The Kansas City Public Schools sub-district four race is fascinating this year, due to two candidates who have written in.
It’s the only race similar to this in a less hot school board election.
As opposed to other seats which are unopposed, the sub-district four will be a written vote.
Monica Curls and Jay Gray Hope voters put their names in the blank space on the ballot.
Gray is a veteran with a lengthy record of attending, conducting research, and working with KCPS.
“My platform being more focused on re-integrating the board with the community, I think it’s very important that you have someone who isn’t afraid to go to Central and to mingle with students and parents,” Gray said.
Curls’ past is rooted in advocacy, politics, and leadership.
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“You know, they need to be someone who can tell the story of the district to multiple stakeholders and I realized I had a strength in that area,” Curls declared.
Despite their different backgrounds the two candidates both emphasized the importance of funding for the district and the ways it can benefit schools like Central High School in their sub-district.
Both candidates made clear how vital it is to ensure that the district is in a positive direction.
“I think that a lot of families in the district kind of feel the same way, that their students have to go to signature schools or charter schools to be successful and I don’t agree with that kind of narrative,” Gray said.
Curls stated that one of her main goals is to make sure that students get equal access to high-quality education.
“Education is just the foundation for everything else that allows you to be successful in life,” Curls stated. “And so just making sure that as many students and children and families have access to that.”
The latest and old controversy on the curriculum and equity surfaces in District 59.
The controversy over the former superintendent’s curriculum overhaul and the equity plan for the superintendent has drawn out a crowd of school board candidates for Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59.
The December filing of candidates was the result of the board’s decision to reject Superintendent Terri Bresnahan’s plan that would have transformed elementary schools into grade-level centers, delineated certain areas, and transformed the all-year-round Ridge Family Center into a preschool.
Six of the candidates running for three-year, four-year terms say they oppose the proposals to different extents. This includes the incumbent secretary of the board Patti Petrielli, former longtime board member Barbara Somogyi, recently-retired District 59 school office manager Rose Kelly, Elk Grove Village library board member TR Johnson, as well as their parents Sarah Dzak and Lucas Szczesny.
The three remaining candidates are in the Save Our Schools slate backed by Johnson’s father, Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson. A District 59 Education Association union has endorsed Dzak, Szczesny, Petrielli, and Kelly.
Two board members currently on the board – president Randy Reid, who voted against Bresnahan’s equity plans, as well as Vice-President Courtney Lang, who voted against the plan — chose not to run for an election.
Petrielli, an educator from District 59 who is completing her first term as a board member said the new curriculum must be implemented faster. She described the curriculum of former Superintendent Art Fessler that focused on the student’s learning experience instead of traditional textbooks -an “next big idea in education” which was lacking.
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“I think if we want to bring teachers into this district, we need to show them we are the district that we were 7 or 8 years ago before we got the superintendent in that started to take away everything,” Petrielli declared at the League of Women Voters candidates forum. “We need to put everything back the way it was.”
Somogyi, Who was a board member from 1975 to 1978, and from 1981 until 2019 said that the recent equity plan controversy caused “division and unrest and lack of trust,” and resulted in her running again. The board’s new members are crucial as 14 members have been rotating on and off the board since her electoral loss in 2019 — however, it’s equally important that the panel has “history and stability.”
“Any major decisions, and even small ones, should be made with early notice, open dialogue, and debate before an administrative recommendation comes,” she added.
Kelly was a key player in negotiating four labor agreements for professionals in education She said she’d take on all sides of the heated debates, and work to restore the district it is former “golden district everyone wanted to work for.”
“I need to find the purpose for our staff and students to be safe and feel secure once again in their learning and everything that they do,” Kelly explained. “We need to get our communication between the admin. and the staff back together and find respect for our staff. Respect went out the door, and I don’t know why.”
Johnson a former library trustee, who is also the associate vice for the ticket sale and strategic planning at the Chicago Fire, said the district is awash with facilities, yet they have to be utilized to “get everything back on track.” He pointed to safety, education, and stability as the top priorities.
“I know the potential of the district and I’m here to get us back to the district that I attended when I was growing up,” he added.
Dzak who is a stay-at-home mother and ex-high school English teacher, says that the district should have a different measure of what and when students require additional support, as well as the proper placement of tutors and academic interventionists.
“We’ve got to right the ship, and we’ve got to write it fast,” she declared.
Szczesny an executive at the tech company Relativity Bresnahan’s equity plan consisted of “to basically equalize everything and potentially ruin our district and ruin our community schools.” Instead, he said there are more effective methods for investors to make investments in equity like speeding the rollout of the curriculum.
District 59 includes eleven elementary schools as well as three junior highs as well as an early childhood center that covers the area that comprises Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, and Mount Prospect.
Candidates raise huge sums of money in a tense Tulsa school board contest
Two Tulsa District 1 school board candidates gathered $13,400 in cash as well as in-kind contributions until March 20 to help them win to be elected in the financial reports for the campaign submitted Monday afternoon to Tulsa Public Schools.
In contrast, the pre-election reports for those two TPS seats on the school boards that were up for election in 2022 reveal that the four candidates for the general election in the respective races raised an average of $74,740.
In the current presidential election, Jared Buswell, the opponent to incumbent Stacey Woolley, reported receiving $45,539 in cash donations made by people, $6,573.55 as in-kind contributions, and $5,350 in political action committees in the period between January. 1 until the end of the reporting period on the 20th of March.
Some of the major supporters of Buswell’s campaign are former governors. Frank Keating, former State Superintendent Janet Baressi, former Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Sean Kouplen, former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris, former Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, state Sen. Dave Rader, and state Rep. Mark Tedford. The legislative districts of Tedford and Rader don’t include any part of TPS District 1.
His campaign received $1000 in contributions from the Oklahoma Realtors PAC, $2,000 from the Women Working for Oklahoma PAC, and $2,350 from the Edmond-based Oklahoma Conservative PAC.
The current TPS Board member E’Lena Ashley is also among the donors in Buswell’s reports on campaign finances. In the earlier election, she posted on social media detailing how to donate to OCPAC but not be listed as a contributor on forms for the Buswell form for financial transparency.
If asked, Ashley explained that she was trying to provide information on the Buswell campaign. She wasn’t aware that the blog post provided information about how to donate to a PAC.
In addition, Woolley, the incumbent was reported to have received $45,263 in cash donations from individuals as well as an additional $75 in donations in kind during the reporting period.
The top supporters of her campaign include the current Tulsa City Councilor Lori Decter Wright, former Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage, former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Ross Swimmer, and state Rep. Melodye Blancett, whose House district has a small overlap with TPS District 1.
Wright’s City Council district does not encompass the entirety of TPS District 1 however, the district that she serves that her firm, Kendall Whittier Inc. is comprised of a part of that district.
Woolley’s campaign also disclosed the receipt of $500 from the Tulsa Forward Political Action Committee and $100 from the Tulsa Chapter of the Oklahoma Federation of Democratic Women.
By the Oklahoma Ethics Commission’s website, the school board candidate committees that have received or spent more than $1000 must submit a quarterly contributions and expenditures report to the school district’s secretary. This timeline of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission asks candidates to submit an annual financial report before the election within eight days of the day of their election.