O’FALLON – The District 90 Board of Education took action and appointed Matthew Lloyd as an interim board member. Chris Pulcher stepped down from the board last month due to work and family commitments.
Lloyd, who moved to O’Fallon in 2011 with his family, served 25 years in the Air Force before retiring in late 2014. He currently works at NGA in St. Louis. He has had a lot of experience with District 90 since moving here through his children.
“At that time I had two girls at Carriel and a son at Moye. Now I’ve got one in college, one at the high school, and my son is an eighth grader at Carriel. I’m originally from Michigan and my wife is from near Indianapolis, so this felt like a great place to stay. The kids were really happy in school. By the time I was retiring, I had two girls in high school and they were not going to move. We loved O’Fallon and the area. We loved the schools and the town. It seemed like a good place to stay,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd said he felt a need to serve again when he heard there was an opening on the District 90 board.
“We’ve really benefited from the schools and, after 25 years of serving, I wanted to continue to give to the community in some way and this seemed like a great way to do that. To fill that interim hole until the next election seemed like a great way to jump in with both feet and help the community,” Lloyd said..
Lloyd said he hasn’t put a lot of thought into whether or not he will run for a full term in April.
“I want to get better versed with the issues and develop a working relationship with the other board members. I’m completely open to the idea, and I’m certainly leaning that way. I jumped in to help out now and I’ll decide on that as it comes,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd said he believes his military experience brings a unique perspective to the board.
“I’ve lived a lot of other places and I hope to bring some of those outside ideas. Our kids have gone to multiple different schools and we’ve seen different educational methods. I bring a different perspective. Also, O’Fallon has such a strong and vibrant military population and I believe I can give an insight into what they’re looking for. What are those folks looking for? What are they trying to get for their kids out of their schools,” Lloyd said.
One of the biggest concerns Lloyd said he has for District 90 is its finances and how state funding, and a possible lack of it, will impact the area schools.
“As a taxpayer, everyone should be concerned with economics. The statewide finances and how that affects us locally. Right when we moved here there was a budget crisis particularly driven by money from the state that didn’t come down. I think we have to be prepared for that to happen again. The prudent person would be expecting financial difficulty in the future or at least planning for it. We need to make sure we can make the necessary choices and set the necessary priorities, and be prepared for when the state hamstrings us again,” said Lloyd.
The District 90 Board of Education also approved the hiring of O’Fallon Police Captain Mark Berry as the district’s new Director of Safety and Security.
Berry, who has served for the last 28 years as a member of the O’Fallon PD, has experience in a variety of positions, including Criminal Investigations, Major Case Squad, Field Training Program, Police Administration and Command, and Law Enforcement Training. Additionally, Berry has served as an instructor and adjunct professor at Lindenwood University and SWIC in their criminal justice programs.
Berry said he was intrigued by the position once he learned of it.
“Once the position was made public, it was an unique opportunity for me. I’ve been here for 28 years and I was at a point when I could retire soon. The police department has always had a great relationship with the O’Fallon schools and District 90 is such a progressive school district. I thought with my background and qualifications I thought I’d be a good fit,” said Berry.
It was important to Berry to stay in the O’Fallon area after retiring from the PD, as his children and grand-children all lived locally. Berry said working with District 90 makes a lot of sense as it will create a strong working relationship between the school district and the police department, who often have to work together on important issues.
“It’s a unique position that I’m in, being that I’m retiring from the police department, I can still maintain a good relationship between the schools and police department and act as a liaison for the school district,” Berry said.
Berry said his first priority when entering the new position is to get an understanding of District 90’s current safety and security measures.
“The immediate goal is to work with the superintendent and principals of District 90 to create and perform a safety audit. What safety practices are working well? What can we improve upon? We need to look at technology and assess procedures. That would be a good start to see where we’re at and where we need to be,” he explained.
One of the areas Berry looks forward to is not only working to protect O’Fallon’s youth from harm, but also educating them about law enforcement and its various aspects. Berry was instrumental in executing the city’s Citizen Police Academy, which has become very popular and is currently teaching its fifth session.
“We’ve been very fortunate with our citizens police academy, which is in its fifth session now. We’ve also started a senior citizen academy. And the discussions have been what can we do for the youth. We did a youth academy several years ago. At the time, we wanted to follow up and do a second one, but the interest just wasn’t there. Hopefully with my new position, hopefully we can get some new interest at a young level and look at the junior high age young men and women. Even if they’re not interested in becoming law enforcement officers, they can learn a little something about it,” Berry said.
When asked what it feels like to close the book on a 28 year career with the O’Fallon Police Department, Berry said that while its difficult, he looks forward to the new challenges ahead.
“Everything has happened so quickly, but my initial thought is that its very bittersweet. It’s going to be very tough to walk out of the building for the last time in the next several weeks. I’ve built some great relationships here at the police department. But the sweet part is that I get to be a liaison with the police department and will still get to interact with all of the staff at the O’Fallon Police Department and other public safety. I couldn’t imagine a better position to be in, still serving the city of O’Fallon, helping the school district, and maintaining these personally important relationships,” said Berry.