South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Four candidates, including one incumbent, vie for two open seats on Lindbergh BOE

The Lindbergh school board candidates, from left: Rachel Braaf Koehler, David Kirschner, David Randelman, Megan Vedder

The race for the Lindbergh Board of Education features four candidates running for two open seats – Mike Shamia’s, who is not seeking reelection, and Megan Vedder’s. The municipal election is April 2. 

The four candidates include newcomers Rachel Braaf Koehler, David Kirschner and David Randelman, and incumbent Vedder. Vedder has served one term on the board after being elected in 2021, and Randelman previously ran unsuccessfully in 2022 and 2023. Koehler and Kirschner are running for the first time. 

Koehler is a community volunteer with a law degree from Washington University. She has two children – one, a recent graduate of Lindbergh High School, and the other at Truman Middle School.

When asked why she was running, Koehler said, “I have wanted to run for the Board of Education since I was a student at Lindbergh High School, specifically, 10th grade. I have always been passionate about public service and education. I believe in quality public education for current and future students.” 

Kirschner is a retired professor from St. Louis University and research scientist at Shell Oil. He has two children who attend Lutheran South High School. 

When asked why he was running, he said, “I believe in public education and the importance of students receiving a quality education not only for themselves but for the long-term well-being of our country.”

Randelman is a cloud computing architect/IT specialist and business owner. He has four children – one a Lindbergh High School alum, one in the district, one partially enrolled in the district and one not in the district.

When asked why he was running, Randelman said, “Our school board needs new voices and leadership that will promote a renewed focus on academics, transparency, fiscal responsibility, and representing the interests of our community.”

Vedder is a preschool teacher at Washington University Nursery School. She has two children – one in the district and one who will start kindergarten in the district in the fall. Vedder is the current Board of Education secretary.

When asked why she was seeking reelection, Vedder said, “To continue serving the Lindbergh community and remaining an integral part of Lindbergh’s pursuit of academic excellence.”

The candidates gave the following responses to The Call’s questionnaire:

Editor’s note: The following responses appeared in the March 21 print edition of The Call. Some responses may have been edited due to print space constraints. Keep reading for more from the candidates.

How did you vote in the April 2019 election on the district’s $105 million no-tax-rate-increase bond issue Prop R?

Koehler: “I voted yes.”

Kirschner: “We moved back into the district in March 2020 after the vote on Prop R 2019. Thus, I was not in the district in 2019 to vote.”

Randelman: “I voted no; I recognized the necessity of addressing our high school’s needs but advocated for a different approach: complete rehabilitation at a more economically viable cost for our community. Despite my preference, the district opted for a full rebuild, which unfortunately resulted in budget overruns and subsequent cutbacks on materials.” 

Vedder: “I voted Yes for Prop R in 2019.”

What would you propose to improve the district’s test scores?

 Koehler: “I would propose a continued focus on learning, by establishing measurable growth goals for each individual student. As part of creating proficiency standards that align with Missouri learning standards, it will provide the teacher with more information in order to assist the student in mastering the skills required in order to advance their learning.”

Kirschner: “The quality of an education cannot be measured solely by test scores; however, test scores are still important and should not be discounted. I would spend more time on those activities that historically proved beneficial to students’ education. … It would probably be beneficial to return to the historically proven methods that include phonics. And a return to age-appropriate, well-designed homework that reinforces what had been covered in class that day or prepares a student for the next-day activities.” 

Randelman: “I hope to see a remarkably close correlation between student achievement and state assessments, especially concerning grade proficiency. State assessments will naturally see an uptick when we invest in our students’ academics.”

Vedder: “Teaching solely to the test is widely recognized as ineffective and lacks meaningful insight into student progress. … Lindbergh, along with many other school districts across Missouri, is actively engaged in the Success-Ready Student Network (SRSN). Through this initiative, they are working to design a more comprehensive approach to assessing student learning, growth and preparedness, with the aim of developing a new state assessment to replace the MAP test.”

Do you support the district’s decision to offer 1:1 technology/laptops?

 Koehler: “Yes.”

Kirschner: “I think it was an inevitable decision the district needed to make. Technology is here to stay.”

Randelman: “I have been in IT my whole career; technology and computers are an essential part of our lives and are important in education as well. However, I firmly believe that it is important to first acquire foundational skills in learning, writing, how to take notes, learn cursive and refine those skills over time and then introduce technology as an aid. I think a 1:1 ratio was right for the pandemic but not for child development as it can be a distraction from learning as well.”

Vedder: “Yes. Technology is a part of our lives, so it makes sense to teach students how to responsibly use a personal device. Digital wellness is a priority in Lindbergh so that students understand how to use their time on devices productively … and in an educational way.”

Keep reading for web-exclusive questions and answers from the candidates

Editor’s note: The following questions are as they were submitted to The Call by the candidates in their entirety. They have not been edited in any way, other than to ensure appropriate language and no direct attacks on opponents or other candidates. 

Reason for seeking office?

Koehler:I have wanted to run for the Board of Education since I was a student at Lindbergh High School, specifically, 10th grade. I have always been passionate about public service and education. I believe in quality public education for current and future students. Having had the experience of attending Lindbergh Schools myself, having one of my children recently graduate from Lindbergh, and watching the opportunities and experiences that my son is having in Lindbergh Schools, I want to give back to a community that has given so much to our family by serving in the very important role of director for the Board of Education. While my family and I have had the opportunity to experience the strengths of Lindbergh first-hand, I want to play a role in helping to keep Lindbergh’s strong performance going and growing for years to come.”

Kirschner: “I believe in public education and the importance of students receiving a quality education not only for themselves, but for the long-term well-being of our country.”

Randelman:Our school board needs new voices and leadership that will promote a  renewed focus on academics, transparency, fiscal responsibility, and representing the interests of our  community.”

Vedder: “To continue serving the Lindbergh community and remaining an integral part of Lindbergh’s pursuit of academic excellence.”

What issue do you consider the single most important issue in this race and why?

Koehler: I consider Prop R as the single most important issue in this race because of the impact that it will have on the entire Lindbergh district. The passage of Prop R will fund facility improvements throughout the district to provide all Lindbergh students with equitable learning spaces, and support a fiscally responsible long-term facilities maintenance plan. Prop R will also improve security systems across the district and support much needed improvement at the aging Truman Middle School. Prop R will fund an innovative PK-12 agricultural STEM learning center at Concord Farmers Club where all students can participate in hands-on, real-world learning opportunities that align with Missouri Learning Standards. The passage of Prop R will enable current and future Lindbergh students to experience an outstanding educational experience with secure, safe, and equitable facilities, complimented by innovative and individualized learning opportunities provided by the outstanding educators in the district.”

Kirschner: I have never seen so many significant changes being made to an academic institution’s focus than what is happening in the Lindbergh Schools District.  Two events from 2020 catalyzed much change that had already begun in the District.  The Covid-pandemic shut-down of schools and society, something that had not occurred since the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.  And correspondingly, the death of George Floyd resulting in our society’s reexamination of race relations and systemic injustices.  The effects of these two events are still reverberating in our society, not least of which in public K-12 education.

