Clockwise from top left: Chad Rollins, Judy Brunner, Landon McCarter, and Shurita Thomas-Tate are running for Springfield school board. (Photos: Provided)

The three Springfield Public Schools Board of Education candidates who submitted signatures on the first day possible will be joined by one other candidate who dropped his signatures off on the last day. 

On Dec. 27, Chad Rollins filed the required 500-plus signatures of district residents who support his candidacy for one of the two seats on the seven-seat school board. The election is April 4. 

Pending certification on Jan. 24, voters will see the following names on their ballots: 

  • Landon McCarter
  • Shurita Thomas-Tate (incumbent)
  • Judy Brunner
  • Chad Rollins 

The first three submitted 500-plus signatures on Dec. 7, the initial day that candidates could do so.

J. Michael Hasty, an SPS parent who in November had picked up paperwork to run for a seat, announced on Dec. 24 that he did not get the 500-plus signatures needed.

“I am not done fighting for the education and futures of my kids and ALL kids who attend SPS,” Hasty wrote on his Facebook page. “I am not done fighting for the future of our great city. I will see you down the road and through continued hard work WE will MAKE CHANGES for the better.”

More about the final candidate: Chad Rollins

The Daily Citizen covered the early entrants in previous coverage. The latest candidate, Rollins, is a Glendale High School graduate who went on to get a degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy. 

“I feel like I got a good education here,” he said. “I went to pharmacy school. I’ve been able to be a leader in other parts of my life. I think a good, strong foundation when you’re growing up is important. I want to make sure that I’ve got a part in giving back to where I came from.”

Rollins has five children currently at SPS schools, with two having also recently graduated from Glendale. In a Daily Citizen interview in November, he said their collective experiences at SPS have been positive ones, and added that he believed the school system “should really just focus on making our kids feel comfortable and making them strong and doing what we do in Southwest Missouri.” That, he said, included a focus on teaching math, English, athletics and creating an environment where students can excel. 

“I think for me, I mean, it’s about winning,” he said. “It really is. Building winners, building leaders. And it starts at that young age of our kids, and just giving them the best environment so they can do the same.”

Here’s who he joins on the ballot 

The school board race will feature one current board member seeking re-election and three who are running for the board for the first time. Current Board President Denise Fredrick chose not to run for a fifth term on the board.

Thomas-Tate was first elected to the school board in 2020. She is an associate professor in Missouri State University’s communications sciences department, as well as the founder of Ujima, a nonprofit literacy program designed to increase language and literacy skills for children up to 11 years old. 

“Literacy is my heart and my passion,” Thomas-Tate said when she told the Daily Citizen she would be seeking re-election. “I believe in public education, and I feel like the health of our city is very much tied to the health of our school district. And I felt like I had something to contribute to that end.”

While this is Brunner’s first time running for the school board, she has spent much of her career at SPS, including 18 years as an administrator in the district. She retired in 2006 after serving as Parkview High School’s principal, and then returned in 2019-2020 to become a temporary co-principal of Central High School while the district sought a more permanent candidate for the leadership position.

Brunner now teaches courses in MSU’s Department of Reading, Foundations and Technology and has also owned an education business since 1999. She said her background in both educational and business settings will help her if she is elected to the board.

McCarter, a Kickapoo High School graduate who went on to co-found a digital marketing agency, cites his father’s 30-year career as an SPS math teacher and his mother’s 14 years as an instructional assistant as reasons he wants to join the school board. While he did not become a teacher, McCarter said, he believes he can serve the district by bringing an entrepreneurial view to the school board. If elected, he would join his lifelong friend and former Kickapoo basketball teammate Kelly Byrne on the school board. McCarter told the Daily Citizen he didn’t consult with Byrne before making the decision to run.

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson