No contests in SM
Voters in the Shawnee Mission School District will have an easy time next week selecting the new school board. Four seats are up for election and four candidates have filed for those seats.
Two of the current board members, Susan Metsker and Larry Winn, are running unopposed. Also running unopposed will be newcomers Deb Zila and Patty Mach. Zila said outgoing member Gerry Ray recruited her for the position.
"Gerry had told me she had decided not to run again and urged me to run," Zila said.
"I was on the advisory board so I attended a lot of school board meetings and I kind of know what it's about."
Mach will be taking over the position 5 seat currently held by Gregg Amos. Mach said the biggest issue she sees on the horizon for the district is still funding.
"We have a couple of years where we know what the formula will be but past that we don't," Mach said. "There's no hard and fast formula out of Topeka. I think we need to ensure we get adequate state funding and of course I'd like more."
Funding is also an issue for Zila. She said funding has gotten better because of new money into the district for cost of living increases and declining enrollment. Zila expects this money to go toward teachers' salaries.
"Hopefully we can offer the teachers something enticing so that we can keep the good teachers teaching," Zila said. "They've been kind of shorted of late and we need to make up for that."
Zila said another issue that will become important in the next four years would be No Child Left Behind. She said goals for Adequate Yearly Progress will become more difficult to reach as the years go by.
"When it comes out in the press that someone doesn't make it, it sounds like the school is deficient in some way, which is absolutely not the case," Zila said. "They're saying all students, including kids who don't speak English and kids who have special needs, will need to test to a proficient level [by 2014]. It's just not going to happen."
Mach said she does see good points in the NCLB program because it helps identify and help children who may have more needs. She said she agrees with the overall mission of the legislation, but said it may be difficult to keep up.
Mach noted the unique nature of this election, with no competition for any of the four seats. She said overall the patrons of the school district are happy with its current direction. But she said, as a parent in the district, she knows there are questions that come up.
"The board did away with the advisory boards we used to have at the high schools," Mach said. "I plan on being as accessible as possible to our parents, students and patrons, especially in the Northwest district. Board members need to be able to respond to those we are representing."
Also up for election will be incumbents Susan Metsker and Larry Winn. Voters will also decide on an increase in the local option budget for the next school year. Elections will be held April 3 with polls opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 7 p.m.