Archive for Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Local woman chosen to fill school board seat

February 1, 2006

The Tonganoxie school board now has a full roster.

On Monday, board members chose Tonganoxie resident Diane Truesdell to fill a vacancy on the seven-member board. The selection, made after interviewing two candidates, was unanimous.

Only four of the six board members were present at the special meeting, during which local resident Paula Gish also was interviewed.

"We went from no candidates to two good candidates," said board member Dr. Richard Dean. ''... Too bad we don't need two."

The three other board members echoed Dean's assessment before board member Ron Moore made a motion to select Truesdell and Dean seconded the motion.

During her 25-minute discussion with board members, Truesdell, 49, said her interest in joining the board was an extension of her numerous volunteer activities.

"Being a stay-at-home mom, I would have the time to do the reading and preparation to be ready for the meetings," she said.

She said she's aware of the amount of preparation that can be required in a public office because her husband, Diane Truesdell worked in 2004 to convince district patrons to pass a bond issue to provide $25.3 million for school construction projects. Voters approved the measure, and work is under way on a new middle school, as well as renovations to the high school and junior high campuses.

"I am interested in seeing that come to fruition and that it comes together as promised to the public," she said.

Truesdell promised she would be a team player when addressing any problems facing the district.

"I feel, here in Tonganoxie, we're very fortunate that we do have a very good school district," she said. "We're not perfect, I understand that. ... The problems are not simple problems, and they're not going to be solved easily. I feel I'm very good with team work and willing to listen."

One point Truesdell would like addressed is increased opportunities for high-achieving students.

"I almost think Tonganoxie could be stricter on our older kids and expect more out of them so they're not in such a cultural shock when they get to college," she said.

In addition, she would like to retain and reward strong teachers.

And she said her "average parent" role would be an asset.

"I have a lot of contacts with parents, just average parents," she said. "I feel I have a good ability to try to discern from rumors and try to hear the real problem and not just listen to a couple of squeaky wheels -- try to find out what is the situation."

Truesdell's term begins immediately and expires in June 2007. If she wants to retain the seat, she will have to be elected during the April 2007 elections. The vacancy was created more than eight months ago, when the Rev. Rick Lamb resigned because he was moving to Texas.

Truesdell and her husband have three children in Tongan-oxie schools: Tyler, 17, a senior; Lindsey, 12, a sixth-grader; and Keaton, 10, a fifth-grader. Truesdell was born and raised in Kenmore, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo. She attended Buffalo State College for three years before moving to Kansas, where she met her husband. The Truesdells then lived in Topeka and Owasso, Okla., before moving to Tonganoxie six years ago. Before her children were born, Truesdell worked for a short time as a paraprofessional in the Turner school district, as well as at a bank and as a receptionist for a physician.

To help her brush up on board procedures, Truesdell will meet Feb. 23 with Superintendent Richard Erick-son and board president Leana Leslie. And in April, she will take a class for new school board members, offered by the Kansas Association of School Boards.

In addition to Dean and Moore, members Kay Smith and Leana Leslie attended Monday's meeting. Bob DeHoff and Darlyn Hansen did not attend.Jim, is a Tonganoxie City Council member.

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