816 North

Handling student growth in North KC district top priority

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Like many of the other school districts in Clay and Platte County, the North Kansas City School district is experiencing student growth, and how to manage that has been at the top of the current board’s to-do list.

Current board vice president Dixie Youngers is vying to continue working on the projects coming down the pipeline, former board treasurer and vice president Terry Stone wants another go at it, and potential board newcomer Joseph Bastarache is hoping to give it a shot.

This school year, the district is serving nearly 20,000 students, with expected growth of about 130 new students a year over the next several years. In August, the district asked voters to approve a $114 million “no tax increase” bond issue, and they did. The funds are earmarked to handle district growth by building an additional elementary school, sixth grade centers and updating the North Kansas City High School.

Youngers said her top three priorities are student achievement; addressing opportunities with district funding, school space and the increase in the free and reduced lunch population; and working on innovation in the classroom. She added that she’d like the district to continue to work on high quality early childhood learning opportunities through partnerships with the local public libraries and area preschools.

“To address student achievement, I would continue to ask our superintendent to focus on our district APR (annual performance rating) which measures our progress in student achievement,” she said.

The district’s APR in 2016 was 96.4 percent and assessed academic achievement, subgroup achievement, college and career readiness, attendance and graduation rate.

Bastarache said his main focus would be to examine student safety, and student achievement with emphasis on career readiness.

“Charter bills currently seem to be a large challenge,” Bastarache said. “This can be addressed by working with local lawmakers to discourage charters. However, the main focus should be making the NKCSD the best choice for all students.”

Stone, who previously served the board for six years, said a top priority is hiring and retaining highly qualified teachers. He wants to support administrative policies he believes are attractive to employees, such as “site-based decision-making.” He added that while the district’s academic achievement has improved, there are few areas he’d like to see get some special attention.

“There are three areas where I think we should focus our resources in the future to get even better,” he said. “They are kindergarten through third grade, reading levels, and middle school.”

Two people will be elected for a three-year term. There is also a campaign for write-in candidate Howard Dunn, who is a retired college chemistry professor.

Dixie Youngers

Age: 53

Address: 10234 N Harrison Court, Kansas City

Occupation: At-home parent; previously engineer at Hallmark Cards

Education: Bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Iowa State University, 1986; master’s degree in business administration from the University of Kansas, 1995

Public experience: North Kansas City School board, 2011 to present; current board vice president

Website: www.dixieyoungers.com; Citizens for Dixie Youngers for School Board on Facebook; @dlyegmikc on Twitter

Joseph Bastarache

Age: 49

Address: 1402 NE 107th Ter, Kansas City

Occupation: Information technology, senior director, BCD Travel

Education: Oak Park High School, 1985

Public experience: N/A

Website: N/A

Terry Stone

Age: 73

Address: 2010 NE 78th St, Kansas City

Occupation: Self-employed management consultant

Education: Bachelor’s degree in history/philosophy from Stamford University, 1967; master’s degree

Public experience: North Kansas City School Board, 2010 to 2016, formerly treasurer and vice president

Website: Terry Stone for NKC Schools on Facebook