Interview with Bill Noyes, incumbent for the Macon R-1 School Board

by Benjamin C. Nelson

MACON, MO -- The Macon Home Press interviewed Bill Noyes who is an incumbent looking to be re-elected to the Macon R-1 School Board. Mr. Noyes has served for two terms (six years total) on the school board. There are three positions on the June 2nd ballot and voters within the district will have six candidates to choose from. The candidates for the Macon R-1 School Board are Carrie Bergfield (Incumbent), Bill Noyes (Incumbent), Kevin Linear (Incumbent), Eric Brown, John Wiggans, and Greg Bruno.

QUESTION #1: Introduction (tell me about yourself, bio, jobs you have held, school, college, etc.)

BILL NOYES: "My name is Bill Noyes. I am a 1988 graduate of the Macon R-1 High School. From 1988 to 1992 I served in the U.S. Air Force. Then, after returning to Macon, while working full-time, I took evening courses through MACC and William Woods University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management in 1997. I have worked over 20 years for MoDOT. I am a Senior Procurement Agent responsible for coordinating all purchasing activities for the Northeast District (developing specifications & bids, tabulating & evaluating responses, awarding & placing orders). Prior to joining MoDOT, I was the Purchasing Agent for Macon Municipal Utilities for 7 years. My wife of almost 31 years, Kris, works for the Macon Area Chamber of Commerce. We are the proud parents of 3 children who graduated from Macon R-1: Kayla is a recent graduate of the University of Central Missouri, lives in Warrensburg, and serves in the Missouri Army National Guard. Kevin is a North Central Missouri College and MACC Law Enforcement Training Center graduate living in Maryville and is an officer on the Norwest Missouri State University Police Department. Travis, a University of Missouri graduate, lives in Marceline, served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and now serves in the Missouri Army National Guard, and works for MoDOT out of the New Cambria Maintenance Building. My parents are Wayne & the late Terri Noyes and Joe & the late Merlyn Amidei. In addition to my past 6 years of service and as the current Vice-President of the Macon County R-1 Board of Education, I am the current President of the Macon Public Library Board of Trustees, the Adjutant for Macon’s American Legion Post 29, the Chaplain for Marceline’s V.F.W. Post 1471, and am a partner in the Macon Skate Center."

QUESTION #2: Why are you running (consider this your elevator pitch you would give someone if you were stuck in an elevator for 1-2 minutes)? What is your end goal as a potential board member?

BILL NOYES: "I truly enjoy being involved in local activities, and value the personal relationships I have made in my life as an active community member. Macon R-1 Schools are a vital part of this community and I want to continue to be a positive voice for district residents through another term on the Board. If reelected I will continue my efforts to keep the community informed on the activities and accomplishments of our students and staff as I have done during my past 6 years of service."

QUESTION #3: What is the most pressing issue facing the Macon R-1 School District?

BILL NOYES: "COVID-19 issues are obviously are at the forefront of all issues the District is facing at this time. However, several issues are continually reviewed by the Board, such as budgeting and expenses, facility maintenance and improvement needs, curriculum and testing standards, and employee development. While we must deal with the immediate issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also balance decisions made at this time so the pandemic does not overshadow the long-term work which still needs to continue being done to monitor and address these other ongoing issues and providing the best learning environment and opportunities for students to prepare them for the future."

QUESTION #4: What makes our district unique compared to others?

BILL NOYES: "Compared to many other school districts across the state I believe for a school our size Macon R-1 is unique in having our facilities and activities on one centralized and connected campus. This makes interaction and communication between departments across the district more efficient and streamlined than they otherwise would be, which, in the long run, is a cost-savings to the district. Also, Macon R-1 has a diverse student body many different backgrounds, talents, and abilities and we offer an education beneficial to all students. While this is not unique, our district has the ability and resources to offer a variety of many different opportunities to our students dependent on their needs and interests, which smaller schools oftentimes cannot provide, but we are not so large that our students just become numbers or get “lost in the crowd”."

QUESTION #5: In a post COVID-19 World, what do districts need to do in preparation for the next global pandemic?

QUESTION #5A: What is something you think we have learned while navigating COVID-19? (The biggest lesson)

BILL NOYES: "I have learned that in new and developing situations, such as this pandemic, things can and often due change quickly. You have to be able to make decisions based on the best information available at the time. Then you have to be willing to roll with the flow and be adaptable to changing those decisions or adapting processes as new data and guidance comes to light."

