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Five candidates seek two open spots at R-3

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

Three new faces are embarking on the race for Platte County R-3 School Board, along with two familiar faces.

Incumbents Dick Modin and Karen Wagoner will be on the ballot, and three challengers are also seeking the two open seats. The challengers are Dave Edwards, Gregory Henson and Bob Williams.
Dave Edwards, 39, is one of those challengers that will compete to fill one of
the available seats in the upcoming spring election.

“I have three kids in the school district and decided this was a good time to get involved,” stated Edwards.

“I want to make sure we continue to have a good school and I want to continue to shape the community. I feel the best way to do that is become involved.”

Since moving to Platte City three years ago, Edwards and his wife, Julie, have become actively involved in the community as volunteer coaches.

“I felt like since we have been involved in the sports side of the community, I felt it was important to get involved on the education side as well.”

If Edwards is chosen to represent the school district, one of his goals is to help prepare the district for continued growth.

“I know we have seen plenty of growth over the last few years and I want to help them continue to prepare for that growth in the future,” said Edwards.

As the issue of growth is inevitable for the R-3 district, Edwards stated there are other issues that need the district’s attention.

“I would also like to see the district continue to develop programs that involve parents in their children’s education,” stated Edwards.

“As the district continues to grow, I think it’s important to expand the curriculum we offer. I think we should strive to make R-3 a district that is a model for other districts to emulate.”

Edwards received an undergraduate in economics from the University of Iowa in 1989 and an MBA from DePaul University in Chicago in 1997.

The Edwards family lives in unincorporated Platte County. He and is wife have three children, Kaly, Makenzie and Evan.

For Edwards, the opportunity to serve on the school board is a way to give back to the community he has come to call home.

“I’m running for school board because I think it’s an important part of contributing to the community,” stated Edwards.

Gregory Henson, 47, would like to see the district curtail some expenditures while achieving the goal of making education the top priority at R-3.

“I want to make education the top goal of the district and I’m not sure if we have that right now,” said Henson.

“Personally I think books are more important than fancy. The new school to me is a little much. It’s nice, but I’ve heard we’re sharing books in some of the classes and if that’s true, we should have been buying books.”

While Henson acknowledges that the new middle school is needed, he thinks the district could have chosen to scale back on its latest construction project if it wanted or needed to.

“With 22 years of construction experience, I think I can help the board with future building plans and maybe curtail what I deem expensive stuff,” stated Henson. “I don’t believe all these looks and fancy are indicative of a good district.”

Henson also stated that the money spent on “cosmetics in the district” could have been used to improve teachers' salaries.

“I would like to help them (teachers) in that aspect,” said Henson.

Henson and his wife, Rhonda, have one child, Jesse. He has resided in the Platte County area for 27 years, where he retired from general construction labors Local 1290.

“I’m a regular blue collar guy that’s trying to look out for the kids,” said Henson.

“I’m a truthful individual that will speak my mind and not bow down to pressure. I will make myself available to parents, taxpayers and try and help solve problems or concerns.”

According to Henson, he wants voters to know that his run for school board is “not politically motivated," but instead inspired by the kids of the district.

“We need someone with no other agendas but just the kids. We need someone to be there for the kids and that’s something I feel like we’re lacking at this time.”

Incumbent Dick Modin feels it’s important for him to continue his service because of the training he has received while sitting on the school board.

“I’ve had a whole bunch of training and experience and I thought it would be worthwhile to the district for me to continue to use the training I’ve received,” stated Modin.

If elected to another term, Modin wants to make sure the district “stays ahead of the growth curve.”

In order to ensure that, Modin stated the district must have the facilities and staff to accommodate that growth.

“I also have a partial interest in trying to get more parent involvement with the students' achievement,” stated Modin. “We’re pretty successful at the elementary level but it drops off pretty significantly at the middle school and high school levels.”

According to Modin, the district sees nearly 100% parental involvement rate at the district’s K-2 level.

“By the time we get to the 6-8 level, that number drops off significantly and gets to about 20% and that’s about all you have the rest of the time.”
Modin said that lack of parental involvement is a nationwide issue.

