Thursday, April 20, 2017

School Board Adds Two Members, Loses Three

by Brent Kalwei

The Hickman Mills School Board experienced a number of alterations through the combination of the April election and reorganization meeting held Thursday, April 13.

New directors Clifford Ragan and Brian Williams were sworn in after filling the seats of Bonnaye Mims, who retired after being on the board since 1999, and Karry Palmer, who resigned.

After the oath of directors, the board placed nominations for president and vice president. Williams nominated Carol Graves. Director Byron Townsend nominated Darrell Curls, who currently held the president position. Graves won with four votes coming from Graves, Director Evelyn Hildebrand, Ragan and Williams. Graves in return nominated Williams as vice president, while Director Wakisha Briggs nominated herself. Williams won with four votes also coming from Graves, Hildebrand, Ragan and Williams.

“Although he’s a new member on the board, I have seen Mr. Williams at events such as neighborhood associations and South Kansas City Alliance meetings,” Graves said. “I think it’s important that when we have people in leadership, that their heart is for the kids. I have seen him demonstrate that.”

Townsend did not attend the work session held after the reorganization meeting. Later in the evening he submitted a letter of resignation.

"Five presidents in four years is just too much,” Townsend said in a statement. “I’m tired of fighting to unite members that don’t trust each other. I truly hope that the remaining members can learn to be their brother’s keeper. I wish all of them the best of luck. More than anything, I hate to put Yolanda Cargile in the position of not having a full board, but my state of mind was more important.”

Curls also resigned on the morning of Monday, April 17.

Superintendent Dennis Carpenter and board members spoke on their appreciation for the work Bonnaye Mims provided for the district.

“Mrs. Mims has been phenomenal,” Carpenter said. “Mrs. Mims has worked extremely hard in the time that I’ve been here, and you hear stories even prior to serving on the school board.”

Mims would sit under a clock in the audience at school board meetings prior to her joining the Hickman Mills team.

“People say that under the clock she would hold the community and its school board members accountable for their actions, as a community member.”

According to Carpenter, the district was in a vicarious place with not a lot of trust from the community when he took over as superintendent four years ago.

“Everyone was saying, ‘Why in the world would you want to come here?’” Carpenter said. “One of the reasons I wanted to work in the Hickman Mills School District is because I saw the resolve and commitment of several school board members. One of which was Mrs. Mims.”

Mims announced to the board and community in the audience that supporting incoming Superintendent Yolanda Cargile will be essential.

“But most important are those 6,800 babies that you all are responsible for,” Mims said. “You all are the parents, so I’m turning that over to you all. I will be ever so grateful if you all take the lead and move this district forward. In the meantime I’m going to visit, and sit underneath that clock where I started 30-something years ago.”

Graves credited Mims for teaching her to make motions without fear, and to fix mistakes by learning through example.

“It’s important for us to know that we are a policy-making board,” she said.

Curls enjoyed working with Mims.

“I want to thank you for your years of service, your leadership and your friendship,” Curls said. “Through that time, we have had ups and downs. We have fought, and been on the same team and opposite teams. But, through it all, I knew that you had the best interest of this district, with the children in your mind and in your heart.”

After leaving the school board, Mims began serving as the first African-American on the Raytown Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, April 18.

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