There are four candidates running for three open seats on the Park Hill Board of Education. Two incumbents and two newcomers appear on the Tuesday, April 4 municipal election ballot.
Candidates are incumbents Bart Klein and Janice Bolin as well as Scott Monsees and Jim Dunn. Current board member Boon Lee did not file for re-election.
Klein, 58, is originally from Gladstone, Mo. Married, he has two teenage children and works as chief information officer and vice president at Dickinson Financial Corporation. He has served on the board since 2014 and is the current board treasurer.
“During the past three years, I have held a number of board positions while representing the residents of the Park Hill School district,” Klein said. “During my professional career, I have held a series of senior management positions within the information technology community of Kansas City. I have utilized that background to assist several educational entities in the region as a volunteer with their technical needs. This experience has also been very helpful in my role as a board member for the district.”
Klein’s children have attended both Park Hill schools and St. Therese School, which he said provides him with a unique perspective on education in the community.
“Both educational environments have their benefits, and I believe I am a better informed school board member as a result.” Klein said.
Klein hopes to continue that work, using his background to address the challenges of the future and represent all families in the community. He has also advocated for the district with state elected officials, meeting with them to discuss issues and proposed bills impacting the district.
“As an advocate for quality education, I have undertaken a number of volunteer roles to ensure our youth are properly prepared for their future,” Klein said.
Bolin, 47, is from Kansas City and has served on the board for the last eight years. An accountant, she is currently assistant general manager for FC Kansas City women’s professional soccer team. She has three children.
“I am passionate about public education, and I want to continue to serve the Park Hill community,” Bolin said. “I feel strongly that education is essential for all our children to build a solid foundation for successful futures.”
Bolin feels her board experience and background in accounting and business has given her the financial skills to be an asset to the district. In a tough economic environment, she said the district must remain fiscally efficient while retaining excellent staff.
“We also face changing demands for jobs and the skills necessary for those jobs, especially in the area of technology,” Bolin said. “We will need to continue to work with community employers and be adaptive to meet the demands of the global economy.”
Bolin said the district already has the framework in place to address these issues, and she would continue to monitor and improve upon them to maximize the usage of resources and taxpayer funds.
“I want to continue to govern the district in a manner that values and improves our academic excellence,” Bolin said. “One of my favorite things about Park Hill is that while we celebrate our success, we never stop looking for ways to get even better.”
Monsees, 49, is originally from Sedalia, Mo. Married, he has two children in Park Hill schools. He has worked in the software industry for 25 years, launching his own software consulting company, Monsees Technologies, in 1999.
Through his company, Monsees has served companies such as Cerner and H&R Block. He has also developed software used at Truman Medical Center.
“My business experience, technology skills and common sense will add value to the board,” Monsees said. “In addition, I have been an active and involved parent in the Park Hill School District for the past 10 years. I have a desire to give back to my community through public service. I want to ensure the continued success of the Park Hill School District.”
Monsees said he is concerned about the online safety and security of students, as well as district growth and continuing the quality of education. If elected, he said he would like to make certain appropriate policies are in place and tools are correctly implemented to protect students while online. He also wishes to apply rigorous financial oversight.
“Our Park Hill schools are some of the best in the state,” Monsees said. “I only intend to continue that trajectory. I look forward to the opportunity to work with the other board members to bring the best education possible to our future leaders and fellow citizens.”
Dunn, 53, is from Kansas City North. Married, he has four children. He has worked in criminal justice and education, including serving as principal of Lakeview Middle School for eight years.
Since, Dunn works for a non-profit providing online learning for court-involved youth who are unable to return to public school.
“I feel strongly district resources and tax dollars need to be used wisely and the classroom needs of teachers and students should relentlessly drive decision-making,” Dunn said. “I worry, at times, that it has become almost taboo to question spending and instructional decisions of school districts; it’s as if doing so suggests we don’t care about kids or teachers. I couldn’t disagree more.
“Districts, like other government or business organizations, change and grow when challenged to increase efficiency and effectiveness.”
Dunn said he could “hit the ground running” due to his familiarity with the district.
“I’ve worked directly on a wide range of building and district improvement efforts over many years,” he said. “However, I have also benefited from the new perspective I’ve gained since retiring several years ago. I believe it’s valuable to have educators serve on a school board, especially those of us who have worked at the classroom, building and district levels, because we understand the realities of the job for teachers, principals and administrators.”
Dunn said he feels the district has struggled in recent years to successfully implement its large-scale initiatives and hopes to address that.