KASB is governed by a Board of Directors composed of four elected officers - president, past-president, president-elect and president-elect designee (elected at convention in December) - and 15 regional vice-presidents. The regions include 10 geographic areas and five additional regions representing the five member school districts with the largest full-time equivalent enrollment at the time of regional elections. There are two ex-officio seats on the board. Elections are held at the Delegate Assembly during the KASB Annual Convention.
Frank Henderson, Jr.
Seaman USD 345
Frank Henderson, Jr. serves on the board of directors for the National Association of School Boards as the Western Region Director and is an ex officio member of the KASB Board of Directors.
Frank Henderson’s belief in the importance of public education has brought him all the way from president of his children’s elementary school PTO to his current position on the board of directors for the National School Board Association.
First elected to the Seaman USD 345 board of education in 2007, Henderson served as president of the board in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He soon became involved with KASB by attending seminars and training, eventually serving on the Legislative Committee and as KASB Region 2 vice-president. Henderson graduated with the KASB Leadership for Tomorrow Class of 2009.
Henderson was elected president of KASB and served in that capacity from July 2013 to July 2014. After completing that commitment, he was elected in April 2015 as NSBA Western Region representative and now sits on the national association’s board of directors. He also serves on the board of directors of the National Black Council of NSBA.
In 2012 Henderson was appointed to serve on the Education Commission of the States, a national advisory group that tracks policy state by state, interprets research and reports and creates opportunities for state education policymakers to share knowledge and expertise.
“I have always held a strong belief of the importance of education,” Henderson said. “I am thankful for every opportunity that has come my way to support our public schools and expand the dream of an excellent education for every child.”
Henderson calls upon his fellow education advocates to engage in whatever way and whatever level they can.
“We need to be actively involved to provide a true and accurate picture of our public school system and be able to take a stand for all Kansas students, present and future,” he said.
Involvement in KASB is a great way to make a difference, Henderson said.
“I enjoy being a part of `The Voice for Public Education,’ in the state,” Henderson said, referring to KASB’s mission. “I am thrilled how we are able to influence our Legislature as well as work together to serve 286 school districts and close to 450,000 students in Kansas.”
Henderson’s local board service grew out of a desire to continue the good work he saw being done when he volunteered for his children’s school.
“I consider it an honor to serve in this capacity as a school board member,” he said. “Once on the board, I sought reelection because I wanted to continue to work for an improved system to meet the diverse needs of our students. The best aspect of being a local school board member is knowing you make a difference and are helping to shape the future,” Henderson said.
For all his service at the state and national levels, Henderson is most proud of the progress made at the local district level. “My desire is for every child to rise to their God-given potential.”
“We have been able to expand the opportunities for our students with increased use of technology at all levels, including a 1:1 initiative with our secondary students,” he said. “We have added foreign language at the elementary level and created a more individualized support system to address multiple needs of our students.”
Another initiative close to Henderson’s heart is preparing students for success after high school.
“This has included the hiring of college and career advocates to begin working with our students in eighth grade and extending through high school to assist them in course selection with areas of interest and basic career planning,” he said. “Additionally, we added a college and career internship program for our seniors that has provided immeasurable opportunities in career selection as well as college, career and workforce readiness.”
Henderson has served in several leadership roles in the Seaman district, including terms as president and vice president of the board and the board’s governmental relations representative for KASB. He has also been a member of the school site council, technology committee, PTO president and community district advisory council. He is a member and past president of the Sunrise Optimist Club, chair of the Optimist Essay Contest and chair of Kansas District Optimist Oratorical Contest.
“The future of our state and country is dependent on how well we prepare today’s students for the work ahead,” Henderson said.
KASB President-Elect Designee
Shannon Kimball is in her second term on the board of education for Lawrence USD 497 and was appointed to the KASB Board of Directors in July 2016 to fill the unexpired term of Dayna Miller, KASB president-elect.
She was elected to the position of president-elect designee during the December 2017 KASB Delegate Assembly, and will assume the office of president-elect July 1, 2018, and then service as president of KASB during the 2019-2020 school year.
"I was honored to be asked to fill the Region 1 vice-president position," Kimball said. "I believe strongly in the work that KASB does to support school boards across our state, and to advocate for excellence in public schools for all Kansans."
Kimball said broadening her perspective of the challenges districts face across the state will help her expand her work as a public school advocate. She also plans to apply what she learns to her work within her own school district.
"I look forward to opportunities to share KASB's legislative and policy expertise within my own district and with districts in my region, and to advocate for public schools with the legislature," Kimball said.
As a statewide association, Kimball believes KASB is uniquely positioned to be the voice of districts across the state, both in its legislative advocacy and in the sharing of data with districts and school communities.
"Now more than ever public schools need strong advocates who are empowered with the facts about the successes of and challenges facing Kansas schools. KASB plays a vital role in assisting school districts and other stakeholders to advocate for public education with a powerful, unified voice," Kimball said.
As a native Kansan, Kimball and her husband returned to Kansas following several years out of state to pursue careers. Kimball is an attorney whose work focused on public schools for several years. She is currently raising their two sons and one daughter and focusing her time on volunteer work.
"Foremost among our reasons for coming back home was the desire for our children to have the opportunity to attend excellent public schools,â€ Kimball said.