My concern is that the rush to remedy real and perceived short-comings in society has resulted in unwarranted pressure on K-12 public schools.  Schools are no longer considered by some to be institutions of education focused on reading, writing, arithmetic, development of critical thinking skills, and sundry other topics, but rather some view schools as agents of social change.  I am well aware of our country’s checkered past and that public schools have taught material that was/is biased, prejudiced, historically inaccurate, and unacceptable by today’s norms. These need to be remedied.

I am concerned, however, with the headlong rush to implement a whole host of new ideas, new pilot programs, new ways of testing, new teaching methodologies, and new foci.   Such rapid changes can cause unintended consequences.  The rapid changes in education, including those in Lindbergh, have mimicked those occurring more broadly in our post-COVID society – the defund police movement, the non-prosecution of crimes such as shoplifting and the discarding of ACT and SAT entrance exams to colleges and universities to name a few of the changes.  Unfortunately, many undesirable unintended consequences have manifested themselves because of these rushed changes.  In response, many cities, colleges and universities are now reversing the changes they rushed to implement just a few years ago and returning to more established tried-and-true methods.  

I am concerned that Lindbergh will, in a couple of years, realize that what they have recently changed with the best of intentions has actually hindered, or even harmed, a generation of students.  I believe a slower, more measured approach to change should be adopted by the District with a laser focus on the education of students.  Why discard decades of experience imbued in the Lindbergh district in providing a quality education to so many students?  Measured changes are in my opinion the appropriate changes.”

Randelman: “In the last five years we have steered away from the “Three R’s”, Reading, Writing and  Arithmetic to the “four C’s”, Collaboration, Creativity, Communication, Critical thinking. This was a result  of the Lindbergh board leadership that transitioned from a community representative board to a  uniform NEA board. These board-supported changes have negatively impacted academic quality and  rigor. The following is an incomplete list resulting from the board’s adopted changes: (1) cessation of the  Academic All Stars Celebration, which encouraged student scholarship through public recognition; (2)  abolition of middle-school challenge classes; (3) elimination of high school class ranking, which is an  important metric for students seeking entry into the most selective universities; (4) reduction of  transparency and consistency in education by adopting a living curriculum; (5) discontinuation of math  intervention programs and abolishing of homework in the elementary schools. This issue is a leadership  issue and I believe that by electing new voices to the board we can focus back on academic excellence.”

Vedder: “Students are always the most important! Every student deserves an educational environment where they have  the opportunity to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.”

Other issues you perceive in your race and your position on each?

Koehler:In response to the issues present in this race, I would prioritize policies and initiatives that support ALL students; students of all backgrounds and abilities, and not just the majority of Lindbergh students. I would also prioritize policies and initiatives that provide support to and promote communication between district teachers, staff, administrators and the BOE. Furthermore, I would prioritize policies and initiatives that promote and ensure transparency between the district and all community stakeholders.”

Kirschner:I hope my answers on the rest of the questionnaire address this question.”

Randelman: Our district has doubled its expenditure over the last decade and is now asking us to increase  debt that will amount to $490 million according to our amortization table. I believe a more  responsible approach would be to split the Prop R’s; for example, one for much required repairs,  one for a STEM center, and one for building equity after observing our financial stability and  taxpayer concerns.”

Vedder did not respond.

What are the biggest challenges – short-term and long-term – facing Lindbergh Schools?

Koehler:First, our district lacks equity in facilities in that our buildings do not provide the same experiences and opportunities for all students. In order to ensure equity in what all students are learning at the same grade levels district-wide, there needs to be facility improvement at Crestwood, Kennerly, Long and Truman. I am hopeful that the Lindbergh community feels the same way and that Prop R will pass this April. I am committed to working for fiscal responsibility and transparency, as well as community and teachers/staff participation with the work to be accomplished with Prop R funding. 

Second, recently there has been more discussion in the community about whether the district is being transparent in various areas. Because of my role on district level committees and in parent groups, my experience has shown me that the district is being transparent with the community. However, if the community still feels that the district is not being transparent, and perception is often viewed as reality, then the district and the BOE need to work to better understand what the community is not receiving through current forms of communication and how to improve the way the information is delivered and presented.

Third, communication between educators and administration can always be improved. It is my opinion that it is always possible to improve communication so that more parties feel that their needs are being heard and understood. Our district does a good job with communication between teachers and staff, yet there is always room for improvement.”

Kirschner: There are multiple challenges facing the District, but I will focus on one in answering this question.  Lindbergh must remain fiscally sound to ensure future generations of students will continue to receive a high-quality education.  If not, then we might follow Webster Groves lead who is needing to cut experienced teachers to conserve cash flow and keep their district financially sound.  We do not want to see Lindbergh District put in a similar position.

Two areas concern me.  First the amount of debt incurred by the District over the past five years will be very high, assuming Prop R 2024 passes.  I am NOT opposed to most of what has been done or is planning to be done.  I am concerned that the increase of our debt during a period of great uncertainty is not prudent.  If Prop R 2024 passes and bonds are issued, the current Board of Education members will be committing citizens of this District to $489M in principal and interest payments for 20 years (until 2045).  Yes, $489 million based on the planned amortization records the District provided me.  If all goes well and projections of real-estate property values increase 3 to 4% each year for 20 years, then the District will be able to pay off the debt without a tax-rate increase and all the desired work will be done.  That would be a good outcome.  However, I believe the future is hard to divine right now.  Mortgage rates are high, and the real estate market is frozen.  These might be transient changes that return to historical long-term trends, but we don’t know that for sure.  I favor a more fiscally conservative approach.

What could also negatively impact property values and thus District finances would be a change in the number of families moving into the District.  It is my understanding that more children in Lindbergh schools moved here rather than were born in the District.  For decades Lindbergh has been a “destination” district for many families, including my family twice.  Such emigration helps raise our property values.  In 2016 for example, zip code 63126 which is in the Lindbergh District was the 8th hottest real-estate market in the country according to a study by  Yes, 8th in the country.  Why?  Because families desired their children to be educated in Lindbergh schools.  Such demand surely increased our real-estate values, and thus the amount of taxes paid to the District.  

What might happen if the District is no longer so desirable to families?  Prospective buyers who search on Zillow for homes will currently see lower-than-desired ratings for our schools.  For our home, Zillow shows Long Elementary to have a quality rating of 5 on a scale of 10, Truman Middle School is rated 3 out of 10, and Lindbergh High School is rated 7 out of 10.  Irrespective of the metrics Zillow’s school-rating vendor uses, the prospective buyer will see low ratings.  Similarly, many people look at U.S. News and World Reports’ rankings of schools.  Those readers will also see a less-than-desired low rating for the Lindbergh District. For example, Lindbergh High School is rated 16th among St. Louis metro high schools, 25th in Missouri, and 2,531 in the U.S.  These publicly available ratings might ultimately slow the tide of emigration, reduce the desirability of our real estate, and result in a slower rise of, or even decline in, tax revenue to pay for our District’s debt.  This is what concerns me.” 

Randelman:Short term – returning more of the community voice to the board, allowing for more feedback  from the community, improving communications between teachers and the administration. Long term – revising our strategic goals to return our focus towards foundational academics and catching up with our  students who have fallen behind.” 

