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  • skcablog 10:42 pm on June 4, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Time For A New (Caring) Superintendent 

    In a previous blog we wrote about the sale of the former Smith-Hale Middle School in the Hickman Mills School District. This is just a bit of a follow up with a focus on the Superintendent.

    A rezoning and Area Plan amendment have been requested for this 29.6-acre parcel. Currently everything surrounding it is zoned residential, but developers want to change that to O or office zoning which has quite a long list of items that could possibly then be constructed there. The City Plan Commission is scheduled to hear arguments for and against on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 and the neighbors are making a valiant effort to defeat the plan, including a petition. I commend them for their efforts, but the paranoid me says it’s in vain.

    There have been very few developments this City has not liked, especially if they’re in a neighborhood. While I really have no means of comparison, except perhaps to Google the thought, this city seems to be extremely anti-neighborhood and very pro-development. That may have something to do with contributions to city council campaigns, but that’s fodder for another blog; this was to be more about the Superintendent. Already previously discussed is his so-called enthusiasm for the history of the Hickman Mills area and the three trails (Santa Fe, California, and Oregon) which run through it. In fact he’s so enthused, he’s willing to sell the district building that actually sits on those trails.

    Additionally, he has demonstrated a lack of concern for the community he expects to support the school district. They did just that last August by supporting a levy increase which was supposed to mean Hickman Mills would be offering the highest teacher salaries in the area, thereby being able to attract more teachers. The community supported that levy (tax) increase even though Hickman Mills no longer has the highest teacher salaries.

    The community was also asked to support a bond issue even though items from the previous bond had not been completed. The community did support that and now some bond money will be used to renovate a recently purchased building (who knows if bond money was used) in order to move administration and the school board out of their current spaces. Let me reiterate that there was a purpose-built building with a state of the art (from previous bond money) board room sitting on those famous trails which the superintendent is now selling. Again, the community showed their support.

    Now the superintendent is attempting to dump an empty school which he neglected and allowed to be vandalized, etc. (Sounds like developers when they want an area to be so run down it would require a TIF to redevelop.) At any rate, he has found a buyer for this piece of property. That buyer now wants to rezone the area and amend the Hickman Mills Area Plan. Because the business is not for profit, there would also be NO PROPERTY TAXES coming into this district from 29.6 acres of land.

    This last point is unbelievable in itself, but the Superintendent didn’t even let the surrounding neighbors know about the proposal. At their May meeting, the Southern Communities Coalition invited the developers to present their proposal, which they did. The Superintendent was at that meeting to give an update on the district (not including this proposal). When he finished, it was time for the proposal to be heard. As they were being introduced the Superintendent shook their hands and then LEFT THE MEETING. He didn’t have any interest in hearing what the community thought, nor did he care enough to defend his actions. Many think they were indefensible, which is possibly the real reason he left the meeting in a hurry.

  • skcablog 9:15 pm on May 29, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: economic development, Hickman Mills Community, tax abatements   

    No Food Desert Here 

    I started to write this last week, but decided I was just too upset. After a couple of days, I’ve cooled down a bit – but just a bit. First, someone needs to explain exactly what a food desert is to Mayor Lucas and John Sharp, who could also use a map with stores selling grocery items marked on it in the entirety of South Kansas City.

    As some may have read, the Red Bridge Shopping Center is getting a new grocery store to replace the one that somewhat recently closed. Here’s the headlines from KCTV5: New grocery store at the Red Bridge Shopping Center could solve south Kansas City’s food desert. There are a couple of problems with that. First, there was never a food desert in this area. Second, there is a food desert in South Kansas City, but it’s in the Hickman Mills Community, NOT the Red Bridge area.

    Everyone cheered when a Price Chopper moved from Bannister and Blue Ridge to just down the street on Bannister. Neighbors had been asking the owner for years to update and clean up his store. He finally did by building a very nice new store in an area where he could get tax breaks. That left the entire eastern section of Hickman Mills in a food desert. I didn’t hear anyone moaning about those people or the mayor pledging to get another grocery store. In fact, he wasn’t even at the Grand Opening of this one.

