by Alan McArthur
Another decision facing voters on Tuesday, April 8 is the election of three school board members in the Platte County R-3 School District.
There are five names on the ballot for three open positions. Two of the candidates are incumbents.
Candidates are profiled by The Landmark in the order their names will appear on the ballot:
The first candidate is current school board member Patricia Stinnett.
“I am proud of the progress we have made,” said Stinnett. “I want to ensure children receive the quality education they deserve.”
According to Stinnett, she has an interest in the district continuing to do well and has gained knowledge and experience while serving on the board.
“I believe I have been a public school advocate at the local and state level,” said Stinnett. “I am a parent of a student in the district and have a vested interest in the district to ensure we provide a quality education. I believe I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience in three years on the board.”
Stinnett listed several areas she plans to focus on if reelected.
“I believe we need to maintain the class sizes and facility growth,” said Stinnett. “We need to try to stay ahead of growth. I want to try to improve the parent and community involvement. There is a disconnect between seniors and parents of students.”
Student achievement and communication with patrons are areas Stinnett says she will improve.
“I am going to continue to improve student achievement, I think it has to be our number one priority,” said Stinnett. “We also need to improve and enhance the communication with our patrons. The biggest challenge will be hiring a new superintendent.”
The next candidate on the ballot is Bill Kephart.
“I have been in management for 18 years and I will have a master's degree in business administration at the end of the month,” said Kephart. “I think I can bring new experiences and new insights to the board.”
According to Kephart, the most immediate need is to hire a new superintendent, but also to look at the continued growth of the district.
“The continuing growth of the district needs to be addressed,” said Kephart. “The immediate need is to find an appropriate superintendent to replace Dr. (Mark) Harpst.”
Kephart described the way he makes decisions is based on doing research and understanding the issue.
“I make sure I get all of the facts first and do the proper research,” said Kephart. “I go after the info I think is important and base my decision on the research.”
Kephart said he wants to give back to the community that he cares about.
“I care about this community,” said Kephart. “I love this community and want to give back and be part of the education system.”
Another incumbent on the ballot is Dave Holland.
“I have been on the board for nine years and I have seen how the board operates,” said Holland. “The biggest decision we'll have to make in the next several years is choosing a new superintendent.”
For Holland the most pressing issue facing the district is growth.
“The biggest issue is growth, we are adding approximately 200 kids a year,” said Holland. “This is not the same district as 10 years ago; there are more people in the lower class with free or reduced lunches.”
According to Holland, the job of the school board is to oversee that the superintendent and the administrators of the district come up with the best plans for the district.
“We put our faith in the administration to bring us a plan,” said Holland. “(The board) oversees the superintendent to make sure he's doing the job right.”
Holland said he listens to people a lot and does not ignore any issues.
“I listen to a lot of people,” said Holland. “I try to keep my ear to the ground and not sweep anything under the rug.”
The next candidate on the ballot is Sharon Sherwood.
“I have been in education for 23 years and I want to continue to ensure students have the opportunities they deserve,” said Sherwood. “I have a great deal of experience in the curriculum, instruction, supervision, and working with the school board. I was also an elementary principal for 11 years.”
Hiring a new superintendent is the most important issue for the school board, said Sherwood.
“The main issue is hiring a new superintendent,” said Sherwood. “We've had such a great history, it is critical to get the right person.”
According to Sherwood, the most important thing for the district is doing what is right for the children in the district.
“I have experience in the field of education and I understand the district's policies and how decisions are made,” said Sherwood. “If something is right for the kids, then we must do it.”
The last candidate on the ballot for April 8 is Deanna Hon.
“I attended school at Platte County and went to high school here,” said Hon. “I'd like to give back to the community. I have (been a substitute teacher) for five years, but would not while on the school board.”
Hon said she has also been active in the PTA, Platte City Chamber of Commerce and Platte County Economic Development Council.
“I think we need to be proactive on House Bill 1836, and it disturbs me that Barry is behind schedule,” said Hon. “We need to not let this happen in the future. There will be many building projects if the bond issue passes and we need to be more proactive to not let them fall behind on buildings. We also need to do something with the traffic flow at the high school; it is a mess in the morning and afternoon.”
According to Hon, she has experience for the job from being a substitute teacher.
“I will bring a lot of experience to the table,” said Hon. “I have been in the classrooms as a teacher. I feel I have experience and new ideas.”
Hon said she is concerned with the district's plan to put an early childhood education center in the same building as the district's bus barn.
“I have concerns about what the plan is with the District Education Center,” said Hon. “I've attended the last three meetings and haven't heard a lot of discussion about this. I think the idea is great, but I don't want them in the same building. To have the kids in the daycare we may have issues with that, I think in the long term if kids get sick it will come back to the district. I don't think it is a wise decision and I would like to do everything in my power to fix it.”