Gunnar Hand for Kansas City school board
The Kansas City Star
A growing interest in the Kansas City Public Schools can be seen in two good candidates running to fill a vacant school board seat in a special election on Nov. 6.
Gunnar Hand, 31, and Stephen Himes, 37, will be on the ballot for the 2nd Subdistrict seat vacated in the summer when Derek Richey moved out of state. Hand is our pick for the school board seat, which expires April 2014. He promises to bring his community engagement and consensus building skills to the position, drawing together the district’s diverse groups to improve Kansas City schools.
Hand is president of MOCK Studio, a planning design and development consulting firm. He is a graduate of Rockhurst High School and the University of Colorado-Boulder and received his master’s of science in city and regional planning with an urban design certificate from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is a board member and the city liaison for the Armour Hills Homeowners Association and a board member of the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance. His wife, Ashley, leads an effort to reopen Hale Cook School.
Himes, a world literature teacher at St. Teresa’s Academy, wants to get the Brookside and Waldo communities more engaged in the district. Himes is a graduate of Clinton, Mo., High School, Drury University, University of Kansas School of Law and an all-but-dissertation doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Both candidates are focused on helping the district regain its accreditation. Voters can’t go wrong, but Hand’s collaborative skills and work in the neighborhoods make him a strong choice.
A race with two quality candidates on the ballot is a big improvement from April, when most school board seats were decided by write-in candidates. The Kansas City Public Schools lost its accreditation in January. It has made some progress since, but its future remains cloudy. Good leadership is essential.