Incumbents Susan Newburger and Todd Fane easily won re-election to their seats on the Park Hill Board of Education, beating out two challengers.
Newburger received the majority with 4,254 votes and Fane earned 3,702. Julie Stutterheim received 2,563 votes and Carla Wheeler-Smittie received 1,403.
Newburger has lived in the district for 39 years, worked as a teacher in the district and served on the board for the past nine years. She said she has a passion for public education and public service. She has served as board president, lead the process for two successful applications for outstanding board of education awards from the Missouri School Board Association (MSBA) and has earned distinguished board member certification from MSBA.
“I strongly believe that is the duty of the entire Park Hill community to provide the best possible education to all of our students,” Newburger said. “I take that obligation very personally, even though, like nearly two thirds of the taxpayers in this district, I do not have children who attend a Park Hill school.”
Newburger said she knows the community, administration, staff and students, giving her a unique combination of perspective and experience. This outlook will help her tackle issues facing the district, she said.
“Public education continues to react to political and financial pressures,” she said. “I believe that members of the school board school should be apolitical, but it is important to be an advocate for the children in Park Hill with outside political entities. We must continue to be fiscally responsible and transparent with the public trust and funding.”
Newburger said she has been vocal in advocating for the district and public education, presenting local concerns at the state level.
“I have been vocal in my advocacy for Park Hill and for public education,” Newburger said. “I have listened to stakeholders about local concerns and issues, and I have presented those at board meetings and at Jefferson City. I believe in local control, which means that the school board is the most effective advocate to represent and react to the needs of the Park Hill district.”
In the coming years, she said the board will need to oversee implementation of the comprehensive school improvement plan, and support the long-term facilities plan, which she said is “has shown is the best way to handle the district’s steady growth. I am an advocate for the district’s strategies for school safety and security and the district’s focus on mental health for its students and staff.”
Fane has also served on the board for nine years and has earned the certification as a master board member from MSBA.
Fane describes himself as a bridge builder who has established broad, inclusive relationships across the community who has experience operating at the executive level across large health systems and his experience as a “servant leader.”
“Being public school educated and having four children who are part of the Park Hill Community I have witnessed the power of a high-quality education,” Fane said, adding he is impassioned by the support of the community who has embraced Park Hill’s vision. “This institution is the fabric of our community, an economic engine that is charting a destiny of global opportunities for our children. I want to give back and be part of the innovations our leadership team are deploying to prepare our children for the future. Also, I want to insure we attract, train and retain the strongest team of teachers, administrators and support staff, thus continuing our tradition of excellence. We have accomplished much but, if you review our long-range plans and five-year comprehensive school improvement plans, the best is yet to come.”
Fane said the role of public education in society continues to expand, as does the obligation to provide students with a safe, relevant education.
“We are in a period of empowerment where we can start to personalize each student’s experience to motivate, fully engage them and reinforce crucial lifelong learning skills while teaching them to respectfully collaborate embracing each other’s differences,” Fane said. “Our democracy depends on public schools to cultivate respectful citizens who can engage in thoughtful dialog with these critical thinking skills.”
Fane also wishes to continue his work to support the district’s long-range plans.
These are very detailed plans with discrete deliverables that are baselined on enrollment, student achievement and a host of other strategic metrics.
“I am proud of the culture of trust we have created as we deploy these thoughtful and innovative plans,” Fane said. “We have created opportunities for our students to not only cultivate their strengths but to collaborate with others through project-based curricula to explore options they never considered while allowing them to fail on a limited basis to accelerate learning and build resilience.”