    Back to Red Bridge. According to KCTV5, “South KC Alliance President John Sharp said then that nobody wants to live in a neighborhood where they have to make a 20-minute drive to get basic needs for their household.” That’s true. Nobody wants to have to do that, but it’s a daily occurrence for those living in Hickman Mills. The problem is, nobody in the Red Bridge area of town had to do that and Mr. Sharp knows it. Why isn’t he doing something for the Hickman Mills Community which is where he lives, though no one would guess that.

    The real kicker, though, is the funding. “Lucas said the market will be funded through a $1.375 million tax redirection over 10 years through the city of Kansas City.” Seriously!!!? Hickman Mills can’t even get the City to tear down dilapidated and dangerous buildings because they simply “don’t have the funds”. Typical again. If the City – or the mayor – want something done, even if it’s purely political, the funds will be found.

    Another blog-worthy topic might be the mayor’s continual use of the word equity, but I’ll just make a comment on that here. He uses that term a lot, yet you never see him doing something or moving this fast to rectify an issue if it lies east of Troost, or in the case of Hickman Mills, east of 71 Highway. Where is the equity? He’s getting a pat on the back for bringing relief to a food desert which didn’t really exist; yet people east of 71 Highway are in an actual food desert and no one cares.

    The latest proposal to help Hickman Mills bring in developers was presented by Councilwoman Parks-Shaw with an assist from Councilwoman Andrea Bough, who was also at this great announcement. That solution is to make the entire Hickman Mills Community an Urban Redevelopment Area, thereby abating any taxes the school district would receive for quite a number of years. Really? Where’s the equity there?

  • skcablog 11:53 am on May 23, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Hickman Mills Superintendent Strikes Again 

    Apparently the Smith-Hale Middle School property isn’t all the Hickman Mills School District is attempting to dump no matter what the community’s feelings or thoughts.

    What once was the administration building is actually on the chopping block as we speak. Many will think this was a school board decision so the superintendent isn’t to blame, but in my many years of observing local school districts, that’s not exactly the case. Superintendents generally have a way of getting what they want. The Hickman Mills School Board has sadly been fairly political the last few years, so maybe the problem is that the Superintendent simply isn’t savvy enough to run this district. Guess that would be another reason to hire locally.

    While he will tell you the trails are important to the district and the community, it doesn’t seem to matter that

    -this is an award-winning building
    -the land has been consecrated by Indigenous Peoples from Haskell Indian Nation University
    -it sits on the alignment of the 3Trails: Santa Fe, California, and Oregon
    -the trail route actually runs through the building
    -it sits on part of KC’s Metro Green initiative

    Several trail organizations have been working to preserve what they can. Even MidAmerica Regional Council is involved in the trails project and acknowledges how important this link actually is. Just off school district property there are still actual swales. You can’t get more authentic than that; but apparently the superintendent isn’t concerned. To him it’s an empty building he doesn’t want to think about anymore.

    He professes to believe the trails are important and says he would like to incorporate the district’s and community’s history into the curriculum to help students learn about that importance and how lucky they are to be living right here. Now he’s trying to sell off an important piece of it all. That just goes to show words are meaningless.

    It also doesn’t matter that the property which is currently zoned residential will need to be rezoned office; something opposed by the community. Of course, no one from the school district even bothered to talk to neighborhoods. They had to find out about it by watching the City Plan Commission dockets.

    This superintendent, who came from Vermont and is just finishing his third year here, obviously hasn’t, himself, become a part of the community. This quote appears to be from his Vermont school district: “Goal oriented leader focused on making data-driven decisions,”

    “Data-driven decisions”, maybe that’s the issue. Pragmatism isn’t always a good thing.

