CARTHAGE, Mo. — The candidates seeking the three open seats on the Carthage Board of Education appeared at the Carthage Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum on Tuesday, March 29.
The candidates were each given five minutes to talk about themselves and their qualifications for the Board.
Incumbent Nathan Terry is running unopposed to fill the final two years for a board member who was elected last year but resigned a few months after the election.
Incumbents Niki Cloud, and Ryan Collier and challenger Garrell Dry are running for the two full three-year seats open this year on the board.
Cloud was unable to attend the forum but she sent in a letter that was read to the audience by Carthage Chamber President Julie Reams.
Here are their responses as transcribed from a video of the event.
Nathan Terry, unopposed for the two year term
I have the pleasure of running unopposed in this election, but I thought it was important that you get to know me because who knows what the future holds. I grew up in Carthage, graduated from Carthage High School and I worked at Carthage Water & Electric for 21 years. I spent a lot of time in this building. I actually was born in this building, I don’t remember what floor it was.
Before I left Carthage Water & Electric I thought I would die here as well. Now I work at Missouri American Water in Joplin. I’m a ‘92 graduate of Carthage High School. I have grandkids now that will be in the school system before too long. I’m a current member filling the last little bit of a term that was vacated.
I think Carthage has a really long history of really great school board members and administration, as far back as I can remember, and I would like to be a part of carrying that on. There are issues we face every day, I think basically our school board has done a great job, our administration has done a great job, and I just want to be a part of carrying that forward into the future for the benefit of our community and current and future students.
Garrell Dry, for one of the two three-year seats
I’m 33 years old, born and raised here in Carthage, graduated from high school in 2007, graduated from Missouri Southern in 2010 from the law enforcement academy. I worked in law enforcement for five years and realized it didn’t pay very well so I went into sales for a while.
In 2020 I decided it would be a great idea to go into business for myself and I started an IT business doing website development and security for IT. I got married on Sept. 17, 2021 to my amazing wife Erin Dry.
I just wanted to run for school board because I felt like there was a lot of things the school board needs to take back control of in the district as far as from the admin side and have better oversight of what’s going on in the district.
I think we’re pretty underpaid compared to other schools in the area and we need to support our staff a lot better and do a better job of getting them pay increases and getting a little better handle on doing better in academics and set a standard and goal for the area so that people look at us and want to be like us.
That’s why I’m running for school board. I’ve got an online page, anyone feel free to email me or contact me by phone.
Dr. Ryan Collier, for one of the two three-year seats
I grew up in Carl Junction and graduated from Carl Junction High School in 1991. I grew up in a household of educators, my mother and father taught and my dad taught in Carl Junction for pretty much his whole career. My mom taught in Seneca for most of her career as well. I’ve lived in Carthage a total of 20 years of my life. I worked at McCune-Brooks in this building and I think this is the first time since the building closed that I’ve actually been back, so it kind of brings back a lot of memories.
My wife Amy has worked for the school district for 17 years. She’s a teacher at the intermediate center and she continues to do that. Both my children have graduated from Carthage.
I was chosen two years to fill a vacancy on the board and ran unopposed last year. During that time I’ve learned a great deal about what I did not know about serving on the school board. When you’re a new school board member, the learning curve is steep and I’m just now becoming comfortable about how the school board runs.
I believe I have more to give as a member of the board and I currently serve as treasurer of the board. During the past two years our district has navigated some of the toughest times that schools have seen in quite some time. COVID has been the most significant impact to the school systems in many years.
The affects of COVID on learning will continue for many years to come and it will take a strong presence in all school systems to navigate the uncharted territory that we face. I believe that our school is ready to face that challenge with the excellent teachers, staff and administration that we have.
