Archive for Thursday, January 4, 2007

School board filings begin

January 4, 2007

The first two candidates vying for election to the Lansing School Board this spring have filed for office.

Lansing police officer Brian Duncan and Lansing School Board president Shelly Gowdy have put their hats in the ring for one of the four spots up for election April 3.

Duncan was bypassed in July in his bid to replace former school board member Karalin Alsdurf, who resigned from the board in June before moving out of the district.

Board members voted unanimously to select Dr. Richard Whitlow to fill the position. Whitlow's seat is one of the four up for re-election.

Duncan, who filed for the position Tuesday, Jan. 2, said not getting the job last summer hadn't quelled his desire to serve on the school board.

"I told them at that time that they would see my name again," Duncan said. "I'm not going to give up. I have a strong passion for the kids in the community because I was the D.A.R.E. officer out here for three years. I worked real well with the staff."

Duncan, a 1990 graduate of Lansing High School, has logged an 11-year career as a police officer in Lansing and Leavenworth.

For the past six years, he has worked in Lansing, where he resides with his wife, Shanie, and son, Hayden, a kindergartner at Lansing Elementary School.

Duncan said the family moved back to Lansing from Leavenworth a year ago so Hayden could attend school in Lansing.

Duncan said his No. 1 priority, if elected, is safety in the schools.

"That should always be our first goal - making sure that they have a safe environment to learn in, that we're providing a good, structured learning environment - and safety's one of those things," he said.

Duncan said the future of the district also weighed heavily on his list of priorities.

"Obviously Lansing is growing and it's not going to stop anytime soon. With growth comes the growing out of buildings," he said.

The construction of a new elementary school on West Mary Street, Duncan said, won't be a cure-all for the city's rapid growth.

"We need to look past that and to the future of the district and what our future goals might be : so we can pre-plan, whether that be the purchase of land or whatever we can do to keep the tax burden less on the taxpayers," he said. "If we can do it over a period of time rather than a couple years out, that's one of my goals to keep taxes down."

Duncan said, no matter what, he would put children first and listen to his constituents.

"We have to do what's best for the children and their learning environment," he said. "We can't educate them without buildings and we can't educate them without staff, so we have to look at all those and put them into making sure they're protected."

Duncan is treasurer of the Leavenworth Fraternal Order of Police and a member of its board. He previously served as vice president of the Kansas D.A.R.E. Officers Association.

Gowdy filed for re-election Friday, Dec. 29. Gowdy's four-year term on the school board began in 2003.

She has served as school board president twice - first during the 2004-'05 school year and in 2006-'07.

Gowdy and her husband, Mark, moved to Lansing from Manhattan in 2001.

The couple has four children: Kyle, 19, an LHS graduate; Eric, 18, a senior at LHS; Sean, 16, a sophomore at LHS; and Victoria, 4.

Gowdy is district sales coordinator for Aflac Insurance.

She said her experiences as a business person and as a parent had shown her the connection between economic development and education and how that bridge influences a community's success.

"I really have enjoyed my service on the school board. I think it's an extremely important position in the community," she said.

If re-elected, Gowdy said, her priorities would be similar to those in her first term. She said she would focus on following through on the bond construction projects that are currently under way, including how the district might expand with alternative programs and learning opportunities for adults in the new facilities.

She said she also would continue to focus on the recruitment and retention of good teachers.

"We've made strides on the (board's teacher) negotiating team," she said. "That helps the district stay strong and helps provide the best for teachers."

She said she was particularly proud of the board's work on the budget and its efforts at keeping the mill levy steady. And she said she was pleased with the school's cooperation with businesses and community organizations, which she said was evident in the success of the Lansing Educational Foundation Fund.

"I think there's more that we can do. If we can all just keep our eye on the prize, which is providing the best education for our kids, I think our time on the board is very well spent," she said.

Gowdy was active in the campaigns for school bond proposals in 2003 and 2005 and previously served on the Lansing Middle School Site Council. She is a member of the Lansing High School Operation Graduation executive committee and the Lansing Booster Club.

She is a member of the 2006 class of Lansing Leavenworth Leadership and now serves on the board. She also is a member of the Lansing Economic Development Council and serves on the board of directors for the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to the school board seats held by Gowdy and Whitlow, seats now held by Brian Bode and Craig Gephart are up for election this spring.

The deadline for filing is noon Jan. 23. Candidates need to submit paperwork and pay a $5 filing fee at the Leavenworth County Courthouse, 300 Walnut, Leavenworth, when they file.

If more than eight candidates file for the spots, a primary election Feb. 27 will pare the pool down to eight for the April 3 general election.

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