Recommendations for KC area school boards
The Kansas City Star
Voters will elect school board members in area districts Tuesday. Following are The Star’s recommendations in select contested races.
Four candidates are running for two open seats in this district, which is showing impressive academic gains, especially among low-income students. Cindy Bastian, a retired Grandview teacher, has been a valuable member of the board and deserves re-election. For the second open seat we recommend Larry Lewis, a parent who appears committed to helping move schools to the next level. Other candidates are Geoff Gerling and Michelle Shackelford.
Bond issue: The district is asking voters to approve a $9 million bond issue to finance repairs, building upgrades and security features. The debt would be serviced through the existing property tax levy. We recommend a YES vote. Grandview’s buildings are at least 40 years old and good maintenance is crucial. The bond issue request has wide support from business and community groups.
This district, troubled by substandard performance and administrative turmoil, badly needs stable board leadership to work with newly hired Superintendent Dennis Carpenter, from Georgia.
The best choice for the two open seats are former board members George Flesher and Debbie Aiman. Flesher served more than 20 years, and Aiman, a retired teacher, served one term. Both bring an institutional knowledge and expertise that is lacking in the other candidates, Shawn Kirkwood and Byron Townsend.
Kansas City, Kansas
Though challenged to raise the academic performance of a mostly low-income student population while dealing with funding shortages in Topeka, this district is fortunate to have a strong administration and mostly supportive board. Three seats are up for election. Incumbents Evelyn Hudson and Vicki Meyer are hard-working contributors and should be returned. The best choice for the third seat is Janey Humphries. She is a volunteer for district causes and did a great job raising funds for a new library branch in Kansas City, Kan.
Also running are Tyrone Garner, Richard J. Kaminski and Orechia M. Towers.
Patrons have experienced controversial superintendent changes in recent years and defeated the latest tax increase in 2011. But the district remains a high-performing one, crucial to the Northland’s growth.
Incumbent D. Scott Conner and newcomer M. Andrew Roffmann deserve election to three-year terms. Those decisions would give board a solid mixture of valuable experience and new vitality. Conner capably led the board through the latest superintendent switch. Other candidates are Bruce Cantwell, Mike Capria and James Freed.
North Kansas City
The largest Missouri-side district in this area is still adding pupils as it grows more diverse racially and economically. For the one contested seat, incumbent Dixie Youngers offers experience that would be good to keep on the board. Other candidates are Kevin Corlew, Lee Morris and Paula Pattillo.
This is another growing, high-performing district in the Northland. Voters have the opportunities to select candidates with a wide variety of experiences for four open seats.
For the three-year term, incumbents Todd Fane and Susan Newburger provided thoughtful leadership during the contentious decision to hire a new superintendent from outside the district last year. The other school board candidates are Jeffrey Goodwin, Sherri Scott and Edward Stephens.
For the two-year term, newcomer Matt Pepper would bring a burst of energy to the board but also a deep knowledge base thanks partly to his attendance at its meetings. Pepper is focused on the high priority of using technology to improve education in the district. The other candidates are Josh Blackman and Todd Burr, who was appointed to the board in late 2012.
For the one-year term, incumbent Chris Seufert, appointed in mid-2012, brings an independent voice to the board. His opponents are Melinda Hardin and Bobbi Woodward.
Raytown made gains in performance last year and needs strong, supportive board members to work with Superintendent Allan Markley and his administration.
That can be best achieved by re-electing incumbents Rick Thode and Bobbie Saulsberry. Thode was especially helpful in preventing district tax dollars from being diverted to a soccer project in Kansas City. Other candidates are Pam Arlund and Ken Grist.