Education First Shawnee Mission (EFSM), a Political Action Committee (PAC) and parent advocacy group for the Shawnee Mission School District, has released its endorsements for the 2021 Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education races. The following candidates have received EFSM’s endorsement as a Pro-Public Education Candidate:
- Heather Ousley: At Large (all SMSD area voters) – School District Member 6
- April Boyd-Noronha: Shawnee Mission West (only Shawnee Mission West area residents vote for this seat) – School District Member 4
- Mary Sinclair: Shawnee Mission East (only Shawnee Mission East area residents vote for this seat) – School District Member 2
“We were encouraged by our conversations with candidates running for the Board of Education,” said Megan Peters of EFSM. “In the last year, the importance of quality public education and the long-term value excellent public schools bring to our communities has never been more clear. As we continue to face the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more critical to support our public schools.”
EFSM, which is comprised of parents and community members in the Shawnee Mission School District, contacted all candidates who have filed to run in these elections to participate in their endorsement process. Two individuals, Brian Neilsen and Zach Roberts, chose to not participate. Formal surveys were sent to all the candidates who responded to EFSM’s inquiry. These surveys included questions based on EFSM’s initial main issues regarding the SMSD Board of Education: Transparency, Cultural Competence, Budget, Special Education, Culture and Anti-Racism. Candidates who completed the survey were then invited to meet individually, via Zoom, with members of EFSM to share more about their positions. EFSM used a professional rubric to score both the surveys and the subsequent interviews, and final decisions on endorsements were made by totaling those scores. A copy of the EFSM candidate survey can be found here.
These endorsements are being released after a tumultuous time for the Board of Education, including challenges with communication, teacher contract negotiations, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Many in the SMSD community have reached out to EFSM with concerns about this year’s slate of candidates, including those who were frustrated by the rocky 2020-2021 school year. “As moms, we were all frustrated by the ups and downs of the pandemic school year,” said Peters. “We understand the trepidation felt by some when endorsing incumbents who made challenging decisions last year, including some we did not personally agree with. However, we feel the current Board of Education members did what they could with imperfect and constantly changing information. We believe it’s important to work with elected officials who are transparent about their decisions and spend significant time engaging in our endorsement process. We wholeheartedly endorse Ousley, Sinclair and Boyd-Noronha and believe they are the best choices for these challenging, complex positions.”
The General Election will take place on November 2, 2021. Residents can register to vote through Tuesday, October 12, 2021 and request an advanced mail ballot through October 26, 2021. Advanced in-person voting begins October 23, 2021.