Vedder: “Although the district continues to work towards these measures, I believe that there is always room for growth with the work in standards-based learning and grading. This is still a new concept that Lindbergh is exploring to see how it best fits the expectations and needs of students and teachers. As a board member, I will continue to learn more about standards-based learning and have conversations with teachers and administrators about what is working and what still needs adjustments. I also believe that Lindbergh’s facilities are, and could continue to be, a long-term challenge. As it stands currently, students and employees do not have access to the same educational spaces and opportunities because the buildings are different from school to school. I am hopeful that with the passing of Prop R, Lindbergh can invest in its facilities, giving each student the opportunity to have equitable learning spaces for an enhanced educational experience.”

Do you support Lindbergh’s Strategic Plan? How is the district doing in following the plan? Should the district follow the strategic plan in the future? 

Koehler: Yes, I support Lindbergh’s continued use of a Strategic Plan. At the March 12, 2024 Board of Education meeting, the Board approved the second Strategic Plan under Dr. Tony Lake’s leadership. The 2024-2029 Strategic Plan is a strong continuation of the goals established under the most recent Strategic Plan 2019-2024. The district did well with using the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan as a steering document for developing processes to achieve their larger goals. I believe that the district should follow the Strategic Plan in the future because it articulates the larger goals for the district, which will be measured for progress through the yearly Compass goals.”

Kirschner: The previous five-year plan spanning 2019 to 2024 and the next five-year plan spanning 2024 to 2029, which was just adopted in March 2024, has set the District on a course that differs significantly from previous decades.  Although I believe many goals of the Strategic Plans are laudable (how can anyone disagree with “retain, recruit and develop a premier workforce”?), I am concerned the implemented activities will prove less beneficial than expected, perhaps even harmful.  

I reserve judgment until I learn more about the implementation details and the expected and unintended outcomes arising from their implementation. I hope to gain insight from many seasoned teachers and principals in the schools to get their first-hand observations. As a Board candidate I have NOT been given access to speak with any teachers or administration in the District beyond those in the central office. If elected, I will seek out the experienced cadre of educators and learn from them. No one knows better how things are working than those on the frontline implementing the policies.”

Randelman: “The 2024-2029 new 5-year plan merely extends the trajectory of the previous one, which has  been a significant factor in our current standing at 56% grade level, rather than aiming to be a leading  district on achievements. I believe it is time for fresh leadership to spearhead the revision and  formulation of district academic objectives, along with offering enhanced support for teachers to  facilitate the closure of our educational gaps.”

Vedder: “I believe the most powerful aspect of the strategic plan is that it involves not only the efforts of the school district but also the entire community. With input from nearly 2,000 individuals, including students, parents, staff, and community members, the district as a whole has spoken about what they consider important: student achievement and growth, Lindbergh Life Success Skills, high-quality teachers, personalized learning for students and staff, and the wellbeing and satisfaction of students and employees. The Strategic Plan guides the district’s work, and I am confident that with these priorities in focus, the possibilities for students and the community are endless.”

Lindbergh residents showed overwhelming support for the district Prop R in 2019. What will you do as a board member to maintain that goodwill between the district and the community?

Koehler: “As a board member, I will work to maintain the goodwill between the district and the community by continuing to provide strong oversight over the district budget, and should Prop R pass, the construction process for the work to be completed under Prop R 2024. In addition to committed fiscal oversight, I will also continue to encourage the district to provide opportunities for the community to both see and benefit from the work that was done under Prop R 2019. The improvements to our schools and facilities are for both the students and teachers, and the greater Lindbergh community.”

Kirschner: “Transparency increases trust.  Everything associated with Prop R 2019 should be shared with the community regardless of its nature – detailed expenditures, cost overruns, surprises encountered during construction, and so forth.  I know from personal experience while renovating a home during the pandemic that construction was very difficult, and costs were skyrocketing.  I can only imagine the challenges the District faced in getting all the work completed in a timely fashion.  From my perspective, the District did a great job resulting in a beautiful high school!”

Randelman: “What strikes me as so special about our community is the recognition of Lindbergh Schools as a  pillar of our community, we want to support it and we want to see our district continue and invest in our  students’ education. The district needs two key values to maintain community support: 1. Full  transparency on the needs, cost breakdown and true tax burden for the years to come. 2. A sensitivity to  our retired or low-income residents who are finding it more difficult to withstand the tax burden,  inflation, and rising housing assessments.”

Vedder: “The school district, under the guidance of the CFO, does an outstanding job of responsibly managing taxpayer dollars. Funds are allocated thoughtfully to support students and staff while maintaining the district’s strong financial position. Given that one of the primary responsibilities of the Board of Education is to adopt the annual budget, I am committed to prioritizing financial transparency. I will actively ask questions about district funds, monitor spending, and engage in strategic financial planning.”

Are you satisfied with the leadership of Superintendent Tony Lake?

Koehler: “Yes. Dr. Tony Lake came to our district when there was a severely strained relationship between the teachers, the board, and the administration. Under his tenure, those relationships have been restored and significantly improved. Dr. Lake also supported the creation of a master district facilities plan which provides information regarding necessary current improvements for each building, as well as future improvements, so that the district may plan ahead for these expenses, and continue to provide much needed regular maintenance. Additionally, under Dr. Lake’s leadership, our district was invited to participate in the Success Ready Schools Network ( The SRSN’s goal is to build the capacity of the Missouri member public schools to understand and use a competency-based mind-set to personalize learning in ways that ensure every student has the knowledge, skills and dispositions they need to be high school, college, career and workplace ready.”

Kirschner: “I am not qualified to comment on his leadership since I have only spoken with Dr. Lake for a few hours.”

Randelman: “As a candidate, my focus is on issues and not on people.” 

Vedder: “I have had the privilege of working with Dr. Tony Lake over the past 3 years on the Board.  Dr. Lake leads with vision, integrity, and care. His knowledge of education and running a school district is exceptional. He surrounds himself with an administration that is always prioritizing students and encourages innovation and best practices. I am continually impressed with Dr. Lake’s willingness to listen, be open to multiple perspectives, and be reflective… even in times of disagreement.” 

If additional revenue is needed for the school district, how do you propose obtaining that revenue?

Koehler: “I would look for additional revenue by providing a critical review of the annual budget, as well as maintaining a goal of continually reviewing existing policies and procedures for opportunities to be more cost-effective within the district.”

Kirschner: “I am a fiscal conservative, and thus would hope to never put the District into a situation where additional unplanned revenue was needed.  I would choose to keep the reserves sufficiently funded to handle unexpected exigencies, and not spend them down.  I would try to not raise the school’s tax rate unless absolutely needed.  I have talked to many senior citizens in the District, who make up approximately 20% of the District’s citizens.  Five percent of them live below the poverty level and are afraid of being taxed out of their home.  St. Louis County’s tax freeze will not apply to school levies and thus senior citizens’ school taxes will continue to rise.”

Randelman: At present, our school district does not require an increase in revenue via higher taxes. However, it is prudent to acknowledge that this may become necessary if our debt continues to  accumulate and we face tougher economic conditions, a scenario not implausible over the next 20  years. I advocate for positioning the district to mitigate the likelihood of such a measure becoming  imperative.”

Vedder: “This can be done with past and current practices when looking for additional revenue. Lindbergh can focus on finding efficiencies in its operations, reducing expenditures where possible, repurposing funds, and seeking grant funding. These practices, coupled with a commitment to fiscal responsibility, will help ensure the necessary resources are available to support our students and community.”

