Election School board candidate profiles for Nov. 5 election

School board candidate profiles for Nov. 5 election

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In preparation for the Nov. 5 election, The Osage County Herald-Chronicle mailed a questionnaire to all candidates and asked them to submit brief responses and photos. Information for school board candidates of contested elections and one write-in candidate is provided in the Oct. 24 print edition of The Herald-Chronicle while the profiles for all candidates may be found here. Profiles for city election candidates will be published in the Oct. 31 edition of The Herald-Chronicle.
The following questions were asked: What makes you a good candidate for this position? What would you like to accomplish during your term, if elected? What do you see as the top issues, specific to your school or city? Please provide brief personal information such as family info., education, community involvement, etc.


In preparation for the Nov. 5 election, The Osage County Herald-Chronicle mailed a questionnaire to all candidates and asked them to submit brief responses and photos. Information for school board candidates of contested elections and one write-in candidate is provided in the Oct. 24 print edition of The Herald-Chronicle while the profiles for all candidates may be found here. Profiles for city election candidates will be published in the Oct. 31 edition of The Herald-Chronicle.
The following questions were asked: What makes you a good candidate for this position? What would you like to accomplish during your term, if elected? What do you see as the top issues, specific to your school or city? Please provide brief personal information such as family info., education, community involvement, etc.

USD 420

David L. Williams
USD 420 Position 1

I have been serving in the BOE 1 position for 1 3/4 terms. I have been involved with planning and decision making on new policies, new programs, construction projects, new accreditation planning and many other educational issues and district board business. My years of experience serving on the Board of Education make me a good choice for the position. I am not related to anyone employed in the district so I am able to maintain a non-bias stance to make good decisions based on what’s best for the education of students, the district and its employees, and be responsible to the tax paying members of the community.
I would like to continue serving as a BOE representative on the Building Site Council as USD 420 works toward achieving the five-year plan goal for the updated standards of becoming a Kansas State Accredited School. I would like to help enact tougher policy to control the use of e-cigarettes among students. I would like to continue to work with the board for fair, level goals on teacher and staff salaries.
Top issues not in order: continue to build early childhood development programs, build awareness and prevention education on the dangers and side effects of student vaping, achieve the new standards for the Kansas State Accredited Schools status, attract and retain top quality personnel to provide the best education for our students, perform preventive maintenance on and/or replace aging building HVAC and boiler systems before an untimely failure occurs, and continue to update the bus fleet to insure student safety, to prevent high maintenance costs and stay within the requirements mandated by the State of Kansas for the safe age of buses in service.
I have been involved with the community of Osage City since 2001 when my wife, Robyn, became the financial advisor at Edward Jones Investments. I have been a business owner serving the area, based at Lebo, for the past 20 years. Our two sons, Colton and Chase, have attended school at Osage City since preschool. Colton graduated from high school in 2019 and Chase is in the eighth grade. My family and I have been active in support and participation of numerous school and community sports, academic, development and planning, volunteer, and community events.

Brian E. Poertner
USD 420 Position 2

Having worked in a school district in the past, I have firsthand knowledge of the issues that a school district faces, which gives me a different perspective than others that have never work in the education field. I am also a small business owner. With my varying background, I feel I can contribute to the school board in a positive way, for the good of the kids, school and staff. Our children, Lauren, Lindsey and Logan have all benefitted from the schools in Osage City – I would like to further contribute to the success of the district.
Teacher retention and recruitment of good educators is very important to the success of a district. I would like to see continuing facility improvements and enhancing the educational environment for the children of the district while being financially responsible and accountable to the community that supports the district.
With budget restraints put on the district by the legislature, the school board must continue to have the best interests of the children and staff when making decisions. Around the country, more and more schools are dealing with drugs, bullying and other discipline issues. The board needs to put policies in place for the ever changing problems that affect the students and staff on a daily basis.
My wife, Angel, and I moved to Osage City 14 years ago. I have been an active member of the recreation department advisory board for the last four years and have worked as the field supervisor for many years, for softball and baseball. I have coached numerous softball and baseball teams, as well as youth football. We also have a Christmas light display with dancing lights, a sleigh for pictures, and mail box for letters to Santa. By being on the school board, I would like to continue to give back to the community of Osage City.

