Five candidates are facing off for just two seats on the North Kansas City Schools board.
Laura Wagner, Maren Stoflet, Brian Mercer, Karee Gleason and Josiah Bechthold will appear on your ballot if you live within the boundaries of the district, which is the largest on the Missouri side of the metro area and covers a large swath of Kansas City’s Northland.
The Kansas City Beacon invited all candidates to participate in a virtual school board forum March 16. Wagner, Stoflet and Mercer attended.
Gleason, an incumbent who is endorsed by the North Kansas City National Education Association, had a schedule conflict. Bechthold, a parent who also ran for school board last year, did not respond.
You can find the full video on our Facebook page, and a transcript is below.
The transcript has been edited for length, clarity and AP style.
Use these links to jump to a question:
- Opening statements
- The North Kansas City School District is growing rapidly. What challenges and opportunities does that present, and how would you respond to them?
- If elected to the board, what are your plans for continuing or even encouraging the involvement of student voices in the board?
- What are some of the primary topics of state legislation that you’re tracking that might affect North Kansas City Schools, and what should the district’s role be in having a voice in those statewide issues?
- As the district is exiting its trial-and-error stage with the Pathways program, how would you like to see the district evaluate, expand or modify the Pathways program?
- What do you see as the biggest issue facing our schools, and how does your background enable you to better address the issues than the other candidates?
- Imagine that a parent, student or teacher comes to you with a complaint or concern about the district. Could you walk us through what your process would be for responding to their concern?
- Do you have a plan? And what do you reasonably expect to be able to achieve during your term?
- Closing statements
Gary Enrique Bradley-Lopez: Hi, and welcome to The Kansas City Beacon North Kansas City School Board forum. I am the community engagement bureau manager for The Kansas City Beacon, and I will be your moderator tonight. Joining us on our panel we have Maria Benevento, The Beacon’s education reporter, and Owen Baxter, North Kansas City school district high school student and writer for The Buzz, the multimedia site for the Northtown News. The panelists have prepared a set of questions and we will be allowing questions from community members. All candidates were asked to prepare an opening and closing statement.
Laura Wagner: I’m running for North Kansas City school board. I have served for five years on the Education Foundation committee. I served as chair my final year. We handed out over $500,000 in scholarships and grants to teachers and to students. I serve currently on the industry executive council as co-chair. We lead the Pathways program introducing students to careers. I have been involved in the school district for years, and I believe very passionately that we should support students and teachers and that we should work hard as school board members. So that is my plan coming into this and I hope to earn your vote on April 4.
Maren Stoflet: I am seeking a position on the North Kansas City Board of Education because I’m committed to serving my community and I truly believe that strong schools are key to a strong community. My goal, if elected, is to be a voice to represent various perspectives across our vast North Kansas City community. My focus is to ensure progress, especially for our underrepresented, underserved and diverse student populations. I intend to work toward giving all of our community a voice at the table. I previously served as the president of a much smaller school district on a school board and have professional experience and family experience living in three different states. So I have experience across a broad area of different types of school districts. I hope to bring that to the table.
Brian Mercer: I’ve been blessed beyond what I ever could have imagined to serve as the North Kansas City School District PTA Council president for eight years. If you know me, you know I love North Kansas City Schools. The roots run deep. My wife and I had three children attend and graduate. I was a student at Chouteau and Eastgate. Shout out to Dragons and Eagles. Before me, my father and two aunts and uncle all attended the school district in the ’60s. So it’s many years of service to North Kansas City Schools. I’ve had a few highlights in the eight years. I served on the Education Foundation, as well as Laura, all those eight years that I was PTA council president and I was the volunteer of the year in 2020 when the pandemic started. I would love to get your vote, but be sure and vote on April 4 no matter what.
Maria Benevento: The North Kansas City School District is growing rapidly. What challenges and opportunities does that present, and how would you respond to them as a board member?