What issues do you believe the district needs to address in its academic programs and offerings? What changes would you recommend? 

Koehler: “The district must continue its focus on striving for excellence and innovation in education. The district should continue to implement new tools and resources for student success. For example, the implementation of the NWEA, achievement testing that provides immediate results so teachers can change focus to meet each child’s individual needs.The district provides pathways for success after high school, preparing students for a variety of options: trade school, 2 and 4 year colleges, military service, and entering the workforce, including being certification-ready. I would work on expanding these types of opportunities. Additionally, I think there is more work to be done with standards based grading, especially at the secondary level. I know that the shift in educational practice has been stressful for families, and I believe that improved communication and more attention to the implementation can only be beneficial.”

Kirschner: “I am concerned about the post-2020 rush to embed practices and content into all aspects of the academy that may result in many unwanted, unintended negative consequences.  For example, policies have been implemented, or at least encouraged, that strive to create equity among students whose support system or resources at home might prevent them from completing their homework.  Consequently, homework is either no longer assigned, or its use is being curtailed, or is not being graded, and/or is done solely at the student’s discretion.  This is truly a shame since well-designed age-appropriate homework is a valuable tool in children’s education.  I think we should help all students have the resources needed to academically succeed including after-school tutoring, rides home, evening on-line tutoring of homework, and weekend tutoring.  These should be walk-in services open to all students. This would improve the learning of students and help all students succeed.”

Randelman: “I have been advocating for several years the importance of having evidence-based, structured  literacy in our schools. This year we finally selected a program called “Benchmark advanced”, which  according to what I am told, incorporates phonics. I will be interested in closely monitoring the students’  academic growth. In general, I would like to see a reduction in pilot programs in our district, selection of  evidence-based curriculum and more support for our teachers.”

Vedder: “Lindbergh has many opportunities for rigorous programming and curriculum that meets each student’s needs.  I believe the district does a good job looking at employment trends to see what jobs are relevant to the current generation and helping prepare students for success beyond Lindbergh.  I want Lindbergh to continue its work with foundational reading, writing, math, and its Lindbergh Life Success Skills.  My hope is that Lindbergh continues to expand its Diploma Plus programming, providing opportunities for students to gain skills they need for success after graduation. The district should always be assessing and evaluating its programs to ensure they are meeting the needs of all students. Lindbergh should ensure data collection shows the effectiveness of these programs and be able to make changes when necessary.”

How would you work to keep politics out of the board’s decision-making process?

Koehler: “I would work to keep politics out of the board’s decision-making process by always keeping the focus on doing what is best for students.”

Kirschner: “In its best expression, politics is the art of finding common-ground solutions that are most beneficial for citizens, or in this case, school districts.  I believe the question is alluding to the polarizing partisan politics we see playing out in local, state, and federal elections.  There is no place for such divisive, vilifying, winner-takes-all behavior on the Lindbergh school board.  Board members need to focus their decisions on what is best for the students’ education, well-being of teachers and staff, and stewardship of taxpayer dollars.  I believe a Lindbergh education should focus on the traditionally accepted subject matters of reading, writing, math, history, civics, geography, music, arts, and so forth.  Correspondingly, public schools including Lindbergh should not serve as the agency of non-academic social change that are promoted by any group either internally or externally of the District.”

Randelman: “In the spirit of the question, which is likely asking how to keep external interests out of the  decision making, that answer is very simple: I will set aside viewpoints that are not student-first in their  approach. This may mean finding common goals, alignment, discussions, or compromise but the goal is  to have an outcome that is looking out for the best interests of our students and the community.”

Vedder: “I will always lean in with curiosity, willing to listen and ask questions to better understand perspectives and ideas.  School boards have become politicized, and I wholeheartedly believe that politics have no place on school boards.  School boards are non-partisan by design, and the main priority should always be educating students.  Even if I do not have the same beliefs as others, I will always have an open and honest conversation.  With that, I will also be honest in communicating what I believe is best for the school district.  I know I can have difficult conversations in a non-judgmental and kind way.  I will do that if necessary.  In the end, the betterment of the students of Lindbergh will always be my bottom line as a school board member. I always go back to my main priority in wondering, ‘is this what is best for ALL students?'”

What are your areas of concern regarding student achievement in the district? Do you have specific suggestions for improvement?

Koehler: “My area of concern centers on ensuring that our teachers have enough time to effectively plan lessons that address the data collected through the NWEA, the growth based achievement test which is administered three times a year. Providing adequate time to both prepare lesson plans, and to work with students on their individual growth and learning goals, is imperative to meet the learning needs of students, and is essential to student success. The board should be available to listen to educators about their needs with respect to planning time, as well as work with district administrators to guarantee planning time that makes the district’s time, money and efforts utilized to implement new tools, like the NWEA, a success and worthwhile endeavor. Additionally, the district must continue to measure individual student growth, and to establish quantifiable targets for growth outcomes.” 

Kirschner: “Until now the annual end-of-year Missouri MAP scores have been the best indicator of student learning that is available to the public.  The MAP scores for English Language Arts and math have been in decline for a number of years even before COVID.  In 2023, only 56% of Lindbergh students tested at or above the category of “proficiency” for ELA, Math, and Science (aggregated score).  I refer you to several posts entitled student learning on my web page to see most of the data for the past ten years.  

We are being asked with Prop R 2024 to increase our debt spending to $489M over 20 years on physical facilities.  That is a lot of money to spend just on buildings!  Why not scale back our investment in buildings and spend a tiny fraction of that $489M on resources that directly impact students’ learning?  For example, one high-impact, quick-to-implement resource would be to offer after-school tutoring in each elementary building, online tutoring each night, and even weekend tutoring services, if needed.  These could be walk-in services available to all families.  Provide snacks after school, and transportation home for those who need it.  This one resource would be a great way to help all students in our district, help those who do not have sufficient resources at home to thrive academically, allow teachers to renew their use of homework as a valuable teaching tool in their arsenal, and prepare all students to become well educated, thoughtful, and productive citizens in our society.  (Note the online tutoring is potentially available already to Lindbergh students via Varsity Tutoring).”

Randelman: “My philosophy is simple, I believe in the ‘Lindbergh way’, which is allowing every student to  achieve their maximum potential. To do this we need programs that will lift students left behind and  programs that promote merit-based recognition of the gifted. These students are our future, and the next American innovators are among them, let’s make sure they have that shot at opportunity.”

Vedder: “Achievement looks different for each student, and this is what I like about Lindbergh’s focus on individualized learning. It gives students not only the skills they need, but also the options to find what fits their needs as a learner and as a unique person. I want Lindbergh to continue to meet students where they are and for who they are.”

What is your opinion on charter schools?

Koehler: “Charter schools and vouchers take money and resources away from public schools. I think that school choice is concerning because public schools are required to serve all students, and private schools may discriminate based on disability, religion, LGBTQ+ status, English proficiency, and other factors that public schools could never use to exclude or discipline students.”

Kirschner: “One driving force behind the discussions of charter schools and vouchers is due to the poor education many students are receiving in public schools.  If public schools provide high quality education, the push for alternative school options would diminish or even cease.  Lindbergh schools have historically provided high quality education to students.  To forestall any discussions about charter schools in our area, the District needs to regain what it has recently lost and resume its leadership role of public education in Missouri.” 

