Responses below are from the candidates and have not been edited. All candidates for a race who chose to respond were asked the same questions.
- Age: 65
- Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas
- Family: Husband of 43 years, Fr. Terry Hedrick; Daughters: Jaimee Hedrick Gwost and Tera Lee Hedrick; Granddaughters: Evie and Carly Gwost
- Schools attended: McCollum Elementary, Hadley MS, Wichita West HS, BA Architecture from Kansas State University, MBA from Wichita State University
(my husband, daughters and granddaughters have all also attended Wichita Public Schools for K-12)
- Profession: Architect; retired Facilities Division Director for Wichita Public Schools
- Community service in addition to BOE: Currently serving on the Board of Directors for Legacy Ministries, LLC and Grace Med.
- Past service on City of Wichita boards: Access Advisory Board and Design Board
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
What specific Wichita Public Schools issues deserve your immediate attention and how do you plan to address them?
Continued support for mental health concerns of teachers which will be addressed through listening and creatively supporting their needs (for example the afternoons of free work time in lieu of scheduled activities);“catching up kids” from the educational loss due to the pandemic which will continue to be addressed by additional interventions provided for each child’s specific needs at their school; the lack of employees to fill positions (specifically teachers, paras and bus drivers) which requires a combined effort from nation, state and local stake-holders and continued work on the air quality in the facilities via HVAC system repairs as capital outlay dollars are available (capital outlay dollars by law can’t be spent on any needs but capital outlay needs).
What are your thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic has changed schooling? Include your thoughts on masks, social distancing, remote learning, and anything you would have done differently.
One important way the Covid pandemic changed schooling is it reminded everyone how important school is to the life of our community. Kids needs to be in school to learn and to be with their teachers and other supportive adults plus with their friends and in athletics and other school programs. Being in school is critical for kids but also so parents can go to work and make a living. If teachers were undervalued by some in society before the pandemic, everyone knows how valuable they are post pandemic. The practice of remote learning during the pandemic and the BOE’s decision to provide all students with computers was a huge change for the better. Now these tools will be available on “bad weather days” in lieu of just cancellation. Currently school includes masking and social distancing, but I think these things are temporary. New measures for cleaning, sanitization and improved air quality were introduced which are good safety measures to continue even after the pandemic is over.
What is your stance on critical race theory, knowing that USD 259 does not currently teach it?
I am opposed to critical race theory being taught in Wichita Public Schools. However, we should and do include curriculum that affirms the facts and history of the reality of the diversity of ethnic groups in our nation including actual history of the different races of people that have been a part of the American story. Many great individuals of varied races and sexes have impacted our nation in positive ways; the narratives honoring these great men and women need to continue to be told. Conversely, racism and the events surrounding acts of racism should also be acknowledged and not hidden, denied, or buried. The facts of racism and the racial atrocities that have been committed in our nation are an unfortunate part of our national narrative but nonetheless should be acknowledged. Hopefully, we as a nation can learn from the mistakes of our past and learn to treat all peoples with respect and dignity. Learning from the past is part of the importance of studying history.
Would you change how much the school district spends on its different departments (teachers, safety, special education, etc.)? If so, how?
WPS has a very large budget which is predominately spent on people—our great teachers and support staff that work with our kids to do the work of education. I am supportive of paying competitive salaries for our employees so that Wichita can draw and retain the best talent in the state. Beyond personnel, much of the budget contains restricted funds that can only be used for the purpose that they have been mandated by law to be used for. One suggestion that I have for “saving” money is to sell any additional excess properties, so the district does not have the expense of maintenance and utilities for those buildings. The current board did this with Metro Blvd and McCormick but we should consider if there are additional locations not being utilized by the district.