It’s Morning Edition on KRPS, and I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. Municipal elections are taking place on Tuesday, April 6 in Missouri. This morning we meet candidate Rylee Hartwell. He’s running for a 3-year term on the Joplin School Board. Rylee is a graduate of Joplin High School and Missouri Southern, where he is also employed as the Director of Football Operations. If elected, he says would continue the work that has made the school district one of the best in Southwest Missouri.
“There are a lot of things that we have to look at that have inspired me, really to run. And those are finishing the good work that’s been started on the board, currently, with teachers salaries, compensation, staff retainment, as a whole. I think those things are very important. In addition to that, making sure that our schools are open, on-time, and on-budget. So that the fiscal responsibility component, very critical. And last but not least maintaining the strong relationship with the Joplin community and the Joplin school district.”Rylee Hartwell
Rylee is no stranger to either Joplin city or school politics. He previously applied to run for Joplin City Council in 2015. The same year, he moderated the Joplin Schools Board of Education candidate debate on behalf of The Joplin Globe and MSSU. The issue of Joplin’s property taxes must be addressed, according to Rylee, in order for the city’s school to continue to thrive.
“I think one of the main things that we’re seeing right now is a reduction in property tax revenue in the city of Joplin. You’ve seen over the past few years a number of people moving to neighboring, what I would call bedroom communities. Carl Junction, Webb City. Those are great places to live, and they have excellent school systems; however, what that’s translating into for the Joplin school district is a loss in revenue. If I’m elected, my goal would be for Joplin school to be ‘thee’ premiere school district in Southwest Missouri. There’s no reason that it shouldn’t be. And it has, all, everything in place right now to do that, and it’s moving in that direction, in my opinion.”Rylee Hatwell
Working in higher education and his familiarity with Joplin city and school government would translate well to serving on the school board according to Rylee. Also, he would seek out feedback from teachers and staff districtwide about staffing needs.
“Something that I think is really important that we focus on is identifying our facility usage. I’m excited about the new work that is occurring at Kelsey Norman school district. I ‘m thankful for the school bond committee for the hard work that they did, not just Kelsey Norman, in addition to that replacing Columbia and West Central. Both are good buildings, but they don’t necessarily serve our students well in 2020, as they may have in 1920. I’m looking forward to working as a school board, with the Superintendent, with Dr. Moss in seeing that, and identifying those issues, and then putting into practice a whole variety of opinions. Because some times there’s a disconnect between administration and teachers and staff and all the stakeholders. We forget the community aspect as well sometimes. Those three prongs, working together with administration, will lead to a more excellent environment. And as we strive for excellence in the school district, I would hope to be a facilitator of that.”Rylee Hartwell
He believes public school board members should not vote for public funds to be siphoned off to private schools. Also, that school boards should take the opinions of professionals, whether in education, medical, or another field, seriously.
“I bring a different perspective in terms of age. In terms of time. I’m committed to Joplin, first and foremost. That’s my top priority and always has been—Joplin as a community. I serve numerous boards with the city and other places here in town. And I think the number one thing I hear from voters is that they don’t’ feel connected. There’s not a sense of connectivity. And if elected, I would tell you that I have no agenda walking in the door. However, I do believe that I can be a facilitator of the good news of Joplin schools, and how do we fix some of the things that need to be changed? I want to be hands-on, a facilitator of that, and to bring those innovative and collaborative initiatives to the board, and as they come up, I would be somebody that would stand with the administration as well as the experts. Always defer to the experts.”
Rylee Hartwell is a candidate for the Joplin School Board. John Hird and Josh Bard are also running for 1 of 2 seats on the board.
Each seat is a 3-year term.
Municipal elections in Missouri take place on Tuesday, April 6.