The Hays USD 489 Board of Education has been in the spotlight in recent years and months for numerous decisions the seven-member board has made, whether it be with teacher negotiations and insurance, proposed bonds or the myriad of other items.
It takes a special person to want to sit on a board that represents the largest chunk of taxpayer money in the city. So each of the four candidates vying for the three open seats in Tuesday’s general election should be applauded for rising to the challenge.
Three names will appear on the ballot — Lance Bickle, Mike Walker and Sophia Rose Young — while Kevin Daniels has mounted a write-in campaign.
Bickle currently is serving on the board as its president, and he’s the longest-serving member currently. Bickle, a benefits consultant with Aflac, has proven he’s capable of making tough decisions in the best interest of the district — sometimes to the pleasure and displeasure of employees. He’s also helped get the district to look at the long-term picture, not just current situations. That’s a plus, and something that’s been missing at times. He’s a good choice to fill one of the three open spots.
Walker, director of the Docking Institute of Public Affairs, has been keeping a close eye on BOE proceedings since deciding to throw his name into the ring. He’s been in attendance for numerous board meetings and started to grasp an early knowledge of what board members must deal with. He is community-minded and has the ability to base decisions on research. That’s a positive. He’s a good choice to represent USD 489. We just ask that he refrain from any discussions pertaining to the Docking Institute in the future while seated on the board — if any should arise — and perhaps change his biography page on Docking’s website until after he is elected.
The third choice leads to Daniels, who has been spurred by many parents and community members to make a write-in run. Daniels sought the open seat to replace Sarah Rankin, who moved with her family to Colorado recently. He was not chosen, but decided to stage the write-in campaign that has gained significant traffic. The pastor at Hays Christian Church is active in school activities and understands the struggles faced by students and teachers in the district. The support he’s gathered from community members shows their trust in him, in a sense, turning him into the “people’s candidate.” He understands trust has been an issue with the board in the past, and he’s willing to work on that through transparency. He’s a logical choice for one of the BOE spots, but will have to refrain from voting on issues that pertain to his household since his wife is a substitute para-educator in the district, if any should arise. His doing that, if elected, might serve as an epiphany for other members with spouses as employees to refrain from conflicts of interest as well.
Young is donor communications manager for Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas. Her passion to represent young and unmarried parents is commendable, but there’s also a lot more to being a school board member than representing one demographic of the community. A few more years of experience with district issues will serve her well before hopefully making another run.
Editorial by The Hays Daily News