Public health clinic assistant Rachel Stumblingbear files for election to school board

photo by: contributed

Rachel Stumblingbear

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health clinic assistant Rachel Stumblingbear has filed for election to the Lawrence school board.

Stumblingbear, who grew up in Gladstone, Missouri, and moved to Lawrence in 2009 to attend the University of Kansas, serves as a clinic assistant for the WIC Nutrition Program, a special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children. Stumblingbear said she meets a lot of families as part of her job, and her interest in learning new things and the community motivated her to run for the school board.

“I have the time, I have the passion for education, I’m willing to serve, so I decided to file,” Stumblingbear said.

Stumblingbear said that she’s been watching school board meetings for several years and that she has an interest in what’s going on and getting an idea of the type of education being provided to Lawrence school district students. She said that to keep students motivated and interested in school it’s important that district teachers and staff are empowered to help students choose what they learn.

“I think that’s a big step when you are wanting people to continue learning throughout their lives,” she said. “Not just be like, ‘Oh, I’ve graduated high school, I’m done,’ but to continually seek out learning opportunities, enhance their lives.”

She said she also thinks that while a lot of people are looking for more stability in public education, especially coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, that stability should be paired with the teaching of life skills and how to deal with change. She said that includes a continued focus on social and emotional learning in the district.

Another issue that Stumblingbear thinks will continue to be key in the upcoming term is the district’s budget, especially with the lack of funding in special education. Gov. Laura Kelly has been pushing for the state to fully fund special education, which districts must otherwise supplement with general fund dollars, but her budget proposal in that regard was not approved by state legislators. Stumblingbear said she knew the district’s budget would continue to be important with the community.

“And so coming to make the decisions of how we’re going to be spending money and in what ways, that’s always going to be a big issue,” she said.

Stumblingbear has a bachelor’s degree in film and media studies and a master’s degree in library and information science. Stumblingbear’s husband, Dustin Stumblingbear, is running for Lawrence City Commission, and her stepson previously attended school in the district.

The terms of school board President Shannon Kimball, Vice President Paula Vann, Past President Erica Hill and board member Carole Cadue-Blackwood will expire at the end of this year. In addition to Stumblingbear, nine other candidates have filed for election: Anne Costello, Yolanda Franklin, Cadue-Blackwood, Kevin Coronado, Ariel Miner, Edward (E.J.) Gonzales, Brandon Moore, Jody Meyer and GR Gordon-Ross. The general election will take place Nov. 7.

In addition to the four, four-year terms up for election, there is a special election for the vacated seat of former school board member Andrew Nussbaum, who resigned in 2022, less than seven months after being sworn in. Four candidates have filed for election for that two-year term: Justine O. Burton, Tierra Teske, Ariel Miner and Kimball. Miner also filed for the four-year term, and Burton also filed for election to the Lawrence City Commission. Because the number of candidates who filed for the special election is more than three times the number of open seats, there will be a primary on Aug. 1.


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