After two meetings and seven rounds of voting, Kim York was elected as the president for the Raymore-Peculiar School Board last Monday night in the Administrative Services Center at the school.
The previous Tuesday, April 9, the board meeting was cut short unexpectedly when the board was split over the election of a new board president.
Joe Anthuis and Leo Anderson won their school board campaigns earlier this month, but Anderson was absent from the first meeting. Anthuis took his oath of office before the board moved on to elect this year’s officers.
Ruth Johnson nominated Kim York, the current President, to take the same office for another year. Kyle Gillespie spoke up to nominate Anthuis. When the board took a vote, three members voted in favor of York, and three in favor of Anthuis.
Board Secretary Pam Steele explained that the vote would have to be taken again. Anderson was present via speakerphone but powerless to break the tie, as he was not physically present to take his oath of office.
Before the second round of voting began, nominators Johnson and Gillespie each spoke to their nominations. However, the second vote yielded the same results: three for York and three for Anthuis.
The two nominees each took a moment to commend themselves to their fellow board members.
A third vote, however, proved that no one was swayed.
York requested that the vote be postponed until all board members could be present. The action of choosing officers must take place within the fourteen days after the election, so members ultimately settled on reconvening Monday, April 15. All other items on the agenda, including the election of other officers and the issue of employee benefit renewal and salary increase, were also pushed back until the next President is chosen.
During the Monday meeting, freshly re-elected Leo Anderson was sworn in and next year’s plan for staff benefit coverage was approved, but the agenda item that received all the attention was fight for the board’s presidency.
At the start of the meeting, the same board members nominated Joe Anthuis and Kim York as candidates for president. Kyle Gillespie put Anthuis’s name in the running and Ruth Johnson, who was present via speakerphone, nominated York.
Johnson’s inability to be physically present was crucial in the development of the meeting. Before a vote was taken, Anthuis called for a roll call vote—a vote that prohibits absent members from having an official say in the election. According to Superintendent Dr. Jeff Kyle, the board policy allows for any member to call for a roll call before any vote.
Therefore, despite her vote at the previous meeting, Ruth Johnson was unable to vote for her nomination. However, Leo Anderson voted in favor of York, and the results remained tied at 3-3.
After each of the nominators made their cases for the nominees, a vote was taken again with the same 3-3 result which led to more conversation.
Leo Anderson asked the board to decide what is the most “pressing” issue. Anderson was not present for the first vote on Tuesday, which resulted in a similar tie and forced the second meeting. If Johnson and Anderson would have both been present at either meeting, the vote would have been a simple 4-3 selection of York.
After Anderson expressed his belief in York to handle budgeting and strategic planning, Johnson and York agreed that the best thing to do would be to withdraw the roll call vote. Anthuis refused to withdraw his request.
Conversation continued among the members. Dana Hille and Kyle Gillespie expressed the opinion that a person who is sufficient to handle a budget does not have to be president, and that trust and cooperation with teachers in the school was better under Anthuis’s leadership.
“Joe’s leadership is crucial,” said Gillepsie.
Hille agreed, saying, “My communication with teachers has changed…They don’t trust what’s going on.”
As York defended herself, she stated that she respects Anthuis as a leader, but that everyone has a “history” and “baggage.” York’s challenge to the board members was to think about the history each one of the candidates has and decide who the face of the board should be based on the rapport with faculty and staff.
Anderson stood up for York, saying that teachers have been apathetic because they see nothing getting done. “Perception is reality even though it may not be true,” he said.
Anthuis disagreed with York and Anderson, saying, “We’re now more transparent…not because of Kim but because of the entire board.”
Johnson reacted quickly over the phone to Anthuis’s comment. “How are we being transparent when I can’t vote today? I’m being shut down,” she said.
York agreed, claiming Anthuis’s request for a roll call vote was not a “cohesive” decision.
Maria Davies defended her vote for York by saying that Anthuis’s claim that a vice president should naturally move into the presidency was not a strong argument.
Johnson followed up that statement by calling it Anthius’s “excuse,” to which he quickly and hotly replied that it is merely “how governing bodies work.”
After a third vote that ended in another tie, Dr. Kyle had each of the members check their schedules in order to set up another meeting. As schedules were discussed, Kim York commented to the board that a lifting of the roll call request would save “a lot of trouble” by making the number of voting members odd and finalizing the election. Anthuis agreed and lifted the roll call so that York would win 4-3.
For Vice-President, Leo Anderson defeated Joe Anthuis 4-3. For secretary, Pam Steele won unanimously.