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Four seek three open
seats at Park Hill

by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark editor

The Landmark posed questions to each of the four candidates seeking three open positions on the Park Hill School Board.

The school board election is next Tuesday, April 4, at which time voters will also decide on Park Hill’s bond issue question.

For sample ballots, see the legal notices section of this issue of The Landmark.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.


Why are you interested in becoming a school board member?
I'm running for the school board because I am committed to children and public education, and I feel strongly district resources and tax dollars need to be used wisely; the classroom needs of teachers and students should relentlessly drive decision-making.

As a former Park Hill building principal and district administrator, I can “hit the ground running” since I'm familiar with many of the district's policies, procedures and staff. I believe it's valuable to have educators serve on a school board, especially those of us who have worked at the classroom, building and district levels, because we understand the realities of the job for teachers, principals and administrators. I am also a parent, patron and business owner with a vested interest in the success of our community.

What do you hope to accomplish in the first year?
My goal is to collaborate with colleagues when possible, dissent when necessary, and challenge existing practices and future plans to promote effectiveness and efficiency. I will also seek assurances from district leaders that new programs and technologies are fully developed and ready for implementation from the onset to minimize potential disruption to teaching and learning.

It has become almost taboo to question spending and instructional decisions of school districts; it's as if doing so suggests we don't care about kids or teachers. I couldn't disagree more. Districts, like other government or business organizations, change and grow when challenged to improve. I want to work toward creating a culture among the board and leadership that views questions and input as opportunities rather than obstacles.

If the bond issue is passed by taxpayers, there will be a number of construction projects getting underway soon. I want to learn quickly about these projects to help provide oversight in spending and to consider possible cost-cutting options.

Over the next several years, what are the biggest challenges facing the district?
I understand the realities of growth and expansion for our district, and I am interested in maintaining a strong focus on all students, including those who present special needs and challenges. Our students and our community are best served when schools provide services and learning opportunities designed to promote long-term success, especially during periods of flux and change.

In recent years, staff and public trust in district leadership has been damaged through a number of missteps, and it is critical trust be restored through thoughtful, effective and transparent decision-making.

How do you plan to tackle these challenges?
Transparency and accountability for each dollar spent is a priority to me, and I plan to carefully review financial statements and monthly expenditures before board meetings to ensure money is being spent wisely and with a focus on students and learning. I will also work with the district leaders so that yearly budget allocations reflect a singular focus on the district mission of providing exceptional opportunities for students.

I'm interested in serving on the district policy committee since I believe this group serves a vital role in reviewing and drafting procedures and regulations which serve as important guideposts for decision-making and appropriate, ethical and legal practice.

I believe the school board, like any group, can best utilize the collective knowledge and experience of its members when open communication is encouraged and valued. Unanimous votes suggest a lack of diverse perspectives or a deference to polite agreement, neither of which serves schools and children. The board confronts complicated and challenging issues, so it's reasonable to expect differing opinions and opposing views to emerge. I'd like to encourage this open dialogue, not only on the board but within our community, to ensure all “voices” are heard and respected.


What would you like to accomplish over the next three years?
· Ensuring that the district continues to deliver the best possible education to our children while being mindful of the needs of the community and the impact to all taxpayers.
· Reinforce that the district curriculum will reflect what our children will require to be successful citizens after graduation from Park Hill as they move on to college or the workforce.
· Providing a safe and supportive environment for all the children of the district so they can focus on their education and other school activities while they are in the district's care.
· Represent the community, parents and children of the Park Hill School District with our elected representatives in Jefferson City on issues that impact public education.

What are the biggest challenges facing the district?
School Funding & Charter Schools:
School funding and the recent introduction of state and federal bills that will allow taxpayer dollars to flow into profit based education vendors is a real concern for all of us. While charter schools provide an alternative to many families, they are not always held to the same regulations, measurements and instructor quality we are held to and expect of our district.

I believe that any state or federal funding that is issued to a non-public charter school should hold that organization to the exact same measures that have set for the Park Hill School District and all other Missouri school districts.

