School Board Elections | KCUR

School Board Elections

Photo illustration by Elle Moxley

After several tumultuous years during which the school district’s first black superintendent abruptly resigned, Lee’s Summit voters will again be electing new school board members this April. 

Photo illustration by Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Across the metro, Kansas City schools are serving more students of color, especially Latinos, but that diversity isn’t reflected on school boards.

Without representation, students of color can feel like no one’s looking out for their interests.

Segment 1: School boards matter. Here's why.

Even if you don't have kids, school board elections can have a profound impact on the community. We look at how schools are governed, what school board members actually do, and where to find information about candidates.

Ray Weikal / Kansas City Public Schools

The Kansas City Public Schools have made some big gains under the leadership of Superintendent Mark Bedell.

Now it’ll be up to the school board voters elect next month to sustain that progress.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders in the White House briefing room with the American flag behind her and to the right.
VOA News / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: New Kansas City Public Schools sub-district map creates controversy. 

New Kansas City Public Schools Boundary Map Draws Criticism

Jun 20, 2018
Aviva Okeson-Haberman / 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools isn’t getting the new district boundary map it endorsed.

On Wednesday, the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners said it would instead go with a new boundry map drawn by consultants.

The school district has been in the process of complying with a state law that requires the nine-member board to eliminate one subdistrict and one at-large seat by next April.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Ahead of a state-mandated redistricting of school board seats, the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education has put forth its own map suggesting how the boundaries should be drawn.

The proposed map builds on the work of three consultants hired by the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners and incorporates community feedback, KCPS Board of Education Chair Melissa Robinson wrote in a letter to commissioners.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A state-mandated redistricting of the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors could result in a complete turnover of seats next spring, injecting uncertainty during a period of relative stability for the district.

Most Missouri school boards have seven members, and a 2013 law requires the nine-member KCPS board to eliminate one sub-district and one at-large seat by April 2019. Because all seven seats will be open at the same time, it’s possible voters will install an all-new board.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Carmen Xavier, a candidate for the Board of Education in Smithville, Missouri, has been very deliberate about letting voters know she is transgender. But she’s also been very clear that she believes her decades of public service qualify her for the job.

Kansas Local Primary Election August 2017 Results

Aug 2, 2017
Keith Ivey / Flickr-CC

Below are the unofficial results from Tuesday's municipal elections on the Kansas side of the metro area. 

JOHNSON COUNTY

SHAWNEE MISSION SCHOOL BOARD AT LARGE 6

Heather Ousley
Votes: 7,510
Percent: 42%

Mandi Serrone Hunter
Votes: 3,666
Percent: 21%

Shawnee Mission School District / YouTube

The ACLU of Kansas says a new policy adopted by the Shawnee Mission School Board may violate the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. It has sent a letter to Board President Sarah Goodburn, urging the board to rescind the policy. 

Shawnee Mission School District

Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent Jim Hinson unexpectedly resigned today. Hinson has spent more than thirty years in public education, four of them in Shawnee Mission.

In a statement on the school district’s website, the superintendent says, “I’ve decided to retire effective June 30, 2017. This decision will allow me to spend more time with my family, and pursue other lifelong goals.”

Under Hinson’s watch, the district invested millions in building news schools and the “one-to-one” technology initiative, which provided each student with a personal computer.

St. Joseph School District

The St. Joseph School Board member at the center of a stipend scandal, which rocked the district and eventually led to a former superintendent going to federal prison, has resigned. 

"It was an agonizing decision to make," Chris Danford says. "I don't want to be a quitter, but it's better to split ways (with the district).

Courtesy photo / Kansas City Public Schools

More than a week after the election, the Kansas City Public Schools board is complete.

The Kansas City Election board announced Wednesday that John Fierro, Natalie Lewis and Ajia Morris won seats on the board. All three were write-in candidates and so were their only challengers, which delayed the results.

Lewis spent two decades working in the private sector before she became a teacher. She beat architect Albert Ray for the sub-district 1 seat.

Fierro is the president of the Mattie Rhodes Center. He won the in sub-district 3 against Marisol Montero.

The future of the Kansas City School District is in the hands of write-in candidates. Three of the four races voters will decide on April 5 will be filled by write-in votes. On this edition of Up To Date, we speak with the three people vying for the 5th sub-district seat.

Guests:

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Natalie Lewis is eligible to be a candidate for the Kansas City Public School Board. There is no doubt, she says, after a critical deadline was deleted sometime Friday from the district's election notice online. 

"Because of that information, I almost walked away twice. But I knew in the gut of guts and in talking to people that that information was not accurate," she says. 

Courtesy photo / Kansas City Public Schools

Natalie Lewis really wants to be on the Kansas City Public School board. How much? Last week she moved into the district to an apartment just off the Plaza for the express purpose of running for the open seat in Sub-District 1, which covers much of downtown. 

"Yes, it was drastic. But that fact that we had no one on the ballot required a drastic reaction," she says.

Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

When you think about schools, you picture classrooms, teachers and students. But where do school boards fit in?

On Thursday's Up to Date, we talk about the elected representatives of school districts, who can be a critical part of educational planning and the new survey that's questioning whether these leaders are helping or hurting the cause.

Guests:

School Board President Airick Leonard West will retain his at-large seat on the Kansas City, Missouri school board, after running a write-in race against four other candidates.