Randelman: Charter schools are an option for families in school districts that are unaccredited. That is not our Lindbergh School district. I am running because I want it to continue its pedigreed path of academic excellence and serve the whole community.” 

Vedder: “There are many families that have choices for their children’s education.  Charter school is one of those choices.  I would never try to influence someone else’s choice on what is best for their family. What worries me about charter schools is the lack of guidelines and requirements for the schools. Currently, charter school systems do not have required accountability measures for student learning and achievement. I am grateful we live in a world where we have access to multiple options. I would encourage families to do their own research on schools to find what best fits their needs.”

What do you propose to ensure that the district continues to retain teachers?

Koehler: “Our district is very fortunate to not have a teacher retention issue. Strong communication with educators, as well as being aware of compensation schedules and policies in similar districts in the area is essential to maintaining the district’s strong retention of teachers. In addition to compensation, I feel it is essential to promote a feeling of being seen and heard and valued, to encourage and support professional development, and to work to increase diversity throughout the teachers and staff in our district. I am committed to continue the work it takes to keep Lindbergh a competitive district through compensation, benefits, and transparent communication with educators and staff, administrators and the board.”

Kirschner: “The District is not having problems attracting and retaining teachers based on what I learned in my recent meeting with Dr. McKenney, Chief Human Resources Officer.  The District is trying to remain competitive in salary and benefits by being in the top quartile of metro districts.  Experienced teachers are willing to come to the District even though their tenure “clock” must restart.  This speaks well of the great workplace environment in Lindbergh schools.

The Missouri State Teachers Association recently reported the results of its 2024 survey of Missouri teachers.  One third of the 2,300 teachers who answered the survey said they were often or very often contemplating leaving the profession.  Another third of the teachers said they sometimes contemplated leaving their profession.  Their top three reasons for contemplating their departure include 1) stress, 2) student behavior, and 3) low pay.  It behooves any school district in Missouri, including Lindbergh, to address these three reasons to retain their teachers.”

Randelman: “Lindbergh Schools has a good retention rate and has been nominated as a top place to work in  in recent years, according to Post-Dispatch. I believe maintaining a good relationship with our teachers by continuing with a supportive work environment and good educational tools will help maintain that.”

Vedder: “I believe that quality educators and staff are essential to student success. I would like to see Lindbergh work on recruiting staff that reflects our student population so that there is a broader sense of belonging for not only students but employees.  Pay and benefits, as well as being aware of trends in other districts, are important here.  Lindbergh offers competitive wages and benefits for their employees.  Lindbergh should continue to do benchmark evaluations, listen to the needs and concerns of the employees, and be  proactive to changing landscapes rather than reactive. Lindbergh has made improvements in compensating teachers and staff, and I will make it a priority of mine to see that Lindbergh continues to be a place where people want to come and work.  Leadership is also important in attracting and retaining employees.  Placing good leaders at the building and district level allows for good workplace culture.  As with everything, my job as a Board member is to continue to be open and welcoming to staff feedback on what they think is important for their work environment.  Going back to the question of ‘what do the teachers have to say?’ – this is expanded to all employees… What do employees believe are the best practices in attracting and retaining quality educators and staff for the district? These are conversations I would like to have with staff to have a better understanding on what current employees prioritize and want to see more/or less of.”

Are you satisfied with the district’s security efforts?

Koehler: “Yes, I am satisfied, and at the same time I believe there is still more work to be done in order to provide strong security efforts across our district. Our new high school has state of the art level security, and Prop R 2024 will bring that same level of security to all buildings and facilities in our district.”

Kirschner: “It is great that Lindbergh received $300k in grant money last fall 2023 to fund an emergency alert system (Centegix CrisisAlert) and ancillary safety measures (e.g., walkie-talkies, bleeding control kits). I am also pleased the District is improving the security of external entryways for all schools and employing / redeploying additional safety resource officers in the District. We need to invest in keeping our students safe and prevent any tragedies from happening.”

Randelman: “We have made improvements with the work being done on ingress/egress security and I am also aware of the large emphasis of safety efforts done by the district through 2019 Prop R to bring us to a better standard, but I still think we need to do more to protect the students and staff including more  SRO’s and/or a security booth at building or gate entrances.”

Vedder: “Yes. Lindbergh ensures safety and security as a top priority in the district.  Last year, Lindbergh implemented a new security measure with the Centegix CrisisAlert badge system.  This gives any staff member, in any building, the ability to call for help with a push of the  button.  Along with being connected to  school administration, in the event of a crisis, the lockdown alert reaches first responders immediately.  With the previous Prop R, the district was able to install secure vestibules to every building.  If Prop R 2024 passes, Lindbergh can continue to grow its security efforts by upgrading all buildings with alarmed exterior doors, safety glass, new intercom systems, and improved traffic flow.”

What concerns do you have, if any, about the impact of the Crestwood Crossing development on the district? The development includes the construction of an 81-home subdivision.

Koehler: The short-term impact on the district, due to tax abatement on commercial property only for 15 or fewer years, is tolerable when you consider the long-term impact of Crestwood Crossing on the district. The Crestwood Crossing development will have transformed a blighted eyesore into something good for our community and families, through increased commercial tax revenue (after the TIF is paid off), increased property values, and increased use of the development by our community.” 

Kirschner:I assume the gist of the question is if I am concerned how the influx of students moving into the development will increase school enrollments.  I have heard the District initially opposed the City of Crestwood when this development was first discussed, presumably because of the adverse burden increased enrollment might have on the nearby schools.  I do not know at this time how many families ultimately moved into the development so am not aware of changes in student enrollment.  However, as a Crestwood taxpayer, I am very pleased the land has finally been developed, thus providing new commercial spaces and generating revenue sources for the city.”

Randelman: “I have no concerns.”

Vedder: I do not have concerns about Crestwood Crossing.”

Should the board rely on the advice and recommendations of the financial professionals of the district’s Finance Committee to make major financial decisions, including whether to approve salary increases and budgets?

Koehler: “Yes, the board should rely on the advice of our financial professionals because they have a fiduciary duty to the district. Additionally, our district has chosen to only utilize financial advisors that can advise us on bonds, but cannot sell our bonds to other clients. Some districts do not put this restriction on their financial advisors, and Lindbergh believes it is an important requirement in order to fulfill the fiduciary duty owed to the district.”

Kirschner: Yes, the Board needs input from financial professionals to make prudent decisions. Such input, however, does not abrogate the Board of its due diligence.  It behooves each board member to become very familiar with the District’s financial affairs, and ramifications of the Board’s decisions on the District’s and taxpayers’ finances, presently and into the future.”

Randelman: “The finance committee, which also includes the presence of board members, would be a good  first step in the process of obtaining board approval for major financial decisions. However, a board  member’s fiduciary responsibility still requires careful evaluation based on all the evidence available and  considering all the best interests of the district and students before voting.”

Vedder: “In my experience with Board Advisory Committees, the members of these committees are essential to the growth of the district.  So many great ideas and successes have come out of these committees.  I have great trust in Lindbergh’s CFO in making major financial decisions. I also believe that two things can be true.  We can have excellent participation from community members and take their advice into consideration while also knowing that there are professionals that work for the school district that have a broader understanding of the financial workings of a public school.”