Stoflet: I think there’s a lot of exciting opportunities being an area that is growing. I mentioned that I came from outside of this area. One of the main reasons that we chose to live where we live was because of the school district. So I think the school district is thriving. But there are, of course, challenges with a growing school district. I would work to continue that momentum and help the North Kansas City School District continue in that direction. The school board has set forth some goals that I think are perfect to work toward. Those are four different areas: students, staff, community and finance, and I think as a growing school district those are all areas where there are challenges, but having that as a backdrop of where to work toward is really helpful. So taking our strengths and building on those, at the same time recognizing where there is need for growth and being honest and open about that. Gaining input from all different parts of the community and really engaging the community to make sure that needs are being heard so that they can be addressed, that’s an essential piece. Make sure that we have representative voices and perspectives so that we can continue to build and grow.
Mercer: It is growing very rapidly. I think we had over 250 new students last year and maybe the same number the year before. It’s a good problem to have, but as we grow every year we need to make sure that we don’t take anybody for granted or anything for granted. We don’t take students, teachers or parents for granted. We don’t want to get so busy as a district growing new programs that we forget to keep everyone up to date with the new program. We have great things going on with Pathways and the Portrait of a Graduate, but a lot of times I have parents and teachers, mostly parents, write to me and say, “Can you explain this Pathways program to me?” I think the district has done a great job explaining it. But that goes back to the number of people that are moving into this area and the number of people we have to keep teaching and introducing to all of our programs to make sure that they’re caught up so their students can thrive and as families and parents that they can be in on the action too. They need to be communicated with to let them know what’s going on. We also need to give teachers every resource to do that. Teachers are slammed right now with stuff and as the second largest district in the state we want to grow this big program and we want to grow more programs. But we have to take the time to let our teachers learn what they need to teach in hand and then the students learn it from the teachers in hand.
Wagner: Let’s talk about the size of the district. Right now we are just shy of about 22,000 students. There are about 6,000 staff members to support all those students throughout the district. They are projecting additional growth in the next five years, and the no-tax bond initiative that passed last year was specific to try to get enough funding to expand the high schools, some of the elementary schools, and to bring some equity between the buildings to make sure that all students have access to everything that they need to continue to grow. There’s going to be another bond initiative probably, not this year, but in the following year, because there’s additional schools that will need to be built. There’s at least one more middle school that’s probably going to be built. It matters that we’re growing as fast as we are, that we’re as popular as we are, because these programs are really good and people want to be in this district. Maren moved so that she could be in this district, and I think that’s great. We need staffing. We need to make sure that we have enough teachers, that the teachers are supported so that the students can be supported. Right now, we are short on teachers, and we need to do everything we can to try to keep them in the district, keep them from retiring, keep them from leaving for other positions elsewhere. Because teachers are in demand, and hardworking teachers who are there every day for people, other industries want them and we need to do everything we can to try to support our teachers in the district and hire more.
Owen Baxter: Recently, students have become more engaged in the school board and administration policies with public comment. If elected to the board, what are your plans for continuing or even encouraging involvement from student voices in the board?
Mercer: I’ve loved that public comment of the students. When the pandemic started and we had to put everybody out and everybody came back, there was and there’s still a faction of community members that really want to come to board meetings and raise Cain about stuff that sometimes doesn’t make much sense. When our students, a lot of them from Northtown, stood up and then came into the boardroom and they all talked about how passionate they were about being inclusive for everyone and letting everybody in and not leaving anybody out and doing the right thing common sense-wise, I was glued to my seat, watching it on TV. At another meeting, I actually got to go in person and watch them talk about it, and I think it’s a great thing. If anything, we should ask students to talk more about stuff like that and be more involved. If we’re going to have the Pathways program and the Portrait of a Graduate and involve students wanting to go out into the business world or wherever they choose to, then we should also include them in public comment and current events and see what their opinion is, and maybe we learn some stuff from them. I know I’ve got two 20-year-old sons and a 19-year-old daughter and I learn stuff from them every day. When I was young, I learned stuff from my dad, but there’s so much going on right now in the world. As a 51-year-old, I count on my kids to teach me stuff that I’m not knowledgeable about now. So for our high school students, and even our middle school students, to be able to talk out in public or just talk without worrying about anybody judging them is a great thing.
