Patch sent all local candidates for office identical questionnaires in order to compile candidate profiles prior to the April election. Each candidate who returned the survey will be featured on the site.
Mark S. Jones, 46 (Candidate for the Fox School Board)
- Address: 401 Winter Lake Cir, Fenton, MO
- Occupation: Senior Consultant, Intervolve, Inc. and Owner, Jones Creative
- Education: 106 credit hours, in addition to an Associates in Biblical Studies and many professional certifications
- Family: Wife - Cherie. Preston, 2nd grade, Guffey Elementary. Nathan, 12th grade, Fox High School.
- Years lived in the Fox School District: 33 years.
- Please provide a brief summary of your background, highlighting community involvement if applicable.
- 1985 graduate of Fox High School.
- Served in the Army National Guard and Reserves for 9 years, in communications and psychological operations.
- Decades of business experience, dealing with millions in revenue and working with diverse groups of people, both union and non-union employees.
- Volunteered in various church and community organizations over the years, contributing hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars per year.
- Helped establish the first Army ROTC program at SEMO.
- Helped to establish the first Christian radio station in Southeast Missouri.
- I have preferred to work behind the scenes, doing my part for each group or cause.
- Please provide a brief summary of your reasons for running: I appreciate the education I received at Fox and have always wanted to return the favor. The fact that the school district doesn't see four episodes of "You Paid For It" dedicated to its nepotism as a problem told me that now was the time to do something about it besides complain. I don't have any relatives employed by or looking to become employed by the district. I don't need a resume enhancer. I just want to stand boldly for what is right and address these issues that are keeping us from providing all we can for our students.
1. What do you currently see as the biggest issue facing the Fox School District? Unfair hiring practices and nepotism. Our district organizational chart should not look like a family tree. We need to hire the best and brightest, not those who are related. I spoke with a woman who applied for the Nutritional Director position. She is a graduate of the school district, has her degree and certifications in nutrition, but wasn't even called for an interview. Instead the position was given to the school board president's daughter-in-law, who has no degree or certification in nutrition.
2. How would you address the continuing uncertainty over state funding for schools? One piece of the solution is to reduce our central administrative overhead. It has been growing too large and the salaries are beyond reasonable, especially that of our Superintendent, who makes more than the Vice President of the United States. Instead of hiring more Assistant Superintendents at six figure salaries, we need to plan ahead for any "droughts" in funding, as well as to appropriate funds to programs and supplies for students.
3. In what area does the Fox School District need to improve? Are you satisfied with the way the district has been operating?
- Recent hiring decisions have been quick and questionable, and the Superintendent continues to add Assistants at a time when some have reported book shortages due to a lack of funds.
- There is a problem with administrators bullying teachers and staff when they voice concerns to the board. Our employees should be free to speak their minds without fear of retribution or of losing their jobs.
- Our district has spent too much attorneys fighting residents who disagree with them. Even if someone slanders the district, the district doesn't suffer in some way. And if the Superintendent feels slandered, she needs to pay for an attorney out of her own pocket, not from the school district's.
- The school board needs to video tape its meetings like other districts. The minutes from meetings don't do justice to what was discussed.
- We need to post on the district web site the board packets, with the detail of what will be discussed, well in advance of board meetings. This will give citizens the opportunity to sign up to make public comments if they desire.
- We need to take savings from reducing central administrative overhead and pay for each student to take the ACT test one time, if they desire to. Universities and organizations use ACT scores to determine admission and scholarship opportunities. The A+ program doesn't touch either of those. Other districts do this, and we should too. The City of St. Louis school district has a higher ACT testing percentage than Fox does.
4. Assume you win the election. What single thing do you want to accomplish during your three years on the board? Reform the hiring process and change the atmosphere for current employees. If we take care of our people, they can better take care of educating our children.
5. There has been some opposition regarding the hiring of relatives within the district. How do you plan to address this moving forward? Implement an anti-nepotism policy similar to that of Lindbergh and Mehlville school districts. It would prevent the district from hiring any relatives of school board members and school administrators. Also, if an employee that is not a tenured teacher has a relative that is elected to the board or promoted to an administrative position, either the board member forfeits the position (or promoted employee refuses the promotion), or the employee's contract will not be renewed. The problem isn't so much teachers or staff members who are relatives working in the district, but those who are related to people in positions of authority who might give them an unfair advantage over other qualified applicants for promotion, etc.