I wanted to get into some of the aspects that are going on now and address one of the hottest topics this year, the performing arts center. The board voted a couple of months ago to place the PAC on the ballot for April, but as most of you know, there were some things that occurred and that did not happen. Last month, the board voted again to put the PAC on the ballot for this coming August. I voted in favor of placing the PAC on the ballot and I know that is kind of a controversial thing but during our Vision 2020 campaign it was made clear that a priority for the community was a performing arts center. That project has been bumped a few times for other projects, but I felt it was time for us to put that project forward. We currently have the bonding capacity to do so, this will be a no-tax-increase proposition but will extend the life of the tax for about two more years. Though it says no tax increase, it will actually extend our current tax level for two more years. While this does extend the tax, I believe it is money well spent.
Believe it or not, the high school was built 13 years ago and we’ve exceeded our predicted growth very rapidly. We now have traveling teachers even since the tech center has been opened. I believe the PAC will help bring people to town and help make us a destination school district. I’ve also been a small business owner and without the school, our lives would have been a lot more difficult. The school supports local business. With more people in the town, they can support the local economy as well.
My believe is the power lies with the voters and the majority have asked for this to be placed on the upcoming ballot. We will see what the voters have to say. Whether you support it or not, I encourage you to go ahead and vote. A couple of the interests I’ve seen over the past couple of years, I want to continue to pursue paying teachers a little bit more and trying to keep teachers here. We want to develop more programs to keep our own teachers here and we want to see that continue for more years. Another thing that I’ve learned is that not everybody shows the same opinion and we want to make sure we listen to everybody, I want to make sure I listen to everybody and make the decisions that are best for the community and for our students.
Niki Cloud, running for one of the two three-year seats
In a letter read by Julie Reams:
Niki Cloud is running for her third term on the Carthage School Board, she apologizes for not being able to attend in person but she is out of town for a business commitment but she appreciates the opportunity to still send a letter and have that read on her behalf.
Six years ago I spoke of my desire to be elected to the board and three years later spoke again of my desire to be reelected. Here, again, older and hopefully wiser, asking for your vote and support. I continue to be a mom first who is involved with her children’s education and still want to give back by serving on the board. Today those children are in sixth grade and at the Sixth Grade Center, and in 11th grade at Carthage High School.
Most every morning she takes them to school and picks them up from School. I’ve helped in nearly every capacity I can at the elementary and middle school level from PTO president to helping those first day kindergartners open their lunch boxes, being involved as a parent has helped her be a more informed school board member. She has a glimpse of what teachers are dealing with and she knows the curriculum because she’s trying to figure out geometry with a sixth grader right along with her kid.
As a new school board member, the state requires you to complete 16 hours of training within your first year, she completed hers within the first month of being in office. There are three additional levels of training and she completed two by 2019 and level 3 by 2020.
I’ve served on the board as treasurer, secretary, and Vice President and now president. The training and understanding of being a school board member does not happen over night. It has been extremely helpful to me having board members with experience as we discus situations. It seems crazy that she is now one of those members and the second longest termed member on the board.
When looking back over the last six years there have been incredible accomplishments for the district. We have had great feedback at the Carthage 2020 and Beyond sessions. We watched the district move, renovate and expand to meet students needs. Our central office has an appropriate home, we have given diplomas to high school seniors and preschool students. We have watched the dual language program thrive. We see Parents As Teachers work hard in getting the youngest Carthaginians ready for school Tiger Prep Academy is soaring and we saw the Tech Center expand.
Teachers and staff have been recognized with Golden Keys. There are donations to proceed with an amazing Performing Arts Center.
And then COVID. Teachers, staff, parents, communities, we all stepped up and did what we needed to do because that’s what was best for the children. It’s hard to see what the next three years will bring me but I am more than thrilled to be a part of the future.
The job of a school board member is to hire and or fire the superintendent implement policy and do what’s best for the students. We are not here to micromanage, I want to be a friendly face and someone that you would feel comfortable talking to if you have questions or issues because it’s likely I might have the situation.
She has enjoyed her time serving and strongly believes that she has much more to give to the district as a taxpayer, a community member and mom. I humbly ask for your vote and continued support.