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Here are the key April school board election results from the Kansas City metro

Two political-style posters stick in a yard for Bill Haley and Dan Blake. Behind them, far in background is a another yard sign that reads "Join me at Abundant Life."
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Yard signs for Lee's Summit School board candidates Bill Haley and Dan Blake sit in a lawn in the Lakewood Lakes subdivision near a yard sign for Abundant Life Church on March 27, 2024.

Incumbents prevailed in some Missouri school board elections, while other Kansas City-area boards saw shakeups that could shift how they handle book challenges, diversity initiatives, class instruction time and how to best support students.

School board elections continue to take center stage in the Kansas City area this spring with races that threaten to change the dynamic of existing boards.

Voters considered those stakes as they chose new school board members on Tuesday in some of the region’s largest districts.

Board members in most school districts serve three-year terms, while members in the Independence School District serve six-year terms. Voters chose two candidates for each race.

Below are the unofficial results for the Apr. 5 school board elections in the Center, Liberty, Lee’s Summit, Independence, North Kansas City, Hickman Mills and Park Hill school districts.

Jackson County

Lee’s Summit School District

Two candidates elected to the Lee’s Summit school board will join a board divided on how to handle diversity initiatives and challenged books. With three conservatives on the board, just one new member would need to join with them on votes to tip the balance in their favor.

The election also comes amid concerns that a conservative evangelical megachurch, Abundant Life, has too much influence on the board. Two existing board members are Abundant Life members, and lead pastor Phil Hopper preached in favor of electing more “two more godly people” to the board.

Voters selected Stacie Myers and Bill Haley for three-year terms on the board. The election of Haley could raise concerns for community members worried that the influence of Abundant Life could make the board more conservative. Some community members believe Hopper’s “godly people” comment referred to Dan Blake, who attends the church, and Bill Haley, who approvingly shared a video of Hopper’s sermon.

The two winning candidates defeated Dan Blake, incumbent Rodrick King Sparks, Juanice Williams and Reuben Mitchell.

Read more about the successful candidates’ positions and priorities in our voter guide.

Two open seats

  • Stacie Myers

Votes: 9,903
Percent: 23%

  • Reuben Mitchell 

Votes: 1,538
Percent: 4%

  • Juanice Williams 

Votes: 5,359
Percent: 12%

  • Rodrick King Sparks (Incumbent)

Votes: 7,220
Percent: 17%

  • Bill Haley

Votes: 9,533
Percent: 22%

  • Dan Blake

Votes: 9,262
Percent: 21%

Independence School District

The Independence school board race featured a contest between two groups: three candidates largely happy with the district’s direction and four candidates critical of district leadership.

Incumbents Carrie Dixon, Eric Knipp and challenger Dennis Green praised how the district operates and emphasized unity on the board. Superintendent Dale Herl donated $100 to Green’s campaign. Challengers Wendy Baird, Zac Harmon-McLaughlin, Brandi Pruente and Jason Vollmecke said the school board needs to be more transparent, ask more questions and incorporate more community perspectives — including on controversial topics such as book removals and the recent move to a four-day school week.

With the victory of Baird, Pruente and Dixon, the board maintains a majority that has typically voted in unison and supports Superintendent Dale Herl’s vision for the district. But Pruente could change the dynamic of the board, pushing for greater transparency, asking critical questions and joining with current members willing to dissent from the board majority to create more split votes.

Read more about the successful candidates’ positions and priorities in our voter guide.

Three open seats

  • Wendy Baird

Votes: 7,204
Percent: 19%

  • Carrie Dixon (Incumbent) 

Votes: 6,054
Percent: 16%

  • Dennis Green

Votes: 5,091
Percent: 14%

  • Eric Knipp (Incumbent) 

Votes: 5,214
Percent: 14%

  • Brandi Pruente 

Votes: 6,547
Percent: 17%

  • Zac Harmon-McLaughlin

Votes: 4,908
Percent: 13%

  • Jason Vollmecke

Votes: 2,134
Percent: 6% 

Hickman Mills School District

Candidates who won spots on the Hickman Mills school board will join a group whose members have struggled to work together. They lead one of the few districts in Missouri that lacks full accreditation from the state. Superintendent Yaw Obeng told KCUR that the board has gotten better at cooperating in recent months after switching to a co-president system to help unite the two factions on the board.

Obeng said the board had developed a combative culture despite being philosophically aligned. It's not clear how the outcome of the election will affect the dynamic among board members.

Some board members, including then-President Graves, had twice attempted to appoint Clifford Ragan III to a vacant seat after he lost a bid for reelection in 2023, but they faced resistance from other members. Unable to agree, the board opted to let voters fill the spot. Ragan filed for the 2024 election and appeared on the ballot, but was disqualified.

Ragan told KCUR he learned on Friday that he was disqualified. He said he did not receive letters notifying him that a necessary tax form wasn’t received by the Department of Revenue.

