Hickman Mills progress could turn on school board election

03/26/2014 7:09 PM

03/26/2014 7:09 PM

Suburban school districts around Kansas City are being asked not only to educate their students well but to play a role in figuring out how to help students in other districts that are struggling. They are crucial to the region’s well-being, and voters must choose wisely on April 8 when electing school board members or deciding on a bond issue.

Hickman Mills School District

This is a make-or-break election for a district striving to reclaim full accreditation. The wrong choices could plunge Hickman Mills back into the chaos and mismanagement that was recently revealed in a critical report released by Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich.

Of 10 candidates vying for three open seats, the top choices are incumbents

Dan Osman and Bonnaye V. Mims and newcomer Karry Palmer

.

Osman and Mims were among the board members who stepped up last spring to oust a colleague, Breman Anderson Jr., from the board presidency. Replacing Anderson with Eric Lowe was the essential first step toward a stable administrative footing.

Osman, a lawyer, is the board vice president. Mims is a Missouri legislator. Palmer, a warehouse manager, represents Kansas City’s southeast region on the Neighborhood Advisory Council. All three are focused on raising academic achievement and supporting new Superintendent Dennis Carpenter.

That certainly isn’t the case with Anderson, who has used his board position to reward friends and political allies. Along with Anderson, candidates Carol Graves and Tanesha Forté are aligned with Freedom Inc. and other groups that have sought to meddle in the district. Their presence on the board would be worrisome.

Other candidates are Sandy Sexton, Debbie Aiman, Clifford O. Ragan III and Shawn Hayes.

Independence School District

This growing district is balancing ambitious college-preparation goals with the demands brought by increasing numbers of low-income and transient students. Independence also needs to boost its showing in Missouri’s performance assessment.

Of three candidates competing for two open seats,

Denise Fears and Blake Roberson

are the best qualified.

Fears, an accountant, was elected in 2010 to fill an unexpired term. Roberson served on the board for 12 years before stepping down two years ago. He was board president when the Independence district smoothly annexed several schools formerly within the Kansas City Public Schools system. Both are extensively engaged in the community.

The third candidate is Ron Thornbury.

Lee’s Summit School District

Four qualified candidates are contending for three open seats in this high-performing district.

Incumbents

Christopher Storms and Terri Harmon

have proven themselves to be smart, hard-working board members and deserve to be re-elected.

Realtor

Bill Baird

has been supporting the district as a member of the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation and has taken on a host of leadership and business roles in Lee’s Summit. He would be an asset on the board.

Mark Ousnamer, an engineering consultant, has an impressive professional background and is active in youth sports leagues. But other candidates’ prior involvement gives them the edge.

Raytown School District

Voters should say

YES

to a $22 million bond issue, which extends the district’s debt but will not require a tax increase.

The money would be used for building maintenance and upgrades, and to refit the entrances at nine elementary schools for security purposes. Athletic facilities at Raytown South High School would be expanded so that varsity football games could be played there.

The

proposed improvements are reasonable for a district that needs to provide a 21st century education in schools that mostly were built in the 1960s and 1970s. Approval requires 57.1 percent of the vote.

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