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Candidates would add different perspectives to Wichita USD 259 school board

Two incumbents running for reelection to the Wichita USD 259 Board of Education want to return for another term to see through a strategic plan to improve the district. They face challengers who have very different backgrounds and perspectives, but who want to add a viewpoint to the board that they believe would help the district move forward.

Joseph Shepard, a 26-year-old first-generation college graduate, believes he can build more trust in the district through face-to-face interaction. Veteran board member Sheril Logan wants to make sure the changes she’s supported are brought to fruition. One of the two will be elected to serve a four-year term as the at-large representative.

Stan Reeser, who is running for reelection as the District 4 representative, seeks to help the district keep from getting sidetracked and focused on achieving its biggest goals. Either he or James Kilpatrick, a retired government official sees the need for more sweeping changes, will win the support of voters throughout the district.

Read more about each of the candidates in their own words below. For more information about other races up for vote this fall in Wichita, please visit klcjournal.com/local2019wichitacity.

Update: Click here for Tuesday’s unofficial election results.

Your Local Candidates: In Their Own Words Nov. 5 2019 Kansas local election

Editor’s note: To help readers make their voting choices in the Nov. 5 general election for local offices, The Journal, the Kansas Leadership Center’s quarterly magazine, sent out a survey to more than 250 candidates in communities where our magazine’s readership is the largest. What follows is information from your local candidates, in their own words.

Wichita USD 259 Board of Education

Wichita USD 259 Board of Education, At-Large Position

Sheril Logan, candidate for Wichita USD 259 Board of Education, At-Large Position 

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

I am a lifelong educator. I have 3 college degrees and retired from the Wichita Public Schools after being a teacher, administrator and an Assistant Superintendent. I also was the Assistant Dean of the College of Education at WSU. I have been on the school board for 8 years. I have always fought for those who can’t fight for themselves. I am passionate about helping all students in WPS to get an outstanding education that prepares them to be successful, productive citizens in tomorrow’s world. My work isn’t finished. I ask for 4 more years to assure the new strategic plan changes that have been implemented continue to work. I need your vote.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

The WPS Board approved and help develop a new 5 year strategic plan for the district last year. The Board must continue to monitor the 4 goals and 8 themes of that plan so achievement will rise for all students. The strategic plan goals are: increase graduation rate; 3rd grade reading proficiency; continue career/ tech ed. certifications/ college credit; schools are safe places. I must stay vigilant about making decisions filtered through the strategic plan. I want to continue to do this work to move the district in new and positive direction for students, parents and the community.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

The strategic plan is the roadmap for improvement.

  1. I will be working to assure that this becomes the filter for making budget decisions, staffing decisions, changes in textbooks/ curriculum and staff development. 
  2. I will receive frequent reports on what is being planned and implemented to reach the goals.
  3. I will provide feedback on concerns or successes.
  4. I believe that our staff is dedicated to helping all students be successful and as a board member I should work to remove road blocks.
  5. When the strategic plan goals and themes become “the way we do business” WPS students will be the winners. I want and believe that can become reality.

Joseph Shepard, candidate for Wichita USD 259 Board of Education, At-Large Position

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

My name is Joseph Shepard. I am 26 years old and a proud first generation college graduate who broke the cycle of poverty in my family by taking advantage of the resources and opportunities afforded to me through public education. I am a devoted uncle of 6, 2 of which who are products of USD 259. I am a community leader who believes in the future of our city; therefore, I’ve devoted my time, skills and knowledge to serving many organizations in various capacities. Some of those organizations include: The Kansas African American Museum and Interfaith Ministries as a member of the Board of Directors, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated as President-elect and Art’s Partners as a Teaching Artist through Wichita Public Schools. I am a proud graduate of Wichita State University where I obtained two degrees; a Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and a Masters Degree in Public Administration. I now serve as the Director of Multicultural Engagement and Campus Life at Newman University where I have the honor and privilege to focus on the holistic development of collegiate students, many of whom are graduates of USD 259. I am running because I believe our public education system plays a vital role in the success of our economy. When we have strong schools, we have strong communities; when we have strong communities, we have a thriving economy. I deeply desire to offer a diverse perspective at the school board level that I believe is missing. I feel as a school board member I can engage with children and families, ask the difficult questions, take a hard look at the budget in hopes of giving tax payers a return on their investment and boldly work alongside our district, community and school board members to give every student a quality education which includes the critical and soft skills needed to effectively contribute to our workforce and economy.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

