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Lindbergh School Board: Kienstra and Englund

Kathleen O. Kienstra and Vicki Lorenz Englund respond to a questionnaire about their candidacies for the school board. The election is April 5. This is the first of three parts.

Editor's note: A questionnaire was sent to each of the six candidates for the Lindbergh School District Board of Education. Here are the responses from Kathleen O. Kienstra and Vicki Lorenz Englund.

Candidates are running for three open spots on the school board. Terms last three years. The election is April 5.

KATHLEEN O. KIENSTRA

Age: 53

Address: 7365 Navarre Circle,  Grantwood Village, MO, 63123

Occupation: Assistant professor and director of the radiation therapy program at Saint Louis University, Doisy College of Health Sciences.

Education: Master of Arts in Teaching from Webster University; Bachelor of Health Science from University of Missouri; Radiation Therapy Certificate from Washington University; Radiologic Technology Certificate from University of Missouri.

Family: Spouse, Mark  Kienstra, and children, Stefanie, 22, a graduate student at University of Missouri School of Journalism; Elizabeth, 20, a junior at Saint Louis University; and Christopher, 20, a junior at Saint Louis University.

Years lived in the Lindbergh District: 30+

Background/Experience: Currently I am secretary of the Lindbergh School District Board of Education. I am a Special School District Governing Council Liaison and hold advanced board member certification from MSBA.

Other service includes Long School Parents Association; annual student plays at Sperreng Middle School; past Bandstander, Fund Raising Committee, 2005 Tournament of Roses Parade;  Project Graduation volunteer chairperson, 2006; an active volunteer with Boy Scouts; past president Crestwood/Whitecliff Swim Team Parent Board; and past executive board secretary for Catch a Falling Star. 

Reasons for running: I am currently serving as secretary of the board of education. I have learned so much in the past three years and have enjoyed serving the community. I would like the opportunity to continue my service.  With the current financial issues of the district, the Prop R-08 construction projects, boundary redistricting and the LINC program under way, I believe my experience is valuable and my continued service will provide consistency in future planning and decision-making. With my background in higher education I have a unique understanding of how students need to be prepared for post-graduate college or career.

What do you currently see as the biggest issue facing the Lindbergh School District?

Financial stewardship of the district resources is the most important issue because we need to preserve the #1 rating of the district and keep academic achievement high, even with less money available.

How would you address the continuing uncertainty over state funding for schools?

In the area of state funding there is almost no uncertainty for Lindbergh. Lindbergh gets less than 5 percent of its operating budget from the state. State legislators refer to the 'taxing capacity' of the successful St. Louis and Kansas City school districts because they know we value student success and our residents will support our children.

We are addressing the Missouri Legislature with a coordinated approach through the CSD and MSBA. In conjunction with other leading, high achievement schools, we ask professional educators, who are knowledgeable about both education issues and state government, to keep our state legislators up to date about how they can support the students and taxpayers in the Lindbergh School District.

In what areas does the Lindbergh School District need to improve? Are you satisfied with the way the district has been operating?

One improvement can be identified and that is the revision of the state funding formula, which would give us financial resources to build services. With better funding we could bring back more after school bus service, so that students can stay after school for academic help and to participate in other services. Separately, we need to improve Lindbergh’s ability to identify and provide more outside college scholarship opportunities for students.

Yes, I am satisfied with the way the district has been operating. Lindbergh is excellent in delivering an exceptional education to its students, as evidenced by its current rank of #1 in the State.

Assume you win the election. What single thing do you want to accomplish during your three years on the board?

We are on the final phase of our school improvement projects from Prop-08. New construction and modernization has touched every one of our school buildings, which includes the new technology that is a part of the LINC (Lindbergh Interactive Classroom) program. This program will bring our district to the forefront as a leader in instructional technology. In addition to the added technology, teachers are provided the training and tools they need to use this program to its full potential. I look forward to supporting our teachers and students in this endeavor, which should produce even higher test scores and better preparedness for college or post-graduate career.

VICKI LORENZ ENGLUND

Age: 36

Address: 4539 Valmeyer Drive, St. Louis, MO, 63128

Occupation: Lease Administrator for Edward Jones, online small business owner, contributor to Sunset Hills–Crestwood and Mehlville Patch news websites.

Education: St. Catherine Laboure Grade School; IB Graduate of Lindbergh High School (1992), Bachelors and Masters in Political Science from The American University in Washington DC. I also currently hold a real estate license.

Family: Husband, Patrik, and I live with our daughter, Eleanor (Ellie), in Second Grade at Kennerly and our son, Peter, in Pre-K at Lindbergh Early Childhood Center (LECE). 

