By MARK EVANS
Ste. Genevieve R-II School District patrons will get to choose two of five candidates to fill openings on the district school board, April 6.
The ballot will have five names, but John Carlisle has dropped out of the race, leaving four active candidates. Each of the four responded to Herald requests for comments and background information. They are listed alphabetically.
Jamie Naeger Ballew, a 2003 Valle Catholic High School graduate, returned after college to become an accountant for Citizens Electric Corporation, which includes analyzing the company budget and working with outside firms on an annual audit.
She is married to Matt Ballew and has a son, Daniel, in the second grade at Ste. Genevieve Elementary.
Ballew said her son has had “a very positive experience” in the R-II district.
“I believe in the public school model, which is that all students deserve to have the opportunity for a great quality education,” she said. “I believe the students’ well-being and education should come first.”
She believes her son being in the system has given her good insight into its operation.
“With Daniel attending school, I have daily hands-on interaction with the school district and a unique perspective as a parent of a current student,” she said. “I believe this active connection to the district is something board members should have.”
Among other activities, she has in taken part in Title 1 meetings as a parent advocate and Parent Teacher Organization meetings and events and helps plan and coordinate Citizen Electric’s Children’s Safety Day.
Her accounting background has made her keenly aware that budget shortfalls could take place if Holcim Concrete challenges its tax status as it enters county tax rolls and stops making payments in lieu of taxes.
“If that happens, the school district will not receive any funds until the appeal process is settled,” she said. “We need to ensure our budget is ready for that possibility.”
Board president David Bova is seeking reelection, facing challengers Balew, Lawrence Pfaff, Jr., who is making his third run, and retired Ste. Genevieve Elementary principal Geri Diesel.
Bova, who graduated from Ste. Genevieve High School in 1990, has been on the board nine years. In 2019 he succeeded Martha Resinger as board president.
Bova spent 25 years in retail sales before taking the position of community development administrator for the city of Ste. Genevieve in 2018. He and his wife Julie have raised three daughters in Ste. Genevieve.
“Ste. Gen. School District is a part of me and has helped shape my life and my family’s life for many years,” Bova said. “My mother, grandparents, aunt and uncle have all worked for the Ste. Genevieve District over the years. My grandfather was the Ste. Genevieve Elementary custodian for many of the years that I went to school there. My love for Ste. Gen. R-II certainly started there.”Bova said the “inspiration and Dragon spirit” he picked up as an R-II student has been important to him in forging a career ad that it has similarly helped is daughters.
“Being on our board is one of the ways I enjoy giving back to the school and the community that have helped me and my family succeed and enjoy life,” Bova said. “In addition, I want to continue helping make certain that our kids today and for generations to come have the same wonderful experiences that I had at Ste. Genevieve R-II. I want to help our school succeed in offering the best academic, athletic, extracurricular and leadership opportunities available.”
A Zell native and 1981 Ste. Genevieve High School graduate, Geri Huck Diesel is married to retired US Air Force Lt. Colonel Dan Diesel. Their children, Emily, Erich and Natalie are all SGHS graduates.
She spent 24 years in education, the final 16 in the R-II district. From 2015 until 2020 she was principal of Ste. Genevieve Elementary School, before retiring.
“It has been my honor to serve as a teacher and administrator in the Ste. Genevieve R-II School District for the past 16 years,” she said. “I am running for the SG-RII school board because I believe that my background, knowledge, and experience provide a broad and contemporary view on education that will be an asset to our local school district.”
Her grandfather, Richard Huck, served 35 years on the R-II school board.
“I too have a sincere desire to serve our community in the tradition of my grandfather,” Diesel said.
She wants to see the district continue to thrive.
“I am committed to the success of all students and will uphold the best interest of our school district by making educationally sound and fiscally responsible decisions,” she said. “I hope to contribute to the continuing accomplishments of the best school district in the state of Missouri. I will work in conjunction with the administration and staff to advocate for the resources, technology and facilities needed for academic and extra-curricular programs necessary to prepare our students for the 21st century.”
A 1995 SGHS graduate, Pfaff is employed as a lieutenant/firefighter/paramedic at Ladue Fire Department in St. Louis County. He has also worked as a substitute teacher in the R-II system.
He and wife, Christina, and we have three children, Logan 19, Cole 17, and Briana 12. He was vice president and president of the Bloomsdale Parent Teacher Organization when his children attended Bloomsdale Elementary. He also coached them in youth sports.
Pfaff ran for the board in 2013 and 2019.
“Everyone always wants to know why you choose to run for a board position,” Pfaff said. “I enjoy working with the students and faculty. I want to assist in molding our children to make well-rounded adults in our community.”
He believes leadership is even more vital as the district emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the near future, I would love to see our students back to attending classes five days a week like surrounding school districts,” Pfaff said. “Some students with virtual learning compared to classroom learning. The teachers need to be able to interact with the students in person. I hope to contribute to make this school board and district better than it already is.”