CLAYPOOLE: “I think overall we as a board are doing a very good job. But as the old saying goes you can't make everybody happy.”

QUESTION 4: What is your opinion on school vouchers and charter schools - be specific with your position?

JERRY MARTIE: “Charter schools have mainly been established in St. Louis and Kansas City in Missouri and I don’t see them expanding to any great extent into the more rural areas My problem with them and school vouchers is they want to be private, but want to take money from public education without having to comply with the same standards and accountability as the public schools. For example, they are not open to all students, they can be selective in who they accept. They do not have to offer classes for special needs students and most don‘t even accept them. The students do not have to test to the same levels as public school students. They can recruit students and athletes. This is why many private schools compete each year for state championships. With all this, it is not proven they produce a better academic product than public schools. Our public schools do a great job for all students. If you do the research, you will find some charter schools in the cities have failed and closed. Our public schools have a tough enough time financially as the state has failed to fully fund them for many years. If the state starts handing out taxpayer money or vouchers to these private schools, the money will come from public school funds which is already at a deficit. I have always been proud of education in America as we give every child an equal opportunity to be educated, not like some other countries that only allow a select few to receive a quality education.”

CHRIS NELSON: “Vouchers and Charter Schools are two terms often heard this day and age but without a little digging, I believe they can be easily misunderstood.

A Voucher is typically described as funds that would be spent by a school district which would be allocated to a participating family in the form of a voucher to pay partial or full

tuition for their child’s private school. I am opposed to the voucher system for one reason. That reason being the playing field is not level between Public Schools and Private Schools in regard to some standards set forth by the State of Missouri.

A Charter School is considered a public school by the State of Missouri which anyone may attend (or apply to attend dependent upon capacity) who lives in the geographical area served by the School. I am not opposed to Charter Schools. I would refer you to the DESE(Department of Elementary & Secondary Education) website to review the FAQs on the topic:

Given the limiting factors as to where or how a Charter School can be established, I highly doubt this will ever be an issue Macon R-1 has to deal with.”

JOE CLAYPOOLE: “I think everything that I have read on this subject would damage a rural community like Macon R-1. I feel as though we have a very good thing going so why change it.”

QUESTION 5: If the bible literacy bill (HB 267) is passed in Jefferson City, would you as a board member support the idea of offering a bible literacy elective at Macon R-1?

JERRY MARTIE: “First of all, I currently serve as a Deacon at my respective church and am very proud to do so. However, I believe the founding fathers had good reason for establishing the separation of church and state. I also believe that a public school’s priority is to prepare children for life educationally and a church’s priority is to prepare children for life spiritually. This by no means indicates that the two cannot work together simultaneously. The Bible is a great historical as well as a great literary book that I believe every person should have as much knowledge of it as possible. I do not have a problem with any student praying in school as long as it is on an individual basis or done by the flagpole. I doubt that offering an elective religion class would violate the separation of church and state statutes. If this bill is passed, as a board member, I would have to examine the aspects of the bill as I do on all issues and then vote for or against offering such a class.”

CHRIS NELSON: “My initial response was “no” but the more time I spent looking into this HB 267, I changed my mind and here is why. This information is taken directly from the language of HB 267- 2. -- The purpose of a course under this section is to:8(1)Teach students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives 9 that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including 10 literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy; A course offered under this section shall follow applicable law and all federal and 23 state guidelines in maintaining religious neutrality and accommodating the diverse 24 religious views, traditions, and perspectives of students in the school. A course offered 25 under this section shall not endorse, favor, or promote, or disfavor or show hostility 26 toward, any particular religion or nonreligious faith or religious perspective -- Given this information and knowing that the course is an “elective”, I would support offering this this course on a trial basis.”

JOE CLAYPOOLE: “I do not like "if" questions when I have no decision in this passing or failing. But to try to answer your question I have no problem supporting or offering a class, but not making it mandatory.”

QUESTION 6: Where is one area that you think money has been spent wastefully within the district and where would you like to see more money spent?

JERRY MARTIE: “I do not see any area that our district has spent money wastefully. When you have buildings that were built in the early and middle part of the 20th century, you are always going to be in need of making renovations and improvements. I think our board has been very good stewards of the district 's money. We operate on one the lowest tax levies in the state and are able to do so because when we make these improvements, we only do the necessities. As to where we need to spend more money, I think we need to look in the future to expanding our band rooms. Our band is one of the best in the state and I we think need to provide them with adequate facilities for their programs.”

CHRIS NELSON: “Without a complete understanding of Administrative requests made to the Board, or the rationale behind them, I choose not to second-guess prior decisions. To answer the second part of the question, I believe the determination of where and how to spend taxpayer money should be decided according to need.”

JOE CLAYPOOLE: “As a board member I do not see anywhere that we have wasted money.”

QUESTION 7: What makes the Macon R-1 District unique?

