Four candidates, including one incumbent, are up for two open spots on the Park Hill Board of Education in the upcoming April 7 municipal election. The terms of Matt Pepper and Allison Wurst expire in April, but only Pepper re-filed. Other candidates are Jeffrey Kingsley, Karen Holland and Lathem Scott. Pepper, 28, of Kansas City, is running for a second term on the board. A Park Hill graduate, he is single, has no children and works in commercial real estate.
“My professional background is strong in financial management and conflict resolution, which gives me experience accomplishing goals by collaborating with a number of different parties,” he said. “The experience and knowledge I have gained as a board member the past two years is valuable in terms of understanding district processes and practices, which will give me better perspective of how the board can be more effective in making good decisions.”
Pepper pointed out the district is dealing with programming demands, financing concerns and growth.
To address those needs, the board needs to effectively discuss difficult decisions. He hopes to have an increased dialog with employees and the public about district finances and to help the board of education to be more effective leaders both inside and outside of the board room.
Kingsley, 44, is from Kansas City. Married with three children, he works as a pediatric physician and medical educator. He feels his career gives him an edge as he promotes the general welfare of children already.
“I feel my accumulated skills, knowledge-base, and life experiences would be a great addition to the board of education and its strategic planning,” he said. Kingsley also has his concerns following the failure of the tax levy increase for the FLiP technology program last year.
“If elected, two goals of mine are to have the board of education follow the will of Park Hill citizens and be ethical stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” he said. “Most importantly, I will fight to help the board make common sense curriculum decisions and policies that strive to elevate academic performances to new heights.”
Holland, 37, is originally from Kansas City and works full time as a firefighter and part time as a police officer. Married, she has two children, one of whom is a Park Hill graduate.
“I have spent many years living in, volunteering in and getting to know the parents and children of the Park Hill community,” she said. “My primary concern will always be what is best for the education, safety and well-being of the children and our community. “
Holland believes population control and safety concerns are a primary challenge for the district.
“On any given school day, the schools in our district contain the population of a small city or town held within its walls,” she said. “In most cases, the majority of these populations are less than 14 years old. District employees have been tasked with providing a quality education to our children, and with that, have assumed the obligation of keeping our children safe.”
Scott, 40, is originally from Matthews, Mo. Married, he has two children in the district and works in the banking industry. This is his second run for the board of education after a failed bid last year and said his oldest daughter has pitched in on the campaign.
“Though I lost last year, I learned a great deal about what our citizens want by going door-to-door through several of our district’s neighborhoods,” he said. “As the spouse of a teacher, I bring a unique perspective to the school board and think that I will be able to help in matters regarding the teachers of the district.”
Scott feels that funding remains a primary challenge for the district, considering the unreliability of federal and state aid, even though those dollars are already a small portion of the budget. Growth is another area of concern and one he feels the district is making the proper moves to address