Lenz, Peek top vote-getters of four seeking election to Lindbergh board

By BURKE WASSON

One Lindbergh School District veteran and one newcomer were elected last week to the Lindbergh Board of Education.

Board Secretary Vic Lenz and David Peek were the top two vote-getters of four candidates running for the school board. They will serve three-year terms.

Lenz received the most votes with 3,119, or 38.88 percent, of 4,803 votes cast. He will serve his second term on the school board.

Peek tallied 1,819 votes, or 22.67 percent, and will serve his first term on the Lindbergh Board of Education.

Coming up short were Richard Meuser, who received 1,553 votes, or 19.36 percent, and incumbent board member Bob Bader, who garnered 1,504 votes, or 18.75 percent. Bader leaves the board after being twice elected since 2001.

With ongoing projects like building improvements planned through funds generated from the successful $32 million bond issue Proposition R and a community-engagement program scheduled to begin in the near future, Lenz and Peek both said the Board of Education has much to consider.

“I have high expectations for myself and I set goals,” Peek said. “We’ve been a very successful district. Very successful. We’ve received a lot of third-party recognition. I want to make sure that we don’t become complacent, that we continue to challenge ourselves and that we continue to set those high expectations out there … That is not a criticism. Our future depends on not becoming complacent, making sure that we keep the kids first and having high expectations.”

Lenz said he will work in his second term to continue the same excellence he has seen on the Lindbergh Board of Education as a former student, former employee and board member.

“I’m hoping that our board can continue to work together,” Lenz said. “The strength of Lindbergh, I think and I thought this even as an employee, has been the strength of our boards of education. The boards, in the time that I’ve been at Lindbergh, and I’ve been there since 1949 as a student or an employee, but the strength of Lindbergh has been the strength of the boards. They are there for the good of the kids. We’ve always had board members who support the district and are really working for the good and the improvement of our education and the educational system at Lindbergh. And that’s been exceptional.”

Besides maintaining a strong relationship on the board itself, Lenz and Peek both emphasized establishing closer ties to the community.

Peek said that responsibility should be expanded to reaching out to not only the parent groups that the district has encouraged for years, but also residents who either don’t know or are unaware of the district’s operations.

“A lot of what I’ve seen may have been geared, may have been too focused toward the parents of kids in the district as opposed to also involving or engaging the folks that don’t,” Peek said. “The board has done a real nice job of sending out board members to these parent meetings. But what’s also interesting is there’s very little engagement. One of the board members will get up and say something and make a little short statement and then they ask: ‘Does anybody have any specific questions?’ And very rarely do they get engaged — even by those that are involved.”

Lenz echoed Peek’s desire to better involve residents who do not have children attending district schools.

“Several of us (board members) have been going to as many parent meetings and senior-citizen meetings as we possibly can to see as many people there as we can,” Lenz said. “But what we need to do is to get the input and get our information to those people who are not actively connected to the district. And that’s what the community-engagement process is all about is to try to develop ways to do that.”

As a way to further reach out to the community, Peek said he would propose scheduling more town-hall meetings. To optimize discussion at those meetings, Peek said he would like the district to inform residents as to which topics would be discussed at the sessions so that people can carefully analyze their questions and concerns ahead of time.

“I think it would interesting to see what kind of response we could get if we held maybe a semiannual, town-hall meeting,” Peek said. “And, actually way ahead of the town-hall meeting, we announce what topics would be discussed so that we get people thinking specifically about a topic instead of just asking ‘Are there general questions?’

“It’s almost like you’re inviting them to give input on a specific issue as opposed to just saying: ‘OK, are there any questions?’ Well, that’s kind of hard to think of a specific question when you ask a general question like that.”

As far as a specific area of study that the board will have to consider this year, Lenz said he and other board members are obligated to make sure the building projects associated with Prop R are carried out on time.

“The main thing that we have to do as a board now is to make sure that we accomplish all of the things that we promised the community would be done and that we get it done in a reasonably short time frame and under budget and first-quality construction and making sure that we’re really getting our dollars worth for the community,” Lenz said. “That’s another piece that our board has to always look at. How do we always make sure that we are spending the community’s money wisely?”

Peek also said that the board will have to be especially conscientious in its search for a new superintendent to replace current Superintendent Jim Sandfort, who will retire in 2008.

“I believe that we need someone who is highly visible that will be a good public-relations person, someone that will be obviously available to the press when needed,” Peek said. “I think that’s very important. As well as someone that has high expectations. I think that’s a key … Superintendents already have some leadership qualities to them. But I believe that many times, facing uncertainty or facing tough times, that’s when leadership really shows. So if we can find someone that has kind of maybe taken a district and has maybe suffered a little bit and has turned things around, that really shows a track record of success.”

Reflecting upon his re-election, Lenz said he is grateful to the community and also optimistic that he and the rest of the Board of Education can continue with projects already formed during his first term as well as set new goals for the district in his second term.

“I was hoping to be re-elected and I was very happy with the results, needless to say,” Lenz said. “I really appreciate the community’s support in coming out and voting and showing an interest in the school district and voting for board members. And personally, I definitely appreciate the support of the community in my re-election.”

Peek said while he was confident that he had a good amount of community support before the election, he was nevertheless surprised and appreciative after the final votes were tallied.

“I feel humbled by the support that I received,” Peek said. “I feel like I’m a good guy. But there’s a lot of people that feel I’m a good guy that I didn’t expect. And I think that’s what’s really great about this. I feel grateful to them for that.”