School Board Candidate
I am originally from Excelsior Springs, MO where I watched my mother serve on the Board of Education there and to see the impact she had on my hometown community helped be a driving force for why I wanted to run. I moved to St Joseph in 2010 to attend MWSU and since then has made St Joseph my home. I would like to help improve our district for future generations.
Our Candidate Summary
These assessments are based on the answers or lack of answers supplied by the candidates. Isaura Garcia’s responses indicate a socially moderate and fiscally conservative position.
Brian Shewell on the Issues
Why have you decided to run for the Saint Joseph School Board?
I ran three years ago in 2020 to be a voice for educators/staff, as well as to help move the board in the right direction. I later watched my wife become an advocate in MSTA and in the district. I decided to run again because I saw the wonderful things happening in the district and it is making progress. I want to continue shaping the Board of Education and SJSD into a place of strength. I will continue to listen to the community, the staff and the students to build a better and stronger future for my daughter who will one day be a student in the district.
What are the strengths you will bring to the school board?
The strengths I would bring to the table as a SJSD board member would be that I am heavily involved with many groups in our community which gives me the advantage to see situations from different viewpoints. My connections have already helped strengthen partnerships between the district and the business community which continue to be beneficial in improving education, equipment and technology.
What changes/policies do you want to implement within the School Board?
I believe we need to really dive into our attendance and behavior policies and see where we can improve on them. Attendance has been listed as a top priority of the district admin and I feel that is a great place to start.
Many schools in Saint Joe are falling into disrepair. What would you do to see schools maintained and upgraded?
I would support the admin as they access the facilities and which have the most urgent need. Making sure SJSD goes through the proper channels to make sure we do what is best for not only our students but our community as well.
How do you feel the mask mandate was handled by the School Board during the COVID pandemic?
I feel the mask mandate was handled by SJSD during the COVID pandemic in the best way it could given the information available at the time. While I believe several steps could have been taken to better handle the situation, the district could only do so much with what was available.
Would you be in favor of mandating face masks or vaccinations of students within the school district? Please elaborate.
I believe there are pros and cons to mandating face masks and vaccinations of students within the school district. Depending on the state of the economy would help in my decision to implement policy.
Do you believe there are financial resources within the budget that are currently misallocated?
I do not feel like I can answer this question without doing more research into the financials for the school district.
What are your top funding priorities?
1. Early Learning initiatives 2. Staff support 3. Upgrades/improvements to our facilities
How would you ensure financial transparency and accountability with the public?
I would ensure financial transparency and accountability with the public by allowing the public to see the financial reports and ask the questions they want to ask. Keeping any information from the public that is legally allowed for them to know only breaks the trust the community has in the district which is still in a fragile state.
What is the greatest challenge the Saint Joseph School district is currently facing?
I believe the district is currently facing several challenges such as recruiting quality staff due to Independence going to 4 day weeks; facilities plans in regards to 6th grades, middle school and high schools potential closings; and lastly, earning and keeping the community’s trust.
How do you feel about the current approach to special education within the school district?
I feel the current approach to special education within our school district, like many things, is in a good spot but can always have room for improvement.
What do you see as the most significant challenges teachers face within the district?
What I see as some of the most significant challenges teachers face within the district are lack of support for behaviors in the classroom and
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How will you encourage community interaction and receive community feedback about the state of Saint Joseph Schools?
I believe that it is a board member’s obligation to be accessible to their constituents. As an active community member I am accessible on various outlets such as through email, cell phone and social media sites. I welcome all feedback and am willing to meet with whoever needs to discuss matters, especially if they feel they are not being heard in other areas.
How would you encourage parental involvement within the school system?
Getting involved with both what is happening with your student as well as their school is a huge positive for our district. One way would be to sign up and get involved with your local PTA organization.
Do you support transgender-inclusive or lgbtq+ policies for schools such as bathroom and locker room inclusion based on someone's preferred gender?
I support every student receiving the same quality environment to help them thrive. No student should feel like an outsider in our district.
Would you encourage the introduction of materials into the school system based on Critical Race Theory (CRT)?
Do you identify as socially/politically liberal or conservative?
My faith plays a huge part in my life and the decisions I make on a daily basis. I volunteer as a Big Brother in Big Brothers Big Sisters St. Joseph to my little who is a 6th grade student in SJSD. I am an active member of St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce Diplomats. I am the assistant General Manager of Pizza Ranch. I have used these connections to increase student engagement and reading minutes this year by implementing the Pizza Ranch Reading Rodeo. This program incentivizes students to read in return for a free buffet coupon, also top readers get a pizza party each quarter.