NewsPoliticalKansas City-area elections


Grandview school board candidates weigh in key issues

Posted at 2:37 PM, Apr 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-03 15:37:01-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A school district's Board of Education has to handle many aspects of public education from finance and operations to performance and outcomes.

Candidates for the Grandview school board will run for three open seats.

Each candidate will serve a three-year term.

One candidate, Stacy Wright, responded to KSHB 41’s questionnaire.

Answers have been lightly edited for AP style and grammar, but we hope the answers help voters better understand the issues and candidates ahead of the April 4 primary election.


Why are you running for the Board of Education? If elected, what will be your priorities?

Stacy Wright - I originally applied for this position when a vacancy occurred in 2021 because I’d heard about school boards facing challenges nationwide. I wanted to support a district that had served my children and me well. I was delighted to realize that the Grandview School Board faced no such animosity. The parents saw how much hard work had gone into keeping their children safe and learning and supported the administration and board. The challenges of COVID were many, and Grandview C-4 met them, using the lessons learned to pivot and advance. I successfully ran to complete that term in 2022, and I am running now for a full three-year term. But the reason is different. I am now much more familiar with the district, its strengths and weaknesses, and the role of a school board member. I want to serve on the Policy Committee. I want to do whatever I can to ensure all of our students, teachers, librarians, and staff are physically, emotionally, and intellectually protected.

Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the board of education?

Stacy Wright - My passion is ensuring that every child is met where they are and nourished and brought forward from there. That means intervention for kids below grade level and enrichment for kids above grade level. It also means doing whatever we can to foster learning before kids enter kindergarten. Expansion of early childhood education should be a priority of every underperforming district.

What experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?

Stacy Wright - My entire adult life has revolved around children. I have a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University. After a decade at home with my kids, I opened a business dedicated to children’s play and parties, which I operated for 14 years. The overwhelming majority of my employees were high school students. When I sold my store, I became a court-appointed special advocate and continue as one today, more than four years later. I am a 20+ year resident and was a district parent for 12 years. During that time, I lobbied for the position of parent liaison to be added to the P.E.G.S. Advisory Committee, and I served in that role for a decade. For the past year, I have been a "Reader Leader" volunteer, and I currently spend three hours a week at Martin City K-8, working on reading with kindergartners and first graders. In my time on the board, I have completed over 30 hours of training. I have additionally spent more than 10 hours touring the nine district schools, learning about the successes and struggles of each.

What differentiates you from the other candidates and/or board members?

Stacy Wright - I am a resident of the Grandview C-4 School District, but I am also a resident of Kansas City. Over 20% of the district's elementary students and over 50% of the district's tax revenue come from Kansas City, and it is important to have representation on the board. At the time of my appointment, I was the first KC resident on the Grandview board in five years. One additional board member lives in KC, but none of my current opponents do. I am also fortunate to have the time to spend three hours a week volunteering in classrooms.

Clarity of Purpose

What are the factors on which you will base your decisions as a school board member?

Stacy Wright - Is it good for the district? I can’t think of whether something is good for my family or me; that’s not my role here. The bottom line has to be whether it is good for the district as a whole.

What specific steps would you take as a school board member to improve transparency and make school district information more widely available?

Stacy Wright - Honestly, district information is widely available. I support maintaining that transparency and would oppose any efforts to change it.

As a school board member, from whom will you seek advice or input in weighing key decisions?

Stacy Wright - Input is easy: community members, district families, teachers, and staff. But it is important for school board members also to recognize the limitations of what they know. I am not a trained educator. We hire trained educators and school and district leaders because they have the expertise needed. The job of a board is to hire a superintendent who will implement district policies. The superintendent is not meant to be micromanaged but entrusted to achieve set goals. The board looks to the superintendent and cabinet for advice and evaluates it along with the community's desires. Most often, the two align. My job is to ask good questions to ensure that is the case and, if not, to understand why the difference exists and whether it is valid.

Finance and Operations

What are your thoughts on the current and the proposed budget for your school district? How would you determine your budget priorities?

Stacy Wright - Grandview is in great financial shape. At the March meeting, the board voted to keep the tax rate flat for 2023. We can pre-pay our bond debt next year and save the district $1.2 million in interest. We are in the middle of replacing all of our playgrounds and buses. The new Martin City gym is almost complete. We just voted to remodel the Grandview Assistance Program building and build a freezer addition. We are vested in nourishing our community, literally and figuratively, so it is ready to learn and grow. Grandview finances are well-managed and by people much more knowledgeable than I am. As long as they continue to support the community's needs, I will continue to endorse their choices. If that changes, I will speak up.

What are the district’s greatest capital needs right now? How do you think those needs should be addressed?

Stacy Wright - We are working on a lot of physical repairs and updates already due to overwhelming support for no-tax bond and levy issues a few years ago. I think the next priority should be the expansion of early childhood education. Optimally, that would come from more state and federal funding to expand our current programming. Realistically, we may have to ask the community to change the mindset of paying for daycare to paying for preschool through taxes or parent ability to pay.

How will you enlist support for bond issues or public school spending from voters or taxpayers with no children in the public schools? How can the school board prove itself accountable to those citizens?

Stacy Wright - A rising tide lifts all boats. A strong, healthy school district raises home values, attracts new residents, and grows a more involved citizenry. Everyone benefits, whether or not they have children in public schools.

Teacher starting salaries continue to be an ongoing discussion here in Missouri. How will you be able to keep and attract staff despite having some of the lowest salaries in the nation?

Stacy Wright - Grandview offers competitive starting salaries and has a strong pay scale. District administrators conduct a yearly “listening tour” and employee engagement survey. This year, 70% of the responding teachers would recommend working for Grandview. The administration understands that retention is a collective effort and uses a continuous improvement process to allow all employees to give feedback and cultivate trust. I am pleased with these efforts and remain confident in them.

Performance and Outcomes

How will you engage the community to improve public schools in the district?

Stacy Wright - I am particularly focused on making sure the Grandview School District remembers to include its Kansas City patrons in its efforts to engage the community. It’s wonderful that High Grove Early Childhood Education Center is planning a “Story Walk” in a Grandview park. I want to see that happen in KC too. Information about our “Community Academy,” which offers adult classes, should be available at Red Bridge Library, not just Grandview. I encourage Martin City to have a kindergarten open house well before the deposit deadline for area private schools.

In your view, what has the district done well over the past year? In what areas could the district improve?

Stacy Wright - I am enormously proud of the Grandview C-4 School District. We were recently featured in an article published in ACSD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development).

Grandview C-4 is doing everything possible to address the achievement gap. As a school board member, I can and will continue to offer my support toward these efforts.

How should the district address underperforming schools?

Stacy Wright - See previous response.

How should school board members evaluate school and student performance in your district?

Stacy Wright - Every principal in every Grandview school has a CSIP: Continuous School Improvement Plan. Each year, each principal presents to the board, reviewing their CSIP goals and their schools' performance. Goals prioritize student performance, measured via iReady testing, which happens three times a year. We see breakdowns for math and ELA of what percentage of students are at, below, and above grade level. We can compare year-over-year data and track improvement or lack thereof.

What metrics will you use to assess district leadership’s attainment of key goals? How will you know when a program or decision has been successful?

Stacy Wright - “The superintendent evaluation process is a part of the Missouri’s Educator Evaluation System, which was created, field-tested and piloted, and refined by hundreds of educators across the state.” Basically, there are seven standards, each of which has one to three quality indicators. The board and superintendent agree on three goals that will be used for evaluation. This year, we learned that we need to be more specific about expected outcomes: i.e., not just that a new program will be created, but what will it accomplish?