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Education First Shawnee Mission endorses Mary Sinclair in school board race

Jennifer Howerton (left), Kristin Brown, Liz Benditt, Meghan Peters, Tiffany Johnson, Emily Robb and Stacy Hetz, members of Education First, a new Shawnee Mission political action committee that is working to elect pro-education candidates to the Shawnee Mission School Board. The group made a final endorsement ahead of the November election on Tuesday.
Jennifer Howerton (left), Kristin Brown, Liz Benditt, Meghan Peters, Tiffany Johnson, Emily Robb and Stacy Hetz, members of Education First, a new Shawnee Mission political action committee that is working to elect pro-education candidates to the Shawnee Mission School Board. The group made a final endorsement ahead of the November election on Tuesday. SUSAN PFANNMULLER Special to the Star

A Shawnee Mission political action committee that formed earlier this year to elect “pro-education” candidates to the school board made its final endorsement ahead of the November election on Tuesday.

Education First Shawnee Mission announced it has endorsed Mary Sinclair for the Shawnee Mission East seat.

The seat will be vacated next year when longtime board member Donna Bysfeld leaves the school board. Sinclair faces retired teacher James Lockard in the race.

“Mary exemplifies the change and ideas that we believe are critical to being a member of the Shawnee Mission School Board,” chairwoman Tiffany Johnson said in a statement. “We are excited to have such an experienced education advocate running in this race and look forward to the upcoming election.”

Education First Shawnee Mission was formed in January by parents with mounting concerns about transparency and other issues in the Shawnee Mission School District.

The group decided to endorse candidates for the school board, and has been involved in a new superintendent search since former superintendent Jim Hinson announced he would retire in the spring.

Board members have told The Star that their endorsements were in part influenced by surveys sent to all board candidates this summer. The surveys were meant to gauge a candidate’s commitment to certain issues the group has championed.

Those issues includes transparency, budget, cultural competency, special education, school funding and positive work culture. The group also met with candidates in-person.

Sinclair has served on both the Shawnee Mission Area Council PTA and the Kansas PTA, according to a group statement. She has been the PTA legislative chair at Highlands Elementary School, Indian Hills Middle School, and Shawnee Mission East.

She is also a member of the Fairway Parks and Recreation committee.

Education First has already released endorsements in contests for two other seats up for grabs in November.

The group dual endorsed Mandi Hunter and Heather Ousley for the at-large seat and Laura Guy for the Shawnee Mission West seat.

Katy Bergen: 816-234-4120, @KatyBergen

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