1 What can you do to help every LSR7 child succeed? Be specific
Why in the 21st century knowledge economy, do we have an 18th century agrarian economy school schedule? Our kids do not have to be home to work in the fields in the evening. Would a longer school day, with and I emphasize a commensurate increase in teacher pay benefit the students? Could we then have better physical education, potential for k-6 foreign language, and other enrichment activities if we had a longer school day? Would that not be better for working parents to have their young kids in school longer rather than have to pay additional money for after school care? Would this not allow for better utilization of our facilities that sit empty after school is out and teachers go home?
Could we offer more courses online to allow for advanced students to have more enrichment?
How many students would a more year round schedule benefit instead of a 10 to 12 week summer break where many students go backward in their learning? Do the sports teams have to practice after school could they practice before school? Is it the best schedule for our kids for the high schools to start early and our elementary schools to start late in the morning? Have these questions been answered? Is what we have is what works best or have they never been asked? It seems that education does many things because that is the way we have always done it. I want to be the board member willing to ask hard questions. I am willing to accept answers backed by data, but not by “because that is the way we have always done it.” I am willing to make decisions that are best for the students that may upset parents (i.e. redistricting, schedule changes).
2 Do you support the dual enrollment plan? Explain your position
I do support the dual enrollment plan. I would like to have a sunset or reauthorization clause in it so that at the end of 4 or 5 years we take a close look at it and see if it is meeting its proposed benefits used to justify its passage. I want to experiment with new programs. I want to try new programs as fast as possible. In many cases waiting for elimination of uncertainty before implementation means nothing is ever tried and we stagnate. We have to be willing to try programs, have some programs fail and try a new program. We also have to be willing to cancel a program that does not really provide a benefit even if it has great support. Lee’s Summit is a great school district but we don’t want to be a victim of inertia, blinders, shackles, routines, shackles or dogmas that cause great organizations to fail.
3 What is the role of a board member?
The main responsibilities of the board member are to make sure the school district does everything to provide the best opportunity for all its students to reach their maximum potential. A board member is elected because they are trusted to make good decisions for the benefit of the children. A board member must be willing to make decisions that can be supported when angry parents challenge them. A board member is not subordinate to the community. A board member has to be willing to make hard choices on items such as school boundary changes, optimum classroom size versus budget, and course selection versus budget. The board must operate in the current tax/economic state of Missouri. Whereas citizens locally support their schools, those same citizens elect representatives to the state legislature that focus on cutting taxes. Missouri is also limited by the Handcock amendment to how much additional revenue it can raise without a vote of the people. Board members must be willing to challenge the state delegation when they are at odds with the citizens of the school district.
4 What voice should stakeholders have in district policy making?
Stakeholders should have the opportunity for lots of input before a decision is made. Stakeholders need to provide real data based input rather than emotional based input. Stakeholders need to use the opportunities when presented. If the board accepts the data based input, and holds open debate about the new policy (or boundary) then stakeholders should also accept the final decision. In my opinion, if it has been an open process, stakeholders have very limited say after the fact especially if they did not participate in the decision process. This not to say decisions can’t be revisited if conditions change or the impact did not have the desired result, but any decision should be given the chance to succeed or fail on its own merits.
5 Do you or would you uphold district board norms?
I am not sure what is meant by board norms. Is the question hiring practice? My answer is yes. Is question spending practice? The answer is yes. I would have a lot more meetings taped and open so that the patrons of the school district could see the arguments for and against pet programs versus budget demand, schedule needs, personnel needs. I think it would be much easier to explain decisions if patrons were able to see all the inputs and discussion that went into the final decision rather than just seeing the final decision without “showing the work.”
6 What would you or have you done to achieve the board’s three goals? Be specific.
We need to anticipate special needs kid’s needs, not react to them (I stole Ryan Murdock’s position).
Use the advanced kids as a resource to help the kids that need more time with subjects. I always learn more when I teach than when I am a student.
Increase the support staff as much as possible, Paras, Librarians, school nurses, school counselors augment the class room, they don’t take away resources.
As much as we can, provide the teachers with those extra items for their class room. Teachers should not be spending their own money on items for their class room.
7 What can we do as a newspaper, school district, and community to help prevent bullying and suicides among our grade school and high school students?
Frankly I think the problems started with the kid’s faces on milk cartons. Parents became irrationally afraid their kids would be abducted by a stranger. If you look at the real data, >99% of the milk carton kids were either runaways or kids that were taken by noncustodial parents. They were not kidnapped by strangers. Too many parents believe their child is going to be stolen by a stranger. It is just not true. Instead of letting them run around and play outside kids are kept indoors or under their immediate supervision. Parents have play dates rather than kids meet at the corner. Kids don’t learn how to resolve conflict. How many games of freeze tag or pick-up basketball ended with accusations of cheater when we were kids? After a few shouting matches and maybe even some pushing kids worked out the rules, without parental supervision, and went on playing. Maybe on a bad day they went home but tomorrow was a new day. The violent crime rate was actually higher in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s than it is now but our parents did not get a tally of what was going on in cities besides our own and they did not translate inner-city crime to some block in suburbia like we do today.
I believe that encouraging “free range” parenting is the best thing we can do for our kids. Give them chances to fail. Stop participation trophies. Take away phones. In a perfect world kids would only have flip phones for emergencies. Encourage walk to school days. Organize walking school buses. Instead of talking about individual crimes show parents that the violent crime rate in Lee’s Summit is low. A safe community means kids should be able to play outside unsupervised. Full disclosure, my daughter has an I-Phone so I am a hypocrite like most parents.
If we implemented this answer tomorrow, it would take years to see the benefit. To those kids today with issues, we need to stop stigmatizing depression and other mental health issues. Mental illness is a disease just like strep throat. We need to make sure our kids know to say something if they see a kid is acting different. It is ok to tell someone Johnny is not there normal self.