Tuesday, Mar. 05 2013 3:47PM
Leaders get to the point
By Toriano Porter
Judy Noland was succinct with her question.
The Lee’s Summit resident wanted to know from a group of state legislators did the Missouri General Assembly plan to push for legislation that would affect teacher retirement plans.
“My question is for every one of you and I’m trying to think of a reasonable way to say it,” Noland said to the group during a legislative forum hosted by the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee Feb. 28 at Stansberry Leadership Center.
The forum included State Sen. Will Kraus, State Rep. Mike Cierpiot, State Rep. Jeff Grisamore and State Rep. Sheila Solon of the Missouri General Assembly. All 12 state legislators representing the school district were invited to attend the event.
In addition to the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, members of the district’s Business Roundtable were also present. Both community groups provide input and help the school district better communicate with the public.
Kent Kirby, chairman for the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, facilitated the forum.
“Why does the – and I don’t know if it’s the Senate, the Representatives – why do they feel it’s necessary to mess with the teacher retirement system when we’ve all put our money into it,” Noland, a member of the advisory committee, continued. “And why is someone trying to mess with that now when it’s all run so well? And I would like to hear from every one of you.”
“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Solon said. “I will say the representatives from this area are not supportive of that. It’s not an idea that’s come out of here locally, that’s for sure.”
Added Kraus: “I’m on Seniors, Families and Pensions (committee) and we haven’t had (discussions) specific to teacher pensions coming through.”
Those questions and more were part of a discussion that focused on other issues such as tax-credit reform, the governor’s proposal for an extended school year, early-childhood education funding, services for children with disabilities, school choice, vouchers and voucher-type programs, merit pay for teachers, teacher evaluation based on testing, local control of school districts and the impact of tax reduction efforts in Kansas.
David McGehee, superintendent of the R-7 district, also presented the district’s legislative platform, which includes support for full funding of the Missouri Foundation Formula – which funds public schools – support of state tax-credit review, opposition to open-enrollment legislation that would allow students from other districts to transfer into the district, and opposition to legislation that diverts revenue away from public schools through vouchers, scholarship or tuition tax credits or tuition tax deductions.
“Really, in our school district this year we chose to rather than write our separate platform we just maintained locally and adopted the Cooperative School Districts (of Greater Kansas City’s) platform,” McGehee said to the panel. “That’s 30 school districts pretty much aligned with everything we believe.”