    From what I’ve been able to gather though, his best use of this once proud building was simply going to be for storage anyway, so I’m sure he’s happy to have it off his hands. Perhaps if you think about it, he’s savvier than I’m giving him credit for and the board is simply a scapegoat.

  • skcablog 2:12 am on May 22, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Clues to Trust – Or Not 

    The original Smith-Hale Middle School has been a blight on the Hickman Mills community for some time now. The school district closed it several years ago when it decided to downsize due to decreasing student population. In the district’s short-sightedness, however, it was left sitting there with no security along with, for some unknown reason, a couple of trailers. In that time, all have been set on fire several times and the inside of the building vandalized.

    Knowing the district would eventually do something, but not knowing what that might be, residents of the area have had No Rezoning signs in their yards for quite some time. They want the area to stay residential. (Schools are zoned residential.) This is something the superintendent would know if he visited the area or talked to any of the neighbors before moving forward with a plan.

    Instead, he has done just the opposite. A contract has been signed with a group who want to rezone the parcel to office in order to put a religiously affiliated TV station in the building. As the community has been told over and over again, this is a building with severe structural issues. Interestingly though, the proposed buyers made a presentation recently at a community meeting and said they are more than happy with the building. They have been through it and have seen no major issue. hmmm Clue 1

    Back to the rezoning. The proposed buyers say that currently they are only interested in the building. While that will leave the whole track and field area to sit idle, the entire 29.6 acres would be rezoned from residential to office. When pressed at the meeting, the developers said they are planning on residential units being built at some point in the future. That would entail dividing the parcel and rezoning a large portion back to residential. It would seem if this is their true intent, they would divide the parcel now and only rezone the part the building occupies. hmmm Clue 2

    While the proposed owners want the community to trust them, it seems a bit more like buying a pig in a poke. One can only think the superintendent is simply jumping at the first chance he has to get this property off his hands. The community be da****.

    A school district which was once something to be proud of has certainly come a long way – and not a good way. The school district and the community used to work together and support each other. Now we have a superintendent who seemingly just wants to get rid of property and doesn’t care what the community thinks.

    The other BIG issue with this whole proposal is the nature of the proposal itself. Because the proposed buyers will be broadcasting religious programing, the entire 29.6 acres will be tax exempt. So we have someone in charge of the school district who is willing to let this large piece of property be rezoned against the community’s wishes and also willing to forgo property taxes, the major source of funding for any school district.

    Once upon a time, the community would have been a primary focus. Now the superintendent wants to sell a very large piece of land that will garner no taxes while telling the surrounding community that this is in their interest. They wanted the blight gone and he is taking care of that very thing. What a sell-out.

  • skcablog 10:40 am on May 9, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Superintendent Stepping Out of Lanes Not Good for The Community 

    The Hickman Mills School District Superintendent seems to be the current buzz in that community. The former Smith-Hale Middle School, at Longview Road and Raytown Road, was closed several years ago. In that time the District did nothing to protect it from vandalism, even leaving empty trailers sitting in the parking lot. It’s no wonder they and the school were vandalized and actually set on fire several times. The neighborhood, understandably, has been very upset that the eyesore has been allowed to remain. Now the Superintendent is stepping up; or maybe I should say stepping into it.

    There has apparently been an offer made to purchase the property, which at first blush seems like a good thing; but no one living in the area has actually heard from the proposed buyer or been able to ask any questions about the proposal. In the meantime the Superintendent has sent a letter to the City Plan Commission, stating in part,” We [the Hickman Mills C-1 School district] believe that the restoration of this still-useful building will have little to no impact on the character of the neighborhood, and will in fact, improve the land values, health, safety, and welfare of the community. We support the applicant’s petition for an ordinance to rezone the property”.

