Marlene Willis

1. What prompted you to run for re-election?

After eight years on the school board people often ask why I would want to continue to serve.  Yes, sometimes the job isn’t easy and it does indeed carry a great deal of responsibility. I answer that there is more to be done. I want to be part of the implementation of the newly updated strategic plan that provides opportunities for us to prepare, protect and empower our students from early years education through graduation and into their adult lives. 

2. What are your goals for the district?

The plan focuses on five key areas: Curriculum, Social-Emotional-Academic Learning (SEAL), Community Partnerships, Communication and Resource Management.  Along with informing this plan, community members described the characteristics that make a successful high school graduate. The Profile of A Graduate emerged: Responsible Citizen, Competent Communicator, Critical Thinker, Effective Collaborator and Strategic Problem Solver.With this profile and the strategic plan in mind, our district leadership, building leadership and teachers will continue the process of aligning our learning environment horizontally across grade levels as well as vertically from elementary to middle school to high school. Beyond the current strategic plan, we must continue to monitor trends, needs and events that can impact our district’s students. One of those trends includes the projected growth of Crawford County which will likely bring new families to our district.  This year alone we have seen an enrollment increase of over 100 students.

3. If elected to another term, I will advocate for the following: serving the whole child Pre-K to graduation, stable Special Education funding: and continued long term fiscal planning.

Pre-K Learning is important for a child’s success. We need to continue to build on collaborations within our community to improve Pre-K learning opportunities for all children. Childcare and Pre-K education are integral to the Imagine Pittsburg 2030 plan.  As a district, we need to lean into this work which will benefit future students as Pittsburg continues to grow.

When Special Education is underfunded at the state and federal level (which it currently is) it ultimately pulls money from the rest of the district’s budget. We need to continue to monitor and inform toward responsible funding for schools, including special education at the state and federal level for all students.  

Our district must continue to review and revise our budget to prepare for the projected growth in our community, as well as remain prepared for changes in funding. While the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled favorably for the current funding levels, we will continue to see pressures within the Legislature that can erode that financial stability. 

So, back to the question of why run again?

My daughter and son attended school in Pittsburg from Pre-K at the YMCA and The Center through graduation from Pittsburg High School in 2010 and 2013. They have successfully moved into their adult lives in part due to their education and extracurricular opportunities provided by this school district.  They were prepared and empowered through their experiences in this district.

My experience as a board member and a parent of successful PHS graduates can benefit the work of the district as we continue to build a strong Pre-K through graduation education system that serves all kids and gives them the tools to find meaningful work as adults. 

Why do I want to continue to serve on the Pittsburg Community School Board? To provide continuity, experience, and perspective.

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