Meet the Board of Education Candidates for April Election
Feb. 23, 2023
The League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis will host a candidate forum for Lindbergh Schools Board of Education candidates on Monday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at Central Office.
This event will be both open to the public, and streamed and uploaded to the district's YouTube channel. The forum can be accessed by visiting go.lindberghschools.ws/forum
Five candidates have filed for three 3-year terms on the Lindbergh Schools Board of Education. Their names will appear on the April 4 ballot as follows:
- Matt Alonzo
- Christy Watz
- Andrew Lawson
- Paul Leinweber
- David Randelman
Residents are invited to submit questions electronically or in person at the forum. To submit a question electronically, please click here. Questions may be submitted electronically through Thursday, March 9.
Five candidates are running to fill three three-year seats on the Lindbergh Schools Board of Education. The election will be Tuesday, April 4. Responses are listed in the same order in which candidate names will appear on the ballot.
Describe your past and present involvement and volunteer work in Lindbergh Schools.
Matt Alonzo: I have served as a director on the Lindbergh Schools Board of Education for the past 6 years. During that time I have also served on several board advisory committees, teaching and learning, technology, finance, facilities, and HR.
Christy Watz: My first volunteer position, in 2010, was at Kennerly Elementary as Party Coordinator for the PTP. Since then and up until today, I have held various positions: Kennerly PTP President, Sperreng PTO Secretary and President, Board of Education: Director, Secretary, Treasurer and currently Vice President. While serving on the Board of Education, I volunteer in other positions to give back to our community like: Lindbergh House Tour Committee, Project Graduation, Bandstanders, and Friends of Flyerettes. I have served on numerous committees throughout my 13 years and received the Lindbergh Leaders award in 2019. Outside of Lindbergh, in our community, I serve as President of Board of Directors for Step UP. A non-profit coalition whose mission is to help students make smart choices regarding alcohol and drugs. I have been on the Step UP committee since 2017. I am passionate about serving others and making a positive impact in our schools and community.
Andrew Lawson: I am a member of the Dads of Concord as well as a volunteer coach for both soccer and basketball through Lindbergh Community Education. I also support the parent groups for Concord, ECE West, and LEAP.
Paul Leinweber: VOLUNTEERISM HISTORY: My volunteer history stretches over a decade. I have served as Head Coach for Jr. Flyer Tackle Football for 2 yrs., Jr Flyer League Administrator for 1 year, and Flag Football coach for 5 yrs. Additionally I served on the Lindbergh Football Board for 1 year. I also coached boys Baseball in Affton for 3. I frequently volunteered for Flyer Wrestling & Football fundraisers, and performed a lot of video sports highlights work. I cherish the privilege I was given to work those teams of 10 to 40 growing young boys to men, to teach values in character, challenge, sportsmanship, leadership, and teamwork.
VOLUNTEERISM CURRENT: I am now in it for round 2. I have a 6 year old elementary school student. My volunteer involvement now comes from an academic for all lens. I currently sit on the Teaching & Learning Advisory Committee. I have participated in joint Technology Advisory Committee meeting, when able and invited. I am actively participating alongside administrative staff, teachers, and other community and advisory committee members; sharing a Lindbergh Schools teaching and learning book discussions, “What School Could Be” by Ted Dintersmith, as we are examining creative and innovative approaches for teaching and learning from across the country. Transitions are coming and there needs to be balance between what could be and what has been shown to work.
VOLUNTEERISM FUTURE: As that father who has been a parent in Lindbergh Schools for 15 years, and with another 11 to go, I believe I can be a great asset for the board now and for years to come.
David Randelman: I have served on committees, providing In-class AP career counseling, and supporting the Lindbergh Strings program (FORTE). I have also been invested in working with the administration and staff concerning community interests and last year I ran for Lindbergh Schools Board of Education.
Why are you running for the Board of
Matt Alonzo: I am running for the Board of Education to continue the work that was started when I was elected six years ago. During that time we hired our current superintendent, implemented free full day Kindergarten for all Lindbergh families, and successfully passed prop R to secure finances to update Lindbergh High School and provide secure vestibules in all Lindbergh Schools. Teacher salaries are now in line with the top districts in the county, and plans are being made for a bond initiative in 2024 to address the lack of storm shelters and gymnasiums in three of the elementary schools. This has all been made possible while avoiding a tax increase. As we look forward to the future, my goal is to be sure that we address all remaining concerns for our aging schools and continue to provide meaningful learning opportunities for all Lindbergh students.
Christy Watz: I am INVESTED, ENGAGED, and EXPERIENCED in Lindbergh Schools. I am an advocate for public schools. I believe healthy, growing public schools are critical to safe, welcoming communities. I am running to continue my work on the Board of Education to not only give back to the school district but help direct Lindbergh School District into the future that offers choices, innovation, career paths for students, and to be a good partner for all stakeholders in our South County community.
My top priorities to name a few are: Meeting students “where they are” in learning, exploring different tools for standardized testing, focusing on updates to facilities to be more efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly, while continuing to be a recognized as a #1 Best Place to Work. Keeping Lindbergh school district as a destination school district is also a priority, not only to serve our students, to ensure stable and growing property values.