    While I appreciate, as do others in the community, his sentiments, they are woefully misplaced. They are comments made by someone who obviously is not knowledgable of the community and its past. He also does not seem to have any forethought concerning the process he is seeking to use. While restoration of the building is a big plus, his statement ignores the proposed business going into that building and what their future plans may be. It also doesn’t take the future of the building/land into consideration. If/when this developer decides this location is no longer suitable, the land will already have been rezoned and the area plan amended to business zoning rather than the current residential and therefore the community may have little say in a future proposal that may not fit this residential area.

    At the very least, the Superintendent could have met with surrounding property owners, who are also part of the Hickman Mills C-1 School District, to seek input before speaking on their behalf. This is extremely thoughtless and inconsiderate. If I am not mistaken, he came here from Vermont. In the future, this may serve as a good reason to hire a more local candidate.

  • skcablog 10:48 pm on April 24, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    An Observation 

    An article released by Missouri’s State Auditor a couple of years ago talks about funding for Missouri’s school districts:

    “In Missouri, state funding accounts for about 32% of per student funding. … As a result, schools rely heavily on local sources like property taxes to fund schools.

    “The issue of Missourians carrying a greater tax burden at the local level was first discussed by Auditor Galloway in a report released in February 2018 that examined the state’s annual budgeting process.”

    While there are some other sources of funding such as federal dollars and grants, all of those come with strings attached. Only the funding from property taxes can be used as the district best sees fit as to where the needs of that particular district lie.

    Last week’s school board meeting in Hickman Mills brought an interesting fact to light. Many of us were aware that former board president DaRon McGee paid the taxes on his car in Grandview until the issue became more or less public, but at last week’s meeting, we learned that Carol Graves, current board president, hasn’t even paid her property taxes. Not only that, but she was adamant that Clifford Ragan be appointed to fill an open seat, but he hasn’t paid his taxes either.

    The elections/campaigns of all three of these people were supported by quasi-political groups and/or political action committees. Politics is politics. It doesn’t care about underlying reasons or concerns. School board candidates should run for office, and possibly be supported by “outside” groups, because they want to offer the students they may be elected to represent the best district leadership possible.

    If these candidates are being supported for other reasons, their actual qualifications may not be a reason they’re being supported. Should this be the case, I can’t think of a bigger disservice to the students, the district, and the community at large.

    While few people would be aware of whether property taxes are paid or not, it is still wrong. First, it’s a legal requirement for filing to run for the position. Second, should it become public knowledge, it sets the wrong example for the students in the district. Third, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, school districts depend on those tax dollars, so they are simply short changing those they are supposed to represent.

    Additionally, when districts need money, the only alternative they have is to raise the tax levy, so perhaps that’s a fourth reason. When property taxes aren’t paid, the burden shifts to those of us who follow the law.

    There are reasons school board elections/candidates are supposed to be apolitical. This may be one of the best.

  • skcablog 10:59 pm on April 19, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    A Sad Commentary 

    The Hickman Mills school board held a meeting Tuesday night to reorganize and start the process of filling a seat that was vacated when a board member moved out of the district. It’s no wonder more people don’t tune in. I tried to “watch” on Zoom but the only thing I saw was a black screen with the names of others doing the same, so it was a bit like listening to a not very good radio since the audio was also bad.

    Expecting shenanigans per usual, newly elected Brandon Wright was sworn in Monday at the Board of Education Office as was proper according to board policy. At the meeting, though, Carol Graves, board president, kicked him out. She said the swearing in wasn’t proper and he was currently “sitting with the old board” so he needed to leave. It didn’t matter when he was sworn in because that wasn’t the way they did things. “First of all”, she said “the election has to be certified”. While MSBA (Missouri School Boards Association) strongly recommends that, it isn’t always possible. By law, as an urban school district, Hickman Mills board members need to be sworn in within 8 days of the election and the Kansas City Election Board doesn’t always get the election certified in that amount of time, especially if it’s a high turn-out election.

    She also said “new board members are seated after reorganization”; that she had never seen it happen differently. That’s almost laughable since reorganization itself means the new board elects a president and vice president.

