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Affton School Board: Casaleggi and Stiefvater

Susan Casaleggi and Keith Stiefvater responded to a questionnaire about their candidacies for the school board. The election is April 5. This is the second of two parts.

Editor's note: A questionnaire was sent to each of the four candidates for the Affton School District Board of Education. Here are the responses, edited for clarity and spelling, from Susan Casaleggi and Keith Stiefvater.

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

SUSAN CASALEGGI

Age: 52

Address: 8336 Vasel Dr.

Occupation: Small Business Owner

Education: Bachelors in mechanical engineering and a Masters in engineering management, both from University of Missouri—Rolla (Missouri S & T).

Family: Husband, Mark. Two daughters who graduated from Affton High School.  Oldest has since graduated from St. Louis University, youngest a senior at William Woods University.

Years lived in the Affton District: 30

Background/Experience:
-Project engineer of design/construction and project manager—facilities management at Ralston Purina.
-Currently own ABC Animal & Insect Innovations, a pest control company, with my husband.
-Served on the Board of Directors for the Affton Chamber of Commerce, one year as president.
-Affton Business Person of the Year 2010.
-Serve on my church’s building and grounds committee.
-Helped coach daughters' sports teams in their younger years.

Reasons for running: I am seeking a position on the Affton School Board because I believe that education is foundational to our children and our society. A love of learning is one of the greatest gifts that we can give our children, which will allow them to succeed in whatever they do in the future. I believe in the Affton Community. We truly are a small town community within a larger city, and I want to continue my involvement in the community by serving on the School Board.

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

Currently I believe that the biggest issue facing the Affton School District is similar to that facing many others, and that is the economy. Class sizes, extracurricular activities, facility maintenance and improvement are all dependent on funding.

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

Currently the Affton School district receives a large portion (over 90%) from our tax revenues and we are not as affected by state funding. This has been a benefit for us at this time. In the area of state funding, I believe that the contacts that I have with our state representatives and senator through the Chamber are valuable. It gives me insight into what is being considered in Jefferson City and a voice to represent the children of Affton.

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

In all of our lives there are things that we can improve on and the Affton School District is no different.  I would love to see more parental emphasis on education. Students are more likely to succeed when parents value and support education. I would love to support our teachers with continued training and listening to their ideas of what is working in the classrooms. And I would love to continue the improvements in communications with taxpayers that were implemented in recent years.

Overall, though I think we are doing a good job and would like to be part of doing a great job.

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

As a legacy of my board term, I would love to have the students not only showing better test scores, but to become lifetime lovers of learning.

KEITH STIEFVATER

Age: 44

Address: 7215 Cranston Drive

Occupation: Senior Account Executive, Fidelity Investments

Education: Bachelors of Science Business Administration

Family: Michelle (wife), Courtney (daughter), Trevor (son), Hunter (son).

Years lived in the Affton District: 16

Background/Experience? Reasons for running? First, having started my family and been a member of this great community for the last 16 years, with a 15, 13, and 10 year old child in Affton Schools, I thought it was time for me to become more involved in the growth of the Affton School District. With any organization, electing a new board member creates an opportunity to bring new thoughts and ideas to the table. Without change we sometimes fall into this sense of complacency that can stagnate even the best of minds. I have been actively involved in all of my children’s athletic, educational, and spiritual growth.

As a senior account executive with Fidelity Investments, my role prepares me to be able to make the tough decisions. On many occasions I have had to tell clients they can’t retire or purchase that new car/home. In the end, I help clients find suitable solutions to help them reach there goals sooner rather than later.

Voting for me, one who is committed to his community, one who is dedicated to the students, parents and taxpayers, is important for Affton. 

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

I think that the biggest issues that Affton and all of the other school districts have is continuing to provide a quality education to our children, retaining the best and brightest teachers, when the economy and state budgets are in a flux.

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

In this tough economy, every state has lost significant revenue. Unfortunately, cutting or reducing state funding for education hurts all our children. It hurts the high school graduate trying to find a loan to attend college. It hurts parents with a special needs child. It hurts parents taking their kids to a public pre-school. It hurts the gifted child whose program is cut. I am one that believes the return on investment for a quality education from pre-school thru college will pay off 1000 fold for future economic growth of our society. We don’t see the immediate gratification that everyone wants, but long term it will always pay huge dividends. 

As an Affton Board member we need to make sure we are wisely funding those programs that are vital to our children’s educational growth. We need to make sure that our school district is a focal point of our Affton community. We also need to communicate with our Affton alumni and Affton business partners the importance of donating there time, expertise, and money for creating a world class school district.

In what areas does the Affton School District need to improve? Are you satisfied with the way the district has been operating? Assume you win the election. What single thing do you want to accomplish during your three years on the board?

With three kids in the Affton school district I feel they are getting a good education. I would like to see more kids attending 4-year college programs. I would like to see more fund raising and sponsorship for events and programs from our Affton community and alumni. I would like to find a way to create a pre-school program. I would like to see Affton be a program that other school districts strive to become. 

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