March 30, 2019

Dear Editor:

Recently a group of “self-appointed” community leaders gathered and under the impression of a fair interview process choose two school board candidates they endorsed.

In my humble opinion, they overlooked two gentlemen who I feel need this community’s further consideration. One is a long time Lee’s Summit resident and parent who has thoughtfully engaged in his children’s education and other parents’ kids’ education as a volunteer in the robotics programs. That is Michael McMenus. He has run previously and is well-vetted. McMenus has a 30+ year career in environmental management, which means he gets budgeting and construction. He’s running an effective campaign this time and is working to win votes.

Another important candidate is Bill Birmingham. As far as I can recall, there has never been an African-American candidate for the board of education in Lee’s Summit. If elected, Birmingham will be our first African-American board of education member. This will be an important step for Lee’s Summit. Bill works for the Federal Reserve in the IT department and would bring extensive experience regarding hardware and software to the board. He also is well-known to parents and kids in the district for his 15-year history of coaching track and field, baseball, football and basketball teams.

Yes, there are other candidates in the field other than the two the group is promoting. None of the others appear to be campaigning like McMenus and Birmingham. Their respective careers would complement the board. With all due respect to two of my former teachers, and a former classmate, I feel this board needs more non-educators. And this is coming from an educator.

Why would this group of “community leaders” ignore these two candidates? I don’t know. I do know that I saw the pictures of Michael, Bill and the other candidates being interviewed by this group. I’ve been in team interviews with three people interviewing me, I can only imagine how it felt to be interviewed by a roomful! I applaud their courage to go through such a vetting.

This is the time to have strong leaders on the board of education. Leaders with the courage to face such a vetting. Leaders with the courage to take on the status quo. Leaders who will continue to close the achievement gap among our students.

For LSR7 the choices for the board of education should be Birmingham and McMenus. Thank you for considering these two men. Thank you to Phyllis Balagna and Bob White, both of whom served as presidents of the LSR7 board of education, and worked tirelessly for the kids of the school district.

Merle Bowers
R-7 Patron



  • Bob Jones

    March 30, 2019 - 10:13 pm

    Well said Merle! I couldn’t agree more!

  • Sheri Hand

    April 2, 2019 - 6:16 pm

    I disagree with Terri Harmon’s assessment. She was instrumental in hiring Dr. Carpenter, and that poor decision damaged our community with divisiveness and misguided decisions. Some, including Carpenter, want to call our opposition to his plans racist. Rather, we disagree because his direction is not based on solid educational research. Yes, let’s have conversations about race to help us know each other better. But let’s put our limited treasury where research directs us. The achievement gap results from poverty. Children come to our district below their age mates. Directing our limited funds on early childhood initiatives will accomplish our goals to shrink tha gap that our great LS teachers have faithfully fought for years.

    • Betsy

      April 5, 2019 - 8:22 am

      I feel like you are in my head Sheri! I am not a fan of Dr. Carpenter due to his actions and decisions made in previous districts.
      Well said! Early intervention is key to success later in life!

Comments are closed.