    While the agenda did list Board Vacancy as one item, the whole point of the meeting seemed to be to appoint Clifford Ragan to fill the vacant seat. (If Mr. Wright were seated, Ms. Graves would lose her majority). This is a person who has lost the most recent election and the one before that and the one before that. He’s someone the community obviously doesn’t want representing them on the board. Despite this argument, Byron Townsend nominated him to fill the vacant seat.

    Following proper procedure of discussing a motion, both Ms. Boerger and Ms. Kendrick tried to do just that. In fact, Ms. Boerger pointed out that he wasn’t eligible because he hadn’t paid his property taxes; something that is required to run for school board. Basically, he shouldn’t even have been able to have his name on the ballot in the first place, but that’s an issue for another time.

    When it became apparent that a vote was going to be called before discussion was complete, both Ms. Boerger and Ms. Kendrick left the meeting. This left Ms. Graves without a quorum which seemed to totally fluster her, saying she was very concerned about what was happening and that it had never happened in the 8 years she had been there.

    One can only surmise what she was referring to. Could it have been the fact that board members actually wanted to discuss a motion rather than voting immediately on the motion to appoint “her” candidate? After all, she is the one who encouraged Mr. Ragan to apply for the seat and she is the one who encouraged other board members to support the appointment.

    After Ms. Kendrick and Ms. Boerger left the meeting, the audience seemed to be carrying on several conversations, but I couldn’t hear anything being said except for one voice. Someone who sounded just like John Sharp said it was character assassination. Mr. Ragan’s taxes are a matter of public record and can be checked by anyone. As a requirement this is something that should have been checked by the board secretary before Mr. Ragan was allowed to place his name on the ballot in the first place. It hardly seems like character assassination to provide evidence that someone isn’t qualified.

    Mr. Sharp, or whoever this man with the same sounding voice might have been, also said this was the most childish stuff he had heard in his life. I’m not sure what’s childish about not wanting to seat someone who is legally ineligible to serve and who the community has said they don’t want. If indeed this was Mr. Sharp, he should know better, having himself served on the board.

    The whole meeting seemed to be a circus. At one point someone wanted to amend the agenda, but Ms. Graves stated that she is board president and the president and superintendent put the agenda together, so she put something on there and it wasn’t going to be taken off. She also reiterated again that she was board president and as such had looked at all the board policies and it wasn’t “out of order to do something different”. This after telling Mr. Wright that being sworn in the day before didn’t count because “that’s not the way we do things”. She also asked how the old board could take up business of the new board, so there would be no amending of the agenda. Again, a very confusing statement.

    This is a totally dysfunctional board which can only be attributed to its leadership. The Hickman Mills School District would like everyone to believe they are striving to regain full accreditation. Test scores are a vital part of that, but what the general public is most probably unaware of, is that school board leadership and governance also plays a major part. As long as this school board continues to act unprofessionally and as long as its agenda is something other than education, there will be no full accreditation.

    Wanting to seat someone who not only does the community not want to represent them, but someone who is not legally eligible is not good governance. What possible reason for this move could there be unless some board members have their own alternative agenda and need a quorum to achieve it?

    At any rate, the board meeting was adjourned without swearing in any of the new board members – the other item on the agenda. We can only assume she feels Mr. Wright has not ‘”properly” been sworn in, so that will be an interesting one to watch. Another meeting date was not set, so they will be well past the timeline set in statute. For all of Ms. Graves declarations about doing things properly and in a manner as has been done in the past, this seems like an especially grievous oversight.

    As a postscript, I do have to say it’s not a good look for the president of any organization to become as flustered as Ms. Graves seemed to be. It is also not a good look to practically yell at other members of the group, whatever organization it may be. We just hope no one from DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – overseer of accreditation) was present in the room for this wreck of a meeting.

