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Home » News » R-7 School News » Lee’s Summit School Board Candidate...

Lee’s Summit School Board Candidate Questionnaire Dennis D. Smith

Lee’s Summit School Board Candidate Questionnaire Dennis D. Smith

March 31, 2017 

The Tribune sent out a questionnaire to each of the candidates filing for a seat on the LSR7 School Board. On Tuesday, April 4, these nine candidates will be narrowed down to the three seats available. 

Dennis D. Smith 

Occupation: Taught Lee's Summit High School 1973-1986
                    Assistant Principal Pleasant Lea Junior High 1986-1992
                    Principal Bernard Campbell Junior High 1992-2003
                    Prepared for the opening of LS West High School 2003
                    Presently Adjunct Professor University of Missouri Columbia
                    AMP mentor for first/second year administrators UCM
Education: Graduated Lee's Summit High School 1969
                  B.A. Secondary Education
                  M.A. Education Administration
                  Ed. Specialist Secondary Administration
Years lived in LS: 1951-Present (66 years)
Previous elected offices held: Lee's Summit Board of Aldermen 1981-1986

Why are you running for school board?
Because of the ever changing diversity, culture, and economic groups in our school system, I want to be instrumental in finding ways to bridge these gaps so that all students have the same learning opportunities and skill sets to thrive in our world today and in the future.

I want to work with our Special Education staff and parents to help find ways to increase physical space and more staffing for our early childhood learners.

What other volunteer/civic involvement have you had? What have you learned from that experience?
Past president of Lee's Summit Education Foundation
Past member of Lee's Summit Chamber of Commerce
Elder Lee's Summit Christian Church
Member of Lee's Summit Historical Society
Member of the Lee's Summit Noon Rotary Club (30 years)
Member of the Lee's Summit Friends of the Symphony
Member of the Lee's Summit Citizens Advisory Board

I have learned that this community is very involved and works best when we all work together.  The school system and the city have always worked together.  Our different civic groups, Park Board, Chamber of Commerce, and performing arts groups have worked closely with our schools to make this a premier school district and a premier city in which to bring up our children.

If elected, what would be your top priority as a board member?
I will work tirelessly to insure we continue to have and continue to find great educational opportunities for ALL of our students.

Where do you stand on technology in the classroom? 
Ever changing technology is the world in which we live and our children live.  We must keep current in our ability to teach our students the use and understanding of this technology.  At the same time we must not lose sight of the good old communication skills that bring people face to face and build relationships.

What do you foresee being the biggest hurdle facing the district in the upcoming years? 
We must be creative in finding ways to provide for future population growth and the need for more facilities to continue the excellent educational instruction for all students.

Be proactive with potential funding challenges from state and federal government.

What are your plans for returning funding to dwindling and lost extracurricular activities? 
I am a huge proponent of extracurricular activities for students, both athletic and cultural.  We must sit down as a district and find ways to bring back these types of activities and at the same time be good stewards of district finances.  To do this we must have parent and student input in these important decisions.  

How would you make the R7 district as inclusive as possible? 
We must insure that we include our diverse population but also include our sister communities that are part of the R7 district.  They also have unique and diverse populations.  We do this by making sure that groups such as our CAC include voices from these communities.  I also would include our senior group such as citizens from John Knox Village.

In your opinion, what are the strength and weakness of our school district?
I think sometimes our greatest weakness is not showing off our greatest strength.  That strength is the great job our teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, nutrition services, grounds and custodial staffs do each and every day.  We many times only see snippets of great things happening with our kids each day.  We must find more ways to showcase our kids, from those who need the most help to succeed to those that success comes much easier.

How do you view the financial management of the district? Would you do anything to change it?
I believe that the financial management of our district is very good.  Year in and year out we have been given outstanding ratings from our auditors and those who rate our bonding capabilities.   We must always be good stewards of our finances and be transparent with how the finances are used.

Do you believe in an itemized budget? 
Yes.  I worked with itemized budgets for years.

Do you believe that a teacher’s evaluation should be based on student test scores? 
No.  I believe that test scores can be talking points during evaluations but there are far more quality teaching skills that help teachers grow in their performance evaluation.

Police Chief Travis Forbes is wanting to implement a program to increase suicide education and awareness. What are your ideas for addressing this topic in all levels of the public school system? 
I think this is a great idea and I applaud the Chief for his willingness to take on this important task.  Mental health issues, bullying, gender issues, family dynamics, and student pressures that many times they put on themselves are some of the areas we need to come together as a community and grapple with.  We can include PTAs, LS Cares, HOPE House and others to begin to address how we want to proceed. 

Would your occupation and/or other time investments hinder your ability to service the district? How will you make sure you have adequate time and energy to serve?  
No.  I am retired but still active in the educational arena. I control my work time with these positions I hold as an adjunct professor and mentor.  I also know from past experience as an alderman and watching school board members over the years that many hours are required to do the correct service to the community and the students of this great district.  I also have the blessing of my wife and she has a very good understanding of what the time commitments will be.

In light of the recent and past incidents of teachers and volunteers for inappropriate contact/relations with a student, what steps would you recommend the board take to prevent further issues? Should changes be made to the current background check requirements? 
I believe that we should always be reviewing all of our policies including background checks.  Some of this can be done as we share among other districts in our state what their policies are and how they have worked.

How do you plan to address public concerns and improve openness and transparency?
Be willing to listen. Be a fact checker. Gather information. Then respond to the concern.


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