SM West area board of education challengers say Shawnee Mission needs to ‘reestablish culture of respect’ for teachers

Craig Denny (from left), Laura Guy and Chris White at Thursday's candidate forum.
Craig Denny (from left), Laura Guy and Chris White at Thursday’s candidate forum.

For the second evening in a row, challengers looking to take a seat on the Shawnee Mission Board of Education cited rebuilding trust between district leadership and Shawnee Mission teachers and parents as an urgent priority.

The three candidates actively campaigning for the SM West seat on the board — incumbent Craig Denny and challengers Laura Guy and Chris White — took questions from moderator Kyle Palmer of KCUR at a forum organized by the Shawnee Mission Area Council PTA. Early in the forum, which was held at the new Center for Academic Achievement, Palmer asked how the district can attract and retain quality teachers.

Denny, who has served on the board for two decades, said that the district had a very competitive pay schedule, which helped attract teaching talent. He also noted that Shawnee Mission in recent years had started recruiting teachers earlier in the year than it had before, allowing it to land talented prospects before they were taken off the market.