View of School District Issue from a New St. Joseph CEO

I recently moved to St. Joseph to run a large food company here in town.  I have five children, four of whom are grown and graduated from an outstanding public school district in suburban Minneapolis, Minn.  It was a school district with almost 1,000 kids per graduation class.  And because it was well run and properly funded, 91% of the graduates (ten year average) attended some form of post high school education (college, junior college, vocational/technical college).

That’s what we are used to but that’s not what we have in St. Joseph.  Our youngest moved with us to Missouri and is enrolled in Bode Middle School.  My wife and I researched the school choices and decided we would enroll our son in the public system rather than go private.  We understood the experience would be different from what we had known in Minnesota, but the more we looked into the situation the more concerned we became. Simply put, the citizens of St. Joseph should be embarrassed by the lack of financial support we give our children:

  • The physical infrastructure is in need of significant upgrades
  • The program offerings and extracurricular activities available are significantly less than the school district we came from
  • My son has some special needs and although the teachers/paras give 110% effort in working with my son, the resources are still limited and less than ideal
  • The academic curriculum (middle school & high school) needs improvement to give our children the skills needed to succeed in a post-secondary environment.

I’m not a fan of taxes and I don’t want to pay any more than I have to, but our school funding is clearly insufficient. To be ranked 85 out of 88 Northwest Missouri school districts is unacceptable. We are almost $800/pupil behind the state average in overall spending. The Proposition 1 funding increase only gets us to the midpoint within the state of Missouri!  Come on people, stop punishing our kids for the sins of the past administration and school district management. The house has been “cleaned” and managers are in place to start moving St. Joseph schools forward.  I urge you to VOTE YES on Proposition 1 on Nov. 7.

Kevin Kelly

President & CEO, LifeLine Foods

St. Joseph resident & parent