The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

March 20, 2007

School board candidates support superintendent

By Joe Hadsall

jhadsall@joplinglobe.com

All four candidates running for the Joplin R-8 Board of Education say they support Superintendent Jim Simpson.

The question of support for the superintendent was raised in a column in The Joplin Globe on March 4 by Michael Pence, treasurer for the campaign fund-raising committee for board incumbent Mike Landis. The allegation also appeared in an unsigned flier, a copy of which Pence provided to the Globe last week.

“I only threw that out as a question to the reader,” Pence said of his column. “Why a board member would want to get rid of him (Simpson), after all the accomplishments our district has made, I don’t know.”

The flier, which states, “These people want Dr. Simpson gone,” alleges that board members Jim Coburn and Jim Kimbrough are former Joplin school officials who want Simpson replaced. “They will continue down this path until they effectively make Dr. Simpson go somewhere else to work,” the flier states.

Asked where the flier came from, Pence only said: “I imagine it’s from people who have studied the chronology of these events and put them together.”

Pence, owner of Electric Motor Supply in Joplin, also said in the column that Landis, Bo Lee and Anne Sharp are on one side of a deadlocked board, and that Coburn, Kimbrough and Mark Smith are aligned in the other camp.

Pence wondered in the column “what hidden agenda this obviously emerging power base may have in mind.”

Coburn, who is running for re-election, said the idea is just politics at its best and worst, and that he has supported Simpson.

“Check the record,” Coburn said. “See how many votes we have had in favor of him.”

The board voted last April to give Simpson a nearly 14 percent raise, making his annual salary about $144,000. The vote was 5-2. Coburn voted in favor of the motion, and Kimbrough and former board member Rhonda Randall voted against it.

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