She volunteered in 2010 to serve as a community member on the Lawrence USD 497 task force formed to study the district's elementary school facilities. After working for over seven months as part of that group to make a recommendation to the board, Kimball decided to run for a board position.
"I wanted to give back to the community through sharing my professional background in school law and policy, as well as to continue working on the many issues raised by the work of the elementary school facility task force," Kimball said.
Seeking a second term in 2015 gave her a way to stay involved as the district implements a $92.5 million 2013 bond issue. The project will transform all 14 of the district's elementary facilities into flexible 21st century learning spaces, Kimball said. A new college and career center to serve the district's two high schools will expand business, community, and higher education partnerships to give students relevant, career-oriented experiences.
Kimball said another major focus of her board service continues to be the district's equity work, with the goal of closing achievement gaps.
"We have made great strides in the past six years, increasing our overall graduation rate to above 90 percent," she said, "while at the same time markedly decreasing the graduation rate gap for our racial and socioeconomic subgroups."
Kimball is a member of the League of Women Voters of Lawrence/Douglas County, and the Kansas, Georgia, and American bar associations. Her local service includes her children's school PTO, work with the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association and the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, and serving on the board of her neighborhood association.
She is currently vice-president of her local board of education.
"I truly love the work I get to do as a local board of education member," Kimball said. "Because I am a parent of young children in the district, I get to see the positive impact of my work reflected in the school experiences of my own children. But the rewards are much more far-reaching than that. The best part of our board meetings is the time that we use to recognize the amazing accomplishments of our students and staff. Those recognitions are an important reminder of why I volunteer to serve on the board."
Published September 2016 Kansas Association of School Boards
Updated January 18, 2018
Region 15 Vice-President
Rick Schier, Olathe USD 233 board of education, first sought election to the local board of education in 2011 because he wanted to give back to the community.
As the father of three children attending school, the changing state economy and its impact on public school funding were also concerns.
“I wanted to make sure we were providing the best possible education,” he said.
“During my first four years I gained a better understanding of not only the local district but also, as a member of the KASB legislative committee, a broader view at the state level.”
When it came time to seek another term, Schier still wanted to serve the community.
But he also wanted to take what he had learned in his first term and “keep the district moving in the right direction” he said.
“We are a growing community and earned nearly an 80 percent approval rate on two bond campaigns 2013 and 2016,” Schier said. “One of the projects I am most excited about is building a new state-of the-art high school that will change the way education is provided to our students.”
Schier said he enjoys the opportunity to engage with students and staff, listening to their needs and finding ways to make the district better. A particular point of pride came at graduation.
“I was able to hand my eldest daughter and many of her friends their diplomas as they graduated from high school,” he said. “Not every father gets that opportunity.”
His community service has included ex officio membership on the Olathe Public Schools Foundation and honorary district committee member for the Iron Horse District, Boy Scouts of America. He has also served as the chair of the Community America Credit Union Foundation, a group promoting financial literacy.
Schier’s involvement with KASB began soon after his election to his local board. He served as a representative on the nominating committee and legislative committee before joining the board of directors in 2015.
KASB’s governance structure provides for individual representation on the board of directors, nominating committee and legislative committee from the five largest school district members by enrollment.
These districts are assigned a region number and the local boards appoint their representative to serve on the board of directors.
“Getting involved with KASB has allowed me the opportunity to broaden my understanding and support of public education to a state level,” he said.
Schier said he now has a much better idea of districts across the state and the challenges they face, and a greater appreciation of the importance of advocating on behalf of all children.
“We all have the same goals in educating our children, but how we obtain the resources and achieve these goals differs.
Understanding and communicating the difference in a 500 student district and a 30,000 student district is an important message that we all need to carry to Topeka,” Schier said.
Through his involvement with KASB, Schier has come to celebrate the important role the association has in the state.
“All students deserve the right to learn and be prepared for life. I believe that KASB is that portal and messenger for all our districts across the state,” he said.
Wichita USD 259
Region 14 Vice-President
Editor's Note: Stan Reeser's bio is scheduled for publication in the May 2018 "School Board Review" and will be posted here once published.
Region 13 Vice-President
Kansas City USD 500
Editor's Note: Brenda Jones's bio is scheduled to be published in the April 2018 edition of "School Board Review," and will be posted here once published.
Region 12 Vice-President
Deb Zila is in her third term as a local board member for Shawnee Mission USD 512. The decision to run in 2007 for a seat on the local board of education was, in many ways, an obvious choice.
“Our schools and students have been a passion of mine for many years,” Zila said. “My three children received a wonderful educational experience in Shawnee Mission, and I wanted to give back to the system that had such a positive impact on their lives.”
She began her school involvement when her eldest child started pre-school, and continued volunteering until her youngest child graduated from high school. During the intervening years she served in various leadership positions with PTA’s, site councils, QPA committees, booster clubs and chair of various school events.
Her leadership extended to both district and state levels as a member of the Shawnee Mission Area Council PTA, Kansas PTA and the Shawnee Mission South Area Advisory Board representative. Her community service continues to also include her church with roles in parish leadership, outreach and the women’s organization.
“According to my mentor and board of education predecessor, the school board was the next step for me and one I have never regretted taking,” Zila said. “Even after 10 years on the board, which continues to be incredibly rewarding and invigorates my dedication to students, I learn something new every day. I used to have just three kids to worry about, and now I have nearly 28,000.”