Wagner: I was grateful to be in the room when there were members from each of the high schools who came out to speak when the books in the library were an issue and books were being questioned and pulled from shelves for review and there was concern. I was really inspired to hear all of the students come out and speak on why these books mattered to them, what it was that they saw of themselves in some of these books, and why it was important that they stay in the library. It was very compelling. I would love to see that. I know Superintendent Clemens right now — and I believe that Dr. Rochel Daniels is going to keep this tradition — has a student council. I think they’re calling it the superintendent’s council. It’s a group of high school students that represent each of the high schools that come in, I think that there are about 10 of them. There’s two from each high school or something along those lines. There might be some middle schoolers in there too. They meet and they talk with the superintendent about concerns at their individual school, concerns that they have about curriculum, programs. That is really helpful, and they meet monthly. I would like to see the board do something similar with students. I don’t know that it would need to be the same group of individuals. I think opening that up would be good. But I would like to get regular reports from the students in the high schools, and also hear some of the concerns on the middle schools too and maybe even the sixth grade center, depending on how they’re going to do that because the sixth grade center is new. It’s only been two years. So I’d like to hear feedback from the students on all of those fronts.
Stoflet: Yes, I welcome student involvement. I think student involvement giving perspective to the school board would be beneficial. Brian mentioned it also, the students providing their perspective as well as learning and on the flip side, the adults providing their perspective and learning. So I think it’s really a two-way benefit. I think having students involved also allows for bringing up relevant issues, hearing directly from the students. That’s really a great way to have that engagement. I think it also encourages our students to become involved in these sorts of leadership groups, which will help them in the future as they work in their community, whether it’s within the local area here or if they move on to a different area, so it really equips them with some tools and skills. There’s so much benefit to having their perspective and being able to hear from them. I’d also encourage the students to become involved in various councils and other opportunities across the school district. So I think that’s really great all the way around, the perspective helps and also the shared experiences help as well.
Benevento: Education has been a major focus area in the Missouri legislature this year. What are some of the primary topics of legislation that you’re tracking that might affect North Kansas City Schools, and what should the district’s role be in having a voice in those statewide issues?
Wagner: I’m very concerned about a few of the things that are coming out of Jeff City. The school vouchers are definitely on my radar, and anything that defunds public schools in any way or takes taxpayer dollars away from public schools is concerning and it’s something to watch. The initiative that only approved school counselors can speak with a student who has gender identity concerns is a concern for me as well. I think it’s disheartening that a student who is struggling couldn’t come to a trusted teacher and just sit down and ask questions without the teacher having to run out of the room because they’re concerned that they’re going to get sued and have to go find a qualified counselor to answer any questions. Some of this stuff is beyond the pale. Any initiatives, and there’s been a few, for parents to review school curriculum or somehow monitor what is being taught in the classrooms is very concerning as well, both that they wouldn’t trust school boards and then also that they wouldn’t trust individual teachers. All of that’s concerning and it’s something to watch and hopefully it doesn’t make it very far.
Stoflet: There are several legislative efforts that would definitely have a negative impact to the school district if they do pass. I’ll repeat some similar answers there to what Laura said. I think those legislative efforts that would impact funding for a school district are of concern. As we said earlier, we have a really big and growing school district. There will be growing needs there, so impacts to funding would really have a negative impact on our schools. Another portion of the legislation that is concerning is what I view as limiting resources and access for our students. Those efforts that would put restrictions on being inclusive and limiting resources for students to be able to access would have really negative impacts. Lastly, any legislation that would really impact the role of our teachers and being able to do what they do best. I think keeping the authority within the school district, with the school board, is important. Anything that would undermine that would really make it limiting and have a negative impact on our school district. Those are the sorts of legislative efforts that concern me and that I hope we will be able to influence for the positive.
