After visiting with candidates the Team has chosen three to endorse-
Deborah Gould, Brent Jordan, and Derek Gander.
Below is the PRE-interview questions unaltered from the candidates.
A. Personal Data
1. Name: Deborah J. Gould
2. Address: 3622 Willow Lane, Joplin, MO 64801
3. Telephone: 417-392- 0083
4. Email: email@example.com
B. Education: Associates Degree of Applied Science-Secretarial Science Degree, I did take several
business law classes.
C. Career History: 1989 Greene County Recorder of Deeds Office-Asst. Chief Deputy
1993 Hawkins Title Co now First American Title Insurance Company-County Manager
of three office’s.
D. Civic/Community Activities: Joplin Softball Little League
Member of Joplin Chamber of Commerce
Rotary of Joplin
Easter Seals of Santa Barbara, CA
Crosslines of Joplin
E. School District Activities: PTO at Irving Elementary
1. What factors led you to decide to run for the school board? It is a way to help contribute and improve
your community. I’m hoping to create stronger ties between the teachers, administration and the
school board. Joplin has gone through some bad times and I would like to continue the progress we
2. How do you see the quality of education for Joplin students when compared to surrounding
districts? I believe the quality of education is there and we have the teachers to teach it. We just
haven’t empowered them or helped them with the resources to increase the quality. Right now I
believe our quality of education is at a standard expectation. With the right resources and training I
believe they will exceed that.
Do you believe the quality of education provided for Joplin students is improving? Yes, as long as we
continue the communication and the empowerment that our teachers were missing we should be
moving in the right direction.
3. What are the critical issues currently facing the Joplin school district? Funds and administration
support. I also believe that the administration has pushed the parents out and therefore they no longer
feel their voice is heard. Parent involvement seems to have declined, so the support isn’t there.
How would you prioritize these issues? Make sure the Teachers, Administration and the School Board
and in full communication. We need to evaluate where the funds need to be utilized. This comes from
going over the budget and making sure our teachers are adequately taken care of to help our students
achieve higher standards. I can make suggestions on where the funds should be allocated but without a
full review and collaboration with the board I feel it would be misguided.
4. In a district with financial constraints, how would you prioritize the following items (1-12)?
Building & Grounds (10)
Class Size (4)
Curriculum Development (2)
Equitable teacher plan time and workload (1)
Existing Extra and Co-Curricular programs (11)
Financial Reserve (6)
New Programs (8)
Professional Development (5)
Reducing local tax burden (12)
Salaries and benefits (maintaining) (3)
5. What factors do you feel will attract and retain a quality teaching staff for Joplin schools? Good
salaries and benefits. Reducing class sizes to allow them to have that connection with the students and
giving them new resources. I’ve also heard that the new teachers have no guidance or a full
understanding of what is expected.
6. What are your thoughts in comparing Joplin teacher salaries to those in surrounding districts
and in other parts of the state? I believe this is a difficult situation and comparing them to other districts
is misleading and doesn’t represent the area. Cost of living is a big factor along with the experience of
Do you favor a tax levy election campaign that would focus on competitive salaries to attract and retain
quality educators in Joplin? I’m not opposed to it, but I would like to try and evaluate the current
budget to make sure we are utilizing our funds the best way possible. My concern would be if the
parents would support this because we do not have the involvement in that age group when it comes to
voting. I’m all for making our salaries competitive and if we have exhausted all other options, I’m in
favor of it.
7. How do you view the respective roles of the school board, administration and employees in
determining the future direction of Joplin schools? All three play a major role. If there isn’t some kind
of accountability and communication between all three, resentment becomes an issue.
8. How important are student standardized test scores in determining the success of Joplin
schools? Sometimes test scores don’t accurately reflect academic abilities. They are important but I
believe performance in the classroom proves more valuable in this instance. Some children don’t test
How much of a factor should student test scores be in the evaluation of teachers? I feel they are
unreliable. With that being said I’m not opposed to using a portion of the testing but not 50% of it.
9. How do you feel about efforts to repeal the current teacher tenure law in Missouri? Repealing isn’t
the answer but possibly tweaking it might be a better solution. I would like to learn more about this to
be able to give you a better answer. Talking with the teachers and the staff would help give me a better
understanding where they are coming from. Time changes everything and we must always look at
adjusting our processes to better serve all that is involved.
What do you see as the main purpose of teacher tenure? Missouri is an at-will state, teachers can be
let go for no reason. This protects teachers from arbitrary dismissal and gives the teachers a due
process/grievance if there is a suggestion of unjust reprimands or termination.