While she is proud of the many achievements and progress of the district during her three terms as a board member, one of the most memorable came at graduation time.
“Handing my youngest daughter her high school diploma was a wonderful and memorable moment for us both,” she said.
Fourteen cities are within the boundaries of the school district, and Zila believes schools are the lifeblood of the community.
“Good schools are a necessity if you want to attract new residents and industry, and keep our current residents and patrons engaged and supportive,” she said. “Local industries, businesses, chambers of commerce, and our community are all united in our commitment to maintaining the best quality of life here which includes excellent schools.”
With each passing year of board involvement, Zila said she has grown in her knowledge of school finance, school policy and strategic planning for the school district. She continued to seek reelection because she felt she has more to contribute to the cause and has so much yet to learn about 21st Century K-12 education. Soon after her election to the board for the first time, the state was directed to add significant funding for K-12 education through the Montoy ruling. Increases in K-12 funding were short-lived, however.
“Our school district was in the same situation as all districts in Kansas; trying to figure out how to do more, or at least maintain the same level of educational offerings, with less money. In the past few years, our school district has made efficiency and reallocation of our resources a priority, and this has helped us to re-think how we operate. We are changing the culture of our school district,” she said.
She points to a focus on positivity, innovation, collaboration and outreach as examples of intentionally shifting the culture, along with the use of technology, character education and strategic abandonment of outdated practices and offerings.
“Culture trumps strategy every time,” Zila said, noting that change is a process that takes time, patience and clear vision.
“I feel fortunate to have contributed to a very thoughtful and dynamic ten-year strategic plan, embracing and promoting a new culture,” she said. “The district also passed a significant bond issue for capital improvements in recent years.”
Through all of the planning, decisions and community concerns, one thing remains a constant for the Shawnee Mission School Board.
“We always have our decisions based upon and driven by doing what is best for our kids,” she said.
Zila’s involvement with KASB began as a local board member attending trainings and meetings. She soon learned that board members and schools all across the state have more things in common than they have differences. She served on the KASB legislative committee and through joint meetings of that committee and the KASB Board of Directors become interested in the role local board members have within the mission of KASB.
“As in most districts, our demographics and the needs of our kids are changing dramatically. We need to work together to support addressing the needs of ALL students. We trust that KASB will lead the way in ensuring that all school districts will have their interests represented,” Zila said.
She was appointed by her local board to be its representative on the KASB Board of Directors this year. The KASB constitution provides for individual representation on the board of directors, nominating committee and legislative committee from the five largest school district members by enrollment. These districts are assigned a region number and the local boards appoint their representative to serve on the board of directors.
“KASB should be our central rallying force,” Zila said. “It is important that we join together to have a shared and united front to lobby for what is needed to fund education today.”
In the past, there have been winners and losers in the funding scenarios, Zila said.
“Shawnee Mission School District has been one of the losers since 1992,” she said, “so we are hopeful that words like “adequacy,” “suitable” and “sufficient” can find definitions that are sustainable and fair. My hopes are that in this year’s legislative session, which will be formulating a new school finance plan, we can all come out as winners to adequately meet the needs of all students throughout Kansas.”
Region 11 Vice-President
Pam Robinson, Blue Valley USD 229 board member, has a deep history with public education.
She was a classroom teacher for 15 years, then continued her involvement in education through volunteer work, serving on board and building advisory committees and PTO president for seven years before joining her local board of education.
“I believe very strongly in public education and running for the school board just seemed like a logical next step,” she said.
While initially hesitant to enter the politics of running a campaign, Robinson said the support of her family convinced her she had what it takes to get through that first campaign and election in 2003. She has proven she has what it takes many times over since then.
KASB’s governance structure provides for individual representation on the board of directors, nominating committee and legislative committee from the five largest school district members by enrollment. These districts are assigned a region number and the local boards appoint their representative to serve on the board of directors.
Robinson joined the KASB Board of Directors in June 2005 as Region 11 (Blue Valley USD 229) vice-president, but her interest and involvement in KASB began a few years earlier when she filled in for a fellow board member who could not attend the August 2003 legislative committee meeting.
“The first big lesson was to think about districts other than my own and try to walk in their shoes,” Robinson said. “Meeting and talking to board members from all across the state, I am amazed at how we have similar challenges. In the end we are all there to serve our communities and their students,” she said.”
Robinson attended seminars and meetings, and with each interaction she said she became more convinced of the important role KASB had in supporting Kansas public education.
“The diversity of our districts makes us a strong association,” she said. “KASB brings us together and helps us become better board members, better districts and a better state. Some would like to pit us against each other, but I love finding the ways we are similar and can support each other,” she said.
After serving on the KASB Nominating Committee for Judy Lair’s nomination for president, Robinson said she was inspired to offer her name up for the honor of serving the Association.
To continue gaining perspective, Robinson attended KASB seminars, traveling to Washington, D.C. for the NSBA Federal Relations Network meetings and in 2008 graduated from KASB’s Leadership for Tomorrow program.
Robinson served as KASB president in 2009.
“While a member of the executive committee, my proudest moment at KASB was calling John Heim in 2010 to offer him the job as the executive director,” Robinson said. “I believed so very strongly in the mission of the Association, and I am honored by the opportunity to stay involved and continue to lead it into the future.”