  • skcablog 3:24 pm on April 18, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: development,   

    Business As Usual in SKC 

    if anyone caught the news on Fox4 last night at 10, they saw coverage of one of the issues plaguing Hickman Mills – a proliferation of convenience stores with gas pumps. The attorney for the project said that currently there is an “abandoned building that offers no functional use”. Wow! That’s quite an argument for putting in yet another gas station. The neighbors would prefer that the building simply be torn down – something that will probably happen anyway in order to build the new convenience store.
    He also said, this project “would enhance the neighborhood”. That may be his opinion, but it’s not the opinion of most folks living out here. As was pointed out in the story, there is a gas station/convenience store right across the parking lot from where this one is proposed to be. Also, less than half a mile away another convenience store has been approved.
    Southern Communities Coalition, an umbrella organization representing homes associations and neighborhood groups in Hickman Mills since 1977 wrote a letter in opposition as did Ruskin Heights, the largest neighborhood in KC and the one being surrounded by these establishments.
    The City Plan Commission took those into consideration and recommended against approval; the Board of Zoning Adjustment, however, seemed to think this is just what our neighborhood needs – yet another convenience store with gas pumps – and gave it their okay.
    While this affects us directly, it’s also a bigger issue: how it affects the environment.
    Apparently, when Mayor Lucas declared an environmental emergency, he neglected to tell various board members he appointed. While he’s planning a massive solar farm by the new airport, his appointees are making it easier and easier for car owners to purchase gas, especially in Hickman Mills.
    That wasn’t the only story about this SKC community during last night’s broadcast. The other story involved the school district with the reporter obviously standing in front of a Hickman Mills School. According to Lauren Halifax, the news anchor, the story was being reported from Grandview. Guess that’s accuracy in reporting.

  • skcablog 10:51 pm on April 16, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    President or Queen? 

    The Hickman Mills Board of Education has been sorely dysfunctional for some years now. We have gone through several election cycles where unqualified people have been elected simply because they had political backing; and that is actually the crux of the matter. While politics should NOT be involved in any way with a school board, when it appears it can be confronted and dealt with, though not always successfully, using more politics; but how do you combat someone’s ego? Or even reason with that person? Those politically connected candidates who were elected were seemingly only on power trips at the expense of educating the students whose charge they had. Now it’s blatant and totally out of hand.

    I don’t know the current president, Carol Graves well, but she always seemed like a reasonable person. Now, after a stint as board president, she seems to have undergone a personality change. She wants to be president again at any cost. It doesn’t matter that under her previous tenure, the education students were receiving (or not) was rarely discussed. It doesn’t matter that the board isn’t being given the materials it needs to make proper decisions; though perhaps she doesn’t even know what information they should be receiving. During one board meeting she had the superintendent, their employee, calling the roll on votes. Why? Why couldn’t she do that herself?

    Now she’s trying to ram through “her candidate” to fill a vacant position on the board – and doing it at any cost. As an “urban” district, those who won seats in the April election should have been sworn in within 10 days. That still hasn’t happened. She has scheduled that for this Tuesday which is the 14 day limit set by the state for non-urban school districts. But that’s not all.

    For the second time she has also scheduled a meeting to fill that open seat – prior to swearing in the new board members – a disservice and affront to those rightfully elected. Why the hurry? Because she is assured of a quorum to fill the seat with “her” candidate as long as she has the current board. In fact, she has urged current board members to vote for her candidate even though more qualified candidates have sent in applications. The board has a policy on filling vacancies which includes notifying the public and advertising the position – neither of which she has done – or will have time to do before her sham of an appointment.

    Who knows what her end game actually is, but it certainly appears she simply craves the spotlight that she thinks goes with the title. It certainly can’t be to regain state accreditation. The state has already said one road block to that end is the District’s leadership and how the board governs. This apparently means little to Ms. Graves. From what I understand, DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) has been alerted to these shenanigans and will be watching, yet sadly she proceeds with her own mission. This is the antithesis of good leadership. This is simply power at any cost.