Voters selected longtime civil rights leader Alvin Brooks to serve the remaining year of the vacant term. Incumbent co-president Ann Coleman and former board member Bonnaye Mims won full, three-year terms on the board, defeating challengers Cynthia Corn-Wattree and Ron Pearson.

Corn-Wattree told KCUR she withdrew from the race after moving out of the district.

Read more about the successful candidates' positions and priorities in our voter guide.

One-year term seat

  • Alvin Brooks

Votes: 2,972
Percent: 63%

  • Carol Graves (Incumbent)

Votes: 1,711
Percent: 36%

Two 3-year term seats

  • Bonnaye Mims

Votes: 1,815
Percent: 30%

  • Cynthia Corn-Wattree

Votes: 628
Percent: 10%

  • Ann Coleman (Incumbent)

Votes: 2,104
Percent: 35%

  • Ron Pearson

Votes: 1,365
Percent: 23%

Center School District

Three newcomers competed for two spots on the Center school board, hoping to serve a three year term.

Mariah Roady and Michael Sarver won Tuesday’s election, defeating Da’Jion Lymore. Roady’s biggest concern is finding ways to better engage families, especially those that don’t speak English. Sarver’s biggest concern is improving compensation for tenured teachers. Lymore’s focused on ensuring students’ voices are heard so adults can help with their problems.  

Read more about the successful candidates' positions and priorities in our voter guide.

Two open seats:

  • Mariah Roady

Votes: 3,441
Percent: 50%

  • Da’Jion Lymore

Votes: 1,373
Percent: 20%

  • Michael Sarver

Votes: 2,007
Percent: 29%

Clay County

North Kansas City Schools

Most candidates for the North Kansas City school board said they’re happy with how the district has handled challenges to books and supporting transgender students but want to see it do more to support student mental health.

As nine candidates vied for four open spots, the district’s teachers largely wanted to see known quantities on the board. The union representing district teachers endorsed incumbents Jan Kauk, Jane Rinehart and Susan Hines and former board member Joe Jacobs. The local branch of the Missouri State Teachers Association, a professional organization, mostly agreed but supported Aryn Peters instead of Rinehart.

Voters mainly followed the teachers’ lead. They selected Kauk to finish the remaining year of a seat that has been vacant since August, passing over McFerran. Rinehart, Jacobs and Hines won full three-year terms, defeating Peters, Foley, Copeland and Daei. 

Read more about the successful candidates’ positions and priorities in our voter guide.

One-year term seat

  • Jan Kauk (Incumbent) 

Votes: 4,387
Percent: 62%

  • Tammy McFerran

Votes: 2,646
Percent: 38%

Two 3-year term seats

  • Joe Jacobs

Votes: 3,653
Percent: 19%

  • Jane Rinehart (Incumbent) 

Votes: 3,704
Percent: 20%

  • Brock Foley

Votes: 1,709
Percent: 9%

  • Aryn Peters

Votes: 2,937
Percent: 16%

  • Tirdad Daei

Votes: 1,062
Percent: 6%

  • Susan Hines (Incumbent) 

Votes: 3,953
Percent: 21%

  • Roy Copeland III

Votes: 1,908
Percent: 10%

Liberty Public Schools

Three candidates competing for two seats on the Liberty Public Schools board agreed that the district should do more to support student mental health and social emotional learning. But each had a different position on whether the district is striking the right balance on its use of technology in the classroom.

Incumbents Jeffrey “Drew” Marriott and Nicholaus “Nick” Bartlow held onto their spots on the board. Both candidates either thought the district was handling technology well or should do even more to integrate it into classrooms.

Read more about the successful candidates’ positions and priorities in our voter guide.

Two open seats

  • Darren Siebert 

Votes: 3,027
Percent: 26%

  • Jeffrey “Drew” Marriott (Incumbent) 

Votes: 4,244
Percent: 36%

  • Nicholaus “Nick” Bartlow (Incumbent) 

Votes: 4,552
Percent: 39%

Platte County

Park Hill School District

Incumbent Brandy Maltbia Woodley and challenger Harrison Todd said the Park Hill school board is already headed in a good direction. They won. Challenger Sadie Peterson said the district is falling behind on keeping buildings maintained and updated. The three candidates competed for two seats on the board.

With Woodley and Todd’s victory, the board could stay on its current track. But both want to find ways to reduce achievement gaps and ensure all students have equitable opportunities to succeed.

Read more about the successful candidates’ positions and priorities in our voter guide.

Two open seats

  • Brandy Maltbia Woodley (Incumbent) 

Votes: 2234
Percent: 36%

  • Harrison Todd

Votes: 2367
Percent: 38%

  • Sadie Peterson

Votes: 1,586
Percent: 27%

More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
Maria Benevento is the education reporter at The Kansas City Beacon. She is a Report for America corps member.
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