Park Hill Board tours new Walden Middle School

Contributed photo Members of the Park Hill Board of Education, including treasurer and long-time board member Janice Bolin, pictured at right in the foreground, toured the new Walden Middle School, currently under construction in Kansas City. She speaks with Walden’s principal, Keelie Stucker, who currently serves as assistant principal at Plaza Middle School.

Contributed photo
Members of the Park Hill Board of Education, including treasurer and long-time board member Janice Bolin, pictured at right in the foreground, toured the new Walden Middle School, currently under construction in Kansas City. She speaks with Walden’s principal, Keelie Stucker, who currently serves as assistant principal at Plaza Middle School.

Board members got their first glimpse at the inside of the new Walden Middle School prior to the Park Hill Board of Education meeting last week.

Walden, located at Northwest 56th Street and Northwood Road, is the fourth district middle school and is scheduled to open this fall, serving students from sixth through eighth grade.

Also at the Thursday, April 25 meeting, the board heard a presentation from administrators working to regroup after the district pulled back from its plan to change school start times by the fall. Assistant superintendent Dr. Paul Kelly presented the plan forward, stating the district decided to take another tack due to public feedback.

Patrons expressed concerns that the district hadn’t presented enough information about the shortage of bus drivers or the proposed solution, limited options by creating restrictive requirements, attempted to wait on deciding high school start times and hadn’t sought out enough input from the public in the early stages of the process.

Moving forward, the district said it will seek more feedback and will provide detailed explanations about the problems the district faces — a shortage of experienced bus drivers. Also, the district will study high school start times and data about the sleep cycles of teens and their impact on education.

Because the 2019-2020 budget was constructed using the assumption the district would need fewer drivers, but due to the delay it will instead need more. Administrators say this creates a nearly $2 million funding gap in the transportation fund — work to locate this funding in the budget is ongoing, officials said.

The district also recently approved a trio of building administrators, although their assigned schools have not yet been finalized.

Lori Burbee will serve as an elementary assistant principal. She began her career as a teacher in 1995, and over the years, she has served as a teacher for kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade. She currently teaches in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, where she takes on acting principal responsibilities when her principal is absent.

Angela Doss will also serve as an elementary assistant principal. She began her education career in 1997, teaching elementary students. She served as an assistant principal, and she is currently principal of Gratz Brown Elementary in the Moberly School District.

The third elementary assistant principal hire is Dr. Andrew Hargis. He started his education career in 2012 as a teacher, taking on duties as an administrative intern and director of before- and after-school programs. Hargis is currently an instructional coach in the Shawnee Mission School District.