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USD 229 Blue Valley District 6 BOE

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    Jim McMullen

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    Lindsay Weiss

Biographical Information

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

What skills, expertise, experience, or competencies qualify you for this position?

How would you suggest your school district address diversity issues for the most positive outcome?

With the recent pandemic, what technology or innovative changes do you envision for the district?

Personal Biography I was born and raised in Johnson County. I graduated from Georgetown University in the early 1990s and became an English teacher in rural Mississippi for several years before launching my legal and business career. My wife and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary. We have 5 children ... three have graduated from the district, our fourth child is a senior at BV West, and then we have God’s surprise, who is 9 years old. I launched Royal Blue Capital in 2009; it is based in Overland Park.
Campaign Phone (913) 220-1263
Education Georgetown University, B.S.F.S, 1992 University of Kansas, School of Law, J.D., 1997
Community/Public Service Co-Founder of PVA Volleyball Club, one of the largest youth volleyball clubs in Johnson County; Cub Scout Den Leader for 6 years; Youth Baseball Coach for 4 years; Managed 200 volunteers for Swimming Championships for the 2017 Country Club League Swim Association of Kansas City; Led the BVSW Wrestling Team's annual auction in 2020
1. Literacy. There is an urgent need to bring students’ literacy development into greater focus by creating an early intellectual infrastructure of advanced literacy, knowledge, and personal development for all students. It needs to begin in elementary school. Our community must respond to the rapid society-wide changes that have occurred in the past 15 years and which have materially altered the way that we all consume and digest information. Academic training is compartmentalized into disciplines. What I am addressing, however, is a true inter-disciplinary approach to advanced reading, writing and public speaking that needs to incorporate every intellectual discipline.

2. Early Reading Instruction & Remedial Instruction. BV is thankfully shifting back to phonics-based reading instruction. Many older readers are not well grounded in the Science of Reading. Additionally, Covid learning loss is real. Many of our students need additional support in this area.

3. Smaller class sizes.
I began my career as an educator, teaching junior high and high school English. I continued as a teacher during my legal training, as a teaching assistant at Kansas Law School. I have never lost my passion for education, nor a calling to serve my community for no other purpose than to make it better for my children, their children and my neighbors.

During my career, I have developed extensive expertise in finance, accounting, contractual matters, etc. that give me a unique skillset to help manage the financial and legal affairs of such a large and sprawling organization.

As a Kansas lawyer, I have taken a keen interest in the school finance cases that have been a constant political football at the legislature and Kansas Supreme Court. I understand those legal issues as well as any lawyer in the state.

Finally, although I am a strong advocate for my particular perspective, I am persuadable and seek to build consensus with my colleagues. Those traits would serve the Board well.
I have been immensely disappointed with the District’s recent diversity initiatives. Rather than using the immense and increasing diversity of our community as a way to expand the educational offerings that students can access, the District has elected to delve into the most anti-intellectual aspects of the “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” industry, which sells identity politics rather than intellectual engagement, rigorous content, and open inquiry consistent with the traditions of the Enlightenment. The world is rapidly changing. Our community has members who hail from every end of the globe, and yet, we are all involved in the American experiment. Our students must have a solid understanding of the foundations of Western Civilization, while also delving in far greater depth into the civilizations, literature, governments and economies east and south of Europe that thrived while most of Europe was a barren land of nomadic tribes.
The interdisciplinary approach to reading, writing and public speaking that I mentioned above is the innovative change that the district needs to embrace. On technology, I advocate removing most of the technology that has been introduced into the classroom, especially at younger ages, but also into high school. There should be very little work done at the elementary or junior high level on chrome books and other devices. Retention of facts is far better when children read books (and even more so when they annotate in those books) than when they read on a screen. The process of writing with pen and paper improves a student's ability to recall (and more importantly understand) that information over inputting information onto a computer. Our students already have extensive technology engagement outside of school. Increased technology over the past 5 years has not coincided with an improvement in reading or math scores in the district. Rather, those scores have fallen 5 straight years.
Personal Biography With kids at all three levels (elementary, middle, high), I have spent the past 10+ years volunteering to help make our schools the best they can be. From PTO/PTA leadership positions to Board advisory committees to specific task forces charged with major curriculum re-design and improvement, I’ve had “boots on the ground” in our schools. I’m running for the Board of Education because I think it’s important that our representative knows the staff, curriculum, processes and kids in our schools
Campaign Address 15909 Cody Street
Campaign Phone (913) 274-7619
Campaign Email
Campaign Web Site
Education B.A. Hastings College - Political Science and Broadcast Communication
Community/Public Service I provided an extensive list of service to our schools and community in the questions below. We moved to Blue Valley for the schools 17 years ago, and it has been my honor to serve the district and community in many capacities. With kids at all three levels (elementary, middle and high), my family truly loves Blue Valley. I believe Board of Education members should have significant experience working in and for our schools.
1) Preserve Blue Valley's tradition of excellence 2) Identify and address pandemic learning deficits 3) Continue to grow unique programs that set Blue Valley apart in the college or career ready space -- e.g., CAPS, JCCC trade partnerships
I have spent 10+ years volunteering in and for our schools, holding many chair and leadership positions:

Board Advisory Committee - Curriculum and Instruction (4 years) Board Advisory Committee- Mental Health & Well-Being (2 years) District Middle School Re-Design Committee Communications Chair - TCE PTA Chat ‘n Chew Group Lead (8 years) - TCE PTA Fifth Grade Farewell Chair (2 years) - TCE PTA Activity Night Chair - ABMS PTO Communications Chair - BVSW PTO School Grants Chair - BVSW PTO

I believe a good Board candidate also recognizes that our schools and community are intertwined — and knows that investing in the community only makes our schools stronger. I volunteer time to the following community organizations:

Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer - Advisory Board member (5 years) and Home Tour Coordinator (4 years) Junior League of Kansas City (10 years) KC Hospice - Child Grief Group Lead Holiday Mart Special Events Chair Mills Farm Mustangs Swim Team Co-Manager (4 years
The best way to pave the way for diversity, equity and inclusion in Blue Valley is to make sure our advisory committee includes representation from all perspectives -- students, teachers, administrators, business leaders and parents. The DEI committee must communicate early and often with stakeholders; this is a topic many feel strongly about and want to provide input on. Finally, we must be centered on what OUR students are saying -- our needs may be different than those districts around us or across the country.
We are just beginning to assess the pandemic-related learning loss our students are facing. Because of this, we have been granted a a substantial amount of funding to help close the learning gaps. This is exciting because we get to try a number of different things we may not have had budget for in the past, but have wanted to try to support our students. Reading specialists in every building, before-and-after school tutoring available for anyone, extra paraprofessional support at point of need -- these are just a few examples. I suspect we will learn a lot about how we can best support student learning (and also what doesn't work) and be able to carry some of those strategies forward long-term.