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.
Jacqueline (Jackie McEntire) Clark
Occupation: Director of Government Relations and Community Affairs
Education: Master's degree, Public Affairs with honors, Hauptmann School of Public Affairs, Park University, 2000;
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science with a general honors certificate, University of Missouri 1984;
Diploma, Lee's Summit High School, 1980 (top 10 percent);
Years lived in LS: Resident of LSR7 1974-1980 and 1989-present
Previous elected offices held: None; Served on staff to Missouri State Auditor Margaret B. Kelly, CPA
Why are you running for school board?
The Lee's Summit R7 School Board needs strong independent, objective and fair leaders. I am running because I will be a bold leader who will work to benefit every student, and because I know how to communicate, negotiate, and work with others to develop solutions.
I have a plan on day one if elected. It is simple. It is the "RISE" plan: Restore public trust; increase accountability; strengthen student achievement; and empower teachers. I will be proactive in solving problems and finding solutions that work. As a member of the Lee's Summit school board, I will be open and honest with parents and the public. As a graduate of Lee's Summit schools, I know how important it is to have a strong educational system that not only attracts new families and businesses, but also encourages future graduates to make Lee's Summit their home.
What other volunteer/civic involvement have you had? What have you learned from that experience?
Hope House 20+ years: Executive Committee of the board; Committee chair; board member; advisory committee, present
University of Missouri Mizzou Alumni Association 20+ years: President of the International board; co-founder of Greater Kansas City Mizzou Alumni Association chapter's Black & Gold Tiger Ball
Both organizations required me to offer strategic counsel for organizational growth and development, budgeting and fundraising, and stakeholder communication. For Hope House, it was an honor to be a part of the effort to establish an endowment and to bring to Lee's Summit a shelter for battered women and families.
My work with the Mizzou Alumni Association greatly benefits local students every year. I was a co-founder of the Tiger Ball, which, since its inception, has raised more than $800,000 for student scholarships to attend Mizzou.
These efforts align with my personal commitment to planned and effective organizational growth, prioritizing budgeting and funding programs and effective communication to support organization's efforts. These organizations also benefited from my efforts to build their relationships with elected officials at the federal, state and local government levels.
If elected, what would be your top priority as a board member?
As part of the RISE plan I've advanced, the most important task is restoring trust. In order to do this, we will increase accountability, strengthen student achievement and empower teachers.
Where do you stand on technology in the classroom?
Technology cannot replace teachers in our classrooms. We must continue to thoughtfully explore means of integrating technology into the student learning experience as technology is constantly changing. Twenty years ago, most people could not have envisioned that we would be carrying around devices to access knowledge on the Internet in our hands. We must work to equip our students in preparation for learning through technology in their lifetimes. Our teachers are a key to that preparation. I support needed training for teachers to increase their instructional skills using technology in the classroom.
What do you foresee being the biggest hurdle facing the district in the upcoming years?
In the immediate term, it is restoring trust and increasing board accountability by improving its transparency, which are in the board's hands. Beyond the immediate term, the district's growth will drive issues that affect budget and student learning. We must support teachers as they address a growing list of responsibilities beyond teaching in their classrooms, which include social and psychological issues.
What are your plans for returning funding to dwindling and lost extracurricular activities?
First, we need to make sure that our district's resources are allocated properly. This means carefully examining previous decisions. There are several factors to consider when examining what, how, and when to reinstate programs and activities lost to cost-containment. Some of these factors include (but are not limited to) student utilization, the value to various stakeholders, and the impact on educating the whole child.
In order to allocate resources to student programs and the classroom, we have to have the school funding formula fully funded. This part of the equation will require the board to engage effectively and constructively with our district's legislative delegation, key state legislators and the executive branch of Missouri state government.
How would you make the R7 district as inclusive as possible?
In order to ensure that the R7 school district is inclusive, the board must encourage administrators and staff to foster a welcoming atmosphere within the schools and in interactions with students and families. I think we can make the district more inclusive by first acknowledging that our district experiences diversity on a variety of levels--cultural, racial, and socio-economic. Within that context, the district should strive to educate every child to his or her fullest ability and value our staff for the wide range of qualities they bring to the educational process.
My recommendation is that the district complete a communications audit to ensure that our communications with all district stakeholders is open and transparent. A strong communications program will result in stakeholders' ability to engage effectively. Listening to others' perspectives is essential to increase engagement opportunities.
In your opinion, what are the strength and weakness of our school district?
The strength of this district is its long time reputation for providing a quality education to its students, which was a result of strong parent and patron support.
The weakness of our school district is a result of the previous superintendent's salary and benefits...a loss of public trust, which includes staff, parents and taxpayers.
How do you view the financial management of the district? Would you do anything to change it?
The average citizen is not going to invest the time to go through the district's 138-page budget. We need to work to make our financial documents accessible and understandable to anyone seeking that information.
Do you believe in an itemized budget?
Absolutely. All organizations' boards I've served on have a fully detailed budget for review and discussion. Lee's Summit R7 school district stakeholders should have the same expectation.
Do you believe that a teacher’s evaluation should be based on student test scores?
No. It is unfair to assess a teacher's success based on the lowest test score in a classroom. Missouri state standards for teacher evaluations are already required. There are a variety of factors beyond classroom instruction that affect student learning and performance. Many of these may be outside of a teacher's control.
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 wholeheartedly agree that the safety and security of Lee's Summit students is a top priority. I support efforts to equip staff and teachers with tools to help them identify possible mental health and personal or home issues that affect students, and to provide all concerned with the resources to address those issues, both within the schools and in the community. I would welcome the assistance of law enforcement in these efforts - partnering with knowledgeable organizations and individuals is an excellent way to arrive at thoughtful solutions. Providing information and access to resources to address a student's needs is a first step.
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?
Fortunately, I was blessed with an immense amount of energy to serve and am an excellent multi-tasker. My employer is aware of my commitment to the campaign for the board and its requirements for service. Our district needs to encourage people from a variety of careers to seek board positions and serve LSR7.
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?
The safety and security of Lee's Summit students is a top priority. Pre-employment and volunteer background checks vary in the various sectors of our economy and are governed by statute as well as an organization's policies. We should do whatever the law allows to ensure student and staff safety. If the law is insufficient, we should consider partnering with other Missouri school boards and education advocacy organizations (MSTA, NEA, Missouri School Boards Association and/or others) to seek statutory changes to address inadequate requirements.
How do you plan to address public concerns and improve openness and transparency?
I support meetings that are fully open whenever possible, in accordance with the law. I am a proponent of live broadcasting/live streaming board meetings. Since board decision making is occurring in work sessions ahead of the board meetings, I also support covering those meetings as well. Since the taxpayers provide a place for the board to meet, I oppose conducting closed sessions outside of our LSR7 school district boundaries.