“I think that’s one of the reasons you have so many underachievers is because the parents don’t keep that involvement and excitement through their child’s entire educational experience,” said Modin.

Modin, 55, and his wife, Jeanne, have three children, Becky, Andy and Lindsey. Modin has resided in Platte County for more than 50 years.

He received a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1977 and a law degree from UMKC in 1979. Modin currently has his own law practice in Kansas City.

According to Modin, he feels it’s beneficial to the R-3 district to hold onto veteran board members.

“This whole education stuff has gotten so complicated, it takes a board member a lot of years to get up to speed on all the various issues we have to be concerned with. I think it’s at the district’s advantage to hold on to those board members,” stated Modin.

Incumbent Karen Wagoner, 44, also feels her experience on the board over the last few years makes her a qualified candidate for April’s election.

“I am seeking another term on the Platte County R-3 Board of Education for a simple reason-continuity,” stated Wagoner.

“I believe in the students at R-3 and want to provide the best possible education and extra curricular activities we can provide as a district.”

If elected, Wagoner said she has three specific goals in mind.

First is to raise ACT scores and better prepare students for college.

“Plans are currently being implemented to address this issue,” stated Wagoner.

Some of those plans include the implementation of AP classes for juniors and seniors, the expansion of dual credit courses, as well as AP challenge classes for freshman.

“Implementation of this system is designed to encourage students to take challenge, AP and dual credit courses to prepare for college.”

Wagoner’s second goal is the construction of two elementary schools.

“The board of education has begun planning for the impending need for instructional space at the elementary level,” stated Wagoner.

Finally, Wagoner wants to see the district continue the improvement of its website and overall districtwide communication.

“Great strides have been made in this area, but much remains to be done,” said Wagoner. “To facilitate parental involvement in a student’s education, communication between educator and parent is essential.

“The use of electronic communications has facilitated improvements in this area in many grade levels. Continued expansion of the district’s website to include a parent’s ability to access their student’s grades would further aid communication between parent and teacher throughout the district.”

Wagoner and her husband, Roger, reside in Platte City with their two children, Megan and Emily. She currently serves as the executive director of the Platte City Chamber of Commerce & EDC.

In 1983, Wagoner graduated from John Brown University with a bachelor's degree in business administration.

“I am an advocate of quality education for all students. I consider it a privilege to serve the patrons in the Platte County R-3 School District,” stated Wagoner.

Challenger Bob Williams thinks there may be room for improvement in the educational realm at R-3.

“All I’m seeking is the betterment of the school district itself. As with anything, there’s always room for improvement,” said Williams.

“If I could increase the educational opportunity for students I would deem that a privilege and an opportunity to serve the school district. I’m just looking to make a direct impact.”

Williams, 46, said he decided to run in the April election because of his children.

“I have got a vested interest in the school district. I live here and have two children. I thought I would take a shot at helping out and getting involved in my children’s education,” stated Williams.

If elected, Williams’ top priority is the students.

“Students are first. Ultimately what you’re there for is the children,” he said.

“I want to better the actual educational experience of the students in the district by getting more and better teachers, more supplies, books. We need to make sure they have every tool we can possibly get them. Whatever it takes, we should do that.”

With the student body as Williams’ top priority, he said it’s essential to make sure with the projected growth rate that the students don’t get left behind.

“It’s going to expand, that’s a given. It’s going to grow astronomically in the next 10 years and I want to make sure the students have what they need to take them onto the next higher level,” stated Williams.

Williams is a graduate of Missouri Western State College (now University) with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He currently works as a registered veterinary technician with the Gladstone Animal Clinic.

Williams and his wife, Robin Lusso, reside in Platte City with their two children, Baron and Sarah. He has been a resident of Platte County for the last 20 years.

If chosen to represent the district, Williams stated he is also looking to improve the communication between the school and the parents.

“This school itself is a business and its business is to educate children,” stated Williams. “At some points, I feel they are lacking at that. You need to be able to be involved in your child’s education and if you can’t get answers offhand, where are you to go?

“I feel I can offer a different perspective and different ideas (to the district),” stated Williams.


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