I don’t usually address politics on the blog, but decided to write about each candidate running for the open seat on the Kansas City MO school board: Gunnar Hand and Stephen Himes. Full disclosure up front–I know Gunnar as I serve with him on the Armour Hills Homes Assn board, and Stephen Himes teaches at St Teresa’s Academy, where my daughter attends school. I am not endorsing one candidate over the other. My approach to this topic was to ask each candidate the same four questions, and write the answers as spoken.
A short background regarding this election: When former board member Derrick Ritchie moved to Nashville, a special election was needed to fill his position. The term of this new board member will end in 2014. There are nine members of the Kansas City School Board, and this seat represents the 2cd subdistrict (which includes Brookside). The rough boundaries are Troost, 85th St, State Line Rd and Brush Creek. It is not a paid position.
Today, I’m writing about my conversation with Stephen Himes. He is at St Teresa’s Academy, is an attorney and a doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis program at the University of Missouri. He is from Clinton, MO and lives with his wife in Waldo. I am not endorsing one candidate over the other. We talked recently at Axios in Brookside, after he finished his school day.
Why did you decide to run for this seat?
My background in the educational doctorate program teaches us collaborative leadership for different issues in education–exactly like what a school board would. The current board is searching for a vision of urban school transformation that fits Kansas City.
What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?
1) Renegotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the union by 2014, one that treats teachers more like professionals by giving them a seat at the table for major decision making. in exchange for more flexibility in placement, promotion, tenure and retention.
2) Establish safe school buildings so that teachers can teach and students can learn.
3) Make progress towards gaining accreditation.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge you face if elected?
The biggest challenge is bringing the community together to establish a long term vision to complete the district’s transformation. We need to weave different constituents’ needs into a unified action plan.
What is the difference between you and your opponent?
I have 17 years of experience in education, plus a legal background that has trained me to ask tough questions. The board needs someone who has been through the accreditation process and knows what true progress looks like.
Learn more about Stephen at www.himes4kcmoschools.com .
On Sunday I will post my interview with Gunnar Hand. Please vote on Tuesday!