QUESTION #5B: Do you think Macon R-1 is prepared for more online instruction? Do you think we have adequate resources for online instruction for long periods of time?

BILL NOYES: "Yes. Steps have been taken through additional funding received through CARES legislation where the district has ordered additional Chromebooks to be able to move fairly close to “one-to-one” availability of those devices for our students. Also, infrastructure of our technology system is being added in the installation of “hot spots” so students with poor connectivity or inadequate access as home will be able to access the internet and other school resources from the school parking lots in order to download needed information as-needed and be able to better study from home in the coming school year. We have also recently adopted use of a new Canvas system that will allow multiple online and computer program platforms to better interface with each other and streamline use and access by students and staff. Though online learning will never replace the importance of face-to-face instruction and interactions with teachers and other students, we will be in a much better position in the coming year to provide more effective distance learning options is it is needed."

QUESTION #5C: What online resources could you as a board member, advocate for (not only for teachers, but also students and parents)?

BILL NOYES: "I believe the best thing Board members as well as members of our community could advocate for both to local service providers and to our elected State government and Federal lawmakers would be for continued infrastructure improvements in our communities and rural areas so all our citizens can have the best internet speeds, phone signals, and data access possible, while being available affordably to all families, both in town and far out rural areas of Macon and surrounding counties."

QUESTION #5D: If you are re-elected or elected, what is something you think the board/district needs to prepare for as we head into the Fall Semester of 2020? (A possible return from COVID-19)

BILL NOYES: "I believe the most critical impact to how the new school year will look at Macon R-1 will be determined by the requirements at the time, whatever they may be, regarding social distancing. Social distancing greatly impacts the ability to serve our students and staff safely in regards to classroom arrangement, group interactions, and the ability to use other communal areas, hallways, cafeterias, buses, etc. This will especially have a major effect on how the District will be able to provide for the transportation of students to and from school each day. The District is already working diligently to prepare for the coming school year by making plans based on current guidelines and will continue to review and revise those plans over the coming months as new directives come to light."

QUESTION #6: What will YOU bring to the school board? What sets you apart from others that are running?

BILL NOYES: "I will continue to bring an open mind and a common sense approach to discussions and decisions on activities, actions, and regulations which determine how the Macon R-1 School District is managed and conducts the business of educating students. This does not set me apart from other any other candidate running, as I believe they are all persons who want the best for our school and community. While not everyone will agree with every decision I may have made during my tenure, I would hope they will feel my past work on the Board has been done fairly and in the best manner possible based on what has ultimately been the best for the District and the citizens over all."

QUESTION #7: If you could re-write the description of the Macon School Board, in one paragraph, what do you think the role of a school board should be in a district?

BILL NOYES: "The primary role of the school board is to hire the Superintendent of the School District and then to oversee the activities of the Superintendent, both in the management of the administration, teachers, and support staff, as well as in the development of the budget and monitoring the finances of the District. The Board is responsible for implementing policies and procedures for the District to follow to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and applicable laws."

QUESTION #8: With numerous improvement projects being completed throughout the district in the last year (or more), what is an area of our district that could use more improvements?

BILL NOYES: "I believe continuing to work on items impacting the safety and security of our students and facilities will always be a top priority. An example of this are plans this summer to improve the High School entrance by constructing a new controlled entry foyer system, such as we have already done at the Middle and Elementary School entrances. We also must take care of what we have, and ensure we continue to follow our long-term plans for facilities and equipment maintenance, so we are prepared when roofs, heating and air systems, school buses, etc. need repair work or replacement at the end of their functional life cycle. We must insure our technology resources such as computer, programs, and internet/data systems are maintained and kept current to keep pace with changes, updates, and upgrades. I would like to see work continue as we have been doing in sections as time and funding allows to fix the bad concrete sections in the high school student parking lot and to improve parking space availability overall for district patrons. Also, if possible, and again as time and funding may allow, I would like to see expanded space provided to meet the needs of our growing fine arts programs such as band, choir, and other performing arts so those programs will continue to succeed."

QUESTION #9: Do you think the district is adequately handling mental health, student bullying, etc.? What could we be doing more; what could we be doing to make us stronger in those areas? What involvement do you think a school board should have with cyber-bullying?

BILL NOYES: "I think the District has made great efforts over the past years to learn more about the mental health needs of our students and to develop and explore the use of resources both through internal staff training in this area for our teachers and counselors, but also by entering into agreements with outside agencies who are now in place and available to provide additional guidance and counseling services to our students when needed. As for bullying, I believe our staff takes this issue very seriously, but it will always be a difficult problem as there is always “two sides to every story” and the perceptions of the persons involved are so often rooted in deep emotions by both sides of the parties involved. As a Board member, we do not have direct involvement in bullying incidents. Handling such things on a day-to-day basis is the responsibility of the Superintendent, building administrators, counselors, and when needed, the school resource officer or juvenile authorities. The way the Board can be most effective and should be involved in such issues is by continuing to provide training to staff on these subjects, and also by ensuring policies and procedures are in place to guide staff members on how to handle, investigate, and refer claims of bullying based on particulars of any given situation."

QUESTION #10: What could we be doing more to support our faculty and staff?

BILL NOYES: "Simply put, funding is critical. The better we manage available resources, the better we will be able to serve our students, while supporting our faculty and staff. The Macon R-1 community last year passed a ballot issue which allowed us to build our much needed Elementary building addition, and I am so thankful for the support from the citizens of our District in that effort. The ability to construct that large project to meet our most pressing need of classroom space, has enabled us to since complete many other needed improvement projects around the District. I believe if the Board continues clearly communicating, using common sense, and administering our available resources efficiently, we will be able to retain current good performing staff and attract good candidates to the district when employment openings do occur. We should work to ensure our faculty and staff will continue to have the facilities, tools, equipment, supplies, and the training/professional development opportunities they need to do the job of caring for and educating all our students."

QUESTION #11: With Bible Literacy and LGBT+ Curriculum proposals in Jefferson City being a reality, what is your view on those proposals in relation to the Macon R-1 School District?

BILL NOYES: "The examples in this question are issues which people have very strong feelings about on both sides of such topics. However, such things are decided well above the level of the local school board. I believe for me to speculate or provide personal opinions on any possible proposals which may or may not actually be considered or ever be passed by lawmakers would not be productive. Regardless of my personal beliefs and opinions, as a Board member I must try to responsibly, impartially, and fairly represent all citizens of the school district. I do not have the authority to decide which laws we follow or do not follow, but to determine the best way to comply and enforce any laws we must operate under. These laws come from the State and Federal governments. Therefore, comments or opinions on such issues, whatever they may be, are best expressed by citizens direct to their elected State and Federal Representatives and Senators who make such proposals, before they vote on them and before they become the law."

*See reporter's note below in reference of the proposals mentioned for Question 11*

QUESTION #12: In your own words, what does it mean to be a Macon Tiger?

BILL NOYES: "When I think what it means to be a Macon Tiger, I think of continuing the good traditions of those who have gone before us, of establishing new traditions for future generations to follow, of being a part of our community, and of showing our hometown pride."

QUESTION #13: Please feel free to include a closing statement or any additional information.

BILL NOYES: "I believe skills taught in Math, Science, English, and History are vital for all students, plus advanced college preparatory studies are a key to future advancement for many people. I also believe we must continue to invest in providing opportunities in a variety of student extra-curricular activities as well such as clubs, fine arts, and athletics, in order to develop teamwork, personal individual, and social interactions skills. Additionally, I feel efforts to promote education in practical work skills through our career center programs, agricultural courses, and adult education classes are critically important as well. I feel Macon R-1 students, if they apply themselves and take advantage of the opportunities offered, can graduate as “well-rounded” people who are ready to step into the next level of education or enter the work force. I would appreciate your vote in the election on June 2nd as I would like to continue helping to lead Macon R-1 in these efforts. Thank you."

*(Reporter's note for Question 11: The Bible Literacy bill (Missouri House Bill 267) in reference, would give school districts the opportunity to offer an elective course to students about the historical literature of the Bible while teaching students about the influence it has had throughout history. The Bible Literacy bill gives power to the local school boards to determine if they would like to incorporate the elective course within their district. The LGBT+ proposal (Missouri House Bill 2153) has not been heard/passed by either chamber. The proposal looks to give school districts the opportunity to offer students lessons on LGBT+ history, movements, and societal contributions by members of the LGBT+ Community throughout history. The LGBT+ proposal gives local school boards ultimate say in whether or not they would incorporate the instruction into their district. The Missouri Department of Education would create curriculum for either proposal if they were to become law.)

Headline picture of Bill Noyes alongside his wife and children