Eight candidates vie for three seats on Mehlville school board

Second of three parts

Drew Frauenhoffer

Drew Frauenhoffer

By MIKE ANTHONY

Eight candidates are vying for three seats on the Mehlville Board of Education in the Tuesday, April 8, election.

David Bertelsen, Chris Brown, incumbent Karl Frank Jr., Drew Frauenhoffer, Marea Kluth-Hoppe, Deborah Langland, Linda Mooy and Erin Weber are seeking election to the three seats, which carry three-year terms. Incumbents Cindy Christopher and Ken Leach did not file for re-election.

This article will focus on Frauenhoffer, Kluth-Hoppe and Langland. Bertelsen, Brown and Frank were featured last week while Mooy and Weber will be featured next week.

Asked to identify the most important issue in the race, the three candidates responded:

• “Unfortunately, there is not a single most important issue that needs to be addressed. To provide the best education possible for our children, there are a multitude of issues that need to be addressed simultaneously since they are intricately interconnected.

“These interconnected issues involve developing students, enabling educators and providing the right learning environment,” Frauenhoffer said.

• “The most import issue in this race is for the district to be able to offer a comprehensive and challenging curriculum for all students to ensure academic achievement. Although simply stated, that goal is not easily attained. The first challenge is to prioritize the various components, including highly qualified teachers, support staff, various educational tools and supplies including books, safety and security issues and technology, to formulate a Comprehensive School Improvement Plan that ensures success for children. The second challenge is to meet the demands of state and federal mandates and regulations. The third challenge is accomplish this goal within the limitations of available funding and/or work for additional funding,” Kluth-Hoppe said.

• “I think the most important issue of this and all races should be to elect the most qualified person(s) who will help achieve the goals of the district and community by keeping all decisions child-centered,” Langland said.

Frauenhoffer, 41, 3500 Yaeger Court Crossing, 63129, is a human resource consultant and owns IncitePERFORMANCE with his wife, Shannon. They have two children who attend Mehlville schools and an 18-month-old child.

Frauenhoffer, who has not held elective office, said he is seeking election because “I want to serve the Board of Education to ensure that the Mehlville School District continues its positive progress toward providing the best education possible for our children.”

Kluth-Hoppe, 55, 5315 Oaklawn Drive, 63128, describes herself as a community volunteer. She and her husband, Ray Hoppe, have a daughter who attends college.

Kluth-Hoppe, who served on the board from 2002 to 2005, said, “I am running for the Mehlville Board of Education as an advocate for education for children. An education is the most important tool that a person acquires. The process of learning is used your whole life. I feel that I can be a leader on the Board of Education because of my varied experiences of personal education, professional work skills, community-volunteer experiences and my knowledge of the Mehlville School District and knowledge of educational practices and mandates. I believe that my experience can benefit all the children of the district.”

Langland, no age provided, 2823 Spring Water Drive, 63129, is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Gundaker, Southfield Center. She is married to Terry Crowley and has two children — a 2007 graduate of Oakville Senior High School and a sophomore at Oakville Senior High School.

Langland, who has not held elective office, said she is seeking election because “I have long been a passionate advocate for providing high-quality public education and the Mehlville School District. I’ve been on the sidelines the last 10 years participating in districtwide issues as a parent, professional and volunteer. I have knowledge of the community’s vision, budgeting and funding issues and challenges, federal and state laws, the daily challenges of our educators and staff and the needs of our diverse student population … With my knowledge of districtwide issues, community involvement, and along with my professional skills and experience, I believe I will be able to help the Mehlville School District achieve its goals.”

The candidates gave the following responses to a Call questionnaire:

Do you agree with the Board of Education’s decision last year to renovate the former St. John’s Elementary School to house the SCOPE program?

Frauenhoffer said, “As someone on the outside looking in, it appears to have been a sound decision as the district attempts to find a solution to address the challenging needs of an at-risk group of students rather than ignoring their needs and allowing them to fall through the cracks.”

Kluth-Hoppe said, “I am a supporter of the SCOPE program and the educational opportunities offered to the students attending SCOPE who otherwise might not continue or complete their secondary education. I had concerns about the renovation of the St. John’s building. The $1.4 million to $1.8 million renovation estimates seemed expensive, especially since the money would have to be borrowed and incur interest and loan costs. The building is extremely old and hidden problems may haven arisen during the renovation process and future maintenance costs may be higher due to the age of the building. Additionally, the COMPASS community engagement process and a facilities study were just beginning and both processes could offer alternate solutions. The previous site could have been used for one or two years until alternate solutions were explored.”

Langland said, “A new facility for the SCOPE program was definitely needed. I am not familiar enough with all of the details of the project to agree or disagree with the board’s decision.”

Have you participated in a COMPASS community-engagement session? Do you think COMPASS is having an impact on the community?

Frauenhoffer said, “I have attended a COMPASS session and I believe this process is having an impact on the community. From my own experience as a participant, I was quite impressed with the amount of information both presented and collected at the session, as well as the level of engagement of community members.

“These sessions are a great opportunity for the district to also promote accessibility and transparency in terms of what is going on within the district, in addition to allowing the community to play a big part in setting the priorities that the district needs to address moving forward.”

Kluth-Hoppe said, “I have attended all of the COMPASS community engagement sessions — I was late to one due to conflicts with a previously planned Mehlville-Oakville Foundation event. I believe that a community engagement process is an important way to communicate with all the patrons of the district. It offers the community an opportunity to learn where the district stands. In turn, the Facilitating Team and district can prioritize the needs as seen by the community.”

Langland said, “Yes.”

As the COMPASS Facilitating Team has discussed various financial scenarios, would you consider a tax-rate hike if one is proposed?

Frauenhoffer said, “As a taxpayer, I obviously do not want my own taxes to go up.

“However, if the Facilitating Team felt strongly enough about this to make such a proposal, it would be my duty as a board member to seriously consider it. If elected to serve on the board, my role would be to take a hard look at all the expenses to identify if any potential cutbacks are possible that will not adversely impact the overall quality of education our children receive. If we are investing in the right educational priorities but still do not have the resources to fund them, then the board must support those initiatives that will ensure our children obtain the best education possible.”

Kluth-Hoppe said, “The COMPASS meetings scheduled in April and June are to allow the community participants to create recommendations for the future of the Mehlville School District. The community at large does not attend the COMPASS Facilitating Team meetings. The Facilitating Team has not yet made any recommendations in regard to a comprehensive strategic plan for the district that includes changes, revisions or updates to any programs. Nor has the Facilitating Team made any financial analysis of such a comprehensive strategic plan.

“Additionally, the district has not presented any budget analysis of ongoing expenditures and revenue. Before consideration of any tax-rate hike, the Facilitating Team must make recommendations to the Board of Education and the Board of Education must do the planning and analysis of proposals and finances. I would have to see that planning and analysis before considering a tax-rate hike.”

Langland said, “It would be the responsibility of every board member to consider any valid proposal, if proposed.”