Center School Board candidates speak out
By John Sharp and Kathy Feist
In the Center School District, four candidates are running for two seats with 3-year terms on its Board of Education in the first contested school board election in the District in many years. The top two vote getters will be the winners.
Ronald Fritz is a 36-year retired educator with masters, specialist and doctorate degrees in education who has served as a coach, teacher, principal and administrator in three different states. He retired from the Jefferson City School District where he says he has “gotten to know a few folks” at the capitol. Fritz says he is running in order improve student achievement. “When I moved here five or six years ago it was because of the reputation of the school district,” he says. “Since then student achievement levels have gone down. I want to offer my expertise,” he concludes. Fritz has two sons who are teachers in the District and three grandchildren who are students in District schools.
Paul Kramschuster has been a teacher in Blue Springs and has taught at Notre Dame de Sion School for over 15 years. He has a daughter currently enrolled at Center High School where his wife is a teacher. He has a masters degree in theology with an emphasis in biblical studies.
Kramschuster chose to take his daughter out of the Blue Springs schools in Lakewood and place her in Center’s. “It was an excellent fit. It offered a well rounded, complete education,” he recalled. “We found Center to be a welcoming and diverse community.” He would like to preserve that as well as get test scores back up. “Only five years ago it was the ‘Top Urban School in the State of Missouri,’” he says. “It has slipped a little. But I hope it can continue.” Kramschuster says he’s knocked on 600 doors to talk to District families and listen to their concerns. He says he is not afraid to ask tough questions.
Rebecca Lahann is a public sector human resources manager and parent with three children in District schools. She and her husband have lived in the District for over 13 years, and they are both active in the Scouting program at Boone Elementary School where she is Tiger Den Leader.
Lahann sees three challenges within the school district: funding, better collaboration and a recent growth spurt. She says the District population in the elementary schools has grown 18 percent since 2013. Working in human resources for the City of Kansas City, she is used to dealing with bureaucracy and demanding greater transparency when it comes to funding. She says she is also aware of “what happens when students graduate and get in the working world.”
Stephen Stricklin is a current member of the Board who has served since his selection in 2011 to fill a vacancy. A field manager for a communications company, Stricklin is a 23-year District resident who has a son enrolled at Center High School and two other children who are Center graduates.
“I would like to continue to serve on the Board of Education and work even harder to give each student in our District a chance to expand who they are, explore new opportunities and excel in everything they choose to do,” Stricklin said. If elected to the Board, he said, “I will always remember the reason we do this is to give very child a chance.” He said it is important for students to believe in themselves, “but it may be more important for them to feel someone else believes in them more than they do.”