Monday, March 28, 2011

42 percent of R-7 graduates that attend local community colleges must take remedial mathematics and English

It's news to me

Political sound bites

John Beaudoin, Journal Publisher

John Beaudoin is publisher of the Lee's Summit Journal.

Tuesday night’s R-7 school board forum had a lot of reoccurring themes.

The levy failed so let’s get over it. That was a big one.

Another centered on current board member and candidate Jon Plaas being right.

I lost track of how many times fellow board member Jack Wiley and hopefuls Chris Storms and Mike Smith commented about Plaas making a great point, agreeing with one of his statements or just flat out “being right.”

Perhaps they were just being polite. But if they really think that, maybe Jon will be one of the three candidates they vote for on April 5.

No one can argue that Plaas had a steady performance at the forum, reiterating his stance that the levy going to the voters wasn’t wrong, it was the amount and the fact that so much of it was going to “bail out” the teacher’s retirement fund.

“Once you raise the property tax,” Plaas noted, “anyone ever saw it come off?”

Storms said he is convinced that the levy issue should not go in front of the voters again “for the near future.”

Plaas noted the need for “solutions to external problems before we start asking citizens for more money.” He even came with some non-traditional ideas that may not prove to be real popular with parents who will be casting a ballot soon. Plaas said he would be in favor of kids not being eligible to earn a driver’s license if they fail the MAP test.

Smith didn’t have as strong of a performance at the forum, but still had a few choice sound bites for the crowd of 70-plus in attendance, saying the district was “out of balance” with the levy issue.

One area that Plaas and Smith didn’t agree on was whether budget cuts could come right from Central Office. Smith argued the district would “build morale and show character” if it cut from the top down. Plaas countered that the R-7 administration pay is already the ninth lowest in the state.

On the topic of school vouchers, most seemed to be turned off by the idea. Plaas continued his assault of the state elected officials, asking “what does it cost and who is going to pay the bills?”

Wiley noted that private schools get to pick their students, while the public districts take in everyone.

Storms also weighed in, noting that if that measure were to pass, “students would flock to the R-7 School District.”

A few interesting facts should also be noted from the forum.

Plaas said that 42 percent of R-7 graduates that attend local community colleges must take remedial mathematics and English.

Another was that board candidate Mike Smith has never been a school board meeting, a fact that Wiley chided him on.

“It is incumbent on a candidate to attend a board meeting when you file,” Wiley noted.

Candidate Terri Harmon was unable to stay past the first 15 minutes of the forum due to a family commitment.

It will be interesting to see how voters weigh in on these five come April 5.

John Beaudoin, a Lee’s Summit resident, is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To respond to today’s commentary, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail