EDITOR’S NOTE: The story is updated to reflect that Justin Wood said he is not responsible for a campaign mailer that was distributed in the school district.
The two candidates for a seat on the Luther School Board participated in the Luther Register’s Candidate Event. Both Sherri Anderson and Justin Wood spoke to voters on stage and person to person at The Chicken Shack.
Anderson is the incumbent, elected in 2014. Her campaign signs are just now popping up around the community. She was elected five years ago, and has been a district leader during a tumultuous time that involved a controversial former administrator, program and budget cuts, a contentious bond election in 2015, and a citizen requested investigative audit. She also was part of ushering in new leadership and policy to the district.
At the event, each candidate had the microphone to introduce themselves. The Luther Register carried the event on FB Live.
Sherri Anderson For School Board
Anderson said she and her husband moved to the Luther School District in 1994. “We had family family out here and our oldest was getting ready to start school. We wanted for our kids a school system from K-12. We chose this one and we also wanted it because class rooms sizes were small,” she said.
All four of her children graduated from LPS and she spent 15 years volunteering at the school, “wherever anyone or anybody needed me, primarily in the elementary school.”
She said during the last five years of her term, there have been a lot of changes and accomplishments in the district.
- our high school has a safe room
- middle school is a secure site
- all school locations have front door buzz-in system
- full time resource officer.
Anderson said she is hopeful to add more safe roos for the other campuses, “hopefully future bond issues passed to do that,” she said.
She with a new school administration that was put in place two years ago, the school has “improved report cards, improved finances, improved our audits.
“If I’m elected, I will continue to work with the school district to improve it for our current and future Luther Lions, including my grandson,” she told the group gathered at the candidate event on March 19.
Anderson ticked down accomplishments of students in FFA, band and athletics and said the district boasts “extremely talented and gifted students.”
“We can only go forward.”
When asked why he is running for the school board, Justin Wood said that after the first day of school when there was a student stabbing, he thought he could bring his skills to the district. Those skills, he said, involve conflict resolution as an arbitrator and mediator. He filed for election during the filing period way back in December along with incumbent Sherri Anderson, and since there were only two candidates, a new state law pushed the school board election all the way to April. Had there been more than two candidates, there would have been the February election, with a run-off, if needed, in April.
Earlier, The Luther Register erroneously reported that Wood’s campaign sent a negative postcard mailer. Wood denied that he was responsible for the piece that says, in part, “Vote on April 2 to drain the Luther School Board swamp.” The Luther Register apologizes for the error and for not verifying the source of the mailer.
“I’m running because I saw some things that I work with daily and want to help support the community and see our children prosper.
“Myself, I didn’t go to college right out of high school. It would have been the worst thing for me,” he said. Wood explained he went to college later and his extensive education has enabled him to be a professional mediator and arbitrator to work on conflict resolution. “There are ways we can go about trying to resolve disputes. You know that in arguments, just because you walk away, doesn’t end the argument. Our kids need coping skills to get through it; listening is most important,” he said.
During the question part of the campaign event, Luther resident Brenda Austin asked Wood whether he would be able to work with the board because he has been very vocal with not agreeing with them.
“I’m sorry if you think I am disagreeable, but I ask hard questions,” he said.“I don’t have a problem working with anyone as long as we won’t vote for an illegal act. Working with people is one thing. I’m very firm in what I do and don’t mean to come across mean or staunch.
Wood has criticized the district over findings of the state investigative audit that was launched in late 2015, but wasn’t released until March of 2018.
Wood also admitted that he has seen some positive changes but complained about a lack of transparency.
“I see some things have changed, I don’t make it to a lot of school board meetings. We have no transparency.”
Anderson responded to Wood’s comments
Anderson said, “As far as transparency, when I came on 2014; there wasn’t any transparency. We weren’t online but because of events, we put everything online,” she said. She claimed the district was one of the most transparent in the state and the board abides by open meetings laws and provides the public with any information desired.
She said she has learned a lot over the last five years.
“When you are new; you are clueless. I had no idea but I had to learn. How do you learn? You learn with every new experience and mistake.
Were we perfect? No.
Did we learn? Yes.
Are we stable? Yes.
Will we need help? Yes.
Do I care? Very much so. My heart is there even if not elected.
I believe in our teachers. I believe in our kids, every school can improve to help kids,” said Anderson.”
The election is Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at your regular polling location. For information about absentee ballots, click here.
Next story, a recap of the Town Board candidates at the event. Four candidates, Jeff Schwarzmeier, Andy McDaniels, Carolyn Lawson and Brian Hall are vying to for two board seats.