Lee’s Summit School Board Candidate Questionnaire Jill Marie Worstell
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.
Jill Marie Worstell
Occupation: Attorney and Owner of The Worstell Law Firm, Britt Burke Holdings, LLC and bonfire britt, LLC
Education: Master of Business Administration (MBA), University of Missouri - Columbia College of Business, graduated magna cum laude (2005); Juris Doctor (J.D.), University of Missouri - Columbia School of Law (2004); Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Business Administration, Truman State University (2001); Blue Springs South High School, 4.0 GPA (1997)
Years lived in LS: I first moved to Lee's Summit as a first-grader when I moved from Texas with my parents in 1986. Since completing my education, I have been a resident of Lee's Summit since 2006 and currently reside in Winterset Valley.
Previous elected offices held: None
Why are you running for school board?
I believe in our Lee's Summit community. My academic experience and professional skills in law and business would be an asset to the residents in our district as important and impacting decisions are made by the School Board. I am aware of how the performance of our district affects the economy and our property values and have a vested interest in the financial and academic prosperity of this community. I am committed to the children in our schools and want to offer my time and talents to serve in efforts to best prepare our children for the future. I believe that I have a unique perspective and skill set that would serve and benefit our community.
What other volunteer/civic involvement have you had? What have you learned from that experience?
For years I have served as a room representative and am an active parent in both of my children's schools. I have regularly assisted those in need with legal representation at a reduced rate or on a pro bono basis throughout my legal career. I have learned that it is very important to give back to your community.
If elected, what would be your top priority as a board member?
My priorities would be to influence important decisions for the district that will benefit the community economically and to retain and increase our property values; to influence decisions that will have a positive impact for our students and teachers; and to influence decisions to protect our community from erosion by non-community members.
Where do you stand on technology in the classroom?
I believe that having current technology in the classroom is extremely important. As a business owner, I am aware of the importance that technology plays in almost every career. It is necessary for our students to be well-educated and proficient in the use of technology in order to succeed and be prepared for their future education and career opportunities.
What do you foresee being the biggest hurdle facing the district in the upcoming years?
I believe that our community's lack of trust in the district going to be a big hurdle facing the district this year, and in the years to come as is the continued growth in Lee’s Summit. I think that it is going to be difficult to convince our community to work with Dr. Carpenter and give him an opportunity to succeed, rather than automatically dismissing him and working against him as our community grows.
What are your plans for returning funding to dwindling and lost extracurricular activities?
While I think extracurricular activities are extremely important for our schools, I believe that the majority of our budget should be dedicated to academics. I think that rather than trying to return funding for the activities, it would be beneficial to reach out to the community to seek volunteers to run extracurricular activities and to become more involved with these programs.
How would you make the R7 district as inclusive as possible?
The District can review and implement as needed educational programs to serve children in our community with varying educational needs in a manner to provide resources so that all children may be optimally successful and reach their potentials.
In your opinion, what are the strength and weakness of our school district?
I believe that our school district provides great education and opportunities for our students. However, I think there is room for improvement in regards to the management decisions of our district.
How do you view the financial management of the district? Would you do anything to change it?
I think that it would be important to optimize where the financial resources go and to review it comprehensively to ensure that we are able to provide competitive benefits and optimal learning opportunities for all students. However, it is a fact that the district can only allocate the funding that it has and money is a limited resource.
Do you believe in an itemized budget?
Yes. As the owner of successful small businesses, I believe that having an itemized budget is important when you have limited funds with which to work. I would like to make sure that we stay on budget, and are able to allocate funds to all of the areas needed.
Do you believe that a teacher’s evaluation should be based on student test scores?
Yes and no. While I don't believe that a teacher's evaluation should be solely based on test scores, I think it is an important factor. It is a reality that test scores determine the future of our children in both schools, careers and life. As such, it is necessary that teachers are able to successfully teach students how to test well if we want them to succeed in life.
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 believe that it is important for these types of issues to be addressed in schools. However, due to the sensitivity and nature of the topic, I think that it is important to have heavy parent involvement and input before adopting any type of awareness program.
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. While I am a busy attorney and business owner, at this point in my career I have a large enough law firm and support staff that I am able to dedicate the time needed to serve the district. Serving as a board member is a priority for me and I do not believe that I will have trouble balancing my legal career with that of serving as board member. If I did not have the time resources to manage this effectively, I would not have run in this election.
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 would recommend that the board take a no-tolerance approach to prevent further issues. I believe strict policies should be adopted and enforced so that the opportunities for such inappropriate contact/relations are minimized, and that if this nonetheless occurs, it is grounds for automatic dismissal. With technology and social media becoming more popular, I think it is important that policies are put in place to ensure that teachers and students are not communicating via social media or in other casual type environments that create an opportunity for inappropriate relations.
How do you plan to address public concerns and improve openness and transparency?
I will seek the opinions of the members of our community to ensure that parents, teachers and members of our community feel well represented.