While I believe many issues are important, including increased pay for our teachers and issuing support for our support staff, our campaign is focused on healing-centered engagement. With 76% of students coming from homes of poverty, we understand the trauma that may cause. We know that some of our students have behavioral problems and our campaign is committed to not only addressing those problems, but getting to the root of those behavioral problems. The district has done an outstanding job implementing restorative justice and trauma informed practices which gets to the “why” of the problem. However, we believe that we should not only understand the “why” but get to the “how.” How do we help our students heal? How do we effectively address the trauma in hopes of ensuring the student doesn’t repeat the same behavior. We want to see that all of our students reach academic success. Nevertheless, we know that if we don’t address the mental and emotional needs of our children, they can’t show up putting their best foot forward academically. We believe addressing the mental and emotional needs of our students by getting to the root of their trauma, will reduce behavioral issues for our teachers, support staff and lead to increased academic success for our district.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

It takes a village to raise a child and as the largest school district in the state, we realize this can’t be done alone. We will need the assistance of staff, administration and community organizations who are already doing the work as well identifying grant dollars that will give us the opportunity to hire more staff who can focus solely on addressing the mental and emotional need of our students. Aside from this, we will need family engagement. Their support and participation in this specific process is not only needed, but necessary. In order to get buy-in from families, there must be a level of demonstrated trust established. My goal is to continue to engage with families in the most effective way, face to face interaction. I believe families need to know school board members and establish personal relationships in order to trust that the policies and plans, similar to the ones aforementioned regarding healing-centered engagement, is for the success of the child and not for an alternative motive. Throughout the campaign I’ve gone door to door speaking with families, listening to their stories and establishing trust. I plan to continue this if elected, because I believe it makes a difference when leaders meet people where they are instead of waiting for those who we serve to come to us.

Wichita USD 259 Board of Education, Position 4

Stan Reeser, candidate for Wichita USD 259 Board of Education, Position 4

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

I am the current BOE Member representing SW Wichita for the last two year. I am a former Wichita City Council Member and former Wichita Mass Transit Advisory Board Member. In broad terms I am running to work for our student’s needs, support our educators and staff and to connect our schools more directly to our community.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

My biggest issue is to see that we make continual progress on our 4 main priorities of our strategic plan which include: 

  1. Improve graduation rates 
  2. Improve 3rd grade reading proficiency. (it is proved that if a child is not reading at 3rd grade reading level by the 3rd grade, the odds increase in non-success in school. 
  3. Increase dual H.S./college credits obtained by our students which also includes Career Technical Education (CTE) 
  4. Create a safe environment acknowledged by students/ parents and the community.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

The biggest step is to help keep the BOE focused on these goals. It is easy to get sidetracked in the noise of everyday occurrences at a specific school. I feel my biggest strength is helping bring BOE Members back to the big goals. Noise is define as bad in the context I am using that word in this case. With that important concept in mind, I continue to hold listening sessions with educators, citizens, stakeholders and students to get their input on how they want to improve their school. Once a BOE Member listens to the input, I feel, It is our responsibility to then see how those inputs fit into the big goals.

James Kilpatrick, candidate for Wichita USD 259 Board of Education, Position 4

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

  • Retired after 35.5 years as City of Wichita, Captain Airport Police and Fire. Duties involved supervising staff and managing multiple agency emergency response. Maintaining certifications required for legal requirements and participating in training multiple agencies. Developing curriculum for Airport Police and Fire officers.
  • Past experience as: Interstate truck and tour bus driver, Avionics Technician experience with Beech Aircraft Corp., served in the USNR as Fire Control Technician (electronics) receiving an Honorable Discharge as E5 and a Vietnam Veteran.
  • Education: Wichita State University, BS Administration of Justice with minor in Economics; Central Business College, Computer Programming; Wichita West High School graduate; Numerous occupational certifications and continuing education.

Purpose: Return integrity and high standards to USD 259.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

  • Increase public familiarity and involvement with the public schools.
  • Each school to publish its curriculum on the school web site including the associated books, media and web sites used to teach the classes.
  • The teachers to have a decisive input in disciplinary actions regarding students.
  • The school system to furnish classroom supplies to the teachers from the school’s budget.
  • Students that are detrimental to education be removed from the public schools.
  • Support a primary election anytime there is more than two candidates.
  • Support only district voters vote for a district candidate in the general election. 

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

The school problem is not with facilities or the teachers it is one of curriculum. The public has an impression the schools are producing graduates without basic skills or sufficient knowledge to improve society. Poor policy and selection of curriculum are the fault of School Boards and managing staff of USD 259. New policies and standards must be pursued to encourage the public to have faith in the school system.

I will be taking the task of managing policy very seriously. I intend to visit every school in the district if elected. I will be reviewing policies and procedures currently in place. I will work to involve the community in reviewing curriculum and materials that will help produce the best education.

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