Kelli Bowin
USD 420 Position 2

Throughout my career, I have been given the opportunity to attend many board meetings, including senior leaders and ownership group. Through those settings, I have learned how important it is to have an open mind to listen to all parties before drawing conclusions. I have a very strong business acumen and understanding of financial management, which I believe is key during these times of budget cuts, etc. I have a strong commitment to this community to help create an environment where students feel valued, prepared for adulthood, and safe.
I believe that serving as a board member, I have a responsibility to not only do what is in favor of the school, teachers, administration or students independently, but come to agreements that can benefit all parties whenever possible; ensure the board, teachers and administration are working together for the betterment of the students; and understand what performance improvement plans are in place for underperforming teachers, therefore students are equally receiving a valuable education.
Opportunities should be provided for our highest performing students in advance learning and engagement. We need to be committed to growing the enrollment of three and four-year-olds into preschool. And lastly, as the population of our community evolves, I believe that addressing the problems that go along with poverty and the increasing needs of our students must be a focus.
I grew up in Chanute. After graduating from The University of Kansas in 2000 with a bachelor’s in Business Administration, I started my career at Payless Shoe Source Corporate Office in Topeka. I am the Vice President of Merchandising. We moved to Osage City in 2007, and my two sons have attended USD 420 since kindergarten. Breckin, 14, is a freshman and Brady, 12, is in sixth grade. Having our boys attend school in a close knit community was very important to us and why we decided to make Osage City our home. I was the PTA Secretary/Treasurer for seven years and am the High School Booster Club Treasurer.

Patrick J. “PJ” Heptinstall
USD 420 Position 3

I am the Retention Office Manager for the 190th Air Refueling Wing in Topeka and have been in the military since October 2000. That being said, I’m used to being put on the spot, and into uncomfortable situations. I am familiar with working with families and unit members to help them accomplish goals and overcome adversity. As a BOE team member, I am willing to do my part and work hard toward a common goal. I am excited to put in the work and continue to help USD 420 and to lead us to achieving our goals as a school district. I’m active within the community, and feel as though I’m easily approachable. I have young children in USD 420, so I will be a member in the community for many years to come.
I would like to see USD 420 continue on its path to helping our students and staff members excel in in technology. Since I’ve been a BOE member, I’ve see the infrastructure dramatically improve as well as the one-to-one computer initiative for each student. This better sets up our students and enables them to complete their courses and provide them access to current technology they may not have at home. I would like to help the school continue to improve on the path of early education, better preparing our youngest students for school. I would also like to see the career pathways program in the high school grow. I’ve seen how it can expose our students to new careers they may not be aware of.
I have witnessed an increase in e-smoking devices. We have taken steps to update the student policy on their usage in an effort to prevent the devices from being used on school property. School safety is also an issue and a concern for all of us in the community. We have made it more difficult to gain access to the schools and recently implemented a School Resource Officer, allowing the administrators to effectively increase and ensure the safety and security to all those in the schools. We need to continue to be good stewards of our tax monies and ensure they are going to pay our staff and improve our facilities, allowing us to recruit top teachers and continue to lead Osage County in education.
I’m originally from Lyndon, I graduated in 2001. My wife, Lindsay, is from Osage City, and we were married in June 2005. We have three amazing kids together and all three are students in Osage City Elementary School. They are my drive to help ensure that quality education continues at USD 420. I have a degree from the Community College of the Air Force and will soon have a degree in Human Resources from Columbia Southern University. I’m busy with my kids and their activities – you’ll find me coaching soccer in the fall and softball in the summer.

Brent Johnson
USD 420 Position 3

I am a former teacher and coach. I have worked in four different school districts, including USD 420. I understand how schools operate from the inside.
I would like to work as a team with other board members to ensure the visions and goals of the district and community are accomplished.
The visions and goals of districts are very similar. I think we need to look at the process – or in other words, the way the district does things. Do we have a process that is most efficient in working toward the best interest of the district/community?
My wife, Lisa, has also worked in USD 420. We have two children, Carissa and Coleman, both graduates of USD 420. Carissa is a senior at Kansas State, majoring in psychology. Coleman is in the 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne, currently deployed to Afghanistan. I have a Bachelor of Science in Social Science from Emporia State and a teaching certification from Washburn University. I have worked for school districts in Lawrence, Osage City, Lecompton and Overland Park.

