Star's recommendations in KC school board races
The Kansas City Star
Whatever the immediate future brings for the Kansas City Public Schools, it will need a steady, unified board to navigate choppy waters.
That’s why the April 3 election for four open seats is so important. The unaccredited district must shore up its administrative leadership, boost student performance and regain the public’s confidence. The school board may also be called upon to act as a bridge to governance changes being debated for the district in Jefferson City.
After an early dearth of willing candidates, all four of the open seats are now contested. Three will be decided by write-in votes.
For the at-large seat, the top choice is current President Airick Leonard West.
West, a self-employed computer programmer, understands that the school board’s role is not to interfere with administrative decisions. As a board member since 2008, he has been supportive of difficult but essential cuts and school closings. West has a genuine affinity for the district’s students and families and he is dedicated to the welfare of the entire district, not selected factions.
Like all other candidates for the at-large seat, West is seeking election on a write-in vote. The other candidates are Lyne’t C. Smith, H. Lon Swearingen, Jerry Sargent and Sam Mann.
In Subdistrict 1, Arthur Benson is the choice over Jon Hile. Both candidates gathered enough signatures to have their names on the ballot.
Benson’s involvement with the school district dates back decades. An attorney, he agreed to represent plaintiff black schoolchildren in what became a long-running desegregation case. As a board member, he has displayed an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the district and about education reform. He has good ideas and works well with district officials. The district needs him to remain involved.
In Subdistrict 3, incumbent Duane Kelly, a retired teacher, is the best choice between two write-in candidates. The current board has done a good job of avoiding micromanaging and squabbling. Kelly has been a part of that mix. He has been a board member since 2000.
The other write-in candidate for the seat is Adam Schieber.
In Subdistrict 5, Curtis L. Rogers is the best choice as a write-in candidate. As a retired educator, Rogers brings a solid knowledge of the classroom. He has worked as a teacher, assistant principal and principal, and brings the bonus of having experience overseeing one of the district’s alternative schools.
Other write-in candidates are Candace Koba, Nia Webster and Demonte Rochester.