Early testing for USD 259 candidates at public forum

Wichita Public Schools

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The group, Women for Kansas, hosted an open forum for USD 259 school board candidates on Saturday. The candidates showed up prepared to explain what could make them the candidate that gets your vote in the upcoming election.

Though not all were in attendance, District 5 candidates Mike Rodee and Peter Grant were absent, as well as District 2 and 6 candidates, Debra Washington and Shirley Jefferson.

The candidates at the forum were given a platform to discuss their qualifications and concerns for the district board seat. Current District 1 School Board Director, Betty Arnold was also at the forum.

“Now typically when you are running for office, what you think you will be doing and what you actually are doing when you are elected to the board are two different things,” said Arnold.

Main topics of the forum included school policies, transparency, parent engagement and curriculum. .

“Part of being a board member will be making tough decisions and discussing uncomfortable subjects in public so, here we go! Sex Ed,” said Ben Blankley, District 1 candidate.

Each candidate dived in on issues as well as solutions to enhance student teacher developments.

“What I bring to the board is the opportunity to see from the business point of view, budgeting for example,” said Walt Chappell, District 6 candidate. “Collaboration with parents and students but also realizing every child can learn.”

“Too many times I’ve gone to meetings and people will just vent, it turns into a venting session and then about two or three days later we’re back in the classroom,” added Ron Rosales, District 6 candidate. “And day by day you lose track of what’s going on.”

“I’m not afraid to ask those difficult questions. I also am involved with teachers and family members and my community and the district that I’ll serve,” said Julie Hedrick, District 2 candidate.

“We absolutely have to have collaboration and more than that we have to have open discussion,” said Trish Hileman, District 2 candidate.

There were some differences of opinions on approach in today’s discussion but there was one topic of mutual agreement.

“I would love to see a School Board that is committed to the education of our students,” added Arnold. “That that’s upper most in your mind.”

More public forums can be expected as the election nears.

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