Susan D. Coffman
Occupation: Program Coordinator Lees Summit CARES
Education: Bachelor of Science Degree in Management and Accounting
Years lived in LS: 38
Previous elected offices held: None
Why are you running for school board?
I believe it is the responsibility for every citizen to take a vested interest in their community. I consider the school board as one of the highest calls for service. Also, after being a member of the Citizens Advisory Council for the last six years this seems to be the next step.
What other volunteer/civic involvement have you had? What have you learned from that experience?
I have been the chairs of the following organizations/committees:
The Human Services Advisory Board
Pro Deo Youth Center
Lee's Summit Christian church's board
The annual gala for the Chamber
I am currently on the Lees Summit Chamber Board and secretary of the Lees Summit Social Services Board
I belong to Rotary and have been secretary before. I belong to Optimists.
Through Rotary I have chaired the Heart of the Summit run
Through Lees Summit CARES I chair the Holly Festival fund raiser for DARE
I have been on the committees of Truman Heartland Community Foundation Community for All Transportation and Civic Engagement.
I have been on the board of People Helping People.
Before being hired by LSCares, I was secretary on the board.
I am on the Career Pathways Team of the School District and on the last two Consolidated School District Improvement Plans.
If elected, what would be your top priority as a board member?
Early Education is a on my high priority list, but first I believe it is important to support and assist to facilitate the process of introducing and supporting the new superintendent of the school district through opening opportunities to connect to our community and opening lines of communication.
Where do you stand on technology in the classroom?
Technology is now an important part of the learning environment. However it is important to balance those activities with face to face dialogue and parents as well as students need to be instructed on the threats of on line predators. It is also important for students to get their information for classes through scholarly articles or other fact based sites and to report their sources on any research paper. Multiple firewalls and security should be and is placed to ensure as much as possible that the students don't access inappropriate sites, but parents should monitor the students activities at home.
What do you foresee being the biggest hurdle facing the district in the upcoming years?
One of the most impactful to parents and students is the overpopulation in Lees Summit West High School and the possibility of redistricting.
On a grander scale - school vouchers, charter schools and open enrollment are all threats to the public school district.
What are your plans for returning funding to dwindling and lost extracurricular activities?
It is always important to monitor bills entered by congress which affect public schools. This is one of the biggest threats. It is important to contact senators and representatives to voice concerns. In addition, work with businesses leaders in the community to brainstorm additional innovative approaches to funding.
How would you make the R7 district as inclusive as possible?
It is important to work the schools to provide wrap around services for those students who find it hard to assimilate into the schools. Wrap around services include arranging for community support through organizations and businesses who are willing to assist. Examples are mentors arranged through Big Brothers and Big Sisters, mental health services, social services, businesses who are willing to donate their time and more.
It is also important to inspire the students to the highest goal they wish to achieve and to encourage them to stretch their dreams through diverse opportunities in our schools. The Missouri Innovation Campus and Summit Technology are two such opportunities.
In your opinion, what are the strength and weakness of our school district?
The strength of our school district are first and foremost our teachers, administration and support staff. Missouri Innovation Campus and Summit Technology and Great Beginnings Childhood Center are strengths as well.
I would like for the board to consider establishing partnerships with additional opportunities for students with the gift for using their hands to create. An example of one possibility is connecting with the Local #2 Sheet Metal School where they get paid while they learn. Joe Herndon is a great school for those students, but diverse opportunities in this area would raise the level of participation.
How do you view the financial management of the district? Would you do anything to change it?
The school district has been responsive and proactive to budget cuts and increases. I plan to study the budget in its entirety and to ask questions when I don't understand or don't agree.
Do you believe in an itemized budget?
Do you believe that a teacher’s evaluation should be based on student test scores?
No, many students simply do not take tests well. This does not mean they do not know the subject. It sometimes means they experience "test fright." There are many qualities which determine the value of the teacher including collaboration skills with other teachers.
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?
The school district has established a committee working on this issue already. I will support their investigation and decisions because the Director of Student Services along with interested parties are meeting to establish procedures.
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?
As an employee of Lees Summit CARES, I have flexibility to determine my hours with the exception of required meetings. So I have the ability to adjust my hours to meet the demands of the school district. I have already resigned from the Human Services Advisory Board and other committees in case I get elected.
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 school district already does background investigations. It is important to have a Technology expert review communications through email and social media at the schools. It is also important to always keep up on updates to security measures.
How do you plan to address public concerns and improve openness and transparency?
I will do my best to be open and transparent to the community. I will not answer questions through social media however. I will be glad to meet and discuss when people have concerns. I am a good listener and will be glad to take concerns to the appropriate person or investigate when I don't know the answer.