Name: Scott Gardner
Work history: Partner, Gardner, Gardner & Gardner LLP, Attorneys at Law, 1987-present. Partner, Martin, Gibson & Gardner 1985-87 (Associate, 1984-85). Associate, Margolin and Kirwan, Kansas City, Missouri (1984-85). Law clerk, Flynn & Associates, Nashville, Tennessee (1981-83). State Fair Best Western (Cook and dishwasher, 1978, waiter and busboy, 1980). Harvest Moon restaurant, Columbia, Missouri (Busboy and bartender, 1979-80). IBM, Columbia, Missouri (Office equipment setup, 1979-80). Missouri State Highway Department, Sedalia, Missouri (Summer help, 1977). Third National Bank (part-time support work, 1973-76). Sedalia Country Club (Snack bar, 1975). Self-employed lawnmowing (1971-76).
Education background (since high school, including dates of attendance): Vanderbilt University Law School, Nashville, Tennessee (Juris Doctor, 1983. Attended 1980-83.). Missouri University, Columbia, Missouri (Bachelor of Science in Business Administration-Finance and Banking, 1980. Attended 1976-1980.). Smith-Cotton High School, Sedalia, Missouri (Valedictorian, 1976. Last 8th grade at present SCHS building until 2009-2010 school year.).
Family: Married to Judy K. Gardner, R.N., who is presently working on master’s degree in Counseling, University of Central Missouri. Ted, 18, SCHS ‘08; Meredith and Madeline, 16, SCHS ‘10.
Why are you seeking a seat on the school board? When I first ran for this position and was elected in 2005, I said that I was filing because I wanted the best education possible for the children of this district. I still do.
What makes you the best candidate for the position? I’m not the best candidate for the position. Ken Coffelt is. He’s had more experience on the board, and he still has the gumption to get things done. He served his country as a Marine after attending Smith-Cotton, and has had a successful career, outworking people younger than he. His children have shown the good upbringing and appreciation for education that he and his wife gave them. His son is now in charge of the computers and network for a major corporation, having previously run the computer system for KU Medical Center while he obtained his master’s degree. His daughter graduates in May from Missouri State University and will be starting an impressive graduate degree program this fall. He is a good and honest man whom voters of the district can trust to make wise decisions on their behalf and for the benefit of their children.
I’m the second best candidate for the position.
I know when to spend the public’s money and when not to spend it. The voters have entrusted us with the construction of a new high school. It’s up to us to make sure it’s built well and does what we said it would do for the children of this district. What we put in that new building, and what we put in the other buildings in the district in technology and, most of all, in skilled teachers and staff, will be just as important, if not more so in producing our end “product”-high achieving students who can successfully live in a continually advancing world.
I know how local governments should be run and organized; and I know how to write policies for administration and staff that can be implemented in the real world, which is what boards of education are empowered to do with the advice and experience of their professional administration.
Towards the end of this next term, we will probably be making some key employment decisions, and I believe I know how to look for the people we need and what to look for.
What are three things you think could be improved in the schools, and how would you improve them?
1. Student achievement.
2. Student achievement.
3. Student achievement.
Student achievement is our “product.” MAP scores, No Child Left Behind, and all of our other testing are supposed to measure student achievement, even though those measurements are pitiful first steps and do not go far enough in measuring whether our students can fulfill their potential to achieve great things in a changing global economy.
Student achievement is improved by investing in teachers, technology and time.
We should be investing in our teachers, paying decent salaries to get and retain good teachers so they can spend their time teaching and improving their ability to teach.
We should be investing wisely in technology. Not only is technology is increasingly important in almost all employment and the efficient operation of the district, but technology, wisely used, helps students learn more, learn faster, and learn better. At beginning elementary levels, proper use of a handheld device called a PDA could give a teacher almost instant feedback of how well her student is mastering reading without taking so much time testing and not teaching. In higher elementary classes, classrooms modeled after our EMINTS classrooms can help students apply basic skills to learning about all subjects. In middle school and high school classrooms, presentation technologies can help students study and keep their classwork organized. At all levels, technology can allow our teachers to give instruction that uses listening, seeing and speaking to help students with differing amounts of visual and auditory memory retain and reuse learning within an up to date and shared curriculum.
We should be investing in time. Time for our teachers to learn how their students learn best. Time for our teachers to learn how to use the technology available to them to produce lessons and teaching that pulls students toward achievement. Time before and after school so our students get the additional schooling or tutoring some of them need to master a subject or the opportunity to explore a subject that is keeping an excellent student interested in school. Time so our students can learn skills from others in the community and in turn improve our community.
What three things is the district doing well, and why?
The district is assembling the foundation upon which high student achievement is built.
It is building new and up-to-date facilities and fixing up its older buildings, so that our dollars may be spent on teachers, not deferred maintenance.
It is wisely using its financial resources and building reserves for use in the years ahead. Decent reserves and a better financial bottom line mean that we can take care of problems and take advantage of opportunities available to the district.
It is attracting and keeping better teachers. Better teachers mean more time and money are spent on student achievement, instead of retraining a revolving door’s worth of new staff and dealing with problems from inadequate teaching.
If elected, what would you like to see the board accomplish in the next three years?
What the board accomplishes and what the disrict accomplishes are two different things, because there’s a lot more to the school district than its board:
Here’s what I want the district to accomplish in the next three years:
1. Achieve accreditation and average yearly progress with distinction in performance.
2. Achieve all goals set forth in the district’s comprehensive school improvement program.
3. Get the new Smith-Cotton High School completed and operating with no significant problems and on time.
Here’s what I want the board to accomplish in the next three years:
1. Organizing the board to focus on student achievement; and
2. Organizing the board’s time to allow open and adequate discussion on its major decisions such as budgets, personnel and technology so that the public understands and trusts the decisions of the board.
3. Spending time on planning for future directions the district may take so that the district’s resources are used effectively over a period of up to 10 years into the future.