Should the district deficit spend for recurring expenses like salary increases?

Koehler: No, never.”

Kirschner: “Only in unusual circumstances would I support deficit spending to cover recurring expenses.  Such spending might be expedient in the short term, but not sustainable in the long term.  Yes, unexpected events due arise and spending from a rainy-day fund is warranted, but such spending should be done for the unexpected, and hopefully small, events.”

Randelman: “It is important we maintain fiscal health and a high reserve to avoid deficit spending. I would be opposed to this sort of spending.”

Vedder: “No. The district should never do that.”

If future budget cuts are needed, what do you propose eliminating from the budget?

Koehler:I would first ask whether all efficiencies have been maximized in all parts of the district budget. If only a small budget cut is necessary, I would first look at things like vehicles, etc. Transportation is another area to be examined for budget cuts. The state of Missouri only requires transportation to be provided for students who live 3.5 miles from their school; however, Lindbergh believes in providing transportation for elementary students within .5 miles from their school, and for secondary students within 1 mile from their school. If a larger cut is needed, because 80% of the budget is dedicated to staff in the district, I would next look at program analysis and staffing.”

Kirschner: “The Board should make every effort to prevent the District from being in poor financial shape.  I think the District should be conservative in its management of money by passing affordable budgets.  If the unexpected happens, I would first look to cut less-critical-role administrators and staff before letting go of the “front-line” teachers and front-line staff (e.g., nurses, maintenance staff).” 

Randelman: “If such a situation arises my priority would be first to maintain the quality of education for the  students. Lower priority programs would have to be re-evaluated.”

Vedder: “We must ensure that we are running as efficiently as possible while also evaluating programs to determine their return on investment and impact on students. 80% of expenditures are spent on staff salaries, so with that in mind, the district would need to look elsewhere to ensure that there is adequate staff to support student success.”

What is a school board member’s role and responsibility? How does that role differ from the role of the superintendent or administration?

Koehler: The role of the board is to set the policies, goals and objectives for the district – and it holds the superintendent responsible for implementing the policies and achieving the goals. The board provides accountability to the community.”

Kirschner: “An effective board member serves as the eyes, ears, and voice of the public regarding the activities of the District’s administration, staff, faculty, and students.  A board member has oversight of hiring, finances, curriculum, facilities, and operations.  An individual member cannot be expected to know all the details of all matters within the District but should be expected to immerse him or herself in matters as they arise.  A good member is one who seeks out information, educates him or herself to make well-informed decisions, ask questions, be willing to illuminate problems as needed, and not be afraid to disagree with others albeit in a respectful civil manner.  A board member should not be beholden to any special-interest group.  The board will collectively be most effective when comprised of individual members who have diverse experiences, knowledge, and expertise that complement each other.”

Randelman: “School board members are primarily responsible for the governance, policy making and  representation of community interests. The superintendent is primarily responsible for the operational  side of running the district, overseeing the administration, staffing, and carrying out the board direction  in terms of policy, curriculum etc. The administration is responsible for managing the day-to-day  operations within the district, curriculum implementation, maintaining school facilities etc.”

Vedder: “The School Board is a governing body of volunteers elected by the community, not paid administrative staff.  The main role of the Board of  Education is setting district policies, selecting and evaluating the superintendent, adopting the annual budget, and determining the tax rate.  The Board provides oversight while the administrative staff focuses on the day to day function of the district.”

How should Lindbergh adapt to possible growing school enrollment?

Koehler: “Lindbergh is well-suited to adapt to possible growing school enrollment because of the work that is being proposed as part of Prop R 2024.”

Kirschner: “I believe the District is projecting a long-term increase in enrollment though that has not been true for the past year or two. In a recent Post-Dispatch story dated 11/29/2023, enrollments have been dropping in roughly 18 of the 28 metro districts, including nearby Webster Groves. Lindbergh has been a destiny district for decades given its strong history of academic excellence. Enrollments will decline if that trend does not continue or more students transfer into private schools, are schooled at home, or more out of the District.”

Randelman: “Based on my analysis of demographic studies from 2018 and 2020, it’s evident that Lindbergh Schools currently has the capacity to accommodate growing enrollment for the foreseeable future.  However, I believe that as we enhance our rankings and establish a more attractive magnet for new families, there’s potential for increased enrollment, which I wholeheartedly welcome.”

Vedder: “Enrollment for Lindbergh continues to grow. The most recent enrollment total for Lindbergh schools is 7,189 students, which has continued to climb over the years (enrollment in the 2018-19 school year was 6,958). Lindbergh should continue to invest in their buildings and teachers to ensure a solid foundation for more students entering the district.” 

 How does your personal or professional history inform your approach to the board?

Koehler: “I have always been passionate about public service and education. I believe in quality public education for current and future students. Having had the experience of attending Lindbergh Schools myself, having one of my children recently graduate from Lindbergh, and watching the opportunities and experiences that my son is having in Lindbergh Schools, I want to give back to a community that has given so much to our family by serving in the very important role of director for the Board of Education. My legal education provides me with the skills to research, analyze, and ultimately make the most-informed decisions for the district. My background in higher education career services provides a unique perspective on the needs of students to be prepared for whatever path they choose after graduation.”

Kirschner: “I refer you to my posts on regarding my professional background and reasons for running.  I am passionate about public education as the path out of poverty, and passage to the American dream.  I grew up in a family where my two maternal grandparents and two parents were all elementary public-school educators.  My father grew up in extreme poverty during the Great Depression, but with the help of the GI Bill was able to earn a university education.  Together my parents instilled in their four children a love for learning.  Their dedication to education resulted in their four children becoming a lawyer, a professor of medicine, a professor of geology (me), and a professor of chemistry.  What this taught me, and influences my outlook today, is that education is the Great Equalizer in our society and can raise any family out of poverty in one generation, including Lindbergh families.

I taught geology and environmental science for sixteen years at Saint Louis University and worked nine years as a research scientist at Shell Oil in Texas.  In both settings, I worked with students graduating from K-12 schools.  I observed students who were ill-prepared for university studies or professional work in a highly technical business environment.  For the future wellbeing of students and this country, I believe we must strive to educate students better.”  

Randelman: “As an IT specialist, I have extensive experience managing teams, overseeing large financial  operations, and revitalizing companies by optimizing expenditures and negotiating with vendors,  resulting in millions of dollars in savings. My background has honed my abilities in listening, negotiating, and collaborating to find successful solutions. I believe these skills would be invaluable assets to our  board and finance committee.”

Vedder: “I’ve been an educator for over 15 years. I am a current preschool teacher at Washington University Nursery School.  For 4.5 years, I taught English Language Development for an online learning platform.  I was also an elementary school teacher, having taught 1st and 2nd grades in California public schools, and 3rd grade in Salt Lake City public school. 2 of the 3 schools I have taught in are Title 1 schools, giving me this experience and understanding as well.  Prior to my current teaching job, I worked at a non-profit organization that focused on anti-bias/anti-racist education, providing professional development to teachers and leading other professionals in advocacy work.  I am someone who values curiosity and continuous learning. I believe that education is a lifelong journey, so as a board member, I am always willing to question what is happening and eager to explore new ideas and approaches to benefit our students and our community.”

How should board members make decisions on issues? Do you believe that they should always follow the recommendations of the administration, or they should always go against the recommendations of the administration?

Koehler: “Through my legal training, education, and work in higher education, as well as through my numerous volunteer roles in our school district, I am cognizant of the importance of hearing all sides of any issue before making a decision. My role as a board member is to represent the taxpayers of our district. I would listen to all parties, consult with our district counsel if needed, research our existing process for making a decision on the specific issue, and follow all required steps in the process. I do not believe that the board should either always follow the recommendations of the administration, or always go against the recommendation of the administration. In order to make the best decisions for students, the board should take a middle-ground position with respect to recommendations of the administration, and respect the professional skills of the administration, while still doing its own research and asking questions before making a decision.”

Kirschner: “I believe it is healthy for board members to educate themselves first on the issues to be addressed, and then collectively engage in substantive, civil discussions.  Such discussions are productive when people have divergent views that results in vigorous debate.  By doing so, the board will identify the core issue(s) that need to be examined, and discard or ignore the surrounding chaff.  I do not believe the board should always follow the recommendations of the Administration.  That would be unhealthy.  

One reason I am running for the Board is what I learned when going through the last three years of Board minutes and watching board meetings on YouTube.  There were over 330 line-item votes taken during the regular board meetings I reviewed.  For the current sitting board members, there was only one dissenting vote – one person dissented one time on one vote.  The rest – 329 votes – were all unanimous.  This record of voting shocked me and convinced me that more diverse points of views are needed on the school board.” 

Randelman: “A board member should give considerable weight to the administration’s recommendations  while ensuring alignment with the interests of students, community, families, and taxpayers. I advocate for finding the most beneficial path rather than being a rubber stamp.”

Vedder: “I have never shied away from challenging the status quo and asking the tough questions because I believe in the power of continuous improvement. I always strive to know how and when we can do better because our students, families, and staff deserve nothing but the best. The best way for board members to make decisions is through communication with administration and with each other.”

What is the best way to address differences in opinion on the board, or between the board and the administration?

Koehler: “The best way to address differences in opinion on the board, or between the board and the administration is to remember that the board exists to serve the needs of students, staff, and the community. There needs to be reflective conversation, and the board needs to follow a code of ethics. There should be a willingness to lean into the discomfort to move things forward, and any tendency to ignore the differences in opinion should be prevented. The board should ask itself how does this behavior support or go against the “why” for the students, staff, and community.”

Kirschner: “It is healthy for people to voice disparate ideas and hold different opinions, be it in relationships or the functioning of educational boards.  Uniformity of ideas breeds complacency and oftentimes poorly thought-out decisions.  To address differences, people need to behave civilly, focus on the factual issues being discussed, and restrain from maligning others or questioning their motives.  We have lost the art of civil discourse in our society, and what better place to exemplify good behavior than on school boards of education!”

Randelman: “Staying student-focused, seeking common ground, and maintaining an open mind are  essential elements in resolving differences. Even during disagreements, professionalism and our shared  priorities should steer our actions. Differences of opinion on any board are healthy.”

Vedder: “The foundation of success lies in the strength of relationships. You can have differing opinions while still having a good working relationship. When individuals collaborate with a shared commitment to listen, learn, and question—with genuine curiosity and care—anything can happen. In good relationships there is an assumption of good will. With that, if everyone involved can operate under the assumption that others share the common objective of fostering student success, the likelihood of accomplishing remarkable things for students is great. Active listening with regular check-ins and an open line of communication are so important in maintaining a strong relationship and addressing differences.”

What do you think of efforts to ban or restrict certain books from school libraries?

Koehler: “DESE and the state of Missouri have guidelines and legislation in place to ensure that school libraries maintain a collection that is appropriate for all students’ in the specific school building. Should a parent or guardian wish to restrict their student from specific books, it is within the parent’s rights to do so through the process established by the board.”

Kirschner: “I believe free speech and unfettered distribution of books and information are important to our society and thus do not support their restrictions.  At the same time, public schools have very limited resources to purchase books and thus the school librarians should purchase books that are educationally beneficial to students and aligned with classroom instruction.  After deciding to run for the school board last fall, I purchased several books from Amazon that were the focal point of discussions last year.  The books arrived several days after my purchase.  I was disturbed, however, after reviewing the books for many reasons, including the graphic drawings and descriptions of sex that were depicted in one book and the step-by-step instructions on how to join an adult-only meet-up site in the other book. These books are not banned in our society since I could purchase and receive them in a few days, and because they are available in our three local public libraries.  I do question why these books were deemed educationally important to our students, though I understand some parents believe these books can help their own children.  In such cases, I think these families should buy their children such books rather than rely on the library of a public school.  In my home we have over 2000 books (yes, I counted), several hundred of them were purchased for our children’s benefit.  

It will be inevitable, however, that parents have divergent views on books.  I believe it is important to find common ground or compromise in such cases.  In the books discussed last year, it seemed a reasonable compromise was reached that limited access to the books according to the wishes of parents. In public schools, I believe people need to seek common ground or compromises that meet the needs and desires of the middle 80 to 90% of the citizens.”

Randelman: Our school district is facing two significant pressures, both driven by ideological and political  motives. Firstly, there’s the issue of overtly sexually explicit books making their way into our school  libraries without proper curation and cataloging. Secondly, there’s a movement to decolonize our  libraries, resulting in the removal or reduction of classical literature such as works by Laura Ingalls,  “Gone with the Wind,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” from our school buildings and curriculum. 

I firmly oppose book banning and the removal of classical literature. As part of my platform, I advocate for improving the curating and cataloging process, along with implementing an opt-in system for books containing sensitive topics that may conflict with the family values of some  community members. By demonstrating sensitivity to the needs of everyone and ensuring the  protection of students and family values, we can work towards finding a middle ground that serves the best interests of all.”

Vedder: I think these efforts are harmful and hurtful to students, schools, and the community.”

 How can the board remain focused on student achievement?

Koehler: “The board remains focused on student achievement by continuing to ask for and examining data on student achievement and growth.”

Kirschner: “The Board can remain focused on student achievement by making it a top priority.  People normally focus on their priorities!”

Randelman: “I propose implementing an annual planning meeting at the beginning of each school year,  dedicated to outlining district academic goals and improvement strategies that are both attainable and  realistic. These objectives should be transparently published on the district website for the community  to access. Additionally, regular progress reports throughout the year would serve to track our  advancement and ensure alignment with our goals. This proactive approach not only fosters  accountability but also instills a sense of motivation and drive within our district to strive for excellence.”

Vedder: The board remains focused on student achievement by ensuring Lindbergh is a place where every person feels safe, valued, and empowered to reach their full potential.  Student success is focusing on personalized learning, rigorous curriculum, meaningful assessments and high-quality teachers.”

What do you propose to ensure adequate communication between the district and district residents?

Koehler: “We are fortunate to have an experienced and dedicated district communications department, yet it can still be a challenge to effectively communicate with the many people that make up the Lindbergh community. I will always have an “open door” policy to listen to all stakeholders and representatives, and do what it takes to convey those messages across our board. 

Additionally, I understand why the BOE adopted the policy to permit public comment at BOE meetings solely regarding that specific meeting’s agenda items. I have also participated in the process of adding a “resident-initiated agenda item,” by contacting a member of the administration about an agenda item that I wanted to discuss at a future meeting, having that agenda item added, and then being given the opportunity to speak about the item at the designated meeting. At the September 19, 2023 BOE meeting, I spoke about the “Conclusion of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.” While I understand the reasons why the policy was adopted, and the process to provide an opportunity to speak at a future board meeting, I still believe there can be more done to communicate this process. I also believe in adding an opportunity for the public to communicate with the BOE in other forums. The community is still being given the opportunity to initiate agenda items, but the extra steps have made it more challenging for community members to give feedback on any item regarding the district.”

Kirschner: “I believe it is important that the District provides honest, forthright information to citizens via their press releases and in forums regarding the District and not be overly positive or negative with the information and/or headlines.  The District’s residents can handle the truth, be it good or bad.  We do not want the pride and trust of the citizens to corrode if it appears information is being withheld or not being presented fully.  Lindbergh is not receiving the accolades that it has in the past, but that might be ok with most people as long as they know the goal of the District remains focused on providing a quality education.”

Randleman: “In that last year we have had citizen comments removed from our board meetings, topics by  choice of residents must now go through a district vetting process. I think a good first step towards  improving communication and trust is revitalizing citizen comments and creating a clear process of  documenting minutes, action items and addressing concerns. Many in our community feel that our  board could do better in addressing community concerns. I would advocate for such channels of  communication.” 

Vedder: “I do not think that communication and transparency will ever be perfect, so this is something that always needs to be in focus.  I want to continue to question how we can best reach our stakeholders and communicate the work of the district.  With that, I also want to look at how the district receives feedback with intentionality and purpose. I am always looking at who has a seat at the table – who is present and who is missing from conversations.  There are so many vital participants in the school district, so as a board member I will always be focused on the presence of diverse voices and perspectives to ensure a well-rounded view that focuses on what is best for kids.”

Do you support Lindbergh’s $150 million no-tax-rate-increase bond issue proposal, Proposition R, that will appear on the April 2 ballot? Why or why not?

Koehler: “I support Prop R 2024. Having been a parent of children at both Long and Truman (two buildings that are included in the work being proposed by Prop R), I have seen first-hand the need for facility improvement. In order to support all students, every child must be able to participate in the same activities and experiences, and have the same level of safety and security, regardless of which building they attend. Prop R is necessary to provide funding for much needed facility work across our district. The STEM learning center is a great opportunity for Lindbergh Schools to honor the history of the Concord Farmers Club in our community, to connect with stakeholders and to enhance educational experiences throughout the district.”

Kirschner: “There are multiple capital-improvement needs in the District that should be addressed soon.  These needs include the reroofing of Truman Middle School to limit interior water damage, reclaiming the swimming pool space, replacing the HVAC system so that all antiquated classroom AC window units can be removed, and so forth.  Numerous other, albeit smaller projects, included in Prop R 2024 should also be done soon.

I think a smaller proposition would have been more prudent at this time to address the much-needed items.  In turn, without a clear understanding of future property appraisals in this post-pandemic high-mortgage-rate era, I would have preferred the school board to not include at this time higher priced items such as the construction of three gymnasiums and redevelopment of the Farmer’s Market property.  I have seen the need for separate gymnasiums but think a separate prop could have been proposed several years later after completing a lower-cost Prop R 2024.  By then we would have a clearer understanding of how quickly property values might increase in the District and the future trend in student enrollments.  With my own finances, I am a fiscal conservative keeping expenditures within my means, not maxing out my line of credit, and always having a healthy rainy-day fund.  I would similarly handle tax-payer dollars.

I recently made a Sunshine request with the District to gain more information regarding the proposed funding of Prop R 2024.  I made this request to know what the total debt amortization schedule for the District would be if Prop R 2024 passed.  I received a 5-page amortization schedule for the $150M Prop R 2024 from the District.  This schedule can be found on my website

If Prop R 2024 passes the total expenditure on principal and interest for the next 20 years will be ~$489M.  This is a lot of money.  Although the District can afford this level of payment if property values continue to rise each year at an average rate of 3.5%, but this trend may not continue and cannot be relied on.  The debt will have to be paid one way or another.  I would have preferred a smaller Prop R this year and another one in 5 years.  I know I might be ignorant of important information that necessitated the current Prop R amount, but with the information I currently have, I would have gone with two props.  That is why I am voting NO on April 2.”

Randelman: “The outcome regarding the prop will be a community decision. I have invested significant time  in understanding our facility repair and improvement needs. My support lies in measures that enhance  Lindbergh student academic success and bridge learning gaps. Presently, the breakdown of costs for  Prop R remains incomplete, and the projects lack thorough consideration. With the district already  burdened by a $150 million debt, the proposal to add another $150 million places a substantial  obligation on our community. Our current amortization plan indicates the residents will end up getting  $490 million taxed by the time everything is paid off. Furthermore, the current proposition includes  several large optional items that, while desirable, are not immediate necessities. I would advocate a new  prop R instead, one that will prioritize sensible essential projects first and then evaluate our financial  well-being separately before investing in new buildings.” 

Vedder: “Yes, I support Prop R. The successful completion of the high school project has demonstrated the positive impact of enhancing our facilities on students, teachers, and the entire community. Given the success of the previous Prop, it only makes sense to extend these improvements to the rest of our facilities, ultimately benefiting the entire district. Since bond money is the only way for school district’s in the state of Missouri to make capital improvements,  The district’s commitment to upgrading facilities aligns with its dedication to advancing not just education but also creating new opportunities for students.”

Have you been endorsed by any groups, organizations, unions, et cetera? If so, please list them.

Koehler: “I am supported by Lindbergh teachers and endorsed by the LNEA; Sunset Hills Mayor, Pat Fribis; current Alderman, and former Mayor of Crestwood, Grant Mabie; Missouri State Senator, Doug Beck; South County Labor Club; and Missouri Equity Education Partnership.”

Kirschner: “I did not seek endorsements at the start of my campaign because I did not want to be evaluated primarily as a single-issue candidate and I saw most requests were from single-issue groups.  I believe an effective board member is not focused on a single issue but rather one who has the needed skills, knowledge, and expertise to understand and manage the diverse issues facing Lindbergh Schools District.  

I did, however, alter my plan by attending a trade-union endorsement meeting because I believe the trades provide an important, albeit often underappreciated, avenue of study and work for many high school students.  In retrospect I wished I had not attended, and not because they did not endorse me.  The unions’ leaders made their decision about me in less than 10 minutes of interaction after asking only two financial questions – Do you support Prop R 2024? with the implication that they wanted the work to go to union shops.  And do you support collective bargaining?  I was disheartened that the focus was not on education, though I can only fault my naivete.  If I was a trade-union member with children in Lindbergh schools, I would personally be disappointed that the unions leaders’ did not consider the educational views of the candidates before making their endorsements.”  

Randelman: “Yes, but equally important is to note I chose not to be considered for endorsement by the  NEA/MNEA as I believe their influence on the board has not been conducive to addressing community concerns and improving academic outcomes.”

Vedder: “Lindbergh NEA (teachers union), South County Labor Group.”