ABC 17 calls one winner in Jefferson City School Board of Education race; 2nd winner to close to call

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

Results update

With 75% of precincts reporting, ABC 17 News is reporting Erika Leonard with 2,851 votes will win one of the two seats on the Jefferson City School Board of Education.

Cole County Clerk’s Office is reporting

  • Anna Bloemke-Warren has 2,195 votes
  • Adam Gresham has 2,141
  • Marc Ellinger has 1,948

Full story

Jefferson City residents are voting on the two open seats on the Jefferson City School Board of Education as four candidates make their bids this election day. Anne Bloemke-Warren, Marc Ellinger, Adam Gresham and Erika Leonard are all on the ballot this Tuesday.

Candidates have differing views on things like masks in schools, the teaching of social issues, school board meetings and other issues.

Masks in schools

Bloemke-Warren is for masks, unlike the other candidates. Many candidates think the current pandemic procedures in Jefferson City Schools is sufficient.

In an interview with ABC 17, Bloemke-Warren said her opinion is “based on science.”

“I have been on the frontlines of the pandemic since about September of 2020,” Bloemke-Warren said. “I think Jeff City did a great job handling the pandemic, and our schools were the largest school district in the state to keep kids in seat the entire time. And I think a large portion of that was because we did have our kids wearing masks for the large portion of that.”

Ellinger and other candidates have opposing viewpoints on masks in schools.

“I mean, education, particularly with younger kids it’s so important that they can see teachers, teachers can see them,” Ellinger said. “And the masking really, I think, retards the ability of young children to learn how to pronounce, how to speak, how to read.”

Teaching social issues

Gresham said one of the pillars of his campaign is anti-critical race theory.

“There are some ugly aspects to American history, I have no desire whatever to gloss those over,” Gresham said. “Don’t want to do that. What I don’t want to see happen is that again, teachers or students are going to go into a building and they are somewhat indoctrinated in terms of a belief that one group is inherently oppressed, or one group is inherently oppressive.”

Leonard, however, said she trusts Jefferson City teachers and thinks they’re doing their best to follow the curriculum.

“Allowing our teachers to be culturally relative to the subject being taught based on the curriculum set is necessary to help students learn,” Leonard said.

School board meetings

Bloemke-Warren is open to ideas on how to change school board meetings but said she hasn’t personally run into issues communicating with the board.

“There’s always room for improvement in communication,” Bloemke-Warren said. “But I’ve never had an issue in communicating with any level at JC Schools, with teachers with administration with the board.”

Leonard echoes that she has been able to communicate with the board, but suggests parents consider taking up more issues directly with their teachers.

“Parents and guardians also need to remember that it’s important for them to engage with their student’s teachers during scheduled planning times, via email, or the app a teacher may be using to provide an additional resource for communication,” Leonard said.

discipline

One of Ellinger’s platform issues is the need for more discipline in schools.

“If we start early, we explain expectations, and we have a good solid structure with consequences for misbehavior, in later years when they get into middle school and high school, we’ll see less of a discipline issue and more opportunity for students to learn the entire time they’re in school,” Ellinger said.

Gresham said he thinks discipline is important because of his background in the Marine Corps.

“I have no expectation whatsoever that teachers run their classroom like a Marine Corps drill instructor, that is not what they need to do,” Gresham said. “However, I have every expectation, and I think parents have an expectation, for teachers to be able to run their classroom, set standards for behavior, hold every student equally accountable for doing that.”

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