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Columbia school board candidate interviews: Chris Horn


ABC 17 News is interviewing each of the seven candidates running for three open spots on the Columbia Board of Education. At least two of them will be new members -- only one incumbent is in the race.

That incumbent is Chris Horn.

Part of Horn's campaign is based on continuity on the board, which can be a challenge to serve on and take time to learn. Board member terms are three years.

Horn was among board members who supported renewing Superintendent Brian Yearwood's contract while some abstained, citing a rushed process.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Chris Horn's 40 days before election report

LUCAS GEISLER: Start off telling us a little about yourself and why you want to do this job.

CHRIS HORN: I'm not from Columbia. My parents were in the Air Force, so I moved every four or five years growing up. But I came here to the University of Missouri, got my math degree, started working, moved a couple of times with Shelter Insurance, my first employer. But came back in 2017, my wife and I moved back. We've got three kids. We love it here. My wife's a teacher in CPS. And so, you know, that's a little bit about me. And you know, I've enjoyed the board service, it has been an honor. It's been a privilege. It's been hard, but it's been worth it. And so yeah, I'm back to do it again.

GEISLER: How does the district continue to afford raises to continue to make sure that it stays competitive and keeps teachers on board?

HORN: We continue to be a really good steward of the funds that our local tax givers give us. You know, most of our funding is locally sourced. So in 2016, we passed the levy just for these sorts of things. We have a five-year model that we stick to that helps us understand kind of where we're going from ... a revenue and expense perspective.

And so it's when we passed that levy, we told the committee, the committee said, 'Ask what you need now, don't come back for a while.' And so we've been able to do that, despite having the Blankenship (court ruling) really reduce half of the funds that we get. And so you know, again, like over 60% of our funding is locally sourced. And so it's important that we stick to our five-year model so that we can understand kind of when we're starting to go into deficits, and when you have to go back to the community to ask for maybe another levy.

GEISLER: How do we make sure the district Is moving forward and improving state assessment numbers, which were relatively low this year?

HORN: So nobody wants to be here. Like nobody wants to see those. And so I think the thing that was probably most troubling for me was that it came as a surprise to many more in our community. You know, historically, we haven't served our underprivileged or under our historically underrepresented communities well, and our kids who find themselves with those identities well, either. And so, you know, this wasn't new.

And this is something you know, we hear about the achievement gap a lot. This is something we've always been trying to close. And, you know, we don't talk a lot about the opportunities and the barriers to those opportunities that present that achievement gap. And so, you know, the good thing is we've got a superintendent who is keenly focused on achieving or improving achievement for all of our kids. And we've got a superintendent who's really interested, and making sure we're talking about this publicly. So we can hold ourselves accountable to the public, for the benefit of our kids.

And so, so that's, that's really, really exciting. You know, we got a presentation today about how we can better use data as a diagnostic tool, not only to understand where we are, but also to communicate externally about where we are. So all those things are in the works. And, you know, again, nobody wants to be here. But we've got administration, and we've got a board is laser-focused on making sure that we continue to get better.

GEISLER: How do you see yourself as a board member being able to help the district improve?

HORN: That's a great question. We as a board and as board members, we have specific responsibilities you hear guys talking about, you know, our responsibility for setting policy, our responsibility for being fiscally responsible for managing our long-range plans. Those are all well and true. And I think the better that we can focus on our responsibilities, the better we can govern the district.

The less we encumber, our superintendent, and subsequently our administrators and our educators from being able to do the things that we've asked them to do. We can better lead from that perspective. We can set better examples on how to lead ... we can get out of being reactive, which we are within the pandemic, we can understand the reactive mode from there. But we've got to get ahead of that reactive mode and start getting more proactive so that we can make sure that our policies are well and they support the work that our superintendent and our educators are trying to do.

GEISLER: Anything else you want voters to know?

I think is important to remember that stability and continuity are gonna be really important. You know, we've got a young tenured board, we've got a new superintendent doing great things and you know, we've got to be able to govern and lead well.

Article Topic Follows: Your Voice Your Vote

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