The Mail asked Marshfield R-I School Board candidates to offer a statement about why they're running for the school board, and we also asked three other questions regarding the school district.

The candidates who will be competing for three seats on the June 2 ballot include Josh Hartman, Joey Pate, Betsy Sandbothe, Patrick Theobald and Amy Wilkerson. Their answers appear below.

Q: Give a brief statement about why you are running for school board.  

Josh Hartman: I'm running for Marshfield School Board and would appreciate your support. I’m a 1993 graduate of Marshfield High School and have considered running many times over the years, but have never jumped in until now. As many of you may know, I have a renewed interest in the future of our schools with the addition of our son Griffin to the family. This gives me not only a renewed interest, but the unique perspective of being an alumnus, having two children in high school and raising a 1-year-old whose schooling is all ahead of him.  

I come from a family with deep roots in our county. I live on a century farm handed down through my Hartman family. The Day side of my family were some of the first settlers in this part of the state. So I am deeply invested and tied to our county and our schools. I can bring that history to the position as well as having an eye on our current interest and an eye toward our future.    

Joey Pate: I'm Joey Pate. We have lived in Marshfield for 23 years. I’ve been married to Jana Bertoldie Pate for 31 years. Our three kids graduated from Marshfield. My reason for running for school board is to give back to the community that has given so much to my family.

Betsy Sandbothe: I am running for school board because I care about our community and the children in it. I have a child who is a 2018 alumni of MHS and a soon to be fourth-grader and first-grader. I have a vested interest in the continued success of our school system.

Patrick Theobald: To the citizens of the Marshfield school district, my name is Patrick Theobald, and I've had the privilege of being a member of the Marshfield school board for the past several years. I am married to Amber and have seven children who have attended and graduated from Marshfield High School. Marshfield has been our home for the past 23 years and has provided my family with tremendous opportunities. Being on the school board has given me an opportunity to give back to the community in a significant way. I have served with some outstanding people, and collectively I believe we have made the Marshfield schools an outstanding school district through the hiring of top-notch administrators and the absolute best teachers in southwest Missouri. I would very much like be a part of this incredible board for another term and would appreciate your vote on June 2! Go, Bluejays!

Amy Wilkerson: I want to help kids. I want to do whatever I can to insure our kids have the best opportunities available to them to help them succeed. I also want our community to prosper. I believe a strong school district helps the entire community.

Q: What factors do you consider when deciding whether or not to open classes in the fall?  

Pate: As a school board, our number one factor is the safety of our students and staff! We must follow the guidelines set by the state and our local health officials. The board needs to make available to our staff everything needed to protect everyone at our six campuses.

Hartman: The decision to re-open our schools in the fall should be based on several different factors. While it’s difficult to say exactly how many positive cases of the virus within the county is an acceptable level to re-open our schools, I think the thing we need to see is stability in those numbers by the end of the summer. In addition, we should have clearly laid-out plans for faculty, students and families of students, who may have compromised immune systems. 

Sandbothe: Opening school in the fall is a tough topic because so much is unknown and changing daily. It seems that a practical approach is patience. As the summer progresses, planning for all types of contingencies would allow our district to quickly adapt to whatever the circumstances are in the fall.

Theobald and Wilkerson did not send a response to this question.

Q: What new initiatives would you like to propose or see enacted?

Sandbothe: I don’t have a particular initiative that I am interested in bringing to the table, but continuing to advocate for more investments in vo-tech training for students and retaining our experienced teaching staff are top priorities for me.

Hartman: My heart breaks for children who come to school each day dealing with traumas they've experienced outside of school. Like most places, there’s an ever-growing population of students who’ve experienced multiple traumatic events in their lives. Statistics show that their chances of success in life are dramatically lower. My hope is to give voice to foster and adopted children in our district, as well as those dealing with other obstacles outside of school. While it's difficult to fix the home lives of students, the least we can do is cultivate a sense of love and family within our school walls, and that is something I hope we can accomplish.

Pate: I would like for us to be more consistent with our learning standards across grade levels, with consistent reading and math programs that help our students succeed. Also, we must continue developing programs to recruit and retain the best teachers and staff at Marshfield. We need to continue to strive to be the best.

Theobald and Wilkerson did not send a response to this question.

Q: What is the main problem you see in the Marshfield district?

Sandbothe: I do not see a problem within our school system; I see potential. I think we are fortunate to have administrators, teachers and staff who deeply care about our students. Good people are hard to find and harder to replace. Retention strategies are an area I hope to see as a continued focus of our district.

Pate: As a current board member, the problem facing the Marshfield School District are effects of COVID-19. The board and administration will need to work together with health officials to find best solutions. Rest assured, I am prepared to help make decisions in these unprecedented times.

Hartman: At times, positions like these can lend themselves to candidates who are looking to be elected in order to accomplish an individualistic agenda. My candidacy is not based on personal grievances. The school system is the cornerstone of our community. My grandfather served on the school board many years ago, and I seek to improve upon the foundation that he and others built in our town. From what I've heard and witnessed, it feels like we've "settled" when it comes to some of our hirings, but also I think we have great people in leadership positions. My hope is to find ways to support and empower them to educate the next generation of Bluejays.    

Theobald and Wilkerson did not send a response to this question.

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