3419 Cheryl Ln. Joplin, MO 64804
Bachelor & Master’s Degree from PSU (1994 & 2001)
Currently employed by the Neosho School District for the previous three years as a School Counselor & the district’s only full-time Psychological Examiner. Prior to that, I spent ten years in the Diamond School District as a School Counselor. I also have nine years of teaching experience in the state of Kansas prior to that.
JYBA - Volunteer Basketball Coach every year since the inception of the league
YMCA - Volunteer Basketball & Football Coach
JYFA - Volunteer Football Coach
Little League @ Blinzler Sports Complex
- Volunteer Softball Coach
- Volunteer Umpire
- Volunteer maintenance/facility’s upkeep
- Member of the Board (and served two seasons as the charter’s Player Agent)
PAGE - attended meetings, advocated for Gifted program
Booster Club - member, volunteer concessions worker
Project Grad - volunteer & supported cause
Concession Coordinator - coordinated & worked HS Softball concessions for home games
Show Choir - volunteer worker
Drama - volunteer worker (fed the entire cast & crew during one dress rehearsal)
Room parent - volunteer at parties, etc.
1. I have been an advocate for my children’s education since my oldest (who just recently graduated from JHS) started Kindergarten; I was instrumental in organizing a ‘Dads’ group for her elementary and have routinely volunteered for school, extracurricular, and athletic programs of our community during my children’s time in school. Since my youngest will be entering the 7th grade, I felt it a perfect time to transition my support for the kids of our community (and our community in general) in a broader scope; my years of helping our community coupled with over twenty years in the education profession have paved the way for this journey!
2. The “quality” of education of the Joplin School District is too broad to analyze in one paragraph or even point to one element when describing quality education; however, one aspect of the JSD is the number of activities, teams, and organizations made available to our students. These opportunities give our students a considerable advantage over area school districts; providing students with increased activities that match their likes or talent benefits everyone! Though there isn’t a quick fix to education, I believe that the quality of education of our schools is improving. The overall climate of our district has positively improved; promoting and encouraging feedback from the community as well as teachers, in the form of surveys, will continue to foster that growth.
3. A board member, truly invested in the district, needs to make all issues a top priority. You must have board members that are dynamic enough to work diligently on many issues at once to have the biggest impact on change. There does seem to be a lack of trust; distrust creates dissention. There is also an obvious issue with the district’s finances; as the district continues to move forward, an open and transparent approach to spending has to be utilized. Another issue is the high classroom size in our buildings. According to the most recent Data Review, a typical classroom in the Joplin SD has nearly 25% more students than the state average. Our classroom sizes are also over 10% higher than any school district in the area (5% higher than the largest school district in the state!).
4. Again, an effective board member will make all of these issues a priority.
Existing Extra and Co-Curricular programs
Salaries and benefits
Building & Grounds
Equitable teacher plan time and workload
5. Joplin Schools should be the teaching mecca of SWMO. You attract and retain quality people by having great facilities, treating employees with respect, and compensation equal to expectations. That’s where I’d start!
6. Teachers are UNDERPAID; Joplin teachers are GROSSLY underpaid! Of the surrounding six districts, a typical Joplin teacher (Bachelor +10 years of service) essentially earns LESS money than every other teacher in the area except those employed by the Diamond School District. We should exhaust every effort in remedying that distinction! I would work closely with the other board members and the Superintendent in creating a plan to address that (perhaps a 5 year plan that closes that gap by 20% each year).
7. It has to be a collaborative effort. For example, take a look at the discussion currently taking place in regards to the consolidation of 7th & 8th grade sports. Everyone has a stake in the decision: the community, members of the faculty & coaching staffs, administrators, as well as members of the board. The athletic department has conducted three open forum discussions in trying to inform and gauge the community’s concerns & opinions. The consolidation would obviously improve the quality of play from our youth, but does potentially limiting participation outweigh the benefits of improved performance? That is a decision, and especially those involving academics, curriculum, and student achievement, that ALL stakeholders should be discussing openly. A school board’s role is not to micro-manage the day-to-day dealings within the school; rather, it is a combined effort to ensure student success is the primary focus.
8. As a lifelong educator, I recognize that there are far too many variables beyond our control that can contribute to test scores; one simply cannot effectively evaluate teachers solely based on test scores because of those factors. They should and are an integral part of the process, but a collaborative effort among stakeholders to determine an appropriate percentage is the best practice.
9. With local school board control, there will always seem to be a place for teacher tenure. Members of school boards hold a lot of power; no one running for the sole purpose of firing or non-renewing personnel should ever be elected, but that is essentially why a tenure-based system has merit. Teachers with tenure can still be dismissed, it only ensures that their voice will be heard and their due process rights are intact. Regardless, if school districts address problems at the core, while hiring and retaining qualified administrators who form and foster trust with teachers . . . and elect board members that do the same . . . the culture and attitude towards tenure are alleviated.