Archive for Wednesday, January 10, 2007

School board members file to retain seats

Bittel supports educational opportunities

January 10, 2007

Education is everything to Doug Bittel -- in his personal life and in his role as a Basehor-Linwood school board member.

And education will remain his No. 1 focus if he is elected to a second term on the board.

A molecular biologist and medical researcher in the section of medical genetics at Children's Mercy Hospital, Bittel, 47, has spent a lot of time on his own education. He said he realizes how important a good education is and wants to continue to foster that in the Basehor-Linwood district.

"Education has been extremely important in my life," he said. "Whatever success I've had is because of my education. I want to do what I can to help our school district be as good as it can be."

Bittel has filed for the school board elections, which will be April 3, and is up against newcomer Leigh Farris for the at-large position. Incumbent Dayna Miller has also filed for the No. 2 position and another newcomer, Jeane Redmond has filed for the No. 1 seat. The filing deadline is noon Jan. 23.

Having a career in a competitive field has made Bittel acutely aware that the Basehor-Linwood district must be internationally competitive.

"We have to make sure our kids are getting the best in the world because they have to compete with kids in China, India and virtually all other countries," he said. "We can do that in Basehor. If I can add to that just a little bit, my time spent is very important."

While he said he feels facilities take a backseat to education, they often go hand-in-hand. The district needs the classroom space to offer more advanced classes.

"What was college level when I was in school is now routinely offered in good high schools," he said. "I don't like taxes more than anybody else, but there's nothing more important than education."

Retaining teachers and providing the resources they need also are a priority.

"I can't think of any job more important than that," he said about teachers. "If you've got 35 kids in a classroom -- it's hard. They always do the best they can with whatever resources we give them. I want to give the teachers as much support as we can."

Ultimately, he said he is pleased with the education the district has provided to his daughter, a 2003 graduate and his son, a freshman, and will continue to support the betterment of the district.

"It has been a great place for our kids to grow up and we feel very fortunate to have spent the last 12 years in this part of Kansas and, specifically, in Basehor," he said. "People who have talked to me and have followed the school board see that I don't really have an agenda. We're just doing the best that we can for the kids in the district."

Miller believes facilities top priority list

Dayna Miller has a few things she wants to finish.

And that's one of the main reasons she is running for a second term on the Basehor-Linwood school board.

"I don't feel like the things that we have started working on are done yet," she said. "We haven't passed the bond issue, we haven't solved the facilities issue and that is something I would like to see during my term. I think our kids deserve that."

Miller, 39, is currently serving her first term on the school board in the No. 2 position and has filed to run for a second term. Incumbent Doug Bittel has filed for the at-large position as has newcomer Leigh Farris. Another newcomer, Jeane Redmond, has filed for the No. 1 seat. The filing deadline is noon Jan. 23. Elections will be April 3.

After earning a degree in elementary education from Washburn University, Miller and her family moved to Basehor in December 2000. Soon after, she started working for the family business, S&S Alloy Steel Inc. in Tonganoxie. She said they chose Basehor specifically because of the excellent school district.

"It was a small community and we wanted our kids to grow up in a small community," Miller said about her daughter, who is now a sixth-grader, and her son, who is in third grade. "We're very happy with the area and very pleased with our decision."

Her involvement as a community member in the bond issue campaign sparked her interest in the school board. As a school board member, a successful bond issue remains a top priority.

"As far as our district is concerned, facilities are at the top of the list," she said. "And curriculum is a close second. At this point, it is wonderful, but we always want to improve so the kids benefit."

Miller's participation in the Kansas affiliate of the National Education Association negotiating committee has also influenced her support for teacher salaries. She said that while there is still competition from surrounding districts, Basehor-Linwood has been able to increase teacher salaries every year.

"That is something I'm always concerned with," she said. "We need to keep our qualified staff with us. As a board, obviously that's a goal."

As for personal qualities, Miller said that if re-elected, she will continue to ask questions and bring her listening skills to the board.

"We need to always be asking questions -- of our state legislators, superintendent and of our staff," she said. "We should be asking questions in all things that we do as a board. I also try really hard to listen to everyone -- community members as well as staff and fellow board members."

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