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Tue, August 04, 2015
West End Word

6 Candidates, 3 Spots On U. City School Board

Charlotte Tatum (click for larger version)
March 26, 2014
Six candidates, with no incumbents, are vying for three, three-year term seats on the University City Board of Education in the upcoming April 8 election.

Charlotte Tatum, 1453 Forest Green Court, is a former member of the Executive Professional Academy (for school districts); the National School Boards Association, and was the administrative coordinator to the University City Board of Education.

Tatum, 66, served on University City's 2010 boundary committee and the city's 2013 Prop U2 committee. She presently serves on the University City Municipal Commission on Arts and Letters.

"After listening to items presented to the board of education on various topics, I felt it was time for me to get off the sidelines and make my voice heard," said Tatum, explaining her reason for seeking public office.

"We are headed in the right direction, but we must continue working together, making strides that will help us enhance and enrich the education needs of all children," Tatum continued.

If elected, Tatum said she will assist with developing additional opportunities for early childhood education, support the hiring of highly-qualified staff, listen to residents about the schools, and work to see that the school district remains fully accredited.

James E. Cotter (click for larger version)
James E. Cotter, 1343 Eastover Ave., has been a resident of University City for 46 years. He and his wife, Donna, have four children. Cotter works as a radiological technologist at John Cochran VA Medical Center. Cotter served on the University City Board of Education from 1993-1999, and was president of the board from 1994-1996. He boasts a long list of volunteer service, both in the schools and the community.

"My tenure (on the school board) was one of building bridges and crossing ideological lines to get things done. As a parent, I was founder of The Pershing School Rites of Passage Program, and an early voice pushing Pershing's recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School," Cotter said.

Cotter said he feels deeply about education.

"As a former school board member with six years of experience, I will start from day one working to improve student achievement, fiscal and financial management, and make sure we have measures implemented to ensure the proper assessment of our curriculum and instruction," Cotter said.

If elected, Cotter said he will be a strong advocate for increasing parental involvement, enhancing early childhood education and enhancing the funding needed to make schools places "where children feel welcome, safe, and excited about learning."

Lisa M. Brenner (click for larger version)
Lisa M. Brenner, 507 N. Central Ave., is a 46-year-old licensed psychologist who is seeking public office for the first time. She has lived in the school district for 18 years, is married, and has two children. She is a parent volunteer at Flynn Park, Brittany Woods Middle School and University City High School, and is a Girl Scout leader.

"I feel that I can bring a unique perspective to decision making through my experience as a long-term U. City resident, involved parent, business owner and psychologist," Brenner said. "These experiences have given me the knowledge of resources that are available in the community, how the schools work first hand, how to make financially sound decisions, and how to evaluate data and opinions to find effective solutions."

If elected, Brenner said she will recognize that a master teacher in the classroom can make more impact on a student's performance than any policy or program. She will promote research-proven educational practices, ensure that all students receive the education they deserve, and ensure that student success is not just measured by standardized testing.

Bernetta L. Campbell (click for larger version)
Bernetta L. Campbell, 7051 Corbitt Ave., works in marketing and business development. Married with two children, the 35-year-old has resided in the school district for more than seven years. She is seeking public office for the first time.

"I believe that it is our duty as part of a community to give back. To serve is an honor, and we all, as a society, should give back and leave our community better than it was before," Campbell said.

If elected, Campbell said she will maintain and strengthen the school district's accreditation, and increase and develop better communication between the school district and the community.

"I will work to build community partnerships that will give our students access to opportunities, valuable experience and more explorative career options," Campbell said.

George Lenard (click for larger version)
George Lenard, 7232 Shaftesbury Ave., is a 56-year-old attorney in private practice. Lenard has three children, and has lived in the school district for 26 years. Lenard is involved in Scouting, is a member of the school district's Natatorium Committee and a was a member of the Prop U 2013 Committee.

He serves on the University City Education Foundation and the Mayor's Task Force for Indoor Aquatics.

"I am seeking this office in order to contribute to a board that operates with good will and unity of purpose, while openly considering issues from the diverse perspectives and with the independent judgment of each of its members," Lenard said.

If elected, Lenard said he will work to increase access to early childhood education.

"Pre-kindergarten programs have been proven to improve subsequent student achievement, and are being implemented and expanded nationwide," he said. "Presently in University City, demand for pre-K exceeds supply. The Julia Goldstein facility is insufficient to house the broad-based pre-K program our district should offer. It is very important that the board exercise strong leadership toward expanding the district's pre-K offering."

Lenard said if elected he will work to improve academic achievement for all students, while avoiding the "teaching-to-the-test trap."

Kristine Hendrix (click for larger version)
Kristine Hendrix, 1205 Meyer Street, holds a bachelor of arts degree in sociology with a minor in human development and family studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has three children and has lived in the school district for more than seven years. She works in accounting for MERS Goodwill Inc.

Hendrix is a board member for University City Education Foundation, and a mentor and life coach for Real Talk Inc., a youth empowerment group that advocates for the healthy development of youth growing up in impoverished neighborhoods. She is a member of Pershing Elementary PTO.

"I decided to run for the board of education because the future of University City School District impacts me personally as a parent of children who attend the school system," Hendrix said. "With so many schools losing accreditation, it was important that I be as much a part of keeping our schools as fully accredited as possible."

If elected, Hendrix said she will work to ensure sound fiscal discipline and budgetary practices.

"I want to raise community awareness about the needs of our schools and how the community can come together to ensure that education is number one in the University City School District," she said.

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