MVBT School Board Questionnaires -- Shelly Mantel
Wed, 03/29/2023 - 10:22am admin
Name: Shelly Mantel
Length of time in district: Returned to Mountain View in 1998.
Connections to the district: My husband Rob, grew up in Mountain View and graduated from Liberty High School. My husband's sisters also attended and graduated from Liberty. We have raised our 4 children in the area, and they are all graduates of Mtn. View-Birch Tree district.
Brief personal bio : I grew up in Wisconsin, and graduated from a small private college with my bachelor’s degree, and then in 1994 I moved to St. Louis to pursue my graduate degree at Washington University. I met Rob there, and after we were married and had our first child, we moved to Mountain View in 1998. We have been actively engaged in raising our children and supporting our family. We have a cattle ranch and, I have worked as an occupational therapist for over 30 years. I currently work for the Houston R3 Exceptional Child Education Cooperative. I provide OT services to nine districts. Rob and I have been married for almost 27 years and have worked hard to raise our family and are active in many aspects of our church and community.
Why are you running for school board? I have served on the Mountain View board of education for the past 12 years. I have worked hard to grow in my understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a board member and want to continue to use my experience and knowledge to continue our work toward providing an exceptional education for the students of our district. Change takes time and patience, but we have made great strides in building improvements, working to train and recruit a highly qualified administrative team and a motivated and hard-working group of teachers. There is still much work to be done and unfortunately, board work is slow and methodical, so I am hoping to continue my work on the board for our students, teachers, administrators and our community.
What do you believe is the role of a school board member in the Mountain View/Birch Tree district? Most people don’t understand the true role of a school board member, so I will continue to work with the community to help them understand that the board’s primary job is to hire and oversee the district's superintendent and to be sure our policies support a safe and productive school district. We are involved in oversight and budget approval, but really only receive updates from the Superintendent and administrative team on the daily workings of the district. As a board member, we represent the district and support our programs and students through community involvement and engagement in school activities.
Are you familiar with Missouri’s Sunshine Law? Yes
Do you have an existing relationship with any members of the school board or administration? We raised our four children in the district, but they are all adults now. I have no other relation currently enrolled or working for the districts. We have a future Eagle that was born this year to our daughter and son-in-law, and the five years is only two board terms away, so the work must continue to keep our district strong and growing.
How well do you think the district keeps the community and parents informed with the work of the school board? We follow policy and have open session meetings that any community member is welcome to attend. The meetings are listed on our school calendar and are posted on the school web page. We do our best to be present and engaged in school activities and are always available to our patrons if they have questions, concerns or celebrations.
What is your opinion of the district’s academic performance? What can be done to achieve accreditation? The district is fully accredited and like most districts, we are working to recover from the impacts of COVID on our academic growth over the past three years. The state has required all districts to create a new Continues School Improvement Plan (CSIP) that is now aligned to the new MSIP 6 measure of school performance. Our data has recently been released and the district has weaknesses, but we also have great success in our Mountain View elementary school performance. This is a strong foundation for future academic success. We have work to do at our Birch Tree Elementary, middle school and high school campuses, but our growth and focus on foundational education skills will continue into the new academic year. We have great challenges in acquiring highly qualified teachers due to the teacher shortage and the need for the State of Missouri to fully support our academic infrastructure with good legislation and fiscal policy. The current state funding structure leaves small districts with a limited tax base at risk, so we need to work hard and encourage our legislature to produce bills that will allow us to provide a high-quality education to our students.
Do you believe the district prepares graduating seniors for college? The district provides the opportunity for success in college, but it truly falls to the student to do the work, take the more challenging classes and stay the course when they go to college. We do struggle to provide students with some of the opportunities that other larger districts can provide, but we also have a very close-knit community that allows us to know our students and support them in the post high school planning process. This is an area that I would like to see us gather more data and have a better understanding of the tools our students lack when it comes to college success. Our four children have been very successful following their high school graduation and our youngest son, who just graduated in 2022, is currently working to become a Nuclear Machinist in the US Navy. He shared with us the need for increased focus on study skills and academic rigor, but his foundation was solid enough to allow him to qualify and be successful in a very competitive and rigorous program in the Navy. Our eldest graduated with honors from Mizzou in plant science. Our second daughter graduated from St. Louis University with honors in Environmental Studies and Geographical Information Systems, and our youngest daughter will be a fifth year senior at Central Methodist University in Fayette, MO with a major in Marine Biology and carries a 4.O GPA. We, as a family, put a very strong emphasis on academics, so our kids were successful. Kids have to be in school to learn, and they have to have family support to be successful. This seems to be a challenge for many of our students. Attendance has been a real struggle and if kids are not in school, they cannot be successful and should not blame the school for their lack of self-discipline.
For careers that do not require a college degree? Liberty has an outstanding FFA program that provides many opportunities for our non-college and college bound students. We offer life skills classes that allow students to learn to cook, prepare budgets and learn about finance. We continue to utilize the Vocational programming offered through West Plains and offer school to work programming to allow students to engage in jobs to gain valuable work skills. All schools have room for growth and improvement, and we continually strive to assess and monitor the courses we offer to meet the changing needs of our students.
What is your plan to evaluate the effectiveness or success of the four-day school week? We have a team in place that will monitor our students’ outcomes, family feedback and teacher satisfaction over the next year. There are over 100 districts in the state that have moved to a four-day week and are reporting success. This is a bold move for our district, and there is definite reservation on if it will be best for kids, but the community survey showed very strong support for the move to a four-day week. As an elected official, it is my job to support the will of my constituents and make the best decision with the information I have. The current modified schedule extended our school's minutes each day, so we are not losing any academic minutes (this is how our daily attendance is measured), but rather moving them into a more succinct and streamlined academic calendar. We have great plans for the additional day of each week that we hope will provide opportunities for more structured tutoring programs and some fun and creative activities to enhance learning opportunities for our students and teachers.
What is your opinion of the district’s employee pay scale? Our district has made significant progress in the past five years in bringing our pay scale up into a more competitive range, but we still have work to do. The current funding formula is based on enrollment, attendance and taxes. The fiscal demands to educate each student rises each year, but the tax base along with state and federal funding have remained static for years. The influx of COVID money allowed us to complete several major building projects, but the money is non-renewable so it could not be used to increase teacher salaries. The state of Missouri ranks near the very bottom for teacher pay when compared to the other 50 states. Arkansas' new governor has pledged to raise base pay by nearly 25,000 per year. If Missouri does not work to increase teacher salaries, we will quickly lose our teachers to our neighboring states. We work hard at the local level to provide a competitive wage, but that effort takes the work of all of us to support our local public schools.
On athletics, do you feel all sports programs are valued equally in the district? Would you be in favor of plans to add or subtract any programs? The Mountain-View Birch Tree district takes pride in our athletics programs. We have identified the need to build our middle school programs in order to support future high school success. Our challenge seems to be in getting and keeping kids engaged in our programs. Parents are a critical part of this success because of the need for transportation to practices and helping their student athletes be successful. We strive to keep academics our first priority and support our athletics as a wonderful addition to the learning and lives of our students and the community. We have identified the need to better assess the success and viability of our programs to ensure that our kids are not spread too thin, and our finances can support these programs successfully. Athletics are a very visible part of any district. They represent the district as a whole, so it is important that we do things well and evaluate often the success and needs of our athletic programs.