LONGMONT — Many people have criticized the St. Vrain Valley Board of Education over the last three years for its role in the school district’s financial crisis, but only four individuals are interested in helping take the reins to run the district in this year’s election.
On Nov. 1, they will run for three open seats on the school board.
Darwyn Herbst and Sandi Searls will run against each other for Searls’ current District B director seat, which represents the Niwot feeder system.
Dori Van Lone, a parent from Erie, will run for Kathy Hall’s District D director seat, which represents central Longmont and Erie.
Rod Schmidt, a long-time volunteer and parent with the district, will run for Mike Rademacher’s District F seat, which represents Mead, parts of Weld County and northeast Longmont.
Van Lone and Schmidt are running unopposed.
Herbst has spent the past two years studying the school district’s financial condition. He has been a sharp critic of the district and the school board and said as a member of the board he would ensure that “all major programs” are spelled out in the district’s budget.
He is a big supporter of schools and would like to return “more control to principals, teachers and parents.”
Searls, who currently serves as president of the school board, said she wants to run again because she hasn’t accomplished everything she set out to do when she first ran.
Kids are her main focus. And while finances have taken up a good portion of the current board’s time, Searls said she believes the district is stable enough that the board can refocus back on children and achievement.
If she is elected in November, Searls said she would like to see more innovation in how the school district responds to growth.
Van Lone comes from a civic-minded family. Her husband served as a mayor of Erie and also serves as a trustee on the Erie town board. She has three children, one who graduated from St. Vrain and two others still in St. Vrain schools.
She said she decided to run for school board because she would like to be a “voice for people in the southeast tip of the district because it’s growing and I do talk to a lot of people and hear a lot of their concerns,” Van Lone said. “I would like to convey that information and get answers that I can convey back.”
Van Lone said she doesn’t have a set agenda, but she would like to be a liaison between the board and the community and help out wherever possible.
“What I bring is over 20 years of experience in business and any way I can help and contribute to making our school district the best in the state,” she said.
Growth is a huge issue in Erie and Van Lone said that “as much growth as is happening, we need to be flexible enough to deal with the ever-changing numbers of kids coming up. We need to be able to react,” she said. “Personally, I like to be proactive instead of reactive.”
Schmidt, a businessman for the past 27 years, decided to run because he felt the board could use another parental voice.
“I am a strong supporter and fervent believer in the public education system,” he said, having been a product of the public school system in the Midwest where he grew up.
Schmidt also believes the focus should always be on the children and their achievement, but he has concerns about rapid growth within the district’s boundaries.
“Living in Weld County, I am very in tune with some of the growth we’re going to be dealing with out here,” Schmidt said. “I think we are at the top of the iceberg with the growth we’ve seen versus some of the growth we will see over the next 15 to 20 years.”
He also supports competitive salary and benefits packages for district teachers and employees and would like to see more professional development opportunities to keep the district’s teachers at a higher quality.
Paula Aven Gladych can be reached at 303-684-5211, or by e-mail at email@example.com.