Arthur Benson Defeated for KC School Board Re-election
April 3, 2012

KC School Board member Arthur Benson loses his re-election campaign to challenger Jon Hile.

The man who may have done the most to impact the Kansas. City School District over the last generation, has lost his bid to be re-elected to the Kansas City School Board.
With 90% of the vote in from the Kansas City Election Board, School Board member Arthur Arthur Benson trails his first district challenger Jon Hill by 12 points.
Hile has 461 votes. Benson has 363 votes.
Benson was the lead attorney in the Kansas City school desegregation case.
The judgement from years of litigation, often led by Benson it a landmark chapter in the saga of the troubled district.
The case led to a billion dollars of state and local spending in the district; a massive busing plan and charter and magnet schools.
Benson was elected to school board as a reformer he promised to clear out the patronage politics that riddled the district.
He became a staunch defender of former Superintendent John Covington, only to be stunned when Covington abruptly quit his Kansas City job.
The Benson/Hile race was the Only Kansas City School Board race where candidates formally files for office.
12 other candidates, including School Board President Airick West and incumbent Duane Kelly offered write-in campaigns.
The results from the three campaigns with write-in candidates only won’t be known for several days.
Election Board Commissioner Shawn Kieffer says it could take 7-10 days to count the write-in votes by hand.


Ramey Resigns from Top KC School District Post
December 22, 2011

Another top staffer from the Kansas City School District is leaving his post.
Chace Ramey offered his resignation to the KC School Board Wednesday night.
“It is time that I explore new opportunities and avenues for leading educational change and driving efforts to guarantee every child is provided a quality education.”
He stated in his resignation letter.
Ramey becomes the fifth top administrator to leave the embattled district in the last few month.
The district was jolted by the abrupt resignation of Superintendent John Covington in August.
Three other top staffers, Rebecca Lee-Gwin; MuUndree Prince and Mary Esselman resigned and joined Covington at his new post. He was named to a post in Michigan and assigned to raise the academic achievement of Michigan’s struggling students.


KC School Board Rea Member on Turmoil: “We Should All Be Ashamed”
November 21, 2011

Here are excerpts of an op-ed piece in Monday’s Kansas City Star from Kansas City SVchool Board Crispin Rea on the state of the KC Schools:

Now is the time to stop playing politics with the kids’ education. Now is the time to double up our efforts and refocus our attention on achievement. Now is the time to act like adults. We all have an open invitation to return to the commitment we had before Aug. 24. It is in the best interest of our students and families that we do so.

The spirit of Kansas City has long been evoked in state-of-the city speeches, civic initiatives, and political campaigns.

This spirit is best captured by Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, “The Kansas City Spirit.”

The painting portrays a man, in the wake and devastation of the floods of 1951, rolling up his sleeves with one hand and clutching blueprints and tools in the other. He boldly looks ahead at the task of rebuilding the city and offers the raw determination and commitment needed to persevere. It seems that spirit we Kansas Citians pride ourselves on has escaped us these last couple of months.

Before us is a challenge with far graver implications than the flood of 1951. Civic, business and community leaders, teachers and parents, board members and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, must all work together to rebuild what we allowed to be destroyed. We have the blueprints and we have the tools. Now all we have to do is ignite that spirit and do what we had no choice but to do in the past — come together and persevere.

On Aug. 24, then-Superintendent John Covington submitted his resignation to the board and the commitment, dedication, and passion of all involved seemed to dissipate overnight. The board became embroiled in chaos as fingers were pointed in all directions. Scores took an expected dip and accreditation was lost. Several senior staff members have since followed Covington to Detroit. Civic and business leaders are jockeying for position and power as the state education commissioner solicits their ideas about the potential of an appointed board.

We should all be ashamed of how we have handled ourselves since Aug. 24. We have a moral obligation to ensure our kids receive the best education possible. To this point, as a community we have fallen incredibly short of upholding that duty. On Nov. 14 at a public meeting, State Commissioner of Education, Chris Nicastro, met with the school board. She strongly expressed her desire to work with the current board. The importance of working together as a community cannot be adequately stressed.
Read more:

More from the Audit of the KCMSD
October 11, 2011

Here are some of the main findings of Missouri Auditor Tom Schwiech’s audit of the Kansas City School district.

This audit was finished June, 30 2010, so a lot of water has passed through the dam since this.

-KCMSD did not always competitively bid or effective monitor some contracts.

-From 2007-10 KCMSD spent almost $2 million on incentives (ipods & gift coupons to students with good grades). During the same time the KCMSD spent more than $2 million on food not attributed to travel.

-KCMSD doesn’t control it’s unused equipment well. It’s paying more than $2 million a year for utilities for closed buildings.

-Auditors asked district to track down 14 missing copiers. They found nine in storage will they were still paying for them.

-The report says the $800/month car allowance for former superintendent Dr. John Covington “did not appear reasonable”. The allowance was included in his contract. The report says he would have to drive 1,600 miles a month on business travel tyo be entitled for the reimbursement.

Missouri Audit oif KC School Distirct Due Today
October 11, 2011

Missouri State Auditor Tom Schwiech will release the results of an audit of the Kansas City, Missouri School District this morning.

Schwiech has a news conference later Tuesday morning.

The audit has nothing directly to do with last month’s withdrawal of accreditation by the Missouri department of education.

No does it have anything to do with the turmoil in late August and September over the sudden resignation of KC superintendent Dr. John Covington.

Schwiech and his staff have been working on the audit report for some time prior to that.

The school district’s budget has been under severe strain in the last few years.

The KC school system closed nearly half of its buildings two years ago because of declining enrollment. It was also a way to save money for the district.

The patrons of the district have not approved a rise in the distirct’s school levy for more than 40 years.