Archive for Wednesday, December 13, 2006

School board: Two more candidates to vie for open seats

December 13, 2006

Two more candidates have filed to run for Tonganoxie school board.

Francie Campbell, 40, is running for the at-large position. The seat is held by Dr. Richard Dean, who does not plan to seek re-election.

And Alan Theno is seeking a seat held by Diane Truesdell, who does plan to run.

Campbell and her husband, Mark Campbell, have lived in Tonganoxie since 2000. The couple have three children, Samantha, 16; Garrett, 8; and Emma Grace, 6.

Campbell directs human resources for Estes Express Line, Kansas City, Kan.

Campbell, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for school board in 2001, doesn't have a specific goal to accomplish if she were elected to serve on the school board.

"Basically, I really just want to be able to make sure that there's a voice for everyone -- that people are getting heard," Campbell said. "I've had people ask me to run because I'm the type of person I don't hold back. I tell people how I feel and what's going on. I'm not afraid to speak up."

She is interested in learning more about the school district's budgeting.

"I'd like to get more involved in the way we allocate our money," Campbell said. "Looking at the whole ... I just want to make sure we're being smart with our money."

So far, one other candidate, Mildred McMillon, has filed to run for the at-large seat.

Alan Theno

Alan Theno also has filed to run for the Tonganoxie school board. Theno is running for Position No. 1, held by Diane Truesdell, who does plan to file to retain her seat.

Theno, 50, has lived in Tonganoxie all his life. He works at the Kmart Distribution Center in Lawrence. He and his wife, Cheryl Theno, have two grown children, Shannan and Dylan.

In August 2005, a federal jury awarded the Thenos $250,00 in a lawsuit against the school district, filed because Dylan was bullied in junior high and high school, forcing him to leave school in November of his junior year. He later earned a General Education Development diploma. The Thenos also were awarded nearly $270,000 in attorneys fees.

The lawsuit said students spread sexual-based rumors about Dylan and called him names such as "fag," "faggot," "queer," "flamer" and "masturbator" from seventh grade until he quit school as a junior. Theno is not a homosexual.

The school district appealed the jury award, but the district's insurance company ended the legal battle by agreeing to pay $440,000.

"I think we need a more parent-friendly school board," Alan Theno said. "There's no one for a parent to talk to, to get an answer if they have a problem."

Theno, who has attended almost every school board meeting for the past three years, said school board members should be more attuned to helping students and their parents.

"If a parent goes to the school board, they ought to be able to get some resolution to a problem instead of the school board just thanking them and a parent leaves and never hears anything," Theno said.

As for other issues, Theno said he's been surprised that teachers don't often attend board meetings. For instance, he noted a board meeting in which principals reported on test scores, of which math and English were low.

"I think something that's missing is the teachers' point of view," Theno said.

Theno also expressed concern about the district's growth. He said he was worried the district would outgrow the new middle school and the existing grade school in the next five years or so.

"We would have 18 years or so left on our loans," Theno said. "We would have to go back to our taxpayers to ask them for more money to take care of the overcrowding in our elementary school. I see that as a problem."

The filing deadline is noon Jan. 23, and the general election will be April 3.

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