Kat Bellinger
USD 420 Position 7, At-Large

My professional career in auditing has been devoted to helping companies strengthen their processes and controls, documenting their allocation of dollars, and communicating results effectively. As a successful leader in this area, here are a few of the strengths that make me a good candidate for a school board member: effective communicator (can adapt material and style to the person or group I am conversing with), active listener, critical thinker (will continue to ask “why”), analytical (numbers and data), reliable and dependable.
I believe in open and effective communication between people and having respectful yet meaningful discussions when making decisions. I would feel a sense of accomplishment if we as a school board can further build relationships and communicate effectively with our teachers, administration and community members.
I believe the top issues for the Osage City school district include effectively maintaining a current and future budget, successfully providing for our children and attracting and sustaining talented teachers and administration.
I have lived in Osage City for 13 years, moving here upon marrying my husband, Jimmy, in 2006. We have two wonderful kids enrolled in Osage Elementary (Kenzie and Grady), and I’m incredibly happy that my kids are growing up and receiving an education here in Osage City. I have a Masters of Accounting and Information Systems from the University of Kansas, and a BBA from Washburn University. I would be bringing 17 years of professional experience to this role, and I hope to positively impact Osage City for many years to come. I want to be involved in our community, and I believe the best avenue I have to serve and support our kids, our families and our community is through the school board.

USD 421

Doug Shoup
USD 421 Position 2A

I grew up in the Lyndon school district but spent nearly 15 years out of the area, so I can appreciate what we have in our community. My motivation for running for school board is that I have children currently attending Lyndon and I want to contribute to the school’s continued success. I have worked in the ag industry, university system, and am currently self-employed, so I believe I can leverage past experiences to further continue Lyndon’s reputation as an academic leader in the area.
I am proud of the current staff and administration at Lyndon and believe that is the number one reason our alumni have gone on to have successful careers after graduation. My main goal is to maintain a talented teacher staff and provide adequate resources needed to educate our students. We should be motivated to help the students discover their career interests that will eventually become their future professions.
As previously mentioned, my top priority would be to maintain a talented staff at Lyndon. In addition, our students need to have access to technology or resources that prepare them for college or trade schools after graduation. Third is to ensure that school facilities are adequate for the students and teachers. Whether it is repairing existing facilities or additional infrastructure, it’s important to be open-minded to all options when considering the budget, education and safety within our school system.
I grew up in the Lyndon school district, graduating in 1996. I completed a PhD degree in Agronomy from Kansas State University. I worked in St. Louis for Ag Industry for two years before moving to southeast Kansas as an Associate Professor in Agronomy for K-State Extension. My family and I farm north of Lyndon eight miles. I left my job with the University to farm full time and started an agriculture consulting business (ShoupAG, LLC) in 2018.
My wife (Lara) also grew up on a farm and graduated from Marais des Cygnes Valley School District. We have four children, Leanne (seventh-grader), Garrett (fourth-grader), Cade (kindergartner), and Charlotte (two years old). I am on the St. Patrick church finance council in Osage City. Our family is active in 4-H.

USD 434

Madison (Swisher) Sowers
USD 434, Position 7 At-large

I have served and advocated for the educational needs of our community’s children for four years as a licensed daycare provider. I believe successful early childhood interaction fosters educational and socio-emotional growth. Running for School Board will allow me to continue advocating for the educational needs of all students in our community.
If elected, I would ensure that we are continuing to prepare our students for the future. While it is vital for our students to be college and career ready, I also believe it is important to continue to foster early childhood development. My efforts as a board member would focus on serving all of the children in our community from birth and beyond.
I would continue to ensure that we are providing great care for our students and ensure that we are doing all that we can to guide them on the path to success.
I grew up in the Santa Fe Trail school district and my husband, Derrick, and I are both proud to be Charger Alumni. Together, Derrick and I have three wonderful children who keep us very busy. Two of our children attend USD 434.
Presently, I have two associates degrees from Allen County Community College and continue to take Kansas Child Care Training Opportunities (KCCTO) coursework to stay up to date in Early Childhood Education.
Within the community, I am proud to be the Vice President of the Santa Fe Trail Attendance Center Parents and Teacher Organization (SFTAC PTO). I am also a board member on the Lyndon Saddle Club

