Hickman Mills School Board Candidates
There are six candidates on the ballot for the Hickman Mills School Board
Their race will be a referendum of sorts on how district voters feel about the school board’s recent decision to close two of its eight elementary schools. Chandler was a leader of the effort to close multiple schools, insisting the district make the drastic cuts necessary to achieve a 15 percent fund balance by the end of the 2019-20 school year. “I’ve lived in the district for 50 years,” he said. “It has lost about 2500 students since then. There were simply too many schools.”
Richard Abram II, who holds a master of science degree in industrial & organizational psychology and is currently working on his educational specialist degree from Emporia State University, said he attended the school board meetings on school closures and didn’t support closing any schools.
“I believe with proper planning there could have been other ways to cut costs that wouldn’t have had the same harmful impact on surrounding neighborhoods and the same harmful effect on the district’s image as closing multiple schools,” he said.
Abram has worked most of his adult life in youth development and education, including serving four years as a special education paraprofessional in the Hickman Mills School District and as a career specialist for Jobs for America’s Graduates. He currently is a leader in the youth ministry at St. James United Methodist Church.
Luther Chandler, 80, is the current vice president of the Board, having been appointed to fill an unexpired term on the Board in 2017 and then elected to fill another unexpired term in 2018. He also served on the Board from 2002-08.
A graduate of the University of Omaha with a bachelor’s degree in industrial psychology, Chandler who is retired had a long career as a planner working for entities such as the City of KCMO and the Mid-America Regional Council.
Chandler has coached youth baseball and volunteered for the Boy Scouts. “I’ve volunteered for kids all of my life,” he added.
He said he would like to see the district regain full accreditation before his term on the Board is completed.
Three Year Terms
Of the full three-year terms on the Board, only two appear to be legally qualified to serve.
Dr. John Charles Carmichael, a career educator and retired university and high school band director, has only lived in Missouri since October, and state law requires school board members to have lived in the state for a year immediately preceding their election or appointment.
Carmichael said he looked at the required qualifications for a board member on the school district website, and correctly pointed out they did not include that requirement.
An attorney for Regina Landry, another filed candidate, sent a letter to both the district and to the Missouri Ethics Commission explaining she was no longer interested in serving.
That leaves two remaining candidates.
Tramise Carter, 30, is a single parent of a 2nd grader at Ingels Elementary School where she is an active volunteer. Carter works for an insurance company as a financial product specialist and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in business by taking online courses at the University of Phoenix.
She said she is convinced that good teachers turn out good students and she is committed to working to make the district’s salaries for beginning teachers more competitive. She said she also will champion the cause of increasing parental involvement in district activities.
Cecil Wattree, 33, is a medical social worker at Children’s Mercy Hospital and former transitional case manager for the Hickman Mills School District. Wattree, who holds a master of science degree in social work was a vocal opponent of closing multiple schools due to the harm that will cause to the district’s image which will make it more difficult to attract and retain top teaching talent.
A former intern for Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Wattree said he intends to focus on assuring the district follows through on its “Big 5” goals – attendance, family engagement, fiscal responsibility, racial equity and retaining a highly qualified staff.