She left the KASB Board of Directors in December 2010 after completing her past-president term, then was appointed by her local board to serve as their region vice-president July 2011 for one year, and then recently appointed in June 2016 for this year.
Robinson’s service to her local district began as a parent representative on the district’s curriculum and instruction committee.
“This was the first committee I served on when my son was six months old, and he is now 24,” she said.
In the intervening years, and in addition to her volunteer work with the PTO, she has served on many committees and advisory boards – including technology, student services, facility planning finance, student activities, design and construction - some as a parent representative and some as a board representative. She currently serves on the Johnson County Library Board.
“Blue Valley was a great district when I came on the board in 2003,” Robinson said. “We hired a new superintendent in 2004 and that pushed us even further. Our strategic planning process and community conversations help us chart a course of even higher achievement.”
One outgrowth of that planning process was the Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies, a signature program for the district.
Robinson would find it hard to list just one thing she likes best about being a board member in the district of close to 23,000 students.
“Seeing the kids being excited about learning, handing the graduates their diplomas and watching them succeed in the world, working with and talking to parents and our community about our great district, I truly value it all,” she said.
“We recently had the opportunity to hire a new superintendent a few months ago,” she said, “I know he will lead us to new heights.”
Published September 2016 Kansas Association of School Boards
Region 10 Vice-President
Lara Bors’ reasons for first seeking a seat on her local board of education came from a commitment to community service and an even greater commitment to education.
“My son, who was going to start kindergarten the next school year, asked why I was doing it and I explained to him that I wanted to make sure he had the same or better educational opportunities that I had,” she said.
Bors is a product of the Shawnee Mission School District. A political science degree from Truman State University and a law degree from Washburn University led her to a nine-year stint as an Assistant Finney County Attorney before going in to private practice. That same year, four positions were open on the Garden City School Board.
Once elected, Bors gained appreciation for her fellow board members.
“We have a vast array of backgrounds on our board and while we may not always agree, we reach decisions very thoughtfully and stand by them after the vote of the board,” she said.
Garden City USD 457’s new high school – a recent Blue Ribbon School winner - and the district’s early childhood education center are just two of many points of pride for Bors. She is also a proponent of expanding technology.
“We have a 1:1 initiative in our High School and are transitioning more technology to our lower grades. I am also extremely proud of our alternative center,” she said. “We have a bricks and mortar alternative school for students, a virtual academy and a therapeutic school for kids of all ages that need mental health services along with their education.”
Her list of favorite things about being a board member can get long, she said. She starts off with high school graduation, but then quickly begins listing other things.
“I love being able to have an impact on students. The best thing may be seeing the kids come to their school presentations at our board meetings. Recently we had a school come and talk about their "maker space.” The teacher said that two of the kids were really in charge of the robot coding portion of the day,” Bors said.
The fact that the two students were girls was, in a word, “awesome,” Bors said.
Bors said the students asked the board for iPads, and when one of her fellow board members asked for a show of hands on who would like them, all the students raised their hands, except for the two students who had been involved in coding the robots. So Bors asked the two girls what they wanted.
“'Better robots,' they responded. That was just too cute,” Bors said.
Bors accepted the role as KASB Region 10 vice-presented for one simple reason: she was asked to do it!
“I believe in KASB and the role that it provides local school boards. Having a voice in [KASB] I believe will be beneficial. With all that is going on at the state level, we need to make sure there is a unifying voice for school boards. We have a wide variety of needs in all of the school districts and having an organization that can put it all together is critical,” she said.
She also values the opportunity to interact with other board members across the state.
“Sometimes we all get into a rut or a box and it's good to hear what others are doing so we can continue to be creative for our students,” she said.
No matter what role she has – at the local or state level – Bors is dedicated to providing opportunities for students.
“I hope that I make the right decisions,” she said. “I hope that the decisions we make are positive ones for our kids.”
In addition to her work with the school district, Bors serves in a variety of leadership roles within Finney County and her profession. She is on the board for the Garden City Chamber of Commerce, serving as the presenting sponsor for the Chamber’s annual teacher of the year event, the “Crystal Apple Awards.” She also assists in coaching the youth baseball team for the Garden City Recreation Commission and serves on the Juvenile Corrections Advisory Board for the Kansas 25th Judicial District.
Published May 2017 Kansas Association of school Boards
Region 9 Vice-President
Brad Bergsman Goodland USD 352
To Brad Bergsma, western Kansas is the best place in the country to raise a family.
But like many school officials in the area, Bergsma knows not everyone appreciates the western Kansas lifestyle and it takes effort to recruit teachers and administrators.
Bergsma is in his third year on the Goodland USD 352 school board and was recently elected to the KASB board of directors for Region 9.
“We are pretty active in recruitment fairs,” Bergsma said. He noted the school district keeps tabs on students from the area who are attending universities and studying to become teachers. “It has been our experience that just from an acclimation standpoint, we get a kid from this area back here to teach, they are more familiar with the area,” he said.
Bergsma is vice president of the Northwest Kansas Technical College and he and his wife Christa, who is in charge of the cosmetology department at the college, have four children in Goodland public schools.
He says in western Kansas, the various school districts, businesses and other entities work together to help the area. “If we’re not going to stand up for ourselves, no one else is,” he said. “What is good for Colby will be good for Goodland and what is good for Goodland will be good for Colby,” he said.
