SBR President’s Perspective: Every child deserves first-rate educationAndrea Hartzell
by C. Patrick Woods
Topeka USD 501
Greetings fellow board members. It’s my great honor to serve as president of KASB for this year. I want to thank you all for all that you do to help your districts realize our shared goal of a first-class public education for all students, and for your commitment to our association. I especially want to thank immediate past-president Dayna Miller, who has led with grace dignity in trying situations.
Education is a “kitchen table” issue in my house, as my children attend school in my district, where my wife also teaches. Twelve years ago, I was a young policy aide in the office of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. The governor had just signed a multi-year school finance package into law, worth almost $500 million over the next three years, during a signing ceremony with legislative leaders of both parties. This followed a special legislative session in which legislators voted to boost school finance by nearly $300 million in one year. This legislation was accompanied by several positive policy changes and supported by legislators from both sides of the isle. After many difficult years, school districts throughout Kansas would have the resources they needed to ensure a first-class public education system for every child.
Inspired by our leaders’ commitment to a high quality public education system, I sought election to my local school board because I knew that my district, Topeka USD 501, would receive funds to build this system, and I believed that I could help in making the policy to shape these efforts. After eleven years as a local school board member and eight years as a member of the board of directors for KASB, I remain inspired by the outstanding public servants – school board members – with whom I have the pleasure to work.
Last December, I stood before the Delegate Assembly and declared my candidacy for president of the association for the exact same reason – because I firmly believe that every Kansas child has a right to a first-class public education, where they can fully develop their talents and fulfill their God-given potential. And, I believe that KASB is a critical element in each of our district’s ability to realize these ideals.
KASB is an essential element because it is uniquely positioned to serve districts’ needs in three critical ways: to serve as the advocate for public education in the Statehouse; to be the conduit between our public education system and the business community, which must be our partner in the effort to prepare students for the 21st century workforce; and to provide the critical legal and leadership development services that make a great school district even greater. These are challenges that each of our districts face, and KASB is there to help us address them.
As Kansans prepare to begin a new school year, I am optimistic about our ability to address these challenges. I’ve witnessed on numerous occasions school board members from across the state working together to ensure that our districts can provide each student with the first-class education that they deserve. This challenge, and our job as local board members, won’t be easy – it never has been. However, I know that we’re up to the challenge, and our association will be behind us 100 percent.