April 4 election will decide Lindbergh Schools’ future

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony; Paper makes endorsements for Lindbergh school board

By Mike Anthony

The April 4 election for the Lindbergh Board of Education is the most crucial race in the district’s history.

The outcome will decide what path the district will take — one of continuing to focus on students and academic achievement or one of shifting the focus to such adult issues as teacher pay.

Nine candidates, including four backed by the Lindbergh National Education Association, are vying for four seats.

Three three-year seats are up for election that are currently held by board President Kathleen “Kathy” Kienstra, Vice President Don Bee and Treasurer Vicki Lorenz Englund.

Kienstra and Englund are seeking re-election.

Also seeking election to the three-year seats are union-endorsed candidates Matt Alonzo, Cathy Carlock Lorenz and Christy Watz, along with Jennifer Bird and Daniel Sampson.

Bee is not seeking re-election.

Union-endorsed candidate Mike Shamia and Martha Duchild are vying for a one-year seat held by Gary Ujka, who is not seeking election.

Roughly 20 years ago, this same scenario played out in the Mehlville School District when the then-Mehlville Community Teachers Association ran roughshod over the district.

It was a debacle, as teachers wore black sweatshirts to work with the slogan “Budget Teachers First.” It’s taken Mehlville roughly two decades to recover from that fiasco.

On April 4, the LNEA is attempting to wrest control of the board from candidates who have proven they have the best interest of the entire district at heart ­— not a special-interest group.

For two years now, LNEA leaders and members have complained about their salaries, yet teachers, on average, have received raises totaling 9.75 percent over the past three years.

The district is grappling with an enrollment surge and must balance that growth with teacher pay.

Of every dollar in revenue the district receives, 92 cents comes from Lindbergh taxpayers. That same taxpayer would be the source of any additional revenue for teacher pay.

Some of the union-endorsed candidates have obvious conflicts of interest — they may not be legal conflicts, but they certainly are ethical conflicts, as some have a sibling or spouse employed by Lindbergh.

We question their ability to remain impartial and objective.

Educators from other districts also are seeking a seat on the board. Once again, we believe their ability to be impartial and objective must be questioned by voters.

The LNEA candidates support the teachers’ decision to work to contract this year, which has been an unmitigated disaster.

Over 30 events and activities throughout the district have been canceled because teachers refused to participate in them.

Another 30 or so events were held, but without teacher participation.

We believe the teachers’ decision to work to contract this year has not only damaged Lindbergh’s stellar reputation, but has incensed many district parents.

We applaud all of the candidates who filed for wanting to serve the district, as most truly are running for the right reasons. But we believe four candidates stand head and shoulders above the rest.

The Call endorses Kienstra and Englund for two of the three-year seats. Kienstra, who has served on the board since 2008, and Englund, who has served on the board since 2011, have a proven track record of putting students first and providing the first-rate leadership needed during this difficult time in Lindbergh’s history.

For the third three-year seat, the Call endorses Jennifer Bird. We believe Bird and her excellent grasp of the issues would be a welcome addition to the board.

In the race for the one-year seat, the Call endorses Duchild.

Duchild’s extensive involvement as a district volunteer and a community volunteer make her eminently qualified to serve.

Given the fact that this seat carries a one-year term, the person who holds it must be up to speed on governance, district issues and community knowledge — Duchild more than fits the bill.