Archive for Friday, July 29, 2016

Shawnee Mission board member expresses frustrations

July 29, 2016

The Shawnee Mission school district recently responded to some outside criticism regarding teacher versus administrative raises.

On Monday, a board member shared some criticism of the board itself.

The board, in its organizational meeting prior to its regular meeting, selected a president and vice president of the board for 2016-17, electing Sara Goodburn to continue as president and Craig Denny as vice president.

But the votes weren’t unanimous; Cindy Neighbor voted against Goodburn’s election, and Neighbor and Brad Stratton voted against Denny’s election. Both Neighbor and Stratton are at-large board members; Neighbor is a Shawnee resident.

Neighor didn’t explain her opposition, but Stratton took a moment to explain his vote against Denny.

He said he did so firstly the vice president generally is next in line to become president, putting Denny in the position as president during a year when he is running for reelection.

Stratton added that another reason he was opposed was that a little over a year ago, the board was told members would be able to submit their ideas for a formal selection process for board officers.

“We have no written process to do what we just did,” he said. “A year ago, we were told that if we submitted by Sept. 30 processes that could be considered for electing our officers, it would be considered. We asked repeatedly during the year … no process was brought forward.”

Stratton said he didn’t feel like the decision on who to elect as officers was truly made by all seven board members, and he challenged his fellow board members to be more proactive and improve communication with the public.

Stratton promised to express his concerns more in the future.

“The silence has been deafening from this board over the last two weeks, and we need to speak out,” he said.

In other business related to district schools in Shawnee, the board approved a $173,675 contract for the purchase and installation of security cameras, cabling and electronic door controls for the currently-under-construction Rhein Benninghoven Elementary.

It also approved a $51,253 change order to Straub Construction for the new, $15.2 million Shawanoe Elementary building for the stabilization of soil under the new paved areas in front of the school. Nine change orders had been approved previously, totaling $346,017.

Patty Mach, representative for the Northwest area, noted that the district’s budget hearing will be Aug. 15 and invited the public to attend to better understand the district’s financial issues.

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