Interview edited for time and clarity.
Election day is Tuesday April 5
FRED FLETCHER-FIERRO (HOST): It’s Morning Edition on KRPS. I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. City and municipal elections don’t get the attention that national and state elections do, but don’t let that distract you from their importance, including school board elections. Voters in Joplin will elect two new Board of Education members for three-year terms on Tuesday, April 5. Recently I met with first-time candidate David Weaver. I first asked him to introduce himself to voters.
DAVID WEAVER (GUEST): My name is David Weaver. I grew up just south of Seattle and moved here in 1982. So I’ve been here for quite a while, I guess that’s about 40 years now, and I’ve lived in the Joplin school district for all, but five of those years, we were over in Carthage for that time. Currently have a son in Joplin schools, and I’m just excited for the opportunity to run for this.
I’ve served on three facilities committees and been involved with many volunteer projects with the district. So love the district, love what it does for our city. And hope to have the good fortune to be elected and to serve our citizens in this way.
FRED: David relocated from the Pacific Northwest to Southwest Missouri to attend Ozark Christian College in Joplin. He would meet his wife at OCC, and the two raised a family here. While he’s running for a seat on the Joplin Board of Education, he certainly sees the connection between K through 12 education and higher ed.
DAVID: I’m not promoting higher education here, but there are six higher education facilities in our area, and they all have an outreach to a lot of different people. And a lot of those, they labor four years, and they stay. So while I’m running (for) K12, I certainly appreciate our higher education institutions. They brought me here and many other people.
And it’s been good to me. I’ve appreciated being here.
FRED: A unique aspect about David and his candidacy for Joplin Schools Board of Education is that he has previous experience running a campaign and in city government.
DAVID: I served under city of Duquesne. It is a city to the east of Joplin. We were both wiped out by the tornado. Joplin, I think, lost 30% of the city. We lost half of ours. And so I served on the city council there from, I think about 2002 until around 2008. And we moved to Carthage for about five years, but I still stayed in kind of an administrative role.
The title was assistant to the mayor, and so we were quite busy during their tornado. So that would’ve been about six years serving an elected office with the city of Duquesne.
FRED: Due to David’s experience working in city government, he’s been down the road of closing an aging, but beloved school in the community. This is similar to what Joplin Schools will complete later this fall when the district opens Dover Hill and closes Columbia and West Central Elementary schools.
DAVID: I think it was working on the last facilities committee, you know, we had to make the difficult decision to recommend the closure of two 100-year old buildings, West Central and Columbia. And that was hard. I mean, there’s a lot of memories tied up in the particular Columbia neighborhood, but in Duquesne, we had a school like that called Duquesne elementary school, which was also about 80 years old at the time.
You know, kind of, was adequate at the time, but not now. And we brought two schools together and put Soaring Heights elementary also East Middle school. And I know what it did for our community. And so, at the groundbreaking at Dover hill, they had all the children who were gonna be in that new school come out from both schools.
And I looked at the kids’ faces, and I thought I want to do more of this. So it’s what kind of led me to run.
FRED: Joplin Schools broke ground on Dover Hill nearly one year ago in mid-April 2021. When complete, the structure will be 67,000 square feet, built on a nearly 18 acre site on Main street north of downtown Joplin. The district expects the school to open this fall. David has worked on the project from the beginning.
DAVID: So opening the Dover hill, I’ve been a part of that from the very get-go. And the facilities commanded that evaluated all of our facilities to try. We had about 25 million available in bonding capacity that we could do a no-tax increase. So the question was what’s the best use of those funds and, and the Dover hill eventually became that project.
Dr. Sachetta came to Joplin from Galena. If I remember right to be the principal at the high school, and I owned Weaver photography for about 20, 25 years; I photographed a lot of weddings in this area. But one of the joys of that was we worked a lot of dances at Joplin high school and got to know Dr. Sachetta in that regard.
So he’s new, but he’s not new to the district. And I think it’s neat that they went inside. Also, two of the principals that were named yesterday are not new to the district; their assistant principals are stepping up. So I think that’s good. I look at it as exciting times. All the things that are going on, I think we’ve got a bright future in front of us.
And the next three years will be a lot of fun. The last two years have not been fun for anybody with the pandemic and any type of leadership. It certainly presented challenges. And so hopefully that’s in the rearview mirror and, we don’t have to make any more COVID decisions.
FRED: As we closed our time together, I asked David if he had a message for Joplin Schools teachers and staff considering voting for him for school board.
DAVID: I would say to teachers, we value you, and we appreciate you. And my, I would certainly be open. I met with the teachers union, and the JNEA said they were gonna endorse me for school board candidate. And I appreciate that, but my door’s open. My wife’s a teacher, 24 years. My daughter’s a teacher in her sixth year, and my sisters a teacher in Cincinnati.
So it runs deep in her family. And I hope I can say I understand to some degree where they’ve been, but I want to say this, the future’s bright, there’s better days ahead, and after the storm comes out, the sun and I think that’s going to happen. So I’d say to our teachers, hang in there; there are better days are ahead.
The reinforcements are coming. And, the joy is that you have children in your class that are gonna remember your name for the rest of their lives. And most of the people listening to this, you can go back and tell me the names of your teachers. So few professions have that big of an impact and lasting memories of our children.
And that’s a joy. So I wanna do everything I can to appreciate our teachers and to value them, and to say we need you. And we are so thankful for the past two years, particularly the last six months have been really tough.
FRED: David Weaver is one of four candidates running for a seat on the Joplin Board of Education. There are two seats open, both for three-year terms.
Mathew Robinson, Donnie Greenlee, and Sally Hawley Chesser are also running. In-person voting takes place Tuesday, April 5. For 89 9 KRPS, I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro