Leading candidates in the April 2, 2024 election for Springfield school board: Susan Provance, Danielle Kincaid and Maryam Mohammkhani.

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Voters April 2 chose three women for three seats on the Springfield Board of Education. Two of those women were incumbents, with Danielle Kincaid and Maryam Mohammadkhani retaining their seats.

But the big winner and top vote-getter was newcomer Susan Provance, who defeated Scott Crise' re-election bid for the third open seat.

The three women also beat challengers Landon McCarter, Kyler Sherman-Wilkins and Chad Rollins.

The election outcome will likely maintain a 4-3 split over major issues, including extending the contract of Superintendent Grenita Lathan. Kincaid and Crise have been part of the majority (along with Judy Brunner and Shurita Thomas-Tate), while Mohammadkhani has been in the minority (with Steve Makoski and Kelly Byrne).

Provance is expected to align with the Kincaid majority, while McCarter and Rollins (if they had won) were expected to align with Mohammadkhani.

The board will hold a meeting on April 9 to swear in new members and elect its officers for the upcoming year. The most pressing issue the new board will face in its first few meetings is approving the budget for the 2024-25 school year. The budget must be finalized and approved by the end of June.

Here are the latest vote totals in the race for three seats on the board, according to unofficial results from the Greene County Clerk's website. Candidates are listed in ballot order:

With 58 of 58 precincts reporting Votes Pct.
Danielle Kincaid (incumbent) 12,255 16.89%
Landon McCarter 10,986 15.14%
Susan Provance 13,082 18.03%
Scott Crise (incumbent) 7,181 9.9%
Kyler Sherman-Wilkins 6,923 9.54%
Chad Rollins 10,730 14.79%
Maryam Mohammadkhani (incumbent) 11,306 15.58%

Reflecting on the vote, Provance used language a coach would use: She called her win a “team win,” not a win for herself, and said she would work toward doing what is best for the district's students and teachers.

“It was a community effort,” Provance said about receiving the most votes. “Not one part of town, not one segment, not one focus, but all voters supporting the fact that the board should remain focused on doing what's best for all kids. I'm overwhelmed with the victory. ... I feel a great sense of responsibility to be on the board for the next three years and do exactly what I told voters I would do.”

In a statement, Kincaid said she was grateful to all who voted for anyone in the race. She also congratulated Provance and Mohammadkhani on their wins, and said she looks forward to working with them on issues that affect all of the district’s students.

“Tonight, all voters sent a clear message that they want a school board that supports every single one of our students regardless of race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or disability,” Kincaid wrote in the statement. “Serving on the SPS School Board is an honor and I appreciate the opportunity to continue that service.”

The Daily Citizen has reached out Mohammadkhani for her response to election results, and will update this report with their replies.

Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller said that if a candidate finishes less than half a percentage point away from a winner, a recount can be done before certification is finalized. A candidate who finishes less than 1% below a winner may also ask for a recount. Because Mohammadkhani, McCarter and Rollins finished within a percentage point, and Mohammadkhani and McCarter finished within .44% of each other, a recount is likely.

The candidates

School board candidates (pictured from left to right) Landon McCarter, Chad Rollins, Danielle Kincaid, Susan Provance, Kyler Sherman-Wilkins, Scott Crise and Maryam Mohammadkhani are introduced Tuesday during a Springfield Chamber of Commerce event. The seven are running for seats on the Springfield Board of Education. (Photo by Joe Hadsall)

Seven candidates ran for three open seats on the board — incumbents Danielle Kincaid, Scott Crise and Maryam Mohammadkhani faced challengers Landon McCarter, Susan Provance, Kyler Sherman-Wilkins and Chad Rollins. Each seat carries a term of three years. Serving on the school board is a volunteer position, and includes no compensation.

• Kincaid, 39, is current president of the board and an attorney and partner with the Elder Law Group. Read more about Danielle Kincaid.

• McCarter, 39, is an entrepreneur, including a co-founder and former owner of Secure Agent Marketing. He also was a candidate in the 2023 election for school board, and finished third by 274 votes.

• Provance, 70, is a retired teacher and basketball, volleyball and softball coach at Parkview High School. Read more about Susan Provance.

• Crise, 58, is current board vice-president and manager of gas plant operations for Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc.

• Sherman-Wilkins, 34, is an associate professor of sociology at Missouri State University.

• Rollins, 47, is a pharmacist and director of operations for Health Direct, a pharmacy based in Ozark. He was also a candidate in the 2023 election for school board, finishing last of four candidates.

• Mohammadkhani, 53, is a board member and a retired pathologist with CoxHealth. Read more about Mohammadkhani.

As votes were tabulated throughout the evening, Provance, Kincaid and Mohammadkhani landed in the top three spots and never gave up those positions. McCarter and Rollins made late surges toward Mohammadkhani's spot, but not enough to make the board.

Behavior, discipline top issues

One of the most dominant talking points throughout the election dealt with behavior and discipline in classrooms, including its new use of a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports system. While they all advocated for more behavior training for teachers, they differed in their overall approaches.

Candidates raise more than $430,000

The seven candidates raised more than $430,000 in the race, according to reports filed eight days before the election with the Missouri Ethics Commission. The final totals will be known when candidates file their final report for the election cycle, due on May 2.

The amount far outpaces a high mark set only last year, where four candidates raised more than $210,000.

Mohammadkhani raised the most, with $82,865.77, and Sherman-Wilkins was at the back with $29,700.09.

Some politics in a nonpartisan race

Privacy carrels await voters at every polling place in Springfield. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Political action committees also got involved, raising more than $160,000 and endorsing candidates.

The race started with two groups making dueling picks. United Springfield, a newly-formed PAC with both Republicans and Democrats in leadership positions, endorsed Kincaid, Crise and Provance. It made donations to the three, and paid for production and airtime for separate TV commercials backing them.

United Springfield formed in response to the rise of partisan groups seeking to influence nonpartisan elections. One of those groups was the Back on Track America PAC, which in 2023 funded a negative mailer that supported McCarter and Rollins.

This year, the conservative PAC teamed up with Christians Uniting for Political Action and supported McCarter, Rollins and Mohammadkhani. Back on Track printed voter guides backing the candidates, and paid for radio ads backing them.

Spokespeople for the groups kept a focus on behavior and discipline in an interview with the Hauxeda, but in a voter guide to backers and supporters, they also highlighted the three’s stances on accommodating transgender students, allowing transgender students to compete on athletic teams and education about racial disparity — key issues in a larger cultural war.

Other groups that made endorsements include:

• The Springfield NEA, the union that represents teachers and other faculty, was the first to give an endorsement to Sherman-Wilkins; it also picked McCarter and Mohammadkhani.

• The Springfield chapter of the Missouri State Teachers Association gave support to Kincaid, Provance and Sherman-Wilkins.

• Teamsters Local No. 245, the union that represents the district’s bus drivers, endorsed McCarter, Provance and Sherman-Wilkins.

Vote 417, a group that fights for open elections, endorsed Kincaid, Provance and Crise.

• The NAACP Springfield chapter gave its most favorable ratings to Kincaid and Sherman-Wilkins, as well as Provance.

Joe Hadsall

Joe Hadsall is the education reporter for the Hauxeda. Hadsall has more than two decades of experience reporting in the Ozarks with the Joplin Globe, Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine. Contact him at (417) 837-3671 or jhadsall@hauxeda.com. More by Joe Hadsall