He said what schools need most from Topeka is consistent, reliable funding. “It is frustrating and scary for our teachers to roll into spring every year and we have to ask do we have to shut down, do we have to cut jobs. Having stability for staff is a big concern,” he said. He also said health care costs and the need to address the social and emotional needs of students are also major concerns.
But Bergsma said he is seeing growth with more people returning to the area to have families and he sees more collaboration between businesses and education to help students decide on careers and post-secondary pursuits.
He added, “The biggest thing for myself is to continue to advocate for western Kansas.”Published March 2018 Kansas Association of School Boards
Region 8 Vice-President
When he retired in 2005 after 40 years in the classroom, a local board member – who was also a friend – asked Gary Yost if he would consider running for his seat on the board.
I love kids and have always wanted all children to do the best that they are capable of achieving,” he said. “I thought that I could provide insight from the other side of the desk.”
One area of interest for Yost is in finding ways to pay teachers more by cutting costs at the district level.
“I am always looking for ways to make our district more efficient. If we can cut transportation, heating and electric costs we will have more money for staff wages. I know how hard most teachers work to see that their students do their best, and we all know that our teachers are way underpaid,” he said.
His service on the KASB Board of Directors in 2011 began in a similar way: he was asked to consider serving, this time by then-KASB President Frank Henderson, Jr.
“I was appointed to finish out an unexpired term, and at the end of that term I ran to fill the seat,” Yost said.
He appreciates KASB’s focus on leading the conversation in Kansas about issues relating to public schools, and the Association’s commitment to accuracy.
“KASB is the one source that gives the facts which allows others to make decisions based on facts not agendas,” he said.
Joining the KASB Board of Directors brought Yost a chance to continue learning and at the same time an opportunity to continue teaching, though in a slightly different way.
“It has given me much more insight about education issues that other schools face. We all have much in common as well as some great differences,” he said. “I hope that they have also learned about some of the pluses as well as the minuses of small schools.”
Yost is quick to add, “We think there are many more pluses than minuses, however.”
Otis-Bision USD has 223 students and is more central Kansas than Western Kansas, Yost said.
“We have been very advanced in our use of technology for many years,” Yost said, “Our tech coordinator is a past student and keeps us on the cutting edge. We have had one to one laptops with all students for several years, and we have a robotics class that the kids really love.”
One recent project gave high school students a chance to collaborate with others by turning an idea into a sellable product.
“The entrepreneur class researched and designed bread cutting boards, then the woods class made the boards and the entrepreneur class successfully marketed the boards,” Yost said. “It was a great learning tool for all the students.”
Otis-Bison students are very successful in many areas, Yost said.
“We have had both boys and girl state champions in weightlifting, and that program has done much to build students pride and confidence in their abilities to improve,” he said.
The community and board take particular care when it comes to their facilities.
“We have upgraded our facilities every year, new windows, new bleachers, etc. Visitors comment on how nice our buildings look even though they are not new,” Yost said. “Our staff takes great pride in making our buildings look great.”
As a local farmer, Yost is closely tied to the community. In the past he has served as choir director and vice-president of the men’s club for his local church and a board member for Farm Bureau. His local board service has included a term as vice-president, governmental relations chair and membership of the board’s negotiations team.
Yost’s service on the KASB Board means he can continue to bring new ideas and ways to improve back to his home district.
“I learn so much by having the opportunity to interact with students, staff, patrons and other board members from all over the state and nation,” he said.
Published September 2016 Kansas Association of School Boards
Region 7 Vice-President
Gina McGowan is in her second three-year term as KASB Region 7 vice-president. She represents 26 unified school boards in 11 counties.
“I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do some of the things I do at the local, state or national level without the support of KASB staff and other board members,” she said, “They truly have kept me more involved and more accountable for what I should be doing for Kansas kids, teachers and schools!”
McGowan was first elected to the Ellsworth/Kanopolis/Geneseo USD 327 board in July 2007. She has a degree in early childhood special education and elementary education and taught for a few years before leaving to raise her family of two boys.
“Now in my third term, I keep seeking re-election because I love kids and want to support our schools,” she said.
McGowan volunteers weekly in the district’s after school program and logs additional volunteer hours with school and community programs, including head room mother for the past eight years in her boys’ classrooms. She places a priority on being active and visible by attending programs and classroom activities in the district of 600 plus students.
“I love seeing all of the positives that our schools, teachers and students are doing,” McGowan said. “Nothing is better than kids seeing you at school, calling you by name, and giving you a hug.”
She has served as the lead director of the community Bible school (for 250 kids) for the last nine years, and has volunteered for 16 years with Camp Hope (a camp for kids with cancer), including house parent director.
McGowan facilitates the EC3- Ellsworth County Community Cares committee and is co-director and teacher for an after school program called Kids of the Kingdom and Kids with a Mission. She also serves as a substitute Sunday School teacher.
This past year, McGowan handed high school diplomas to some of the students she worked with when they were young children just starting out in the Ellsworth school system. It was, she said, a truly proud moment.
McGowan is a member of this year’s KASB Leadership for Tomorrow class, and values the opportunity to remain active not only in her local school district, but also at the state and national levels.
“I love being more involved with leaders across the state of Kansas,” she said, “and not only supporting kids in my district, but truly feeling involved with kids all over the state and nation.
