Bill Baird, school board candidate

April 2, 2014 

Recently, Superintendent David McGehee joined with other superintendents to put forth a plan on the school transfer issue. Missouri Rep. Mike Cierpoit has a recommended plan as well. Do you support either of these plans and why?

I support “A New Path to Excellence” put forth by the superintendents because it offers a betterment of the current system by way of prevention and proactive intervention. It mirrors the way teachers teach and administrators manage. It is an outreach, yet implements accountability. It is attainable, realistic and time bound.  

The plan set forth by DESE in February did implement many parts of the superintendents’ plan including:

Tiered levels of support related to performance.

Early intervention.

Specified accountability for district and state when state intervention is necessary.

Maintains community schools.

The reason I support the superintendents’ plan over Rep. Cierpoit’s plan is that it is focused on improvement and prevention over moving students out from their communities.

 

A recent Lee’s Summit R-7 audit revealed mostly good news, with some exceptions in how the district conducts competitive bids. Are you familiar with this audit and does it signal some needed changes?

While the point of an audit is compliance, it also serves as a communication tool for the state with school districts. The results of the audit were excellent news for our taxpayers. Exceptions will be found in most audits and will need to be addressed. The school district will implement procedures to ensure compliance, and the school board must follow up to be sure the exceptions have been addressed. I am pleased with the results of the audit as well as the fact that the system is working.

How is the district poised for future growth in existing school buildings and, perhaps, with new construction?

The school district has just come out of a period of economic downfall. Lee’s Summit Schools were on course for building a fourth high school back in 2007. The recession put a hold on these plans. With two years of strong sales in the housing industry, growth appears imminent once again. I believe we will need more schools in the future, but with regard to a fourth high school the district will most likely consider the options of a cutting edge secondary program that could ease the need of a fourth high school. The success of Summit Technology Academy, the emergence of online classes, and the tremendous impact that technology has had in education in recent years is opening opportunities.

Cost containment has worked well in recent years following the failed school bond issue. With state funding always in limbo, what financial measures can the district continue to take to stay healthy.

We are fortunate that the superintendent has kept our community aware of the legislature’s actions. We need continued support from our community to let our representatives know that we want our schools fully funded. The administration has managed the cost containment very well and even found a way to save millions with the propane operated busses. That creative measure enabled the district to provide the infrastructure we needed to implement more technology in our schools. This technology saves administrators time, helps the productivity of teachers, and helps provide a more quality education for our students. I will be open as a board member to exploring reasonable, financially sound options in the future when it comes to cost saving measures and enhancing education.

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