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(AUDIO): Good crowd expected for tonight’s CPS school board debate

(AUDIO): Good crowd expected for tonight’s CPS school board debate

All seven Columbia school board candidates are expected to participate in tonight’s debate at Mizzou’s Cornell Hall, near the Newman Center.

The seven candidates are, in ballot order, Paul Harper, John Potter, CPS vice president Christopher Horn, James Edward Gordon, John Lyman, April Ferrao and former State Rep. Chuck Basye (R-Rocheport).

The debate begins at 6:30 and will be moderated by publisher Mike Murphy, who has more than 40 years of experience in the newspaper business. Murphy tells 939 the Eagle’s “CEO Roundtable” that the quality of the candidate forums has declined in recent years.

“Many of them are simply to go get the endorsement. It could be Sierra Club, it could be a labor union, it could be (the Columbia) police officers association. So they’re there for a specific reason. So we recognize the need for a good forum,” Murphy tells listeners.

One of the issues Mr. Murphy plans to ask about tonight is academic performance and the recent annual performance review from DESE. Murphy says CPS’ academic performance is a crisis that must be addressed. CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood has told 939 the Eagle that attendance issues contributed to Columbia Public Schools (CPS) scoring just 70 percent on the DESE review. Dr. Yearwood says attendance is down since COVID. He says the district is increasing homes visits and has increased notifications and calling to try to boost those numbers.

Murphy expects a good crowd tonight, citing increased interest from the public.

“I think Chuck Basye’s entrance into the race and the controversy around it and now the comments that are going on social media and elsewhere, there’s plenty of now, it’s in the news (media). I think it’s called a lot of attention to something’s going on,” Murphy says.

Mr. Murphy tells listeners that he’s busy preparing questions and admits he’s nervous about tonight.

Click here to listen to host Fred Parry’s full interview with publisher Mike Murphy.