Fewer empty seats on KCPS school board after election

By JOE JAROSZ
Northeast News
April 16, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – There is some new blood on the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education.

During last week’s election, residents were asked to fill several seats on the KSPC school board. A total of three new members – two filling vacated seats and one incumbent not getting re-elected – were sworn in Thursday, April 10.

For School Director sub-district four, a five-year term, Melissa Robinson was elected with over 70 percent of the vote, 897 votes, over incumbent Joseph Jackson, 416 votes.

Filling two seats for School Director At-Large, both five-year terms, Patricia Mansur and Amy Hartsfield were elected with 37 and 27 percent of the vote, respectfully, over Catina Taylor and Janelle Bailey, nine and 23 percent, respectfully.

Hartsfield said right now, the KCPS is at a critical junction as it works its way back to being fully accredited. Her top goal as a newly elected member of the board is to help ensure the school district becomes accredited.

“From there, we’ll continue to provide an excellent education to every child in the district,” Hartsfield said.

Robinson echoed the remarks of Hartsfield about accreditation. She’s not ready to stop there, though. She wants to hit the ground running and other goals Robinson has for the school board include involing parents more, increasing classroom instruction budget and mobilizing the community to better support the KCPS.

“We have to make sure the community is at the table in regards to some issues,” Robinson said.

One issue Northeast community members have been at the forefront of is saving a former school, Thacher Elementary. Robinson said she supports the repurposing policies and initiatives, but didn’t feel comfortable commenting on the fate of Thacher Elementary until she did more research on the topic.

“I really have a lot of respect for the community’s voice,” Robinson said. “I’m a big proponent of community involvement and I plan to work with groups who want to save schools.”

It’s easy to sometimes look at the negative and say what needs to be changed. Both agree the KCPS does a lot of good, as well. Hartsfield said there’s a sense of stability today, the KCPS didn’t always have.

“We’ve been able to accrue a good superintendent for a number of years,” Hartsfield said.

Robinson noted the work schools have done to increase student test scores. She also pointed out how important it is that the school district is in good financial standing.

“A lot of positive things are going on in the district right now,” Robinson said.

“I’m hoping we’re able to come together and work towards a public school system the city deserves and needs,” Hartsfield said.

Also at Thursday’s swearing in ceremony, Jon Hile, representative for sub-district one, was elected Chair and Curtis Rodgers, representing sub-district five, was elected vice chair. The two replace previous chair and vice chair Airick West and Crispin Rea, respectively.

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