Candidates for the SPS Board of Education

Election Date:  Tuesday, April 5, 2022

View our March 2, 2022, School Board Candidate Forum here.

The PTA is made up of parents, teachers, school administrators, and students in Springfield.  Due to the PTA’s non-profit 501(c)(3) status, PTAs cannot support or oppose candidates for public office, rate candidates in any fashion, conduct research or analysis for a candidate or give membership lists to candidates.  However, we can sponsor public forums in which all candidates are invited to participate.  We look forward to presenting this event to our members on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in order to help them make informed decisions at the polls.

There are 5 candidates vying for 2 open seats.

Charles Taylor is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Communication at Drury University.  I joined the Drury faculty in 1997 and served as Drury’s Vice-President for Academic Affairs from 2003-2014. I received my Ph. D. in Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989 and served as Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University from 1989-1997. 

First elected to the SPS Board of Education in 2016 and reelected in 2019, I serve on the Friends of SPS Steering Committee, the SPS Community Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, SPS Community Working Group on Transportation and as the SPS representative on the Missouri School Boards Association Board of Directors. 

As a career educator, I bring deep professional understanding of the strategies, structures and technologies that can promote student learning and teacher/staff commitment.  As an academic leader, having served Drury’s VP of Academic Affairs for a decade, I bring an understanding of how to work effectively on and with a Board, as well as an understanding of the importance of aligning always limited resources/structures to meet district priorities.  As the spouse of a long-time teacher at a Title I school, I bring at least a degree of awareness of the special challenges that our district faces in assuring academic and personal growth for all children and a deeply personal commitment to seeking ways to meet those challenges.  As a two-term Board member, I bring a level of experience of helping lead during a period of turbulent change that, I believe, would serve SPS and our community well for the next three years.  As a person who takes his work seriously, but rarely takes himself too seriously, I bring a reasoned and mission-focused decision-making approach to Board issues.

Kelly Byrne is a SPS graduate and father of two SPS students. He’s a local real estate entrepreneur, investor, and developer who has spent 13 years building his company Say U Can by providing jobs and improving many places in Springfield that people call home. To give back to the community, Kelly coaches youth basketball and serves on the board of the Ozarks Regional YMCA and is also a member of Disney Elementary PTA. He also volunteers his time as a substitute teacher for SPS and donates the pay to Care to Learn all in an effort to better understand teachers and students and to help overcome the substitute teacher shortage. Kelly has the experience and the beliefs necessary to stop the 6 year decline in student performance. He is uniquely qualified as both a substitute teacher and a parent to understand and listen to the parents and teachers of SPS so that we can bring back “Academic Excellence for ALL Students.”

Brandi VanAntwerp has more than 13 years of experience in fundraising, operations, grant administration, public relations, and strategic planning. She is the Executive Director of FosterAdopt Connect (FAC) Springfield. FAC’s mission is to provide foster and adoptive children a stable, loving, and nurturing family environment through support and advocacy for abused and neglected children and the families caring for them.

As a former student of Springfield Public Schools, an officer in two local PTAs (Pershing Elementary and Central Scholars Supporter Group), and mother of SPS students, Brandi fully grasps the importance of public education to the children of our community.

Brandi will bring structural knowledge to her service on the SPS Board of Education. She has experience serving on state and local boards for nonprofit organizations, and experience as a nonprofit staff member working collaboratively with boards governing those nonprofits.

Chad Courtney:  I am a product of public education having grown up in the small, rural community of Stewartsville in Northwest Missouri and a two-time graduate of the University of Missouri – Columbia with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and Sociology (’96) and I earned my J.D. from Mizzou as well (’99). My rural background and upbringing have taught me to have a strong work ethic and to have empathy for others.

I am a parent, an attorney, homeowner, business owner and a citizen with a desire to put in the work necessary to see our schools succeed. My family has made Springfield our home for over two decades. I love the city of Springfield. It has everything a family with young children could desire for their children to experience while growing up and attending school here. My family made the conscious decision to remain in Springfield right before my oldest started kindergarten specifically because of the Springfield public school system and the quality of education we expected all three of our children to receive. We have not been disappointed. The educational experience all three of my children have had has exceeded our expectations. Further, across the experiences of my three children I have interacted with nine different programs/buildings in the SPS system; Disney Elementary, Horace Mann Elementary- Reverse Mainstream, Cherokee Middle School, WINGS program at Phelps, Central Scholars, WOLF at Bass Pro, Health Sciences Academy, Kickapoo and Central. These experiences provide me with a diverse, first-hand understanding of varying approaches to learning on the program, staff and administrative levels.

I serve/have served on several boards involving programming for children which has provided me with the opportunity to gain the board level experience I feel is necessary to guide the largest school district in Missouri.

Steve Makoski is an Undergraduate in Business Management (BSBM) and Springfield businessman for 25 years serving as Risk Manager and Loss Controller for small to large Businesses and Corporations locally, throughout Missouri and the Midwest.  Steve is the Director of Compliance for Rapid Robert’s, Inc. where he oversees multiple departments and operations. Steve joined the Navy where he began as an aircraft mechanic and ended his 20 years as Aircraft Maintenance Department Chief. Steve’s naval service took him around the world living in Asia and Europe landing him in foreign service and theatres of conflicts in support of United States global interests. Steve is a family man with his wife Noriko of 43 years, two sons and three grandchildren, and a member of James River Church.

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