May 29—Two more residents are seeking a seat on the Manhattan-Ogden school board with a potential primary looming.
Teresa Parks and Betty Mattingly-Ebert filed for the USD 383 race Friday, bringing the total candidates to nine.
Riley County clerk Rich Vargo said a primary is triggered in city and school elections when the number of candidates reaches three times plus one the number of open seats. For the school board election, that would mean 10 candidates. A primary, if needed, would be Aug. 3.
Parks, 46, said she just celebrated her youngest child's graduation from Manhattan High School, and she herself is a MHS graduate. Parks works as a career transition readiness specialist for Flint Hills Job Corps in Manhattan, helping people ages 16-24 prepare for future employment.
Parks, who helped organize local demonstrations for the Black Lives Matter movement, said most of her professional career has been in some form of advocacy and education.
"When my kids were in school, I was their biggest advocate," Parks said. "I was never shy about interacting with school staff and principals, and I understand the importance of having people connected to the community and the school system who actually care about our children's education, and the quality of the people who are administering that education."
One of Parks' children is on the autism spectrum, and she said that experience made her more sensitive to the differing needs of students and parents, as well as the importance of communicating those needs with others and connecting people to helpful resources.
Parks said she believes the intentions of people who serve on public boards are important, but "their methods of how they get stuff done are just as important." She said growing up in a military family helped her learn how to relate to different types of personalities.
"When you come across something that's new and different, you're not threatened by it," Parks said. "I just want our kids to have opportunities to find their niche in life."
In an emailed statement, Mattingly-Ebert said "our school board needs leaders who will prepare our children and support our educators."
Mattingly-Ebert, an interior designer who owns Paradoxx Design, said she is a longtime Manhattan resident and business owner "with a track record of investing back into our community, including serving on numerous boards."
Mattingly-Ebert has served on the Manhattan Historic Resources Board, served as past president of the Flint Hills Volunteer Center, and Chairs the Kansas State University Women's Studies Advisory Board
"Ensuring our educational resources are maximized, our community feels heard, and our children receive the best education possible is that path," Mattingly-Ebert said.
The other candidates are Jennifer Chua, a local volunteer; Kevin Harms, Chief Warrant Officer 3 and Apache helicopter pilot at Fort Riley; Carl Treece, a retired science teacher and Army medical service officer; Christine Weixelman, a registered nurse; Steven Ruzzin, a data engineer; Jayme Morris-Hardeman, executive director of Thrive! Flint Hills and former Manhattan city commissioner; and current board member Karla Hagemeister.
Board members Jurdene Coleman and Katrina Lewison told The Mercury they have not decided whether they will seek re-election.
The filing deadline is noon Tuesday. The general election will be Nov. 2. School board elections are non-partisan.