Baxter: Do you mind if I ask just a super quick follow-up? Maren, is there any specific legislation that is on your radar in terms of inclusion or limiting such inclusion?
Stoflet: Yeah, I think specifically the mention of what teachers can talk to students with concerns, as well as anything that would specifically limit access for any of our students, including our LGBTQ+ students. Whether it’s facilities or opportunities, any legislation that would restrict access.
Mercer: Mine’s probably going to be a shorter answer, because I could not agree with more of what Maren and Laura said. All of those things are very important right now. I think I saw that we have Tammy Henderson in our audience. Tammy is the district liaison to travel to Jeff City. I don’t want to call it the pleasure of spending all the time with the people in Jefferson City because I know she probably would rather not do it sometimes, but I think we could let her talk for an hour about what she does and doesn’t like about it and we would all be entertained. What’s going on down there is not good. Back in 2021 I was advocate of the year for the Greater Kansas City Association of School Librarians. So libraries are really important to me, and the whole book banning thing was just something that really hit me hard because I see our libraries as the centerpiece of every school, the places that students can go and feel safe, talk with fellow students or read books or study. When I hear politicians that want to come in and decide what books you can read and can’t read, that makes me angry, because librarians are really smart. Teachers are really smart. They know what your kids should and shouldn’t be reading. They know what they should or shouldn’t be teaching. We should let them teach; we should let librarians run their libraries, and we should keep politicians out of schools. It’s as simple as that. All those other things are very alarming, too. But for me, it’s mostly the book banning. There’s a scale to do this on, and the librarians are all privy to it, and they’re all very smart about doing it. So instead of letting someone from Jeff City come in, let’s let them do it.
Baxter: So the curriculums in the district have changed drastically over the years, especially recently with the introduction of the International Baccalaureate program in North Kansas City High School, but especially with the Pathways program. As the district is exiting its trial-and-error stage in its sophomore year with the Pathways program, how would you like to see the district evaluate, expand or modify the Pathways program throughout all four high schools and maybe even the middle schools?
Stoflet: I might not have all the right words for exactly what Pathways includes, but I do have a son that has been part of the Pathways program and really benefited from it. We didn-t really know it was new at that time; it was just in existence when we came into the district. The Pathways program has a lot of great things, but there’s still room for improvement. Opening it up to even more opportunities or more avenues is some of the feedback that I heard. It would be really great to take a look and get some feedback from the teachers, from the students, from the parents and see how that’s going and where they might see opportunities for improvement and growth. I think it’s a great start. I love the direction that it’s heading and I think that it could be built out even more. So investigating where we might be able to provide more opportunities for our students and capture all kinds of different avenues that haven’t yet been incorporated.
Mercer: I think we’re doing great work right now with Pathways and Portrait of a Graduate. I do a lot of posting on Facebook from our school district and a lot of it comes from Twitter, because there are a lot of people on Facebook that aren’t on Twitter. I saw that our early childhood center, our youngest learners, they’re doing Portrait of a Graduate and they have these activities where they give them certain things like cotton balls and Q-tips and they have to build something with these activities, which I just think is amazing because then you’re teaching kids not just things in the books, but you’re teaching them to be builders and inventors from a young age. I had the honor of traveling with our Board of Education, some of our parents and some of our teachers from the Staley feeder pattern to Houston back in 2019, right before the pandemic. We toured the school district down there and it was just monumental. I think they had 140 schools in this district, which dwarfs us a lot, but we’re growing. Walking around there, we would go to a school and there would be a dentist office next door or in the same building where students could go and learn dentistry in high school, and a doctor’s office where students could go and learn how to be a doctor, how to be a surgeon — to a certain degree, of course, because a lot of that is learned in medical school and college. It was amazing that they have these places where students on one side of a building are just doing normal book studies and then on the other side sometimes they’re going over and learning how to do dentistry or doctors or skilled trades. So I would love to see that grow in our district. I think we’re on our way to that slowly.
