Park Hill School Board race crowded again with 5 candidates

Of the four Platte County school districts, only Park Hill has a contested board of education election on the April 5 ballot with five candidates vying for two seats on the board. 

Incumbents Todd Fane and Susan Newburger both filed for re-election to their seats. David Blackburn, Jeffrey Kingsley and Joshua Catton also filed for election. 

 Jeff Kingsley

Jeff Kingsley

Married with four children, Fane, 46, works in healthcare information technology. He has served on the board for six years and was recognized as a Master School Board Member by the Missouri State School Board Association (MSBA).

“I am passionate about giving back to the communities in which I live and work and have built strong relationships across the broader community and especially within the Park Hill School District,” Fane said. 

 Todd Fane

Todd Fane

In his time on the board, Fane has served as treasurer, vice president and president and said he is a consensus builder known for championing issues raised by members of the community. He believes people need to demand local control of schools and prevent partisan politics from imposing unfunded federal mandates. 

 Susan Newburger

Susan Newburger

Addressing growth in both numbers of students and diversity amongst those students, 21st century skills, relevance of instruction and college and career readiness are all challenges the district is facing, he said. 

 David Blackburn

David Blackburn

“As I campaign, I continue to hear concerns about taxes and know that we must continue our vigilance of fiscal responsibility and transparency to maintain the public’s trust,” Fane said. “Our future growth needs will depend on their support. I will continue to advocate on behalf of all public schools with the relationships I have developed at both the state and federal levels.”

Newburger, 63, is originally from the St. Louis area but has lived in the Park Hill district for 35 years. She is a retired Park Hill teacher with 24 years experience. Her husband, Michael, is a director for the Southern Platte Fire Protection District. 

Finishing up her second term, Newburger has served two years as board president and has earned Master Board Member certification from MSBA.

“Because I am retired, I am available to represent the Park Hill district when other board members cannot because of work obligations,” Newburger said. 

Newburger pointed out Park Hill’s status as a high-performing district and the continuance of that tradition as the district addresses growth and a changing world. She believes it is important to support and hold the district administration accountable through board governance, not management.

“I believe members of the school board should be non-partisan and represent community voices, including being an advocate for all of the children in the Park Hill district,” she said. “We must continue to be fiscally responsible and transparent with the public trust and funding.”

Blackburn, 66, is originally from Trenton, Mo. currently serves as city administrator for the City of Lawson. Previously, he was the Riverside city administrator. 

This is Blackburn’s second run at the board after filing for election the first time in 2014. He feels his work experience in public administration coupled with his lifetime teaching certificate from his bachelor’s degree in education make him a good fit with the board. 

“My experience with city government and city finance has always brought me into contact with each separate school district,” Blackburn said. “I totally understand the current TIF in Riverside and how it impacts the Park Hill School District’s finances. ”

Blackburn said he always strives to be solutions-oriented instead of a micromanager. He said he would work in collaboration by listening to residents, parents, teachers and administrators and strive to be transparent. 

If elected, Blackburn said he would advocate for the district to hire a local TIF attorney to do an independent oversight review to determine the real return on Park Hill’s captured property taxes in the Riverside TIF. 

Kingsley, 45, did not respond to The Citizen’s candidate questionnaire but did run for the same position in 2015. According to his 2015 responses, Kingsley works as a pediatric physician and medical educator and felt his career gave him an edge as he already promotes the general welfare of children as part of his job. 

Catton did not respond to The Citizen’s candidate questionnaire.