Years lived in the Lindbergh District:  23

Background/Experience: After college, I worked for the SBA until 2001 when I moved back home to work for the St. Louis County Economic Council. I received the St. Louis Business Journal’s “30 Under 30” Award for my work in economic development. In 2004, I started negotiating leases and managing construction projects for Edward Jones. I represented the Lindbergh School District in the Missouri House of Representatives (2009-2010). I volunteer in many capacities: South County Family YMCA Board, MO Small Business and Regulatory and Fairness Board; South County, Lemay and Affton Chambers of Commerce; and various activities at LECE and Kennerly. 

Reasons for running: As a LHS graduate and a parent of two young children in the district, I am most concerned that the excellent education Lindbergh is known for is sustainable. I wish to maintain this high quality for all students. We must be fiscally responsible with Proposition L funds and stretch every dollar to its fullest potential. This is a critical time in Lindbergh’s history. Never before have we faced both budget cuts from Jefferson City as well as the issue of Open Enrollment. I believe my knowledge of state government is valuable in protecting Lindbergh from this double threat.

What do you currently see as the biggest issue facing the Lindbergh School District?

  • Budget:  For FY 2013, state funding for education will be in dire straits.  There will be no more federal stabilization funds to carry over into the foundation formula. As a result, there will be pressure from formula foundation school districts to alter the formula and take more money away from hold harmless school districts, such as Lindbergh. We need to plan for this inevitability and form a strategy to educate our legislators and the appropriate committee chairs.
  • Open enrollment:  While I believe every student has the right to a quality education, we do a disservice to children if we do not have a sustainable process in place. If children from an unaccredited school district opt to attend Lindbergh Schools, we need to know how to pay for such a transfer, the conditions by which classrooms become too full, and have a longevity plan for the benefit of the district and the student. I will fight to make sure Lindbergh, as the state’s top-rated school district academically, has a seat at that decision table.
  • Population growth:  Many of the homes in the Lindbergh School District are owned by a growing elderly population. In the next 10 years, the school-age population will explode in the district. We need to figure out what additional buildings will be needed to house these new children and possibly explore e-learning opportunities or satellite school locations.

How would you address the continuing uncertainty over state funding for schools?

In the future, I hope that Lindbergh will continue to fare well as the economy continues to rebound. I do understand, however, that we need to be more pro-active in Jefferson City and recruit legislators as advocates for our children. Members of the South County Delegation, the Budget and Appropriations Committees as well as party leaders need to understand that Lindbergh should not be penalized for its prudent, fiscally responsible management of its funds. I would hate to see us absorb more cuts than other school districts because we are more responsible managers of taxpayer dollars.

Presently, the Lindbergh School District, overall, has been managed in a fiscally responsible way. I believe we are already trimming the budget, as needed, to account for revenue shortfalls. If we end up needing additional revenue, I believe we should inventory all surplus equipment and be more aggressive with selling excess district property to the highest bidder. This might be a good project for LHS marketing or business classes, as they could use the Internet as a vehicle for such commerce.

I handle any funding decision as if it were my own personal money. I am an eternal penny-pincher and understand the value of being fiscally responsible. I am a very critical thinker and have a tendency to ask a lot of questions. My desire to understand the “nitty gritty details” of every aspect of decision-making yields a more comprehensive approach to problem solving. I am not afraid to ask the tough questions.

In what areas does the Lindbergh School District need to improve? Are you satisfied with the way the district has been operating?

Lindbergh has a strong history of community support, high-quality education and a reputation for being fiscally responsible. Some weaknesses include a perceived lack of communication between the public and the board/administration, and a tendency to avoid conflict in public arenas which can stifle beneficial dialogue. I think as long as we have a more open board and administration, we will be able to better handle the future funding challenges the district faces. I see evidence of this spirit that as Proposition L was passed in 2010.

Lindbergh Board members could do a better job spending more time with our senior citizen population. Seniors in the Lindbergh District have been supportive of bond issues and of the district in general, but they need to be informed of how appreciative the district is for their support. Increased communication with seniors would also assure them that their tax dollars are being spent wisely.

Assume you win the election. What single thing do you want to accomplish during your three years on the board?

Lindbergh seems to be on the right track to stay a tier one school. We have dedicated staff, administrators, parents and students. We need to never lose sight that we are very lucky in this respect and that every other school district in the state wants what we have. As a board member, I will make it my priority to always keep the big picture in mind, treat our teachers with respect and be sure that our students have the tools they need to succeed. 

One measurable goal I have, if elected to the Lindbergh Board of Education, is to involve our students and campus communities more in the everyday business of the district. I would propose an incentive program for teachers, administrators and students. There could be an award for the most inventive, cost-saving measure. I think by drawing in the ideas of the people who use district resources the most, we could come up with some true savings for the district. Our ultimate, common goal would be to keep any cuts out of the classroom, because we need to keep all the tools we have to make sure our children succeed.

My vision for Lindbergh Schools is to see my children (currently in grades 2 and pre-K) have the same quality education I received when I was at Lindbergh High School. I want to continue the Lindbergh tradition of excellence and ensure that our children are in an environment where they can learn, grow and succeed.

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