School Board Candidate

Ronda Chesney


I have lived in St. Joseph all my life. I have 2 grown daughters who are married. I have 6 grandchildren that I enjoy spending time with often. I am an alumnus of Missouri Western and I currently teach preservice teachers in the Education Department. I have a master’s degree from Baker University in Education.


Our Candidate Summary

Socially Conservative
Fiscal Conservative

These assessments are based on the answers or lack of answers supplied by the candidates. The candidate’s responses indicate a socially conservative and fiscally conservative position.

Ronda on the Issues

Why have you decided to run for the Saint Joseph School Board?

My top reason for running is the students I taught for 29 years in the SJSD. I have been a teacher of teachers for the last 8 years at Missouri Western State University. I can bring a passion for education and children from a teacher’s point of view. My second reason for running is to bring a more positive light to the district. My hope is to make future teachers want to teach in the district and business leaders want their children to be educated in our town. The last reason I am running is I want to be part of a collaborative team that makes financially sound decisions, which will impact our students in a positive way. Our children are the future of our city. We need them to be well educated as they lead us into the future.

What are the strengths you will bring to the school board?

My biggest strength is my educational background as a former teacher in the St. Joseph School District. Through my educational experiences I have learned to collaborate with others and work as a team to put children first.

What can be done to address the poor English proficiency and Math Proficiency scores that are being generated by kids in our school system? English scores reflect that students are only 32% proficient and math scores are coming in at 38% proficient --- both below the state average.

As a former teacher in the district, I have experienced the struggles of raising test scores. Many factors go into the process of students taking achievement tests. I would say one way to improve test scores is to work with families to send their children to school. Another way to improve scores is creating an environment where learning can occur by supporting children with behavioral needs so the teacher in the classroom can teach all children. The last area would be to research teaching strategies that are the most effective ways of teaching that match how children learn.

Where do you stand on the 4-day/week school schedule proposal?

The 4-day week has already been decided. We need to make the most of what has been adopted.

Do you understand the District's Annual Budget, and what are your plans to get your arms around the details of that budget and evaluate where and how Tax taxpayer dollars are being spent?

The district operates on a budget of $146 million each year as a board member I would receive the budget before each board meeting, and I would monitor expenditures to determine any questionable spending.

What is your position on general levy Tax increases to increase the school district's annual budget?

As a former teacher in St. Joseph, I know what it feels like to get paid the salaries of our district. I would typically support increases for district employees. I would like to see increases in pay to recruit and retain quality personnel.

What is your position on the current redistricting proposal?

Over the years there have been several long-range plans for the district. I would like to see the district choose a plan and move forward to make sure all students are educated in educational settings to meet their needs.

What is your position on the proposal to build one or two new high schools replacing the three older facilities that currently exist?

I am in favor of the district’s plan for two high schools so all high school students in our community have a facility that supports quality learning.

What is your approach to school safety? What is your position on metal detectors, security guards, and safety training for our teachers and administrators?

Our students deserve the safest school settings possible. As details of what that would look like are presented to the board, I would consider carefully what is best for our students.

How do you feel about the current approach to special education within the school district?

As a former Early Childhood Special Education teacher in St. Joseph, I understand that special education programs are federally funded, and school districts are required to meet their guidelines.

What do you see as the most significant challenges teachers face within the district?

One of the areas I hear teachers talking about is student behaviors. I would support additional training for teachers in how to handle children with strong behaviors by really looking at what children are telling us through their behaviors and how to build positive relationships them. I would also support hiring highly trained professionals who have expertise in the areas of children’s behavioral needs. I would monitor and advocate for an alternative school which could alleviate some of the challenges faced by teachers.

What will be your approach to working with the school district administration?

My approach would be to work with school district administration in a collaborative manner to do what is best for students.

Would you encourage the introduction of materials into the school system based on Critical Race Theory (CRT) and other "woke" ideologies?

I do not support CRT teachings. School districts are required to use curriculum that aligns with state standards.