Jan. 21, 2020
Decision After a great deal of prayer and thought as well as counsel from family and friends, I will not be a candidate for re-election to the Lee’s Summit R-VII Board of Education in the 2020 election cycle.
Results The key goal I set forth in the 2017 campaign was simple: improve student achievement. Done. For two consecutive years the APR improved, including among subgroups.
During this term, I worked diligently to become the first and only LSR7 board member ever to earn the Missouri School Boards’ Association “Distinguished Certification” in 2019, which emphasizes responsible governance. Despite bringing the exceptional honor to the district, some board colleagues walked out of the MSBA ceremony during the recognition or ignored it completely.
The opportunity to serve our students has been rewarding beyond what could have been imagined when we embarked on the campaign in 2016. The faith and support that I have been blessed to receive in this role sustained me through some challenging times, which were, as I’ve said previously, completely and utterly avoidable.
This district’s students, whether they live in rural areas of eastern Jackson County, Blue Springs, Greenwood, Lake Lotawana, Lake Winnebago, eastern Kansas City…not just Lee’s Summit… all deserve forward thinking leaders who understand the world beyond LSR7 boundaries. That is the world in which our students will live. My aspiration has been and remains that LSR7 prepare students for success in life here, on the other side of the planet or even on another planet.
Throughout my term, despite poorly reasoned opposition, I joined student-focused colleagues most of whom have also left board service, to approve a no cost dual enrollment program and LSR7’s first equity plan. My student-focused activities also included serving as the board’s representative to the Kauffman Foundation’s Real World Learning program as well as being a speaker in consecutive years at MSBA meetings on equity and advocacy and in 2019 at the National School Boards’ Association Annual Meeting on equity.
What’s Next? It is time to turn the page in our school district. I plan to help elect the best candidates in 2020. When we succeed, I will consider filing for the board in next year’s election to offer voters an independent, objective and fair candidate who will not bring international embarrassment to LSR7 from which two generations of my family have graduated.
During my board service, I retired from one phase of my career and began a new, more challenging and engaging career in which I am leading business teams in making important corporate investment decisions. I also began service on the Public Relations Society of America board, for which my private, public and nonprofit sector experiences are valued. My terms as co-chair of the statewide advocacy organization, the Mizzou Flagship Council, and on the Missouri Chamber Board of Directors continue.
Adults, some narrow-minded and even with ill-intent, continue to impede the board’s ability to make decisions. Through their wealth, connections or power, student-focused decision-making is challenged. Only the most independent, objective and fair elected officials can make the right decisions. But unless well-intentioned board members comprise the majority of the board, LSR7 will continue down a path that serves loud voices and entrenched individuals working in the district or aligned with district employees and board members.
My voice will not be silenced by the false construct of the LSR7 Board of Education “norm” about not talking to the media. That “norm” only works for a board of leaders with good intent, who communicate proactively with duly elected colleagues, are mature enough to navigate through differences and value diverse thinking.