Crowded field for Position 2 on Tonganoxie USD 464 board
Tonganoxie USD 464’s Position 2 race has three candidates this year: incumbent Kathy Baragary and challengers Kaija Baldock and Bill Loechler. Here’s a closer look at each candidate.
While campaigning for this year’s school board race, Kaija Baldock has heard concerns the most from patrons in two areas: the budget and former Tonganoxie High School principal Jamie Carlisle.
“The elephant in the room has been the situation that happened with Carlisle,” Baldock said.
Carlisle had announced he would be resigning at the end of the school year, but then the school board voted to terminate his contract early, listing a handful of reasons for the termination.
“The morale in the school system is at an all-time low and it’s bad to work in an environment where you’re fearful to lose your job,” Baldock said. “A lot of people respected him and the way that was handled was not in the best interest of the school.”
She said many people she’s talked to have been bothered by the situation.
She said the block funding from the state has been another big issue.
She and her husband, Thad, have four children: Hattie (11), Remi (10), Kasia (9),and Kalea (7). Hattie attends Tonganoxie Middle School while the younger children attend Genesis Christian Academy. Baldock said she and her husband fell in love with the Tonganoxie school district when they moved to the area. A neighbor told them about GCA and the couple decided to start the children in the private school and then start them in the public school in fifth grade.
She also has gotten involved in the Tonganoxie Booster Club in recent years.
“I have four kids who will go through the school district and I want to be involved to make the school district the best it can be,” Baldock said. “And put in the time and energy to do the research and do the very best that I can do.”
Raised in Decorah, Iowa, Baldock, 41, graduated in 1996 from Pepperdine University in public relations. Now a stay-at-home mother, Baldock previously worked in public relations and real estate.
With a new elementary school set to open later this year and work continuing on the district’s curriculum, Kathy Baragary decided to seek a third term to the Tonganoxie USD 464 School Board.
Baragary, the current president, said the board has updated its polices and procedures and now is focusing on curriculum.
“I’d like to see that through,” Baragary said.
Baragary, 56, a 1977 Tonganoxie High School graduate, earned a degree in fashion merchandising from Kansas State University. She later was clothing buyer for the Kansas University Bookstore and worked in licensing for the International Hockey League before working at Peruvian Connection.
She also served as a substitute teacher in the district for 10 years.
She and her husband, Bill, have two children: Austin, a recent graduate of William Jewell College and Jody, a sophomore at K-State. They also are Tonganoxie High School graduates.
As the Legislature pursues an overall in school funding, Baragary said the board has continued to stay the course.
“I think we’ve been prudent with spending money,” Baragary said. “And we’ve done what needs to be done, making sure the children get an education. That’s our No. 1 priority. Getting the education they deserve for life and career readiness.”
A glance at his tax return made Bill Loechler realize a good chunk of his money was going to the school district.
Couple that with research about student performance and Loechler decided to run for school board.
He also checked with the county as the filing deadline neared and saw that no one had filed yet, so he decided to run to ensure the seat wasn’t open.
He also is a proponent of returning prayer to schools.
“I think if we had prayer back in the classroom, so many other things would fall in line for respect for life and respect for your own body and people around you,” Loechler said.
Originally from Wabasha, Minn., Loechler, 75, married his high school sweetheart and served eight years in the Air Force, including a tour in southeast Asia. He served another 24 years in the reserves and worked as a sheet metal worker for 31 years in the Kansas City area.
His first wife died 14 years ago. He met his second wife, Jennifer, while both were volunteering at Sanctuary of Hope, a non-denominational retreat center in Kansas City, Kan.
Loechler has two sons and a daughter. He and Jennifer moved to the area after they got married in an effort to start over.
“I wanted 20 acres, a Ford tractor and a barn,” Loechler said with a laugh. “That’s all I needed.”