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The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

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Olathe Residents Will Vote for Four New School Board Members

Voting for the four Olathe school board seats will be held Tuesday, Nov. 7
Campaign+signs+for+candidates+of+the+school+board+lined+up+outside+of+the+election+building.
Campaign signs for candidates of the school board lined up outside of the election building.

Currently there are four open seats on our school board. On Nov. 7 the election for who will take these seats will occur. The school board in Olathe consists of seven people that represent the Olathe Public Schools. Every school board across the country has the job of ensuring the district runs smoothly. 

Once a candidate is voted onto the school board they will hold that position for four years. The elections are staggered to ensure the whole board isn’t being replaced all at one time. 

All of the seats hold a position on the board; these positions are numbered one through seven. To keep it organized, Olathe is split into three districts with specific representatives. There are two school board members assigned for each district, the seventh seat on the board is the “at-large position.” The at-large position is not assigned a specific district of Olathe. The seats that are open to be placed are positions one and four from district one, position two from district two, and position seven, the at-large position.

The candidates are Dan Adera-Odhiambo, Mark Wingren and Stacey Yurkovich for member one, Brad Boyd and Jesse GIllam for member two, Claire Reagan and Holly Palacio for member four, and Jennifer Gilmore and Will Babbit for at-large.

Olathe West falls into district three, meaning we won’t be getting a new representative, however this doesn’t mean that the election won’t affect our school. All of the members of the school board work for the entire district in addition to representing their certain parts of Olathe. 

The Kansas City beacon sent a questionnaire out to all of the candidates to see their opinions on certain issues. Some of these issues were school funding/spending, book banning, and the treatment of LGBTQ+ students as well as being asked some open ended questions:

School Board Candidates
Photo courtesy of danforolatheboe.com
Photo courtesy of danforolatheboe.com
Dan Adera-Obhiambo

Adera believes that schools need to get more money to spend because they need every resource available. Adera didn’t provide an answer on his opinion on book banning in Olathe. Adera also didn’t provide an answer for his opinion on the treatment of LGBTQ+ students.

Photo courtesy of kidswinwithwingren.com
Photo courtesy of kidswinwithwingren.com
Mark Wingren

Wingren believes that we need to spend less money on the schools themselves and more money on teachers, paras and bus drivers. Wingren believes that there are just some books that should not be allowed for students of a certain grade level. Wingren didn’t provide an answer for his opinion on LGBTQ+ students.

Photo courtesy of www.olatheschools.org
Photo courtesy of www.olatheschools.org
Stacey Yurkovich

Yurkovich believes we need to spend more money on schools so that all aspects of schools are fully funded, including special education. Yurkovich says that there is a system in place that regulates books for her district of Olathe. Yurkovich says that Olathe follows the state laws regarding LGBTQ+ students and that these students are supported by the staff in our schools.

Photo courtesy of www.olatheschools.org
Photo courtesy of www.olatheschools.org
Brad Boyd

Boyd didn’t respond to the questions.

Photo courtesy of gillamforolathe.com
Photo courtesy of gillamforolathe.com
Jesse Gillam

Gillam didn’t respond to the questions.

Photo courtesy of reaganforolathe.com
Photo courtesy of reaganforolathe.com
Claire Reagan

Reagan is in support of the funding in Olathe but believes that it doesn’t do enough for special education students and staff members. Reagan says that the question of book banning doesn’t concern her district because there are professionals that deal with banning books. Reagan said that Olathe schools should do more to include LGBTQ+ students. “Students must feel seen and welcome in our schools in order to best learn in them,” Reagan said.

Photo courtesy of hollyforolathekids.com
Photo courtesy of hollyforolathekids.com
Holly Palacio

Palacio believes that the board needs to focus on classroom expenses such as teacher salaries and protecting classrooms. Palacio believes that books should enhance a diverse education outlined within the district policy and be open to reviews. Palacio said that LGBTQ+ students deserve to be seen and should be treated equally, however she responded ‘neither’ to the categories “My school district and its school board should do more to…” and  “Include LGBTQ+ students and ensure they can use names, pronouns and bathrooms that don’t correlate to their gender assigned at birth.”

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Gilmore for Olathe School Board Facebook page
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Gilmore for Olathe School Board Facebook page
Jennifer Gilmore

Gilmore believes we are spending too much on school and need to reevaluate where Olathe is spending its money. Gilmore believes we haven’t been proactive in banning books. She says that we should protect children’s innocence and ban sexually explicit books, she believes that the books should be up to the parent to buy for their home. Gilmore simply said “This question is poorly worded,” in response to the question of LGBTQ+ students’ treatment in school.

Photo courtesy of willbabbitforolathe.com
Photo courtesy of willbabbitforolathe.com
Will Babbit

Babbit believes we need to spend more to provide well-paid educators and good resources available for success with our students. “I am adamantly opposed to any book-banning efforts in schools,” Babbit said. He believes that it should be left to the teachers and librarians to make decisions based on curriculum. Babbit said that Olathe should do more and that we are doing a good job now. He wants to create a safe environment for expression among students. 

Some of this year’s candidates already have a standing with the board. Gilmore recently had a lawsuit against the Olathe School Board, and Yurkovich served on the board for some of the remainder of last year.

During a school board meeting, Gilmore appeared as a parent of a student in the school district to speak during the public comments section of the meeting. While speaking, she accused chairwoman Julie Steele of buying her seat on the board, Joe Beveridge then had Gilmore removed from the room. After this occurred Gilmore decided to sue the Olathe School Board for a violation of her freedom of speech. On Nov. 2, the jury declared that the school board had discriminated against her, and Gilmore won.

Yurkovich served on the board last year to fill a vacancy in position one. LeEtta Felter resigned last year after 12 years. In her absence Yurkovich stepped up, but as she was never voted onto the board she must officially run in this election to hold her position.

The importance of voting on election day can be felt throughout the district. The people voted onto the school board will be in charge of setting policies regarding students of the Olathe school district and deciding what resources they allow students to have for the next four years.

 

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About the Contributor
Avery Mathieu, Writer
Avery Mathieu is a junior staff member for the Owl Post. This is her first year on the staff. The other activity she is involved in at Olathe West is theatre. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, crocheting and listening to Taylor Swift. 

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