“I’m blessed to know so many people who believe so strongly and give their all in supporting public schools,” McGowan said.
Published July 2016 Kansas Association of School Boards
Region 6 Vice-President
Susan Walston, Haysville USD 261 board of education, is halfway through her seventh term. Her 26 years on the board, along with a career as a technical assistant with Wichita Public Schools, means she brings a wealth of perspective to any role she undertakes. She was recently appointed to the KASB Board of Directors as Region 6 vice president to fulfill an unexpired term.
Local school boards are a critical link to public schools, she said, and school board members have to balance what is best for students with what the community’s vision is for their public schools.
“First and foremost, we look out for students,” Walston said. “When making decisions about school programs, we try to incorporate the community’s opinion of what students should know and be able to do.”
She names accountability and transparency as two of the top expectations the community can and should have for their local board members.
“We are accessible to the public and accountable for our schools, and we try to ensure that students get the best education for the dollars spent,” she said.
Walston has taken advantage of numerous training opportunities to expand her leadership skills, including the Cambridge Strategic Planning System for Education and the Du Point Leadership Development Process Training. She is also trained in Federal IBB Mediation and Conciliation, and the Epstein Model for Parent Involvement through the Johns Hopkins Institute for Development of Education Activities.
She participated in the KSDE Distributed Leadership Academy, and served on two school site councils – Ruth Clark Elementary and Freeman Elementary schools. She was a state officer in the Kansas PTA in addition to her involvement with the Nelson Elementary PTA. That program received a national PTA honor unit award during her years of involvement.
Walston is a graduate of the first KASB Leadership for Tomorrow class, and has traveled with KASB to Washington, D.C. as part of the KASB Federal Relations Network. On her local board, Walston has served as president, vice-president and as the board’s governmental relations representative for KASB.
“Our Board’s involvement with the Kansas Association of School Boards has given me the opportunity to receive training on almost any issue facing public education,” she said.
She has served on the Association’s Legislative Committee and Nominating Committee, along with other special topic study committees.
“One of the most memorable was the KASB Religion in Schools committee,” she said. “We worked very hard to develop a monograph for all districts to use.”
Community service continues to be a high priority for her. She has served on the ChildStart Board of Directors, governing both the HeadStart and EvenStart programs, and on the board of the Pando Initiative, working with schools to help students in need be successful. Her latest community service involves the Assistance League of Wichita, furnishing clothes to children in need and support at the Sexual Assault Center.
She has been a Cub Scout leader and Girl School assistant leader, and received the “Order of the Buffalo” award during her tenure as an instructor with the Kansas Fish and Wildlife Hunter Safety Program.
“Serving on the board of my district and having worked in the largest district in Kansas has given me the opportunity to be involved with so many different programs such as Title 1 Parent Involvement, ESL, Migrant Education, and Native American Indian Education Programs,” she said.
Walston knows firsthand there is no shortage of students in need of support and assistance, and as a board of education member and community volunteer she works hard to find ways to help.
“I’ve continued to try to help state and federal legislators understand our Kansas public education system,” Walston said. “I believe public schools are so important to our way of life,” she said. “Remember, we are educating children for their future. As a member of my local board of education, I strive to improve public education and take care of our students.”
Walston and Pat, her husband of 50 years, have two children and three grandchildren.
Published October 2017 Kansas Association of School Boards
Region 5 Vice-President
Lori Blake represents 30 school districts in her role as Region 5 vice-president on the KASB Board of Directors, a position she has held since 2014.
She is in her second term on the Southeast of Saline USD 306 board of education. The central Kansas district has an enrollment of about 700 students. As a local board member, Blake attended various KASB workshops and trainings, including participation in KASB’s Leadership for Tomorrow.
Following her graduation in 2012 from that program and a stint representing her region on the association’s Legislative Committee, Blake welcomed the opportunity to become further involved.
“I wanted to ensure the opportunity is there for more districts to utilize KASB services,” she said.
Serving on the board of directors brings her the opportunity to bring a voice from the schools in her region to KASB and at the same time deepens her understanding of education issues. She greatly values the chance to learn more about different approaches to meeting the needs of students by developing relationships with peers across the state.
“Sharing ideas strengthens education for all Kansas kids,” she said, “and the professional development of board members learning from others’ experiences is key to providing innovative environments for students at home.”
Blake remains active in numerous church and community initiatives with a particular focus on children’s well being. As her own children entered school, she became more involved in the Southeast of Saline district.
One volunteer role included chairing the district’s strategic planning project. When she was approached in late 2008 to apply to fill an unexpired term on the local board, she liked the idea of being involved in implementing the recommendations. She was then elected in 2009, and re-elected in 2013.
“For me it’s important that we continue the traditions of excellence for our students that we are known for,” she said.
Blake is proud that the district continues to maintain high quality staff with very little turnover, even in these turbulent times. Other points of pride include the district’s one-to-one technology access for all grade levels, and a K-6 initiative giving every student the chance to learn to play the piano.
Among many other innovations, the district continues to be a leader in reducing system-wide energy consumption, thanks to a project that began as a student-led initiative in 2009. She credits much of the district’s success to a student-focused board of education.
“We’ve developed a systemic approach to addressing the annual needs of the district,” she said. “Our board comes from very diverse perspectives, but we have a shared vision of what’s best for kids.”