Wagner: I’m going to need longer than the allotted time because I serve on the Pathways committee, and I’ve been part of this since the beginning. The first year we had about 60 businesses who were engaged and willing to come out and speak to students and offer job shadowing internships, some teacher externships, so it has grown almost double that in the second year and it’s continuing to grow. There’s a real desire from the community to engage students. It’s not just businesses, it’s nonprofit organizations, it’s community organizations that want to interact with the students in these high schools. When I was a kid in high school, and I hear this from my boys who are also in high school now, they want to know when they’re sitting in the classroom, why am I here? What is this going to help me with later? Why does this matter? Having that direct connection makes a difference, because you can see why what you’re learning now actually matters when you graduate, what this applies towards, whether it’s a community organization, or a trade school or whatever, how what you’re learning now impacts it. I think that we can continue to make those connections and grow. We’re going to continue to reach out to additional organizations to get more engagement. It’s been a benefit to the community and I hope it’s been a benefit to the students. The number one thing that I think is confusing, because it’s still early in the program, there’s communication issues. “This means I’m picking a career for life, right? This means that I’m not learning something that I need to know if it’s not the right pathway.” None of that is entirely true. So I think better communication now is going to help the students understand and help the businesses connect. I look forward to this growing because it’s fantastic. It’s a good program. It’s initiated in Texas and in California, a lot of other places. So I think there’s room here.
Bradley-Lopez: We have a question from the community. What do you see as the biggest issue facing our schools, and how does your background enable you to better address the issues than others who are running for the post?
Mercer: That’s a loaded question. That could take like four or five minutes to answer. But what I see is most important is the exponential growth that we’re undergoing and just making sure that everybody’s included, making sure that all the students are included in everything. In the past eight years, I was the district PTA council president, and I did a lot of visiting. I’d visit schools and just walk around and talk to students, “Hey, what’s up?” and talk to teachers and find out what’s going on with them. I got a lot of feedback of, “We don’t know what’s going on here. We’re not learning this as quick as another school in another part of the district is learning it.” It’s important that we address that and catch them up if they need to be caught up or everybody can get on the same page. I would love to see a format — and we’ve done this sort of thing — with all the four feeder systems. Our council has done a summit where we come together with parents, and we had a student summit for two years in a row now, but I would love to see that grown even more as a summit where students, parents and teachers can come together and, “Hey, what are you guys doing?” and they tell each other, “Here’s what we’re doing. Are you behind on this? Here, let me help you,” and everybody communicates as a whole as a district. It would take probably a couple of days, but you could go into groups and learn from each other and you could have each one with a different group and it would just be a great learning experience for everyone. They would make sure that everybody is caught up and everybody is included in what’s going on.
Wagner: I think the number one issue facing the school district right now is a staffing shortage. Like a lot of other organizations right now, there are not enough people. Teachers are leaving for other opportunities. They’ve been in a big crunch the last few years. They’ve been under a lot of pressure. The legislation that’s coming through Jeff City right now puts a spotlight on them and it’s a lot of pressure. There’s angry parents sometimes, especially during the pandemic, who were putting some heavy pressure on the teachers, and I think they’re tired and they’re getting burnt out. While the North Kansas City school district pays fairly well compared to other school districts, it would be great to see additional resources. Sometimes we have to get creative in the ways that we would keep and retain teachers, whether it’s job sharing, whether it’s opening up more discussion about time, making sure that they have enough time for everybody, making sure that they have enough support services for themselves and for their students in the classrooms so that the burden isn’t always on them, making sure they have administrative support for initiatives they want to take on. I think that’s probably going to be the biggest deal and one of the reasons why I think I’m qualified. I’ve got two boys in the district and I’m a parent, and I know that Maren and Brian both experienced that too. I’ve been participating in the Pathways Programs, and I know some of the curriculum that they’re taking on with that. But I’m also a union member, and I understand what the teachers are wanting and what it means to negotiate with the union, and I think there’s a lot of things that I can bring to the table for that.