Community Growth:
Our community continues to grow at a rapid pace with new industry and families moving into the Park Hill district. While this is positive news, our schools are becoming more crowded each year due to the increased student population. This in turn requires that the district frequently review its programs to ensure we are engaging those new students, many of whom were raised in a variety of diverse cultures.

Relevant Instruction:
We must ensure our students are prepared to be college and career ready upon leaving the district. The impact of technology and new trade skills will continue to change at a rapid pace and our students must be prepared for what the world will require of them. Our instruction offerings must consider the demands of today but also have the long vision of what our children will require many years from now. This effort starts at kindergarten and follows all our students through high school.

How do you plan to tackle these challenges?
Based upon my established record of engagement, I will continue work with my fellow board members and the superintendent to ensure the Park Hill School District delivers outstanding educational opportunities to all the students, families and residents of the district.

I firmly believe in championing issues raised by the community to the public education offered by the district. I am committed to ensuring the public funds we are entrusted with are well managed and expended towards the betterment of the students and community.

I will continue to work with our local, state and federal representatives to ensure our voices are heard and that relevant issues facing education and our district are addressed. Local control of our education system is foundational to the success of our great district. As a board member, I will make every effort to address your concerns within the district and with our government officials.


Why are you running?
I am currently on the board of education and have served for nine years. My husband and I are active in the community and have two kids attending Park Hill schools and one that has already graduated from Park Hill High School.

I have a degree in accounting from Kansas State University and have a long career in accounting, both in the public area and private industry. I am currently working as assistant general manager for the FC Kansas City women’s professional soccer team.

I am running for the board of education because I am passionate about public education, and Park Hill is close to my heart. I think we have an outstanding district, but there is always room for improvement. I would like to continue my work on the board to ensure that all kids in the district receive a first rate education. A quality education is crucial for kids to build a strong foundation for future success and I will work hard to continue that endeavor in Park Hill.

What do you hope to accomplish over the next three years?
I hope we continue our outstanding academic achievement, while maintaining a strong fiscal position to manage strong growth in our district. While we enjoy a great deal of success in Park Hill, there is always room for improvement and I know we will strive to improve in many areas, especially the achievement gap and employee satisfaction.

What are the biggest challenges facing the district?
We are still in a tough economic environment and have a lot of growth and demographic changes in our district. Park Hill is currently in a very strong fiscal position due to long range and conservative financial planning, but this will continue to be a challenge in the future as we grow and change.

What are your plans to tackle these issues?
Fortunately Park Hill already has many processes and evaluations in place to monitor these very complex issues. I will continue to question and assess these in order to attain the high standards we have at Park Hill. We must continue to use taxpayer funds efficiently and still maintain our academic achievement.


Why are you interested in becoming a school board member?
I have a desire to give back to my community through public service and to ensure the continued success of the Park Hill School District. Owning my own business has taught me the importance of common sense, listening to your clients and employees, and how to influence decisions by building consensus. As a parent, I want to ensure that every student of our schools takes advantage of the opportunity to prepare themselves to be strong productive citizens after graduation. My hope is to encourage kids to not just think about going to college, but to know success is possible by working in the trades and voc-tech careers.

What do you hope to accomplish in the first year?

The online safety & security of our students is a concern to me based on my own experiences as a parent and in hearing from other parents around the district. The board needs to make certain that appropriate policies are in place, tools are implemented correctly and district staff are equipped to protect our students' online safety and security.

Over the next several years, what are the biggest challenges facing the district?
Our schools are overcrowded at every level: elementary, middle and high school.

How do you plan to tackle these challenges?
I personally support the Park Hill no-tax increase bond issue to alleviate the overcrowding. Adding more trailers to existing schools is a poor solution to the problem. To accommodate all students, the lunch period begins at 10:30 a.m. already. If the high school adds any more students, the lunch period will begin even earlier, which is not conducive to learning, in my opinion.

With that said, I will respect the decision of our voters on this matter.

In conclusion, I look forward to the opportunity to work with the other board members to bring the best education possible to our future leaders and fellow citizens.