    This is something I believe she knows but apparently thinks continuing as president is more important than appearances and the district being accredited.

    The sad part of all this is that it will continue – and students will continue to lose – until the public becomes aware of what is happening; becomes aware of how politics has corrupted what was once a proud and flourishing school district. The even sadder part is that the public will never be aware as long as the media refuse to cover it.

    Hopefully that is changing. Kudos to Tony’sKC for linking to this blogger’s rantings when issues have become especially egregious. I can’t thank him enough. Friday, an editorial appeared in the “Kansas City Star”, and while it was harsh, it was truthful. Sadly, it seemed to have little affect on Ms. Graves and her political cohorts. Those of us who care deeply about the future of this school district, community, and most importantly the students, hope this glimmer of light will turn into a beacon and become the disinfectant – the best cure for political malfeasance – we need.

  • skcablog 12:35 pm on March 29, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , School Board Election   

    Let’s Turn That Wheel 

    It’s election time, but a very important ballot issue may be getting lost in all the city council hype: school board elections. The City can be led by the best mayor and council in the entire United States, but if a school district, led by an apathetic school board, is not performing as it should, that Community will not thrive or prosper. Case in point: Hickman Mills. There are any number of well-meaning and engaged community members trying to promote the Community such as the previously mentioned Beth Boerger with her council candidate ride alongs and the Southern Communities Coalition, an organization representing the community’s interests at city hall (often to no avail). All of these good intentions hit a brick wall called the Hickman Mills School Board. It’s not just the community, though. Think about all those kids who aren’t getting the education they deserve because some members of the current school board have a lack of interest in the real job they were elected to do.

    Once upon a time there were well-meaning board members who had the best interest of the students—and the community at large—at heart. That’s when the district was thriving and students were actually learning. Then politicians and wannabe politicians were elected to serve (mostly based on name recognition). I have no issue with school boards being used as stepping stones to further political office as long as that isn’t all it is. A person can certainly have higher ambitions and still care about the community, and more especially about the students. Unfortunately, that hasn’t seemed to be the case in Hickman Mills.

    This election on April 4 is a chance to rectify that. As there are 7 directors sitting on the school board, the voting cycle goes 2-2-3 and this is a 3-candidate year. Four candidates filed to run for those 3 seats:

    Ms. Kendrick currently serves on the school board and, in my opinion, deserves to be re-elected. While she and I have differing ideas on some issues, she does seem to keep in mind her reason for serving.

    Mr. Wright is a newbie to the “political” world. He is extremely qualified and knowledgable and would be a great asset to the school district. He is also currently very involved with, and serves as president of, his neighborhood group. Lastly, he is also a gentleman. As I understand it, he and Ms. Kendrick arrived at district offices to file for a board seat at the same time. Actually, I believe he may have been a step or two ahead, but rather than pushing through the door to be first on the ballot, he gentlemanly held the door for Ms. Kendrick. I can’t say other male candidates I have known would have done the same. In my book, that’s a good character reference and an example for students.

    Mr. Ragan has also previously served. While he and I have differing thoughts on some issues, he was formerly a PTA president, so he does seem to have the best interest of our students at heart and that’s what it’s about.

    Mr. Townsend, as Ms. Kendrick, is an incumbent. While this would be his second term this time around, when he previously served, he resigned when the reorganization of the board (president and vice president are elected immediately after new directors are sworn in) did not go his way. Also, at a recent school board forum he didn’t seem to be aware of what buildings are currently owned by the school district.

    This is an extremely important time for our school district and our community, and this vote deserves careful consideration. We—YOU—actually have a chance to begin turning things around. As Barak Obama once said, “They are like ocean liners: You turn the wheel slowly, and the big ship pivots.” While he wasn’t talking about school districts, the quote is no less applicable. This election, let’s start turning that wheel.

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