Lindbergh candidates differ in their opinions of district’s top issue

Six candidates are seeking 3 seats on school board.

Joseph Sartorius

Joseph Sartorius

By MIKE ANTHONY

Three candidates seeking election to the Lindbergh Board of Education in the Tuesday, April 5, election differ in their opinions of the most important issue facing the district.

Seats held by board Secretary Kathleen Kienstra, board Treasurer Mark Rudoff and board member Don Bee that carry three-year terms will be up for election.

Also up for election will be a seat vacated earlier this year by Janine Fabick that will carry a one-year term. Larry McIntosh currently is serving in the seat.

Kienstra and Bee have filed for the seats that carry three-year terms. Also filing for those seats are: Vicki Lorenz Englund, Joseph Sartorius, Leslie Weiss and George Rezabek. Rudoff filed for the seat that carries a one-year term.

Missouri law states no school-board election will take place in a district if the number of candidates who file is equal to the number of board seats to be filled by the election Because he is the only candidate to file for the seat that carries a one-year term, Rudoff’s name will not appear on the ballot.

This article will focus on Sartorius, Weiss and Rezabek. Kienstra, Bee and Englund were featured last week.

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

• “Keep Lindbergh School District on course as an outstanding school for students and fiscally responsible,” Sartorius said.

• The most important issue in this race is a smooth and successful transition to two middle schools and the realigned elementary schools — implementation of the district’s new boundaries. Why? So that the school communities can focus on learning in the upcoming school year,” Weiss said.

• “I feel an issue that is important to the race is one of retaining quality teachers and staff. The overall success of a program is related to the skills of the teachers and the staff. The Lindbergh teachers and staff are the backbone of the district,” Rezabek said.

Sartorius, 51, 10315 Grant Forest Lane, 63123, is an assistant professor of graduate education. He and his wife, Ellen, have two grown children, two children who attend Lindbergh High School and a child who attends Sperreng Middle School.

Sartorius, who has not held elective office, served as principal of Sappington Elementary School for 15 years and director of student services for the district for one year. He said he is seeking election to the school board “to provide leadership for the Lindbergh School District and give back to the students and community.”

Weiss, 45, 10757 Roanna Lane, 63128, is a volunteer for Lindbergh Schools. She and her husband, Lance, have three children, including one who attends Lindbergh High School, one who attends Sperreng Middle School and one who attends Truman Elementary School.

Weiss, who has not held elective office, is a former grade school teacher who has served in numerous capacities as a district volunteer, most recently as co-chair of the Yes for Prop L campaign. She is seeking election to the school board because “I have been working for kids and classrooms in Lindbergh Schools since 1998 and I would love to continue to do so as a Board of Education member.”

Rezabek, 51, 8 Kahlia Way Court, 63127, is a pediatrician with St. John’s Mercy Medical Group — Fenton Pediatric Associates. He and his wife, Cheryln, have five children, including one in college, one who attends Lindbergh High School, two who attend Sperreng Middle School and a preschooler.

Rezabek, who has not held elective office, said he is seeking election to the school board “to work with the teachers and the community to continue the excellence that is Lindbergh; quality education with fiscal responsibility while providing for the teachers and district employees who have our children daily; (and) to work so that the quality Lindbergh that my Lindbergh graduate experienced is the same that my kindergartner next year will experience.”

The candidates gave the following responses to a Call questionnaire:

Do you support the newly redrawn elementary-school boundaries and the new middle-school boundaries that have been established?

Sartorius said, “Yes. I feel the district followed a process to obtain input and make a decision based on the information for the best educational opportunities for students.”

Weiss said, “I do support the newly drawn boundaries for several reasons: The Boundary Committee thoroughly examined all issues while working with established criteria. When difficult decisions were made, they were based on economics and what was in the best interests of the greatest number of students. The result of the redrawn boundaries will be two middle schools with nearly equal numbers of students.

“Another result will be that Lindbergh elementary schools will have nearly equal enrollments based on individual building capacities as a percentage.”

Rezabek said, “Yes. I feel that a large  amount of work went into the boundaries using parent input and meetings. The lines as drawn make best use of the bus routes and student numbers.”

Do you support the district’s Performance Based Teacher Evaluation program?

Sartorius said, “Yes. Since it is required by DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.”

Weiss said, “Yes I do as PBTE focuses on: Objectives to be mastered; individual abilities and needs of students; and self-directed professional development for teachers.”

Rezabek said, “As a state-mandated evaluation tool as long as all teachers are held to the same standard, I would support  its use.”

How did you vote on the district’s Proposition L that was on the November ballot?

Sartorius said, “I voted in favor of Prop L.”

Weiss said, “I voted yes for Prop L.”

Rezabek said, “I voted for the proposition.”

Do you believe Lindbergh Schools is moving in the right direction?

Sartorius said, “Yes.”

Weiss said, “Yes because Lindbergh Schools continues to keep its promise ‘to develop competent and caring graduates through exceptional programs, services, and personnel’ — LHS Mission/Vision.”

Rezabek said, “Yes, I feel that with the recent passing of Prop L and  the continued support of the community and staff the school will continue to flourish.”

Are you satisfied with the leadership of Superintendent Jim Simpson?

Sartorius said, “Yes. Dr. Simpson as a new superintendent was faced with several challenges that have been developing for some time. I feel he has addressed the issues and responded appropriately.”

Weiss said, “Yes. Dr. Simpson and his Central Office cabinet have provided excellent leadership to Lindbergh Schools during difficult times of expanding student population and shrinking revenue. Also, during Dr. Simpson’s tenure, Lindbergh Schools has been ranked the No. 1 school district in the state of Missouri.”

Rezabek said, “I believe that Dr. Simpson has done a good job. He has faced challenges and has handled them to the best of his ability with the help of the community and the board.”

If additional revenue is needed for the operation of the school district, what would you propose as a Board of Education member to obtain that revenue?

Sartorius said, “I would look at ways to protect student instruction as a priority. Other, more removed supports or services would need to be looked at.”

Weiss said, “Use the Prop L funds that become available to the district in late 2011 or early 2012. Look toward the Gravois Bluffs TIF to be paid off in less than five years.

Rezabek said, “I would have to look at the entire budget and work with the financial officer and other BOE members to develop a plan for new revenue. I also would look to the community as a whole for suggestions.”

Is the school district doing enough to meet the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act?

Sartorius said, “I feel the district is putting out the best effort possible at this time.”

Weiss said, “Yes. Lindbergh Schools programming that helps in meeting the mandates of NCLB includes: RTI (Response to Intervention), such as math and reading intervention classes; CSR (Classroom-Size Reduction) and ASI (Additional School Instruction) teachers; monthly formative assessment of student learning aligned to Missouri’s GLEs (grade level equivalents); character education; and extensive professional development for staff.

“These programs have resulted in: Increased MAP scores for all levels of students; increased ACT scores for students at the high school level; and top scores in the metro area and in the state for high school level EOC (End-of-Course) exams.”

Rezabek said, “Yes, the district has several programs in place to ensure that each student has the best chance to succeed. There are numerous programs and assistance for the students.”