Stoflet: One of the top challenges facing our school district is safety. Safety is a pretty huge topic because it includes safety that’s physical, mental and psychological and that safety affects our students, our staff and our community both inside and outside of school. So I think safety overarching is a big area that could continue to use work. I know there are efforts for that end, but there’s plenty more to do. I think with safety being so complex, if I break out the mental health aspect that’s one area of focus that I’d like to see us put even more effort into. I’m personally passionate about that. I do serve as a parent representative on the North Kansas City Schools School Health Advisory Council. I know there are ongoing efforts but also know there’s plenty more work to do. I believe this is one area where we should support investment in advancement of safety and health measures, with mental health being one of those top priorities. That could include advancing our support tools and programs for mental health as well as access to mental health professionals.
Benevento: I’d like you to imagine that a parent, student or teacher comes to you with a complaint or concern about the district. Could you walk us through what your process would be for responding to their concern?
Wagner: I’m always willing to listen. That’s crucial to any board member role. It’s crucial to being involved and representing the district at any level. You have to be able to listen and hear the concern. So understanding the concern, hearing the concern will be first. I may or may not take any action depending on what the concern is. I will probably look into it, but some of the things that the board deals with, one of them is going to be HR issues. The board is responsible for hiring each one of those 6,000 staff members that are there and so any investigations of HR issues, if it’s a teacher concern, or whatever it is, that’s going to have to be taken very seriously. So listening and understanding the complaint will be the first thing that I do.
Stoflet: Right along the same line of your answer, Laura, I think number one is to listen. I think it’s important that everyone is valued in their opinions and their perspectives and is heard, but I do also recognize the role of the board member. So I would bring these concerns forward, and then collaboration across school board members is important when an issue comes to bear. There’s also the responsibility of the board members to engage with the superintendent and the cabinet. So it’s not only a board member bringing one issue to the board or for the greater response. There’s a process to follow, and that makes it fair for everybody that has a concern. To validate that there is a concern is important and then also work toward bringing those concerns forward to the board, superintendent and staff. If it is something that is agreed to be worked upon, to work toward a recommendation for addressing or resolving it.
Mercer: I can tell you what I do now, because I get a number of — I wouldn’t say complaints but just like, “Hey, I think this is important and this might be going on or that might be going on.” If someone writes me on Facebook or Twitter or sends me an email or text I just talk to them about it and see if we can figure out what’s going on. If it needs to go to the next level, I will tell them — I think as a board member you would do this, too — you would get in touch with the principal at the school. It depends on what the issue is, but if it’s an issue within the school, I would contact the superintendent, of course, and then we would contact the principal at the school and I believe the principal would have a sit-down with the parent or guardian and talk about what their issue is and see if they can resolve it that way. Of course, like Laura pointed out, if it goes beyond that, then it gets into an HR thing. It’s a combination of everybody pitching in to help solve community problems or anything that’s going on.
Bradley-Lopez. A comment from the community says: I believe you have identified well the issues facing our district, but I’m not hearing any real specifics on how you believe you can effect positive change. Do you have a plan, and what do you reasonably expect to achieve during your term?
Stoflet: I think sometimes we focus on issues, but the board of education is a governance board. I see it from the perspective of the day-to-day business. That governance is important. It’s not always a new plan; it’s just building off of what’s already in place. I still come back to those four areas of focus and if there are particular issues those should be worked through with the lens of what’s best for our students. I don’t have a specific agenda per se that I would expect to change X, Y and Z. But when it comes to the role of the board, making sure policy is current or if there’s room for improvement, improving upon the policy is a role of the board. Really making sure to be that sort of platform where you do have different perspectives and you all come together and collaborate and the opinions might not be the same, the viewpoints might not be the same, but really looking at what’s best for our students as the ultimate goal. The work of the board is to take on the specific tasks, but for me, it’s not a particular agenda to improve something that I set out to do. It’s what is brought to the board as a whole.
