Four candidates are vying for three available spots to serve the students in Missouri’s second fastest growing school district.
Incumbents Angie Reed and Kim-Marie Graham are joined on the ticket by Nick Bartlow and AJ Byrd. The winners, who will serve three-year terms, will oversee the Liberty School District, which covers about 85 square miles in Clay County and has more than 11,800 students in preschool through the 12th grade. It has 11 elementary schools, four middle schools, two high schools, an alternative secondary school and an early childhood center.
With projected continued growth on the horizon, all the candidates touched on needing to be prepared to manage that.
Reed discussed the importance of staying up-to-date on what is happening in the world of education. She also said she feels technology is an important tool for students and teachers, but that needs to be balanced with information about when to use technology appropriately.
“Liberty Public Schools has done an extraordinary job of placing technology devices in the hands of our students from kindergarten through high school,” she said. “The challenge in the use of technology is to balance how these devices are used within the classroom while continuing to teach children.”
For Graham, who discussed the importance of fiscal responsibility, one resource is to reach out for community partnerships to help meet student needs. She also wants to stay on the board to continue to help with the long-term planning facilities process.
“We must also continue meeting the educational needs of all students through individualized, project-based and real-world learning opportunities,” she said.
Bartlow said his priorities are to finalize and implement a district long-range plan, and evaluate where to invest in teacher compensation and professional development and to take an official stance with regards to tax increment financing programs.
“We must establish a measured and comprehensive long-range plan that is scalable to ensure efficient and effective spending,” he said. “I want to ensure that we are being efficient with our funds and holding our tax districts accountable when they choose to divert funding to other opportunities, like TIF.”
Fellow potential board newcomer Byrd also discussed taxing and financing issues, and wants to focus on relationships with local governments. He would like to establish permanent committees across various local government entities, as well as take a look at teacher-board relationships.
“First steps would entail reviewing the assets and supports currently being provided teaching staff, and follow-up with board review as to how the board engages individual teachers and/or professional teachers’ associations,” he said.
The winners will serve three-year terms on the board.
There is also a two-person race for a one-year term, but candidate Bruce Cantwell Jr., who is on the ballot is no longer actively seeking the spot. Kent Peterson, who was appointed to the board in February 2016, is seeking election.
Nicholaus (Nick) Bartlow
Address: 1513 Wellington Way, Liberty
Occupation: Director of brand strategy for Barkley Inc.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from William Jewell College, 2000; master’s degree in strategy and marketing from Vanderbilt University, 2006
Public experience: N/A
Website: Nick Bartlow for Liberty Schools on Facebook
Angela J. Reed
Address: 324 Preston, Liberty
Occupation: Substitute teacher; retired full-time educator
Education: Bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education, Eastern Kentucky University, 1978; master’s degree in education-secondary school administration, University of Central Missouri, 1997
Public experience: Liberty Board of Education, 2014 to present
Website: Angie Reed Liberty Board of Education on Facebook
Address: 1505 Glen Brook Lane, Liberty
Occupation: Social media and marketing manager for BranchPath
Education: Bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California-San Diego, 1991; master’s degree in public administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2005
Public experience: Liberty Board of Education, 2011 to present
Website: www.kmgraham.wixsite.com/kmg-for-lps; Kim-Marie Graham Liberty Board of Education on Facebook
Albert James (AJ) Byrd
Address: 431 E. Franklin St., Liberty
Occupation: KC District Community Liaison for the Missouri Department of Transportation
Education: Bachelor’s degree in sociology and Spanish from William Jewell College; master’s degree in public administration from the University Missouri-Kansas City
Public experience: Liberty Street Improvement Task Force, 1992-1994; Liberty Housing Authority, 1988 -1996; Liberty Public School Naming Committee, 1999