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Columbia Board of Education candidates speak on school choice


The Missouri legislature is moving forward with plans that could allow parents to move their children to other schools using public funds in Boone County. This comes as voters will decide on two Columbia Board of Education seats in one week.

The Boone County municipal election is April 2, and two seats on the Columbia Board of Education are up for election. Three candidates are running for those two seats: John Potter, Alvin Cobbins and incumbent Jeanne Snodgrass.

Before heading on spring break, the Missouri Senate passed a bill that could bring charter schools to Boone County. Another bill has passed the Missouri House of Representatives that would allow students to transfer to surrounding school districts, possibly diverting public school funds.

When the 2024 legislative session began, Columbia's Sen. Caleb Rowden (R) told ABC 17 that school choice is a priority for him this year. School choice is a policy that would allow families to use public funding to either switch public schools or send their children to a private school. Rowden also supports bringing charter schools to Columbia.

"I personally would love to see the expansion of charter schools in Missouri, outside of just St. Louis and Kansas City," Rowden said. "I certainly would love to see one or two in Columbia, I think that would be a huge benefit to Boone County."

One Board of Education candidate agrees with Rowden.

"I think that there are students that are really struggling and some failing schools around the district," Potter said. "I think that having an option to go to a different school for a struggling student that's in a struggling school would be beneficial for the student."

However, both Snodgrass and Cobbins are against anything that could divert public funds away from Columbia Public Schools.

Cobbins said that rather than send the students to other schools, Columbia Public Schools should be trying to fix the issues the parents and students have.

"Most of the things that I have heard from other folks about school choice, about vouchers and those kinds of things is because they have that issue," Cobbins said. "Their children are they develop an issue within public schools. And we as the public schools, we don't run away from our problems."

Snodgrass said taxpayer money shouldn't go to charter schools or private schools because they're not held to the same standards as public schools.

"They don't have the same accountability to the taxpaying public because of the boards that oversee them," Snodgrass said. "And I think that that's really problematic."

Article Topic Follows: Your Voice Your Vote

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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