JERRY MARTIE: “Macon R-1 is unique because of its teachers and its students. Macon puts out a very quality product and this is only possible due to the quality of their instructors and the students they teach in the classroom. When Macon students graduate, they are prepared to succeed at whatever their next endeavor might be. Another thing I think sets Macon students apart from others is their sense of school pride. My children had tremendous pride in Macon and I think they still carry that pride with them today. If you check out the alumni that return for homecoming, you can just feel how proud they are to have been a Macon Tiger.”

CHRIS NELSON: “The People are what makes this School District unique. A School District is not made up of buildings and real-estate but of people. Each person has their own unique story and set of circumstances and desires which makes them who they are. That is the good news and the bad news when trying to determine policies and decisions which have the opportunity to affect so many. Macon R-1 is not, nor should we ever become another “cookie cutter” style school just trying to make a name for itself. By staying focused on the needs of the people who attend the School, the needs of the people who are employed by the School and the needs of the citizens of this community, which the School serves, Macon R-1 will continue to shine.”

JOE CLAYPOOLE: “I feel as though we have a very unique school system. Overall a very highly qualified administrative staff and teachers and excellent students.”

QUESTION 8: What is one positive decision the board has made in the last 5 years to improve our district and what is one wrong decision that the district has made in the last 5 years?

JERRY MARTIE: “I think the most positive decision the board has made in the last five years was to run a levy to build the new elementary addition. This building was extremely needed to get some of our students out of closets and into classrooms to promote better learning. The new addition will be something our community can be proud of and will give our students the technological advantages they will need as they move on to middle and high school. I think our decision to turf the football field and repurpose the butler building into a multipurpose building will prove to be a very positive decision in a short time. Sometimes it takes a couple years to realize how beneficial a decision turns out to be. Many were upset with the decision of a previous board to build the Middle School addition. Just think where our Middle School would be now if that decision hadn’t been made. I applaud those board member’s foresight in this case.”

CHRIS NELSON: “I believe the Board made the decision to listen and change according to what they heard from the community in regard to a building project. Even though the community didn’t support the first two proposals presented by the Board for a building project, the need for one didn’t go away. As a result of listening and being willing to adjust, the new elementary classroom project is almost complete.”

JOE CLAYPOOLE: “Pushing very hard for the expansion of the new elementary building so we can move forward with a lot more smaller projects in the future that are desperately needed for the safety of our kids.”

QUESTION 9: What is your most fondest memory of Macon R-1 - as a student, teacher, parent, etc.?

JERRY MARTIE: “Since I did not attend Macon school I can only attest to being a teacher, a parent and a husband of a Macon teacher. I taught summer Driver Education for four summers following my retirement from Moberly. I enjoyed each of my students even though we had a few hair raising experiences. My fondest memories of my children, in addition to watching them become young adults, was probably when my son, Jason, won the Bob Lucas Senior Athlete Award and my daughter, Jacque, won the Lee McDowell Senior Athlete Award for girls. Both were academically able to continue their education as well as have successful athletic careers in college. My fondest memory of my wife was watching the various teams she coached over the years and the significant role she played in her students lives and development. I enjoy seeing her face light up when she comes in contact with her former students.”

CHRIS NELSON: “A favorite memory of mine was of representing Macon R-1 on the field of Busch Stadium in 1985 during the state quarterfinal football game. What a fantastic experience! That memory, while still awesome, has been replaced as a favorite, and will continue to be replaced on an almost daily basis. Every performance, concert, game, contest, prom or event I now attend to watch my children participate in now becomes one of my new favorites.”

JOE CLAYPOOLE: “My fondest memories are seeing all my kids graduate from Macon R-1 and being a part of Macon R-1 school board member for the past 6 years.”

QUESTION 10: Feel free to include anything here, any last comments or concerns!

JERRY MARTIE: “I have had the honor of serving on the Macon R-1 board for the past six years. We have made, as a board, some very difficult decisions during that time, some that were not too popular. I believe that every vote I made during these years was made with what I felt to be in the best interest of our students. It always has to be first and foremost about the students. We only have 13 short years to prepare them for the world. I am asking you to continue putting your trust in me to keep making decisions for Macon R-1 and your children.”

CHRIS NELSON: “On April 02nd, VOTE! If I have the privilege of receiving your vote, THANK YOU. If you choose to cast your vote for the other qualified individuals, I still say THANK YOU. Thank you for being involved and caring enough to cast your vote. Cordially, Chris Nelson”

JOE CLAYPOOLE: “I have enjoyed serving on the Macon R-1 school board the past 6 years and I am proud of the progress we have made during this time. If you feel as though I have supported Macon R-1 school district to your satisfaction, I would appreciate your vote on April 2nd. However, if you do not feel I have supported Macon R-1 school district to your satisfaction then vote me off. Thank you very much.”