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Kearney school board candidates weigh in key issues

Posted at 3:14 PM, Apr 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-03 16:14:40-04

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. Hear from candidates for the Kearney School Board.


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

Leonard Broughton - This great community opened its arms to my family and me 12 years ago and I love this community! I am invested. I want to give back to this great community. It’s my time to serve and help protect the current and future Bulldogs.

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

Leonard Broughton - There really isn’t one issue. But we need to find ways to encourage families not to leave the school district and ensure our community knows they play a huge future in the school district plan.

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

Leonard Broughton - I have worked with children at all levels for many years through sports and teaching them at church and I have a passion for seeing children become accountable, great young men and women. I also serve on my church’s deacon board in Ohio, where I have dealt with finances and business decisions, which really taught me a lot during my years serving.

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

Leonard Broughton - I am a driven and open-minded person. I am always looking to get 1% better every day! I am positive and I have an open-door policy. I feel I am a quick learner, and I will respond with answers to those who ask questions.

Clarity of Purpose 

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

Leonard Broughton - My faith directs my decisions and my morals.

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

Leonard Broughton - Right now, our administration and board do a good job of being transparent. I feel it’s important to ensure we reach everyone in the community through social media or partner with our local radio and the city to help spread the news.

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

Leonard Broughton - I will look to former board members on how they handled decisions when they were on the board because Kearney has had some great board members. Then I will research and pray before making a decision.

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?

Leonard Broughton - I feel the current board and administration are doing a great job being transparent with the community regarding the budget. I know they are looking ahead and preparing for some rise in cost in some areas and they have to make sure everyone in the community understands where the school district is and what the future holds.

I will really have to study the budget and make sure I understand all areas and the plan the administration has for the current and future budget. I hope I get the opportunity to help structure the future budget plan. I want to be responsible and wise with the tax dollars given because they belong to our hard-working community and I am accountable to them.

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

Leonard Broughton - Kearney approved a bond in April of last year and we need to stay on track with projects we have planned to complete.

As Kearney looks into a new elementary building or adding onto existing elementary buildings, we must look into the rising inflation costs. I feel we need to reach out to the Kearney community and get their input, as the bond will not cover a brand-new facility being built.

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?

Leonard Broughton - My goal in enlisting support for the bond issue or public school spending with taxpayers with no children in the schools would be to appeal to them that all children are worth receiving an excellent education. We in Kearney want our students to have educators who are valued by their ability to teach each student to the best of their ability and receive compensation for a job well done. Students and staff in Kearney are worth our investment not only today but in the future.

Transparency & open communication! Whenever I vote on anything if elected to the school board, I will answer any questions about how I voted. As a school board, we must take a stand to remember WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO THE COMMUNITY! We must always be mindful that we are spending the money they give to ensure an excellent education above all else.

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?

Leonard Broughton - We must go to the community for help in this area! Yes, the Missouri government is trying to pass a bill with starting pay for teachers, but we can’t wait on them! Kearney is losing a number of excellent teachers and support staff every year due to pay. A levy is really the best way to raise teachers' pay and keep teachers and support staff here and we will need to be transparent with our community on their huge role in these areas.

Performance and Outcomes

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

Leonard Broughton - I will engage the community by having an open-door policy to listen to community or parental concerns related to Kearney's educational performance. It will then be my job to take these concerns to the board as a whole and address these issues. I will then do my best to reach back to those with an answer. We work best if we work together.

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

Leonard Broughton - Our district has done well in programs like (Market Value Asset/Real World Learning & Place-Based Learning/Lens). Those are all great programs we have, allowing students to search their interests and think for themselves.

Kearney has a lot of important plans coming down the road and their website needs some work to help make sure community members can find answers quickly and understand what they see—transparency with our teachers and support staff. We need to show them we hear them and make sure they understand the plan. I feel it’s important to meet with them monthly and really listen to their thoughts and then get back to them with timely answers. We need to reach every community member in Kearney/Holt. We are doing a better job of transparency with the ones who have students in school, but we are missing a lot of individuals in this great community that doesn’t have children in school.

How should the district address underperforming schools?

Leonard Broughton - The board and administration need to investigate and come up with a plan on how we can make improvements to that school. We must address it and work hard to make those improvements at that facility.

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

Leonard Broughton - The school board relies on the administration to share the schools' and students’ state testing scores compared to other districts in our area to see where we excel or need improvements. This is a collaborative endeavor on both parts to keep our schools and students on track for an excellent education.

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?

Leonard Broughton - I believe we do a pretty good job sharing this information at school board meetings.

As we see our students graduate and move toward a career or attain higher education, we will see the benefits of these real-world learning experiences. I can only hope we see growth and success as we monitor programs. If not, we will bring it back to the board to re-evaluate.