Published August 2016 Kansas Association of School Boards
KASB Region 4 Vice-President
Curt Herrman is in his third term as a board of education member for Manhattan-Ogden USD 383. He was first elected in 2007.
The district’s enrollment is about 6,000 students.As the KASB Region 4 vice president, Herrman represents 27 school districts in north central Kansas.
“I was originally appointed in 2012 to fill a vacant position on the KASB board, but decided to run since I really enjoyed serving students at a higher level,” he said.
Herrman values the opportunity to explore education issues at both the state and national levels and the chance to influence state legislative and congressional decisions. Much of that process involves listening and learning.
“I really enjoy hearing first hand what other districts across the state are doing to take on and resolve their challenges,” he said. “No matter the size of the district, we all have similar problems and it is great to see and hear the creative solutions people come up with.”
In his role with KASB Herrman sees first hand the value the association brings to the state.
“KASB is a critical partner in student success,” he said. “The resources are abundant and extremely beneficial to every player in the education game, not only K-12 schools, but also postsecondary and on into the careers of students across our great state.”
His interest in a local board of education role began with serving on several district committees, then growing frustrated that much of the time and effort involved in committee work didn’t seem to be producing results.
“Getting elected to the board provided me with a way to get more involved,” he said.
Herrman said as an elected board member he gained the ability to get something done while making sure the district respects and honors the work of advisory councils and committees.
“I fully acknowledge I am not an expert at everything. That’s why we have local resources of parents, teachers and administrators who advise the board,” he said.
His own family background made running for the school board an obvious choice.“I also wanted to have a deeper involvement in the board since both my parents were teachers and were leaders in their respective districts,” he said.
Herrman takes great pride in what the community accomplished with its 2008 bond issue. Because of his longevity on both the board and in the community, he has been there through it all.“
The best part? Beginning, executing and completing a $100 million bond issue that improved 12 buildings and gave us a first-class high school,” he said.
Among the many other successes he lists for the Manhattan-Ogden school district is the work being done to reduce the achievement gap, particularly with the district’s minority students.
“We were (and still are) the only district to have appointed a district diversity coordinator,” he said. “We’ve improved and created great trust between board members and teachers. We have a high level of mutual respect between the teachers and the school board.”
Herrman serves in various leadership roles on both the board and in the community, including serving on the Fort Hays State University Academic Advisory Board for the College of Business. And he clearly enjoys the opportunity to support the students in his own district.
“One of the most satisfying things I get to experience every year is high school graduation. Few things in life are better than seeing the enthusiasm and the energy of the young minds that the district has developed and is now sending out into the world to make a difference,” he said.
He is equally enthused about the start of the whole process.
“I love Kindergarten round up. The fresh faces and excitement are always a thrill to see,” Herrman said.Published August 2016 Kansas Association of School Boards
Region 3 Vice-President
Gail Billman Labette County USD 506
Gail Billman was first elected to the Labette County USD 506 school board in July 2011. She and her husband both have “deep family histories” of attending and graduating from Labette County Schools, she said.
“In large part the many successes we continue to see are due to the long history of local board of education support and advocacy,” Billman said. “I am proud to now carry on with that tradition.”
After being tapped to serve on the KASB Nominating Committee, Billman said she decided to seek a more active role in the Association. She was elected to the KASB Board of Directors as Region 3 vice-president in 2012, and re-elected to her second three-year term in 2015. She is a 2015 graduate of KASB’s Leadership for Tomorrow program.
“KASB is the go-to organization for local board support,” she said. “The positive, collaborative focus of regional meetings and annual conference empowers board members to join together and learn.”
Those opportunities help board members make better decisions at the local level, she said.
“Our students deserve folks working for them, and I am honored to be an elected official given the trust to do this,” Billman said. “We must also continue to advocate for local control, and work together through organizational assistance from KASB.”
“As Kansas board members, we learned from others how we can better advocate for our students. I was especially blessed this June to take my 15-year old daughter to DC with me,” Billman said. “She attended meetings with us on Capitol Hill and advocated from a student’s perspective.”
Billman encourages local board members to look beyond the boundaries of their own districts to gain perspective and ideas.
“You gain a lot of ideas when you come together with like-minded people who are supportive of all students in Kansas,” she said. “Through my KASB experiences, I have also made some life-long friendships,” she said.
Billman’s other community interests include church mission work and serving as a task force member for the Kansas Speech Language Hearing Association. Her local board service grew out of an interest in doing what she could to provide a future for her area of the state.
“I wanted to serve my community and help support our school district,” she said.
Now in her second term, she sees the progress the district has made through teamwork and collaboration.“We now have a well-focused team and have common goals that support the students’ successes,” she said.