Wagner: One of the things I want to try to achieve during this term is to make sure that we’re brought up to staffing levels in all areas — transportation, paraprofessionals, administrative staff, teachers. The goal and the motto of the North Kansas City School District is to be a champion for all students. We can’t do that unless we have enough people in place to be there for students. One of the concrete things that we can do as a board is to review the budget and make sure that we have the funds available, that we are moving them to where they need to be for staffing levels and to do what we can for staffing, recruitment and retention. There’s some things that we can do with the NEA to try to negotiate more time for teachers, job flexibility, time flexibility, whatever it is that we can get creative enough that we can keep teachers and draw teachers into the district that might be leaving other districts to come here. Staffing is something that’s doable and achievable, and it’s one of the things that I want to focus on.
Mercer: The three things that I think are most important right now, and if and when I become a school board member, would be diversity and inclusion, communication and keeping up on the latest technology. Making sure that everybody’s included. Technology is changing every day, so we need to make sure that our students are caught up with that and make sure that they have that chat GTP or — I’m not even up on that. I hear teachers say, “My students might be looking this stuff up,” and I’m like, “Oh, well, that’s a problem, that’s an issue.” So we need to stay up on that. And then communication, keeping parents in the loop. For me, the biggest thing to do to try to make change and move us along is to listen. In daily conversations, I’ll be at work and I’m talking to somebody, and I’m trying to tell them something and they just talk over me because all they want to do is be heard. Well, I want to listen to them. So when I go into schools, when I go to parent meetings and when I go visit with teachers, I make sure that I sit down and look them in the eye and listen to everything they have to say. When they’re done, I try to help them or resolve it and then wait for them to say more. It’s really simple and it may be a generic answer but just listening to what parents think we should change, what parents think we should do better or do less of, and the same with teachers, listening to teachers, what they think we should and shouldn’t be doing moving forward. Everybody, students, teachers and parents, we need to do a better job of listening to them.
Mercer: As I said before, I was the district PTA council president for eight years and to me it was a blessing. Hopefully some of the people that are watching know what I’ve been doing for the past eight years. This is just a joy for me. I’m a union member as well, like Laura said, and I’m going to be coming up on retirement. I tore my rotator cuff last year and I thought to myself, I’m done with the PTA thing and I could just move on to retirement, but I’ve got more work to do. I feel like I can do the same work I did for eight years at a broader higher level at the school board level, and I would just love to be able to do that. I would love to be able to work for the betterment of our students, our teachers, our parents and our community. So I would really appreciate your vote on April 4th.
Wagner: I’m still running for school board. I have been endorsed by the North Kansas City NEA, the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, Laborers, Iron Workers, the Missouri Equity Education Partnership and others. But what matters most to me is that the voters want me to serve on the North Kansas City school board. I’ve been working as a volunteer for a long time with the district, and I want to continue to see the district through to meet the goals going forward. There’s a lot of growth, a lot of opportunity, a lot more in the Pathways program. There are a lot of things that the school district is doing right, and I want to support the things that they’re doing right and shore up anything that we’re doing wrong. I want to make sure that we’re there to carve out a path for our students and for all of us.
Stoflet: I’m seeking a position on the North Kansas City Board of Education because I’m committed to serving my community, and as part of the community I just really believe that strong schools are a backbone to a strong community. My goal, if elected to serve on the North Kansas City school board, is to be a voice to represent various perspectives across our vast North Kansas City community. My experiences as past president of a small school board, my professional experiences and family experiences, having lived in several states, with different school districts of varying sizes, makes me qualified to bring different perspectives to the school board. Our family’s experience living in those different states really has opened my eyes to the different types of school districts. I hope that I can bring the positives of those experiences to our school district here and also support the continued growth of our excellent school district.