Andrew Lawson: We moved 2 years ago because we lost faith in our previous school district’s ability and desire to serve the best interests of our children. The quality of the Lindbergh District and the education experience they will provide to my children are the only reason we are here. I want to help continue that great experience, influence its evolution and continuous improvement, and advocate to provide the same exceptional experience we have had for every student in the district today and in the future. I teach my children to be the change they want to see in the world and serving on the Board is how I feel I can best demonstrate that.
Paul Leinweber: ACADEMICS: Today’s Lindbergh academics are comparable to average institutions nationally from a Growth MAP@ measure. MAP Growth DOES NOT measure knowledge nor proficiency. But we fall behind several adjacent districts, in most state academic proficiencies MAP measures. Less than 41% of our students are proficient in mathematics. This just scratches the surface. I won’t accept those odds for any of our children. Based on current scores, your student has a better chance at winning a random coin flip than they do at being proficient in math or science.
BALANCE IN ACADEMIC ACCOUNTABILITY: Finding balance and inclusiveness for all the student and parental views on educational practices can be difficult. Times and teaching methodologies are changing. Today we put nearly all emphasis on MAP Growth@ while turning a blind eye to State Mo MAP academic proficiencies.
I want to bring balance back to our accountability standards and measures. MAP Growth@ and MAP Proficiencies are both important. Balance is the answer.
TEACHERS: Our teachers have substantially larger classrooms, while they make substantially less in compensation compared to our adjacent districts. While we are striving to improve the pay scale for our teachers per union contracts, over future years; I still believe the student teacher ratio is having a direct and a substantially negative impact on our teachers, students, and Missouri MAP proficiencies. Our children and teachers are not to blame for our proficiency scores. An environment filled with overworked and under paid teachers is a substantial factor. Poor student teacher ratios are never a positive. Not for the students, teachers, nor their academics. We are putting teaches and students in an unattainable position, from a proficiency perspective.
I will fight to meet or reduce the student to teacher ratio. I push to bring our ratio to levels that are equal to or better than all adjacent districts. Additionally, teacher salaries should ALWAYS be equal or greater than all adjacent districts’ average. Our current 3 yr retention rate is approximately 66%, that needs to improve. I will push for early intervention geared towards reduced teacher student ratios at the elementary levels first, to leverage the results in middle school years, with the goal to continue the ratio reduction in additional upper classes, moving forward.
David Randelman: Lindbergh Schools is an important and central pillar of our community, responsible for the success and future of our students. I would like to give back to the school and community that has given us so much as immigrants to the United States, our beloved adopted new home. My goals are to promote excellence in education, advocate for proven curriculum and programs that can support our students, promote transparent communication and trust between the community and the district, promote parental involvement and engagement that will make sure we support our teachers, in order to meet every child where they are at and assure that we are a welcoming place to all families in our community.
What do you think are the district’s greatest challenges? How would you address those challenges?
Matt Alonzo: The greatest challenge facing the district is the ability to adapt our education practices while meeting the educational and emotional needs of our students. To address these challenges I will support the work of our teaching and learning board advisory committee as they continue to study the needs of our students and how to best meet those needs. Additionally, I would support the implementation of programs that help address student’s social and emotional wellbeing.
Christy Watz: The challenges Lindbergh Schools face like many other school districts, are to continue to improve academic achievement and provide personalized learning, to provide a physically safe campus for ALL (students, teachers, and staff), and to cultivate an atmosphere of positive professional relationships so everyone may reach their potential while remaining a destination school district.
As a Board of Education member, I would address these challenges by continuing to educate myself through participating in MSBA (Missouri School Board Association) conferences, continuing my education on trends across the nation, asking good questions, listening to stakeholders to hear their point of view, collaborating with others, and making well researched decisions while thinking of the effects for the future. I also believe it’s important for board members to be visible to the community yet not overstep boundaries.
Andrew Lawson: Facilities: We will always have facility needs: Truman needs a major overhaul, and we need all of our elementary schools to have separate gyms and cafeterias. Roofs will always have to be replaced. Making budgetary decisions to have these funds on hand could be a challenge. Efforts are underway to develop a new proposition for several projects, but there will be continuous needs that must be part of the strategic goals of the district.
Literacy / Curriculum: The district continues to make significant efforts to improve our curriculum but there will always be ways to improve. There is no single right answer for every student so it is important for the district to have a wider range of solutions to help meet each student where they are. Additionally, the district needs to collaborate and communicate with families and staff to ensure that expectations are set accurately and everyone understands what success looks like. This means clearly communicating goals, timelines, and milestones as well as any adjustments that are made along the way.
Paul Leinweber: Our biggest challenge to come are.....
INCLUSIVENESS/BALANCE: We ourselves need to be inclusive in ALL regards, not just race and culture. We have a bias echo chamber, at the board level, driving all decisions by 3rd parties bias lens. Lack of inclusiveness, no matter the perspective of the driving bias, is not healthy, for our Student academics or Community. We need balance and inclusion from ALL parental, educational, and philosophical viewpoints. In my opinion.. until we overcome this circumstance, our children are being hurt, academically.
