Heading to the polls Tuesday? Here’s what you need to know about the SMSD board of education candidates

Jay Senter - July 31, 2017 11:12 am

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If you haven’t cast your ballot for this year’s primary elections, Tuesday is your chance. Polls will be open at neighborhood precincts August 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Here’s a rundown of the candidates who will be on the ballots for two Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education seats.

Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education At-Large Seat

Incumbent Cindy Neighbor faces four challengers for the seat she’s held since 1997: attorney Mandi Hunter, attorney Heather Ousley, MPA student Robert Roberge and export representative Fabian Shepard.

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Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education At-Large Seat

Incumbent Craig Denny faces two active challengers for the seat he’s held since 1997: pastor Laura Guy and former district capital projects supervisors Christopher White.

Candidate positions on the issues

We asked the candidates for both seats to answer a series of questions submitted by our readers as part of a written questionnaire. You can find those responses linked below:

  1. 1.) For years, the school board’s actions have been marked by little public discussion and almost entirely unanimous votes. Do you view this conformity among school board members as being positive or negative for the district? Why?
  2. 2.) Members of the school board will be charged with selecting a new superintendent in the coming months. What is the biggest challenge facing the district today, and what qualities will a new superintendent need to address it?
  3. 3.) What does the Shawnee Mission School District need to do to attract, support and retain quality teachers? Do you view the district today as an attractive place for teachers to make a career?
  4. 4.) In 2014, the district launched its “one-to-one” technology initiative, investing tens of millions to provide every student with his or her own Apple MacBook or iPad. Since the roll out, some teachers have expressed concern about lack of training opportunities on integrating the devices into lesson plans. Some parents have complained that their kids are spending a good deal of time of the devices for non-classroom activities. Do you think the one-to-one initiative has been a success? Why or why not? Does anything with the program need to change?
  5. 5.) If you are elected to the school board, what will your top priorities be?

The candidates also took part in two forums each, one put on by the Shawnee Mission Area Council PTA and one put on by the Shawnee Mission Post. At these forums, the candidates addressed a wide variety of issues.

You can find full video of the SMAC PTA at-large forum here, and of the SMAC PTA SM West area forum here.

You can find full video of the Shawnee Mission Post at-large forum here, and of the Shawnee Mission Post SM West area forum here.

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