Joan Leavens emerged the winner from Tuesday’s three-person race for the open at-large seat on the Shawnee Mission School Board, taking 40 percent of the vote to Bart Altenbernd’s 37 and John St. Clair’s 23.
In other school board votes, board president Deb Zila and member Patty Mach retained their seats. Sara Goodburn will fill the SM North-area seat vacated by Susan Metsker.
A total of 16,653 voted in the election for the at-large spot, according to Tuesday night’s unofficial results.
Leavens celebrated the victory with a large crowd of supporters at Taste in downtown Overland Park, where she said her first priority as a board member would be to get up-to-speed on the budget process.
“I want to make sure there are opportunities arranged for people to be heard,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re getting input from the community.”
Leavens said that shoring up the district’s finances and finding some solution to provide sustainable funding for local schools was the biggest challenge facing the district.
“I hope we’ve reached a turning point where people are starting to say, ‘This is enough, we’ve got to do something about school funding,'” Leavens said. “But people have got to make their voices heard. We’ve got to get our local legislators involved.”