Incumbent seeks continuity on board
Four years on Lansing School Board haven't scared him away - Stuart Lyon is running for a second term. He is the only incumbent running for one of three four-year school board seats up for election this year.
Lyon is a retired U.S. Army officer who now teaches at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. Of his eight children, only one is still in Lansing School District, but five have graduated from Lansing High School.
Lyon said he was interested in education, though his experience is in adult education.
"I have a lot of respect for people who teach younger people," he said.
Lyon said he originally ran for the school board position because he was concerned about decisions that had to be made, one of which was filling the position of superintendent.
"The only way to get information and be involved in the process is to be on the school board," he said.
This term, the board is faced with new challenges, including a "graying population" of teachers in the district, Lyon said. He said the board would have to be able to replace the retiring faculty with quality teachers. Another issue at the forefront of his mind is the school bond issue, of which he is in strong favor.
"The information is pretty conclusive of the need for new facilities," he said. "Teachers have made do with the current buildings, but now it's time to fix them."
Lyon said the bond issue went hand-in-hand with recruiting new teachers. He said young teachers would have their pick of area schools, including those in wealthier districts in the Kansas City area.
"If you are a young teacher, with your certificate in your hand, and you tour the Intermediate School, and you're choosing your classroom, are you going to choose one of those? It's an old high school," he said.
"The new school is not a gold-plated Frank Lloyd Wright-type building," Lyon said, "but it's adequate."
Lyon said he realized some people would have reasons to vote against the bond, like those who can't afford higher taxes or people who don't want Lansing to change. If the issue doesn't pass, he said, the district will have to make some difficult choices to accommodate a growing student population.
"Whether we pass the bond issue or not, we'll have more students, whether it's suddenly or gradually," he said.
Another challenge, this one for Lyon, is the number of candidates vying for seats on the board. Five people are running for the three open seats. However, Lyon said he was "delighted" to have the competition and to give the voters a choice. When he ran four years ago, he was unopposed. In that election, he said, he ran in part because he was afraid the positions wouldn't be filled. This time, one of his reasons for running again is to provide continuity, he said.
"It takes a while to understand what's going on," he said.
Win or lose, Lyon said he thought that the district was in a good position and progressing in many areas.
"The only question mark is are we going to have new facilities," he said.