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.
Why are you running for the Board of Education? If elected, what will be your priorities?
Jenn Bauer - I am running to replace multiple-term incumbents and foster unity and build bridges of trust through engagement and transparency.
Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the board of education?
Jenn Bauer - Yes, that LPS has not maintained an above-average foundational education for the first time in the 20 years I’ve been in Liberty.
What experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?
Jenn Bauer - I am a substitute teacher and have had students in the district for 12 years. I am engaged in LPS on many different levels, offering me a vast array of experiences and perspectives from all stakeholders. I am a leader and a team player.
What differentiates you from the other candidates and/or board members?
Jenn Bauer - I am regularly in the classrooms and buildings with the students, educators and support staff. I have been vested in LPS for a decade, spending all my “free” time volunteering in LPS and stepping up to the plate as a substitute when teacher vacancies became an issue. I also currently have students in the district.
Clarity of Purpose
What are the factors on which you will base your decisions as a school board member?
Jenn Bauer - Is it good for the students, not just right now but as they move through and beyond LPS? Are our students thriving? When they return to our community to live, work, and raise children, will LPS still provide an excellent educational experience?
What specific steps would you take as a school board member to improve transparency and make school district information more widely available?
Jenn Bauer - I would work to educate the stakeholders on how information can be found and how questions can be answered from a direct source with reliable information. I would also encourage stakeholders to be responsible in familiarizing themselves with opportunities to be engaged in their child’s education, with a shared responsibility to the students - at home and school. I would like to see a better software program that integrates Powerschool information with Canvas information rather than having to navigate two programs that aren’t in sync and not easily accessible.
As a school board member, from whom will you seek advice or input in weighing key decisions?
Jenn Bauer - Constituents! Not just those who share similar perspectives and values as me, but representation and feedback/input from those with different experiences than me. As a board member, you are a representative of the whole community. You cannot be afraid to seek out and listen to those who may not share your personal beliefs. Everyone deserves to be heard and share their story. I am hopeful that this level of engagement would encourage compromise and solutions that work for everyone, as well as foster trust and mutual respect.
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?
Jenn Bauer - In my experience attending school board meetings for over a year, I fully trust and support our district leaders in their annual budget operations and review/auditing district finances.
What are the district’s greatest capital needs right now? How do you think those needs should be addressed?
Jenn Bauer - I fully support the $120 million no-tax increase bond issue on the April 4 ballot.
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?
Jenn Bauer - I have publicly supported the bond issue and educated myself on all aspects. I support “Liberty Kids First” in their efforts to share bond information with the general public. I have explained that capital projects are like maintaining your home and retaining equity. The other portion of our bond question is the transfer of $20 million in debt service levy to the district operating levy, intended to create more capital for much-needed increased salaries for teachers and support staff. The school district and board can prove themselves accountable by following through with the projects presented in the facilities master plan.
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?
Jenn Bauer - Missouri legislation has taken steps this session to increase starting teacher pay in Missouri from $24k to $38k. LPS continues to pay above the state average. As an oversight school board, if elected, I would not directly work to keep and attract staff. The LPS school board should trust and rely on district leadership to handle staffing matters unless or until board oversight is needed.
Performance and Outcomes
How will you engage the community to improve public schools in the district?
Jenn Bauer - Outreach! Frequently attending all different events in the schools and our community to listen to constituents. I also firmly believe in being transparent through public meetings and asking stakeholders to complete surveys to help guide new initiatives and programs.
In your view, what has the district done well over the past year? In what areas could the district improve?
Jenn Bauer - LPS does a fantastic job creating opportunities for high schoolers to take advantage of real-world learning opportunities. I believe focusing on the middle school level could improve curriculum retention, accountability and life skills, behavior management, and general well-being.
How should the district address underperforming schools?
Jenn Bauer - I believe district leadership has protocols to address underperforming schools. I am not yet privy to what those initiatives might be. I do know that there are numerous explanations for why schools underperform. Finding efficient, effective, measurable solutions should be a priority. Providing the necessary resources to those schools is pivotal as well.
How should school board members evaluate school and student performance in your district?
Jenn Bauer - Again, LPS is an oversight board. District leadership is in place to evaluate and handle school and student performance. If elected, I trust I’ll learn what exact measures LPS has in place to evaluate performance.
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?
Jenn Bauer - I believe there are metrics in place to measure the attainment of goals and the success of programs. If elected, I don’t believe I will be solely responsible for assessing these matters.