Campbell: Space issue ranks high for candidate
Francie Campbell says that the primary issue that the Tonganoxie school district has to contend with is space.
"My biggest concerns are with the facility," Campbell said. "Right now we're looking into building a new school."
She's talking about the district's long-range plans. In the early 1990s, the school district purchased an 80-acre farmstead near the intersection of Pleasant and Washington streets. This spring, the district plans to survey district patrons to see what they believe would be the best use for the land a new elementary, junior high or high school.
Although Campbell said she wants to learn more before she states her recommendation, she said she presently is leaning toward construction of a new high school at the site.
That way, she said, the junior high school could flow over into the current high school and use the entire campus.
Campbell is running against Darlyn Hansen for the Fourth District seat on the Tonganoxie school board in the April 3 general election.
She noted that the district's tight budget, caused in part by a drop in enrollment, was an issue that must be addressed. She said if elected she'd campaign for school finance reform at the state level.
Campbell, a graduate of DeSoto High School, said she has longtime ties to Tonganoxie. Her great-aunt, Gracie Reusch, and great-uncle, Merle Reusch, ran a gasoline station on East Fourth Street for many years.
Campbell is a homemaker and her husband, Mark, who grew up in Iowa, works as a machinist for the Union Pacific railroad. The couple have three children, Samantha, 10, Garrett, 2, and Emma Grace, 11 months.
It's because of her children that Campbell's taking up an interest in the school board.
"I've always been a person that's respected teachers," she said. "And I really want to be involved in my children's education."
Although district enrollment has seen a five-year slide, Campbell is optimistic about future growth.
"I feel like with the new building going on, with homes being built in our area, it will help a lot," Campbell said. "I think Tonganoxie will draw more people."
Campbell praised current board members for their concentration on a curriculum audit, as well as for adopting the first-grade Reading Recovery program, starting this school year to help bring early readers up to their grade level.
"If children don't get it in elementary school, they're going to have to struggle so hard in junior high and high school," Campbell said.
Also, she said she would be in favor of changing the special education system to being sponsored locally, rather than through the Leavenworth County Special Education Cooperative.
Campbell said she's looking forward to serving the district.
"I think it's a great school board and a great school system," Campbell said. "And I just want to be a part of it. I don't have an ax to grind. I don't have a hidden agenda. I want to get in there with a fresh mind and form my own opinions."