Piper candidate forum planned March 30

A forum for Piper School Board candidates will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 30, at Piper High School auditorium, 4400 N. 107th, Kansas City, Kan.

On the ballot this year for the Piper Board of Education are Cory Appl, Tom Beebe, Ashley Biondi, Steve Buff, Desiree Fergus, Neal Palmer, Lisa K. Sullivan and Jeb Vader.

The Piper candidate questionnaires we have received so far include:

Other questionnaire responses will be added as they are received.

The general election is Tuesday, April 7. Advance voting has already begun.

For more details about advance voting, polling places and voter information, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/walk-in-advance-voting-begins-today-march-28/

Candidate questionnaire: Lisa Sullivan

Name and office sought:
Lisa Sullivan
Piper School Board

Age: 48

Business Office Specialist
Overland Park Surgery Center

Bachelor of Science Business Administration
Kansas State University, 1989

Organizations, clubs, groups to which you belong

Piper School Board (Current Vice President)—8 years
Piper PTA (Former President)—14 years
Piper Booster Club (Treasurer)—5 years
Piper Auction Committee (Current Chair)—5 years
Sacred Heart Auction Committee—8 years
Sacred Heart Baptism Prep Team
Bethel College Booster Club Member

Reasons for running
I am active in Piper Schools and have been for 14 years. I am frequently in our schools and our offices. I speak with students, with parents, and with teachers. More importantly than speaking to them, I listen. I hear their issues. I respond and react to their issues. I truly take their issues to heart and want to help find a workable solution, whenever possible.

I believe in our community and I believe in our children. Our district motto is “Building the future one child at a time.” These aren’t just words to me. I believe wholeheartedly that every child matters, that every child can succeed. It is our job as parents, as a community and as a school board to make sure that each and every child counts and we are accountable to them and for them. I believe that in my 8 years on the school board, I have contributed to positive change in our district. While we have made great strides, I feel that there is still work to be done, that we must continue to work towards a common goal.

What is your top campaign issue?
If I have to pick one issue, I would say that the looming issue is that each of our schools is near capacity. I feel like the upcoming bond election provides a solution to this problem and will solve overcrowding for decades to come.

There may be budget constraints facing local governments and schools. If you had to make cuts, what would be at the top of the list to cut?
There is no “right” answer to this question. We have weathered many financial crises in the past and will weather this one as well. For me, it has always been critical that budget cuts do not directly touch the students and their families. We, as a board, have resisted the path that many districts have taken. We do not charge for all day kindergarten, we do not charge for busing. We have not raised book fees, pay-to-play fees, or frozen the salaries of our staff. We have been recognized as one of the most efficient districts in the state and this comes through hard work and continual planning. Budget cuts will be necessary, but they can be achieved without impacting the education of our children.

If you are an incumbent, list your top accomplishments in office. If you are not an incumbent, what would you change?
I cannot personally claim a “top accomplishment.” I am one member of a board and we all bring something different to the table. Our accomplishments over the last 8 years have been extensive. We have received over 70 Standard of Excellence distinctions since 2005. We have increased academic rigor, strengthened our graduation requirements, and our ACT scores rank in the top 10 percent of schools in the 21-county metro area. I am proud of all of these things. I am most proud that I have always stood up for my beliefs and stood up for our students and staff. I am Piper Proud.

What is the difference, on the issues, between you and the other candidates running for this office?
I can’t speak out against the other candidates running for this position. To do so would be inappropriate as I believe that all of us are seeking the position with the heart to do something good for our community and for our children. I can personally say that I am not in this for the glory or the recognition. With this position comes headache and heartache at times. I seek this position because I know that through the headache and heartache, there is also great success.

Have you run for elected office previously? When, results?
I have successfully run for school board in 2007 and 2011.

Candidate questionnaire: Desiree’ Fergus

Name and office sought
Desiree’ Fergus, Piper Board of Education, Unexpired Position.

Age: 36

Occupation: I have worked for the Board of Public Utilities for 11 years. I am a Field Service Representative in the Electric Operations Division.

: I graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1997 and graduated with my AGS Degree with a focus in Business and Utilities Management, in 2013 from KCKCC with Cum Laude and Phi Theta Kappa Honors.

Organizations, clubs, groups to which you belong
I am a member of Village Community Church. 11 year member of the Local 53, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and also serve as a Union Steward. And have previously served as a member of the BPU Employee Foundation. I am also a member of the NAACP.

Reasons for running
My husband and I chose to raise our family in the Piper community. We have amazing memories of our children attending elementary through high school years here. Piper Schools have provided our children with a strong academic base and a range of extracurricular opportunities. I want the same experiences for all Piper students. Having 5 children currently attending school in the district, I have spent time in the classrooms, and I have volunteered at countless extracurricular activities. I realize the need for people who are committed to the long-term success of all of our children. It is my intention that all students who attend Piper receive the best education possible and that taxpayers receive the greatest possible return on their investment. I don’t have a hidden agenda or platform. I only have a true willingness and desire to serve our children and community with the commitment they deserve.

What is your top campaign issue?
Quality Education is my top campaign issue. We have some of the most committed teachers I have ever met. At recent board meetings staff members were recognized for their years of service to our district and our children. Sixteen percent of the staff in Piper USD 203 have been serving here continuously for 15-30 years. Having spent time in the classroom volunteering with some of these teachers, I have seen their dedication first hand. Having seen them work under strained budgets and in overcrowded classes, I am amazed by what they do. However, I am concerned that with continual growth and classes busting at the seams, what long term effect is this going to have on the quality education that we all pride ourselves on here in USD 203.

There may be budget constraints facing local governments and
schools. If you had to make cuts, what would be at the top of the list to cut?

Serving as a member of School Board requires you to make tough decision regarding the budget and cuts. Making cuts should never be taken lightly, and I don’t think it would be fair to answer this question never having served as a member on the board. Making decisions on those cuts are a collaborative decisions and require in-depth knowledge on what our District’s needs are.

If you are an incumbent, list your top accomplishments in office.
If you are not an incumbent, what would you change?

My intentions are not necessarily to come in and make “Changes.” I would however, like to find a way to increase and promote parental and community member involvement in the lives of our students. This would include the academic aspect and extra curricular activities that students are involved in.

What is the difference, on the issues, between you and the other candidates running for this office?
It’s hard to say, from the Information I have gathered at this point, there is a general consensus on the challenges that our district is facing. With that being said I am looking forward to our upcoming candidate forum.

Have you run for elected office previously? When, results?
No, this is my first attempt to run for elected office.