Archive for Thursday, January 11, 2007

School board filings at slow pace

January 11, 2007

This spring's Lansing School Board race so far has turned up a mixed bag of intentions by the four board members whose terms will expire at the end of the school year.

Board member Richard Whitlow said this week he would seek re-election but has yet to file the official paperwork, while board member Craig Gephart said he would not run for re-election to a second term.

Meanwhile, board member Brian Bode said he hadn't decided whether to run, making board president Shelly Gowdy the only incumbent who has officially entered the race.

The only other candidate to have filed is Lansing police officer Brian Duncan.

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

Board members voted unanimously to select Whitlow to fill the position.

Whitlow, a private practice physician who specializes in internal medicine, said he would submit the paperwork and pay the $5 filing fee sometime before the deadline, which is noon Jan. 23.

"The job is not done," he said. "I think there's a lot more we can do in terms of education and the buildings."

Whitlow said space challenges in school district buildings would be determined by population growth in Lansing, and board members would have to address those challenges in the future, whether it be "five to 10 years from now or sooner."

"Will we need another bond issue?" Whitlow asked, referring to potential growth and overcrowding at Lansing High School.

Whitlow also said the board would need to decide what to do with existing buildings such as Lansing Elementary, Sallie Zoll and Lansing Intermediate, which will be vacated in a year when the new elementary school opens on West Mary Street.

Whitlow and his wife, Noelle, have five children.

Gephart, a conductor with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, said that while he enjoyed his four-year term on the board, he would not file for re-election because his job duties take him out of town and interfere with his participation on the board.

"I just feel like I'm not able to contribute 100 percent," he said. "I would like to put someone in there who can contribute 100 percent."

Gephart said he ran for the position four years ago at the urging of his neighbors.

Gephart said there were several notable accomplishments he would remember from the experience.

Those achievements, he said, include raising wages and providing better health care for teachers, passing the $23.6 million school bond projects and hiring district superintendent Randal Bagby, whom Gephart called a "super superintendent."

Bode, who has served on the board for seven years, said he would decide whether to run sometime before the Jan. 23 deadline.

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

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