Published August 2016 Kansas Association of School Boards
Region 2 Vice-President
Art Guiterrez Emporia USD 253 Board of EducationFor Art Gutierrez, serving on the Emporia USD 253 school board has been a good fit. Gutierrez was recently elected to the KASB Board of Directors as the Region 2 Vice President. As head of Systems and Technical Services and an associate professor at Emporia State University, Gutierrez’s knowledge and experience with technology makes him a great advocate as the school district improves student achievement through the use of advanced technologies. “That’s something I know about and can contribute to,” Gutierrez said. “At the college level, we are having these same discussions about student readiness and strategies we can employ to help students be successful and I was already thinking about those things, so I thought I could have a voice.” As a lifelong Emporian, Gutierrez also serves as an example. He grew up in a low-income Hispanic family and says that serving on the school board shows students from similar circumstances that they can succeed. “I wanted to serve as a role model for those students,” he said. Gutierrez said there needs to be more diversity among teachers and administrators in the district, which is about 45 percent Hispanic and where 60 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Putting together a more diverse school district staff is a huge challenge, Gutierrez said. “Everyone agrees that is a great idea, but we have a hard time making progress on that goal. We have to grow our own,” he said. And like any other parent with children in school, Gutierrez wanted to become more involved in district policies. He has two daughters, one in sixth grade and one in eighth grade. “That was a big impetus to get involved. A lot of parents are nervous about middle school,” he said. Gutierrez was elected to the school board in 2015 and is a graduate of the KASB Leadership for Tomorrow class of 2016-17. He has a master’s degree in Library Science and bachelor’s degree in computer information systems. At ESU, he teaches classes on research skills, information technology and information literacy, in addition to serving on numerous committees. He also serves on many community committees. He said the community is an enthusiastic supporter of the public schools. “There is always some organization giving a grant to the school district,” he said. Currently, he says state funding and school security are two major issues for the district. He agrees with the Kansans Can vision of leading the world in student success, but says it will require additional funding. “We have lofty goals with Kansans Can; we have to fully fund it now. I see a lot of push back and that is why we have to advocate for public education,” he said. Published April 2018 KASB School Board Review
Region 1 Vice-President
Jason Winbolt, a member of the Spring Hill USD 230 school board, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Kansans Can school redesign project and says perhaps the effort to make dramatic changes in the delivery of education is not going fast enough.
“I think that it’s time for a paradigm shift in education,” said Winbolt. “Maybe we don’t teach the same subjects we did 10 years ago. The world has changed so much for those future jobs,” he said.
Winbolt was recently elected to the KASB board of directors. He is the Region 1 vice president.
Winbolt was first elected to the Spring Hill school board in 2013 and re-elected last year. He and his wife have two daughters in Spring Hill schools.
Spring Hill is a fast-growing school district in Johnson and Miami counties that experienced a 10-percent increase in enrollment from last year.
The main focus of the district is to accommodate all that growth. In 2016, voters approved an $85 million bond issue, which included building a new elementary school and new middle school. The district is starting to consider another bond issue in a couple of years for another elementary school.
People are moving to the district because of its small-town feel and the excellent teachers, Winbolt said.
But the block grant funding system for two years hurt the district by essentially freezing its state revenue levels for two years.
“We’re going to continue to grow and we need support from our Legislature to make sure that they understand this area is growing,” he said.
Spring Hill joined the “Gemini” project to redesign two of its schools to match the State Board of Education’s outcomes of improving early learning, career and college planning and post-secondary success.
As a data analyst, Winbolt says it may sound strange for him to say, but he believes the state should look at changing some of the course requirements, such as algebra and geometry, to graduate. He said maybe a more general math class could be used.
“I think we need to start questioning. It’s time to push the envelope even more,” he said.
Published March 2018 Kansas Association of School Boards
KASB membership is represented by 15 regional vice-presidents. Representation is based on 10 geographical regions and an additional five are members of the five largest school districts in Kansas. Elections are held during regional meetings at the annual convention in December.
Ten of the regions are designated by county:
- Region 1-Counties Atchison, Doniphan, Douglas, Jefferson, Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte
- Region 2- Counties Anderson, Coffey, Franklin, Greenwood, Linn, Lyon, Miami, Osage, Shawnee and Wabaunsee
- Region 3- Counties Allen, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Crawford, Elk, Labette, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson
- Region 4- Counties Brown, Clay, Dickinson, Geary, Jackson, Marshall, Nemaha, Pottawatomie, Riley and Washington
- Region 5- Counties Chase, Harvey, Marion, McPherson, Morris, Reno, Rice and Saline
- Region 6- Counties Butler, Cowley, Sedgwick and Sumner
- Region 7- Counties Cloud, Ellis, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, Ottawa, Phillips, Rooks, Republic, Russell and Smith
- Region 8- Counties Barber, Barton, Comanche, Edwards, Harper, Kingman, Kiowa, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush and Stafford
- Region 9- Counties Cheyenne, Decatur, Gove, Graham, Greeley, Lane, Logan, Norton, Rawlins, Scott, Sheridan, Sherman, Thomas, Trego, Wallace and Wichita
- Region 10- Counties Clark, Finney, Ford, Grant, Gray, Hamilton, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Meade, Morton, Seward, Stanton and Stevens
Five regions are by district:
Five additional regions – Regions 11-15 – are comprised of the five member school districts with the greatest full time equivalent student population at time of regional elections. The member districts represented by Regions 11-15 are not included in Regions 1-10.
Each year there are members of the KASB Board of Directors up for election or re-election due to completing a 3-year team or an appointment to that position. The KASB Constitution provides for a 3-member Regional Nominating Committee convened in the region where an election is to take place. The committee's responsibility is to provide the Association with the names of board members interested in serving in this position.
Elections will be held for KASB Regions 1, 8, and 9 this year on Dec. 3, 2017 during the annual Delegate Assembly.
Candidates must be current members of KASB member-boards of education. Please contact a member of y0ur region's nominating committee to indicate your interest in running for a regional vice-president position.