Danedri Thompson
[email protected]gardnernews.com
There will be two new faces on the USD 230 board of education following Tuesday’s April 5 election.
Four seats are up for grabs, and only one of the three is contested. Incumbents Nels Anderson and Chuck Willis will return to the board. Douglas Updike, who is running to replace Scott Oberkrom on the board will also likely earn a seat as he is running unopposed.
Updike will be a newcomer to the Spring Hill board, but not a newcomer to the Spring Hill community. He graduated from Spring Hill High school in 1981 and is looking forward serving the district which he says prepared him well.
“The school provided me with a solid education and I wanted to give back to that,” he said.
Following graduation from SHHS, Updike earned undergraduate and a graduate degree in marine biology before moving back to Spring Hill in 1991. He and his wife, also a SHHS graduate, have two kids in USD 230.
As a board member, Updike said it will be a priority for him to make fact-based decisions that support the mission of the school district. He said it’s important for the board to get information about the upcoming bond issue out to patrons.
“I think it’s so critical to get that information out there and to let voters make a decision,” he said.
Currently, the state provides additional funding for bond issues, but that could change as legislators wrestle with budget shortfalls.
“I think it’s very clear that if (the state) cuts that contribution, that’s money the local taxpayers will have to make up,” Updike explained.
Come mid-April, one familiar face will be absent from the board – that of Bill Meek.
Meek, who has been a fixture on the board since 1983, is not seeking re-election. His tenure on the board has included stints as president of Kansas Association of School Boards, Chairman of the Johnson County Area Vocational School’s Board of Control, member of the Johnson County Community College’s Vocational Advisory Board, member of the National School Boards Associations policies committee and member of the Governor’s Commission on School-to-Work Transition.
Seeking to replace Meek are two newcomers — John Carr and Brent Hoffman.
Hoffman said Meek’s shoes will be difficult to fill, but that is what he hopes to do if voters give him the opportunity.
“(Bill Meek) is excellent,” Hoffman said.
He has four kids in the district and has lived in Spring Hill for the last 11 years.
He would like to see the bond issue before voters in June pass.
“They’re going to have to find a place to put the kids,” he said. “The kids are coming and I think Prairie Creek is already at capacity.”
Hoffman said his experience as an independent businessman will help him make decisions as a board member.
His goal, if elected, will be to provide the best education the board can provide with the least burden on the taxpayer.
Carr did not return phone calls prior to press time. When he does, information about the candidate will be made available at www.gardnernews.com.