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School Board Candidate Q&A

UPDATED North Kansas City School Board Candidate: Dixie Youngers

Art Credit: KC Education Enterprise | Illustration Credit: 123rf stock image | Logo Credit: North Kansas City School District

Campaigns are underway for Board of Education seats in ten local districts, and election day will be Tuesday, April 3. The KC Education Enterprise is asking each candidate to respond to a list of questions that may help voters decide how to cast their ballots.

Dixie Youngers, an incumbent who is running for election to the North Kansas City School District Board of Education, responded:

Name:  Dixie Youngers

Address:  10234 N. Harrison Court Kansas City, MO 64155

Phone:  816-517-0114

Occupation:  At-Home Parent (allows me a lot of time to devote to the school board), Former Manufacturing Engineer at Hallmark Cards

Spouse:  Loren Youngers

Spouse’s Occupation:  Computer Engineer (21 years) at Travelport

Children:  Julie is a freshman at North Kansas City High School where she is pursuing the International Baccalaureate (IB) high school diploma, Stacy is a 7th grader at New Mark Middle School

Education:  Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Kansas (1995), Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University (1986)

I am a current school board member since April 2011.

1. What skills and experience would you bring to a position on your local Board of Education?

Current school board member (1 year) – It has been an honor to serve on the Board of Education this year. I have fully embraced this role as advocate for the children in our school district and one of a team of seven board members governing our school district. In my first year, I attended over 35 community events, the state required Certified Board Member training, the Missouri School Board Association Annual Conference and the National Federation of Urban and Suburban School Districts (NFUSSD) Annual Conference. I also serve on numerous school district committees. And I attended all of the school board meetings.

Parent in the school district (15 years) – I am the parent of two North Kansas City School District students. My oldest attends North Kansas City High School and is pursuing the International Baccalaureate high school diploma. My youngest daughter is a 7th grader at New Mark Middle School. My children have spent their entire academic careers in the North Kansas City School District including Parents at Teachers, North Kansas City School District Community Education Preschool and Fox Hill Elementary School.

Past President of Parents of Academically Gifted Students (4 years) – In this role, I developed an excellent working relationship with students, parents, teachers, and administrators from all over the school district. During my four year tenure, as a result of a lot of people working together, our outreach grew from 35 families to over 400 families.

Youth Friend (8 years) – I volunteer daily at Fox Hill Elementary School and have provided mentoring and academic assistance to over 350 students one-on-one.

Girl Scout Leader (8 years) – I enjoy leading and mentoring a group of 7th grade Girl Scouts from two of our middle schools. I am also the Teen Coordinator of 61 teens for an upcoming 2012 summer day camp.

District Committee member – served, or currently serve, on various district committees

District Demographic Committee – this committee analyzes the current trends in our student population so we can best proactively prepare for the growth in our school district.

District Middle School Challenge Team – this committee advocated to retain middle school Challenge (i.e. honors) classes in our middle schools

District Legislative Affairs Committee – this committee outlines our school district position on legislative issues as they relate to education

New Mark Site Base Council – this committee is comprised of the principal, teachers and two parents that decide on policies and guidelines in the school

SAGE (Students in Academically Gifted Education) Advisory Committee – this committee offers insight and solicits advice for the advanced and gifted education programs in the school district.

Education: Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering, Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) and eleven years of industry experience at Frito Lay and Hallmark Cards.
I have a participative management style and focus on data driven decision making and continuous improvement as a result of my engineering/MBA degrees and my eleven years of industry experience at Frito Lay and Hallmark Cards.

2. Are you – or have you been – a parent or grandparent of a child in public schools?

Yes, I am a parent of two children who are currently students in the North Kansas City School District. My oldest child attends North Kansas City High School and is pursuing the International Baccalaureate high school diploma. My youngest child is a seventh grader at New Mark Middle School.

Both of my children have spent their entire academic careers in the North Kansas City School District starting with Parents as Teachers, continuing on in the District’s Community Education Preschool, Fox Hill Elementary School and New Mark Middle School.

I also attended and graduated from public schools.

3. In what school or district activities have you been involved?

As a parent in the school district, I have been very involved in my children’s activities over the past 15 years including PTA/PTSA meetings, field trips, preschool and elementary classroom parties, school dances, middle school Teen Night Out chaperone, band and orchestra performances, parent/teacher conferences etc.

As a community leader and volunteer, I have been involved in numerous ways (please see response to question #1) including:

• Current school board member
• Past President of Parents of Academically Gifted Students (PAGS)
• Youth Friend
• Girl Scout Leader
• Participant on several district committees

4. How frequently do you attend board meetings, and how long have you been attending meetings?

As a school board member, I attended all the school board meetings this past year. (I have also attended over 35 community events representing the school board during my first year on the school board.)

Prior to being on the school board, I attended the school board meetings for about a year and a half.

5. What do you see at the board’s roles and responsibilities?

The school board governs the school district and hires the right superintendent to lead the school district. The board also listens to community members and refers issues on to the superintendent and his staff so they can address the concerns.

6. What is the role of the superintendent?

The superintendent leads the school district and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the school district. The superintendent is also the face of the school district and attends community functions to represent the school district.

7. Can you – or should you – support a board decision that you do not favor?

A board member is one of a seven person Board of Education. Each board member needs to be a good listener to the pros and cons of different issues they are facing. Each board member has the interests of the students first and foremost in their minds when they vote on issues.

Once the board has voted on an issue, it is important for all board members to support that decision going forward.

8. What are some of the challenges currently facing your district?

The challenges we face in our school district is continuing to innovate in teaching and learning despite the changes in funding of the school district at the local, state and national levels.

9. What are some of the district’s strengths and weaknesses?

We are fortunate to have a very strong school district. We are fully accredited. We have great students and a diverse student body. We have an excellent teaching, support and administrative staff. Our students, teachers and administrators continue to do amazing things every day and earn awards to acknowledge their successes. I know my children have benefited greatly from the excellent education they have received in this school district. We have a Board of Education that has effective policies in place to govern the school district and our board was recently acknowledged for outstanding budget and facilities at the 2011 Missouri School Board Association Annual Conference. We have a community that is supportive of our public schools.

Our challenges we face into the future are that we need to continue to innovate in teaching and learning despite the changes in funding at the local, state and national levels. We are celebrating our 100 year anniversary in 2013. We have 100 years of tradition yet we are still growing and opening new school buildings. We need to be culturally responsive in teaching and learning. Our students need to continue to master their learning objectives. We need to continue to prepare our students to be contributing citizens in a global environment. We need to continuously improve and relentlessly seek excellence for the education of our students.

10. What do you think is the most important thing board members can do to support children who attend school in the district?

The most important thing a board member can do to support the children in the school district is to govern the school district effectively and to hire the right superintendent to lead the school district.
Board members also need to be good listeners to concerns in our school community and to forward those concerns on to the superintendent so he and his staff can address the concerns.

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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

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