Columbia voters chose to retain the three school board members running for re-election. Four people ran for the three open seats on the Columbia Board of Education. Helen Wade, Jonathan Sessions, and Paul Cushing were all chosen to serve another three-year term.
“I am happily relieved and absolutely thrilled that I get the chance to serve for three more years,” Wade said at the joint watch party for the three incumbents Tuesday night at Billiards on Broadway.
Wade was first elected to the board in 2011. She said the next three years will be extremely important as Columbia Public Schools looks to open a new middle school. She said the diversity of thought across the school board allows for many different ideas and she is “thrilled” to continue serving with Sessions and Cushing. Wade added that her biggest goal for her upcoming term is financial responsibility.
“As a board member [financial responsibility] is one of our primary responsibilities. Making sure that the decisions we make ultimately make sense for the community from a financial standpoint and all the while we drive student achievement not just for the students at the top or the students that are most at risk but for the students in the middle as well, Wade said.
Sessions has a special tie to CPS as a former student and said he is happy that Columbia re-elected him to continue representing the community. Sessions said his goal is to help make the district a place where universities and employers come to look for quality candidates.
“What’s important is we create a[n] opportunity for all children to succeed in our district and our students leave Columbia Public Schools college and career ready,” Sessions said.
Sessions said by 2020 the district will have eliminated trailers in the district and will be caught up with student growth. He added that that the next step is looking forward and now that the district is not playing from behind, how can the district stay ahead of potential pitfalls. Sessions was first elected to the board in 2010.
Cushing was first elected in 2014 and continues to push for increased and improved vocational opportunities in the district.
“As a district we can offer vocational training and that gives kids a way to see what they want to do.” Cushing continued, “Giving them a taste of what they may be able to do after they’ve graduated… gives them the opportunity to make a living wage,” Cushing said.
The final results had Wade with 31.6 percent of the vote, Sessions with 29.5 percent, Cushing with 24.9 percent and challenger Robin Dianics with 13.9 percent.