Occupation: Retired LSR7 Teacher and Assistant Principal
Education: Bachelor of Science in Education – CMSU, Master of Secondary School Admin. – CMSU, Educational Specialist in School Admin. – CMSU
Years lived in LS: 42
Previous elected offices held: None
Why are you running for school board?
During this time of transition and continued growth, I want to use my knowledge of LSR7 (gained from working 30 years in the District) to help provide each of our students with a top-notch educational experience. I am deeply committed to our school district and its children. Each child in the District deserves the best education we can provide by challenging them and bringing out the best in them.
What other volunteer/civic involvement have you had? What have you learned from that experience?
I am currently involved in the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation Board and Alumni Committee; Lee’s Summit CARES Board, Past President; Jacomo Chapter of Missouri Retired Teachers, Vice President and Program Chair; Lee’s Summit High School Hall of Fame Committee; Lee’s Summit Beautification Commission, Chairwoman; First Baptist Church, Kindergarten Small Group Teacher. From these experiences, I’ve learned to apply leadership, organizational, and collaboration skills in working with organizations for the benefit of our schools and community.
If elected, what would be your top priority as a board member?
My top priority would be the development of a comprehensive improvement plan for communication among the District, the staff, and the community. I believe experience has shown us that we all need to be very open and transparent so that information is disseminated well and that input is gathered from all interested constituents before major changes are made or programs are affected. This step is crucial in moving the district in a positive and productive direction in the future.
Where do you stand on technology in the classroom?
The use of technology is essential in today’s classroom. The one-to-one Chromebook initiative has offered our students excellent access to resources. With that said, we need to recognize that nothing will ever substitute for a great classroom teacher. Technology is one of the tools in a teacher’s toolbox to help students understand the content.
What do you foresee being the biggest hurdle facing the district in the upcoming years?
Our continued population growth in Lee’s Summit will present our biggest hurdle because with it comes the need for additional schools to handle that growth. As more schools are built, there will be the need for more teachers, buses, and resources.
What are your plans for returning funding to dwindling and lost extracurricular activities?
When cost containment was necessary several years ago, fourth grade strings and seventh grade intramural sports were cut, as well as several teaching positions. The Board at that time did what was best for our District to keep it afloat after State funding cuts occurred. Since that time, the District has returned almost every one of those teaching positions. That had to come first. In the future, if we can find the money to reinstate both fourth grade strings and the seventh grade intramural program, I would be highly in favor of it. I witnessed the opportunities intramurals provided our seventh graders first hand when I was an assistant principal at the middle school level.
How would you make the R7 district as inclusive as possible?
We need to value ALL people - students, parents, R-7 staff members, or community members, listening to what each person has to say. When we truly listen, and value the input, then we bring inclusion to the process.
In your opinion, what are the strength and weakness of our school district?
Our District's strength lies in its exceptional, committed staff (both certified and classified). The level of commitment in our district is exemplary. Another strength is stable financial management which has enabled the District to award an average 3.5% raise to employees this year, as well as hiring an additional 20.24 full time equivalent teachers. As far as a weakness, our district has been through a time of uncertainty and anxiety as a district during the past year. As a collective group, we need work together to listen to concerns, make wise decisions, and be very transparent in the coming years to regain that confidence and trust.
How do you view the financial management of the district? Would you do anything to change it?
The District’s finances have been managed well in my opinion, as indicated in my previous answer. A reorganization of staff positions at the central office level has freed up some funds that can be applied toward teacher salaries. Also, the District renegotiates contracts such as the contract for compressed natural gas to free up funds to direct toward salaries and District programs that benefit students. I would not make changes at this point.
Do you believe in an itemized budget?
Yes, I do. All Missouri schools must conform to DESE requirements when it comes to budgets. That means that our budget must be constructed by fund, function, and object. The “object” is the type of expense, which is technically the itemization. The system is very specific, and expenses can be accounted for to the penny.
Do you believe that a teacher’s evaluation should be based on student test scores?
Absolutely not. It’s unfair to rate a teacher’s performance on one test that can contain so many variable factors. A teacher’s job involves so much more than what can be measured on one test.
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?
Chief Forbes has proposed an excellent idea because our students’ safety is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, our community has experienced the heartbreak of student suicides. The Chief is working with Lee’s Summit CARES to develop and implement this program with the District. The first step is addressing the bullying issue at all levels, which is what LS CARES is currently doing with its “I Can Make A Difference Bullying Prevention 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?
I retired at age 52 in 2011, and I’m very energetic and active in the community. I set my own schedule and priorities. Therefore, I have the time to make serving on the School Board a high priority. I am invigorated when able to work collaboratively with others. My family has given me their blessing, and I’m eager to begin serving our schools on the Board.
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 District needs to remain vigilant when conducting background checks through the state and when doing reference checks in vetting candidates before hiring. This is imperative when the safety of our students is concerned. Currently any adult going on a field trip or volunteering at a school also has to have a background check on file with central office.
How do you plan to address public concerns and improve openness and transparency?
As stated in my top priority, I would recommend the development of a comprehensive improvement plan for communication among the District, the staff, and the community. The plan needs to provide a specific process or guidelines for the effective dissemination of information and include provisions for gathering input from affected populations before major changes are made or programs are affected. A comprehensive communication plan would be a step in the right direction toward improving openness and transparency.