Kristin Schultz first started paying attention to the school board about 13 years ago, she said. At first, she was attending the monthly meetings. After awhile, she started supporting some board candidate campaigns and participated in the Citizens Education Academy, which gives people a behind-the-scenes look at the way the school board and the district administration works.
From there, she joined the board that oversees the Olathe Public Schools Foundation. Her professional background is in fundraising.
In 2019, the seat that represents her portion of the school district — which includes a small portion of Overland Park — was vacated, and Schultz, at the prompting of others, decided to throw her hat in the ring for the seat. After an application and interview process, she was picked to fill the seat.
Since her appointment came part way into the current term, this election cycle will be the first time she runs for the seat. Schultz, 55, said “preparation” is what makes her the best candidate for the job.
“Coming on the heels of this last year and a half especially, I feel very strongly that the board members need to be willing to listen very objectively to inputs of information from many different sources and check any passions,” she said. “We clearly as individuals don't come to all the same conclusions. We are seven different people with a tremendous amount of respect for one another, how we conduct ourselves, how we respect the input and the vantage point of the professionals in the district. We don't scream at each other.”
To maintain that respectful “tenor” that the board operates under now, Schultz said the board “needs people who are not carrying partisan water.” It’s also important to her that people pursue a position on the board based on more than one issue.
PUBLIC EDUCATION PHILOSOPHY
Schultz says she cares a lot about public education and its ability to improve the lives of children from all kinds of backgrounds.
“I have a special place in my heart for special education,” she said. “I am really passionate about providing flexibility and innovation that helps meet kids who don't thrive in what's built for 85% of the population. … I feel really strongly that it's important for us to have a district that feels like a space where everyone belongs.”
She said something necessary to preserve the strength of the school district is to preserve its stability as Olathe and other area school districts continue to grapple with a public health crisis.
In August, Schultz was the board member who made the motion to extend the county-required K-6 mask mandate to all school buildings at least through October after the board heard testimony from district officials and county public health leaders.
“I'm one of seven, so I don't make any decision,” she said.
Stability is also about supporting the superintendent and other district leaders instead of seeking “upheaval” through the recovery.
Schultz is one of two candidates running for the USD 233 Board of Education Member 5 seat she currently holds. It is one of two seats that represents the east corner of the school district. The other candidate is Robert Kuhn.
The race was not subject to a primary election in August since Schultz and Kuhn were the only two candidates to file. It is a nonpartisan election.
The election is on Nov. 2.
Early voting begins by mail on Wednesday, Oct. 13 and in-person on Saturday, Oct. 23. A list of ballot drop-off spots and early voting sites is available here.