EXTERNALLY: Third party entities/organization are attempting to drive our district agenda’s. They intentionally distract us from our primary focus of Educating our children. They are politically motivated and have no vested interest in our student academics.
TEACHER RESOURCES: Finding qualified teachers in the future will be a tough proposition. We must plan for this now via improved workplace environments (student teacher ratios, pay etc.).
David Randelman: My first and primary concern is regarding our academics; Based on current available data from DESE (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) we are at ~50% proficiency in Math, English, and Science from over 80% 10 years ago, and are performing less even compared to our neighboring school districts such as Kirkwood. We are also about seven hundred students short on our enrollment projection (2018 MGT Consulting group commissioned by the district), indicating that families are concerned about this performance decline. I believe in “teaching to the student” and going back to the proven programs that constitute the Lindbergh Experience, this is what we must maintain and emphasize to continue being a top district this community expects.
My second concern is giving our students the emotional and mental wellness support they need while also preserving and working with the parents as primary care and decision makers. I believe that many in the community want to be assured that the school district will have every conversation needed with the parents first and upon approval with the students, especially in matters pertaining to a child’s identity, family values and emotional state.
Third, with the changing of generational needs and post covid challenge, we also need to better support our teachers with intervention programs for the students, more assistance personnel, streamline fewer pilots and lower demand on the teachers who are burdened with much more than the past, along with more time for lesson planning.
Finally, we need to assure that we give priority and a voice to teacher concerns, who are our feet on the ground looking out for our students. I would like to promote a decision stake for teachers in curriculum selection and a channel to faster communicate when adjustments and support is needed from the administration and board of education.
What qualities make Lindbergh successful, and how can the district continue to prepare students for success in the years to come?
Matt Alonzo: Success in Lindbergh Schools can be found in the new additions to the high school, a state of the art athletic complex, secure vestibules in all Lindbergh Schools, and staff that continue to make student learning a priority. There are so many more qualities that continue to make Lindbergh a destination for many families. As we look toward the future, it is important to recognize the need to continually evaluate the opportunities we provide our students to learn beyond the traditional education classes, like the aviation class that has started at the high school. Experiential learning classes like this are needed to help prepare our students for success.
Christy Watz: Lindbergh’s success is due to its passion for educating students, building and maintaining strong relationships with our teachers, collaborating with our community, and being mindful of all stakeholders involved.
Preparing our students for the future is a moving target. Lindbergh will need to be able to pivot, be curious about learning new things in education, and trying new and innovative solutions to educate our students matching the everchanging world around us.
Andrew Lawson: Staff: While we hear about struggles to attract and retain quality teachers across the country, our district is doing a fantastic job based on the interest shown when a position is posted. Likewise, we are not seeing a significant increase in departures of our staff which would show that we are at least competitive if not leading. To be successful it is vital that we attract quality educators, and we do, so clearly the district is doing that right. Additionally, we are working to have dedicated assistant principals at every elementary, ensuring adequate staffing to allow each campus to be successful.
Facilities: We have a state of the art high school (that will also attract educators) that was built to enhance education and promulgate collaboration. The Idea Center for LEAP / PEGs will enhance our ability to deliver exceptional gifted education leading the way in the State. Lindbergh has listened to the most knowledgeable persons about school safety, and has enhanced each building with vestibules and safety glass and is looking at technology to further enhance student safety.
We are always looking to the future. There is a 5 year plan, but Lindbergh looks beyond that. Lindbergh clearly understands that education must evolve to continue to meet the needs of our students and serves as an innovation leader in Missouri to pioneer new ways to prepare our students for their future. Progress is underway on developing new programs that will equip students with real-life experiences and efforts are being made to engage the community in changing the status quo.
Paul Leinweber: Aside from ‘popular’ belief, I believe Lindbergh has always been compassionate, caring, equitable, diverse, and a just community, recognizing that we can always be better. I have seen these traits in our young growing boys for over a decade. If we want students to be successful... focus on academics - it worked for our previous generation. Then we should start educating them on who ‘we’ and ‘they’ REALLY are. Teach them to be proud of where they come from. That would be a great start!
David Randelman: Lindbergh has a strong community who love and support not only the district but one another. I have witnessed firsthand the heart of many in our community, helping those in need and lifting each other up. I can share my own example of my experience of the “Lindbergh way.” The teachers supported my children through ELL and dedicated everything they needed until they were proficient and successful. We were truly received with open arms and my gratitude will always be there for those amazing teachers. Last year my oldest son graduated with the title “Mr. LHS congeniality” (yes, I am very proud of him) and I truly tie that success to our district. I also value the variety of class selections, AP courses, music programs (fiddlers, strolling strings, our band), sport teams and many other enriching educational experiences that are a very positive strength of the district. I am truly grateful to be part of this community and hope you will consider me in the upcoming elections for the Lindbergh Schools board of education, as a positive community voice for progress within our district.