USD 454

Jamie Bowman
USD 454 Position 2, write-in

Our school board members work hard and are accomplishing many things for the students and staff. I would be an ideal addition to the board because I have over 15 years of professional business experience that has given me the skill set needed to be an advocate for the district. I provide a fresh perspective that would allow the district to continue evolving.
If elected, I want to ensure that our teachers, students and administrative staff are being supported and provided the tools they need to fulfill their duties. I plan to work with my fellow members to establish a clear path of continued success for our district.
With my own children in the district, I have a personal interest in preserving and improving the quality of our district. We already have an outstanding district but there is always room for improvement. The Burlingame school district deals with the pressures of fairly distributing funds, dealing with communication challenges and other operational conflicts just like any other district does. I would like the opportunity to contribute toward resolving any current difficulties and reviewing ways to be proactive vs. reactive when future issues occur.
I am the daughter of Lynn and Cindy Moon and Burlingame is my hometown. My husband, Jeff, and I are raising our three children here. Our oldest daughter graduated in 2018 and is currently pursuing her degree in Elementary Education at Emporia State University. Evan is in the eighth grade and is studying for his learner’s permit. He’s excited to participate in the school play again this year. Rilynn is our youngest and in the fifth grade. She is also going to be in the play this year and is looking forward to playing basketball for the Burlingame Rec again this winter. I work for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and will have been with them for 16 years this December. Working for the VA has been an incredible experience that has allowed me to grow as business professional while doing my part to make a difference in caring for our nation’s veteran population. I received my Bachelors in Business Administration in 2009 and my Masters in Business Administration in 2016.

Donna Young
USD 454, Position 7 At-large

I care about the students, teachers and school and I am willing to continue to address the difficult situations that arise. I want Burlingame to be a school that students look forward to attending – a school that is positive, safe and has open transparency and communication with parents and students.
I want to continue to ensure that positive changes are made and that all policies are being followed. I would like Burlingame to be more accessible to parents, grandparents and caregivers in order to help facilitate the success of their students. I want to continue discussing what can be done to eliminate bullying and intimidation from inside USD 454.
In all schools and cities, there are always challenges that arise. To avoid conflicts, it is important to put personal feelings aside and work as a team to accomplish our end goal, which is to give each student that passes through our school the best education possible to succeed in life. We need to be willing to recognize and accept changes that will benefit our school. Unfortunately, in today’s educational sphere, it is important that safety is one of our primary concerns and that we are well prepared and vigilant to handle any and all situations within the USD 454 family.
I retired from BCBS as a manager after 30 years. I worked well with all levels of employees and employees from other corporations. My husband, Tom, grew up in Burlingame and graduated from BHS in 1968. I am a 1966 graduate of Topeka High. I am currently the USD 454 board member at-large and continue to be a supporter of Burlingame’s academics, sports and arts. I am also on the Osage Council on Aging.
I was the president of the Chamber of Commerce for two years. During that time, to help foster a sense of community pride, I made it a priority to return the Christmas tree to Santa Fe Trail. I was involved in the new welcome signs at our city limits. I was a Townsite board member for 6 ½ years and served as vice president for one year. I have worked with Meals on Wheels. We attend the Federated Church where I have helped with VBS and other areas when asked.

USD 456

 

Beth Weimer
USD 456, Position 2

I have served one term on the school board and feel that with my experience, I have gained knowledge that will allow me to continue to do my best for our district. I am also committed to seeing through the vision our board has created for our district, and making sure that our kids get the quality education they deserve.
I would like to make sure that we provide opportunities for all of our students to be prepared for life after high school, whether that is college, other certifications, or entering the workforce. I would also like to continue to make improvements on our school facilities.
I feel our top issues are increasing our opportunities for students to prepare for life after high school, increasing our enrollment, and retaining our current students.
I am married to Shane Weimer, and we have lived in Melvern for 23 years. We have two children, Josey (19), and Jake (14). I am employed by Stormont Vail Health as a Nurse Manager for the Emporia and Lebo Clinics.

Michael R. Ragan
USD 456, Position 3

I have been a part of the school board since September of 2018, having filled a vacant position. The current board, I feel, works as a team, taking the time to discuss issues in regular meetings and executive sessions, and we are able to reach a consensus on most issues. I believe my opinion and my vote can help in maintaining and promoting a positive learning environment.
My first priority is to ensure student achievement. With recent hires, we as a board have continued to provide our students with faculty that will help them succeed. We recently addressed issues within our district that can be fixed with our Capital Outlay Plan. I would like to see each of our projects completed. These include foundation repairs, kitchen and bathroom remodels, and improvements to our athletic facilities.
Student achievement has to be our primary goal. We need to provide an environment that students what to attend and succeed in, rather than leaving our district for a neighboring district.
I was raised in Quenemo, attended Quenemo Grade School, MdCV Elementary and MdCV High School, graduating with the class of 1987. After graduation, I served in the United States Army and the US Army Reserves. After my military service, I attended Fort Scott Community College and the University of Kansas. I have been a member of the American Legion for 16 years. I am a past board member of the Osage County Historical Society, past president of the Quenemo Alumni Association, and I am the current vice president of the Melvern/Marais des Cygnes Valley High School Alumni Association. I currently serve on the USD 456 Board of Education.

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