NewsPoliticalKansas City-area elections


Platte County R-3 school board candidates weigh in key issues

Posted at 2:38 PM, Apr 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-03 15:38:00-04

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 Platte County R-3 board.


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

Matt Craine - I am running to make sure that ALL children in our district have the opportunity for a great education and experience.

Let our actions show teachers their district supports them. We pride our district on giving all students high-level education, but we cannot do this without top-notch educators. District policies should support them in doing what they do best. We must also continue to explore ways to increase compensation to retain current staff and attract new staff from various backgrounds.

Ensure opportunity for all students, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, economic status or where they live within our district. Students cannot thrive when they do not feel safe or supported. This includes providing equal opportunities for the north and south end of the district whenever possible.

Prepare graduates for life after high school. This starts with early education and builds through high school by providing real-world experiences for students. When they understand how curriculum relates practically to life outside of school, they are much more likely to retain that knowledge. It also helps create critical thinkers instead of just remembering information long enough to take the test. Platte County R-3 is uniquely positioned as a spearhead for the new Northland Workforce Development Center and the current home of the Northland Career Center. This facility gives our students valuable experience in a number of skills and trades. They complete internships, gain hands-on experience and make valuable connections within their field. By graduation, they can be well on their way to a sustainable career.

Bobby Vann - I’m an incumbent running for reelection. I support the parents’ right to choose.

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

Matt Craine - The idea that all children deserve the right to quality education and meaningful experiences while attending our schools. Every child deserves this regardless of race, gender, ability, economic status or where they live within the district.

Bobby Vann - The Northland Career Center development.

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

Matt Craine - As a physical therapist, I am a very skilled listener and a good communicator. This will serve well when communicating with parents, staff and fellow board members. As a parent of a child in our district, I have first-hand knowledge of what is happening in our schools and how it affects students.

Bobby Vann - I’m a retired U.S. Army veteran.

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

Matt Craine - Growing up as the child of two public school educators, I witnessed their dedication and sacrifice to a profession that never paid them what teachers are truly worth. I saw the difference they made in their students’ lives. My entire educational career occurred in public schools, from kindergarten to graduate school. Now I have a child in public school. I understand, on many levels, the importance of access to quality public education. Every child deserves this.

Bobby Vann - Being a veteran, I look at a problem and issues through a different lens.

Clarity of Purpose 

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

Matt Craine - I want to approach each decision objectively and without agenda. I will listen to the experts on each issue in order to make evidence-based decisions.

Bobby Vann - What’s best for the parents, kids, staff and teachers.

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

Matt Craine - We should continue our regular newsletters and emails to update the community. Information on decisions that affect our students and district finances should be readily available to the public. The community should know that we are spending their tax dollars appropriately and making decisions to improve the experience for all students.

Bobby Vann - We can always work to be better at transparency.

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

Matt Craine - Again, I will seek information from experts on each issue and consider differing views in order to make the most informed, evidence-based decision. This includes teachers, parents, administrators, students and academic scholars and medical professionals, to name a few.

Bobby Vann - Parents, teachers, staff and students.

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?

Matt Craine - Budget priorities must align with what is best for our students and teachers.

Bobby Vann - Ask me in person.

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

Matt Craine - We are in the midst of a rebuild of the high school and will open a new middle school this fall. Those needs have been and should continue to be addressed through appropriate spending of renewed bond issues as well as tax revenue.

Bobby Vann - Having board members understand what exactly their roles are in the school district.

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?

Matt Craine - We have to communicate the importance of great schools in our communities for all its members. The students of today will become the workforce of tomorrow and will have to serve the needs of the entire community. We also must be transparent with how this bond money is spent to build trust.

Bobby Vann - Support the parents' right to choose and use common sense.

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?

Matt Craine - Teacher salary in Missouri is shameful and we should explore every option to improve it. While compensation is clearly important, we must also create a culture in the Platte County School District that supports our teachers and staff, making us an employer of choice in the region.

Bobby Vann - Ask me in person.

Performance and Outcomes

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

Matt Craine - We must continue the work of our community advisory committees. They enable regular dialogue in the district and allow us to problem-solve proactively. We should educate on the importance of surveys and how they affect decision-making. We should continue communicating via various channels, including text, email, voicemail, newsletters and social media.

Bobby Vann - Transparency.

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

Matt Craine - The district opened a new addition to the high school and will open a new middle school building on time and on budget. The progression of the community advisory groups has been great. Also, Platte County is leading the charge to build a new workforce development center in the Northland, which will pay enormous dividends in the future.

We can improve our early childhood offerings. We need to expand our staff and offerings to make them more accessible to the community.

Bobby Vann - Transparency.

How should the district address underperforming schools?

Matt Craine - There is and should be a continuous evaluation process for our schools. Regular communication with teachers and staff is vitally important to ensure the culture is conducive to learning and that they feel supported. We should use scholastic achievement as well as surveys of parents, teachers and students.

Bobby Vann - Ask me in person.

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

Matt Craine - We should use a variety of markers such as standardized test scores, teacher assessments, post-graduate success, as well as surveys of parents, teachers and students.

Bobby Vann - Ask me in person.

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?

Matt Craine - Ultimately, we will know when we see students successfully progressing from grade to grade and then succeeding after graduation. That could mean progression into the workforce, a skilled trade, college, or the military.

Bobby Vann - Ask me in person.