Archive for Thursday, December 30, 2004

Challenges fill school board’s year in 2004

December 30, 2004

While Lansing residents get ready to celebrate the end of an old year and the fresh start of a new one, Lansing School Board members get ready to continue projects begun in the old year and begin new undertakings in the coming year.

Major actions and issues the board addressed in 2004 included the resignation of a one of its members, the formation of a committee to review facilities, the hiring of a new superintendent and the planning of a bond issue.

In early 2004, the board helped to create a committee of volunteer community members to assess the district's needs for facility improvement. The Facilities Planning Committee eventually recommended the district build a new K-5 school and add an auditorium to the existing high school, among other suggestions. It discussed the problems of current buildings, like old electrical wiring and security issues, and presented its findings to the board.

The board then hammered out details of a bond issue, which it plans to put before voters in April. The bond resolution was adopted earlier this month, and work to promote and explain the bond issue will begin in January.

School Board vice president Shelly Gowdy

School Board vice president Shelly Gowdy

School Board President Shelly Gowdy said in addition to the bond work, the board dealt with two serious personnel changes: electing a new board member to take over a vacated spot and hiring a new district superintendent.

When one member resigned and moved out of state, the board reviewed seven applications before selecting Karalin Alsdurf to fill the position.

"She's a wonderful addition to the board," Gowdy said of Alsdurf.

Randal Bagby began work as superintendent on July 1, after his appointment in the spring. The board worked with a company that specializes in helping districts search for school administrators. Bagby was selected from about 30 applicants.

Gowdy said the appointment of Bagby stuck out in her mind as being particularly positive.

"I will always be very proud to say I was on the board that hired him," Gowdy said.

She said there also were other highlights, too.

"All three areas of the state assessments were met by the high school for the standard of excellence. The middle school met the standard of excellence in all areas last year and in all but one this year," she said. "That comes from having great administrators, teachers and support on the board for academics."

Looking forward to 2005, Gowdy said the first issue to mind was the bond election coming in the spring. Four school board positions will be contested at the same time.

Gowdy said she hadn't heard of anyone running for a seat specifically to undermine the bond issue.

"My hope is that if someone does run on a single-issue platform, they would understand that the work of the board is more than the bond issue. It's about student achievement," she said.

Gowdy said another big concern for the coming year was state education funding. She said Kansas Legislature had done little to increase funding for public education the past few years.

The district, like everyone else, has to deal with inflation, she said.

"We gave raises last year but we've got no more money, so that meant other things had to be cut back. So a big issue is going to be the state putting more money into the funding of public schools," Gowdy said.

Gowdy said one hope for 2005 was that the board would continue working together toward the goal of student achievement.

"When I ran for a school board seat, I was really pretty naÃive about what the board's roll was," Gowdy said. "I've learned in the last two years what the roles are and how important they are. : It's important to have people who are willing to work together."

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