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.
Kristie Collins-Delarber, an incumbent who is running for re-election to the Raytown School District Board of Education, responded:
1. What skills and experience would you bring to a position on your local Board of Education?
I have been a board member in the Raytown School District for the last 6 years. With this experience, my many years with PTA, as a board member, President and committee chair, I have always been very active with legislative issues and within the school community. Additionally, my professional experience as a Process Engineer focused on process improvement, data analysis and evaluating operational design, as well as my current role as the Director of Global Education for IBM, I have an ongoing opportunity to see where technology is headed, the impact that virtual education has on developing skills and knowledge, and bring this information and knowledge back to the school district.
2. Are you – or have you been – a parent or grandparent of a child in public schools?
I am a 1985 graduate of Raytown High School. I am also a parent of three children and 6 nieces and nephews in the Raytown School District.
3. In what school or district activities have you been involved?
My children currently attend Fleetridge, and in the past have also attended Raytown Middle School and Raytown High School. I have been an active PTA Board Member (President at Fleetridge for 2 years, President at Raytown Middle School for 2 years) and have served in many committee chair positions in all the buildings. I have also been a Raytown C-2 school board member for the last 6 years. During the 13 years my children have attended the Raytown District, I have been a Youthfriend for six years, provided Junior Achievement presentations to 4th and 5th graders for the last 7 years, and have been a Big Sister (Big Brothers & Big Sisters) to a Raytown student for the last 8 years.
4. How frequently do you attend board meetings, and how long have you been attending meetings?
As a board member for the last 6 years, I attend at least our one regularly scheduled meeting monthly. We also have planning meetings and committee meetings that I attend on a regular basis. Prior to being elected to the board in 2006, I attended board meetings regularly for two years prior as well as regular PTA Council meetings at the district level.
5. What do you see as the board’s roles and responsibilities?
A board’s role is to employ the superintendent and set policy. However, I also see my role as an advocate for education, for our students and their families, and our staff; as a contributor to the strategic direction for our district and helping to establish that direction through the establishment of board goals. I am also a communication source for questions and information across the community, listening to concerns and bringing those concerns and other information to the district administration for their review.
6. What is the role of the superintendent?
The superintendent is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the district, for ensuring that the board goals are implemented across the district, and is ultimately responsible for the performance of our district, the financial and legislative standing, and overall strategic governance of the district.
7. Can you – or should you – support a board decision you do not favor?
One of the most refreshing parts of being a member of the Raytown School Board is that there are seven unique individuals on the board, each of whom brings different experiences, skills, points of reference, and adds a great deal of value to discussions. Very rarely do we have items that I am not in favor of because we have vetted those items, asked our questions and when they come to the board for consideration, we have them tied to our board goals and aligned to ensure they help us to meet those goals. However, in the rare event that there is an item that I do not vote in favor of, I am one vote on the board, and fully support the board as a whole, the decision we make and the item that is approved for the district.
8. What are the some of the challenges currently facing your district?
There are opportunities that we face daily as a district. The key areas we are focused on currently are Student Achievement (which is always at the top of the list each year) and Parent Involvement (ensuring we have the adults in our students’ lives actively involved in school, supporting our students). The other item that is in the media as of late is the KCMO School District student population that may at some point in the future begin to attend Raytown School District in some volume. It is key that we not take our “eye off the ball”. We are here in Raytown to educate the almost 9,000 students we currently have in our district. We do not have a process or directive to begin accepting KCMO students at this time and until that is in place, it is key that we continue to focus on the students we do have in our buildings and ensure they are successful and high achieving. We have an exceptional administrative team that is working daily to make sure we have processes and procedures in place to address the KCMO students should they begin attending Raytown Schools in the future.
9, What are some of the district’s strengths and weaknesses?
I believe the pride and commitment our families and community have with regards to our district has been a long standing strength. We also have exceptional staff members and administration, and their commitment to ensuring the success of all of our students is something that we are all proud of. Raytown also does a great job of celebrating the success of each individual student – whether it is the athletic scholar, the national qualifying debater, the student who improves by 4 reading levels or completes that spelling test with 100%, our teachers do an exceptional job of recognizing that accomplishment and encouraging all students. As for weaknesses, I prefer to call those opportunities. One of those opportunities is to do an even better job of celebrating successes – we need to focus more on sharing this with the community. Raytown has long been the “best kept secret in Kansas City” and we need to do a better job of sharing all the great stories we have.
10. What do you think is the most important thing board members can do to support children who attend school in the district?
Board members should be as active as they can be. By being out in our buildings, studying our board materials, being prepared, and in general being engaged in what is going on in our children and grandchildren’s lives, we extend the advocacy that we can offer to the district and our community as a whole. Additionally, when making a decision regarding an agenda item, ensuring that item helps us to meet a board goal is key to supporting children and the families within our community.
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