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Lindbergh board interviews applicants; Barry Cooper likely to regain his seat


May 11, 2005 - Barry Cooper has regained his seat on the Lindbergh Board of Education after losing it in the April election.

The board last week unofficially voted to appoint Cooper as the one-year replacement for Drew Walk, who resigned his seat one week after the April 7 election because he is moving out of the district.

The board was scheduled to make the official appointment Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

Cooper had served two three-year terms but lost in the April election to newcomer Bob Foerstel, a part-time teacher who also works for an electrical contractor.

Eight people applied for the post, and the board interviewed six of them last week. The candidates were: Cooper, 1280 Tammy Kay Drive, 63128; Janine Fabick, 33 Maclane Court, 63127; Kara Horton Gotsch, 10716 Forest Circle Drive, 63127; Sandra Kay Frederich, 12166 Lowill Lane, 63126; Evelyn Yaeger, 4303 Wickerfield Drive, 63128; and former board member Frank Gregory, 9811 Eagle Crest Court, 63127.

Two other candidates did not attend the May 3 interviews: Troy DuBose, 10842 Faraday Drive, 63123; and Kevin Krueger, 12517 Davana Drive, 63128.

Cooper, chief financial officer of La-clede Gas, said his two previous terms on the board gave him an advantage over the other candidates, particularly given the district's current financial situation.

Voters rejected a 65-cent tax-rate in-crease in the April election, and the board is facing cuts of around $2.3 million.

"I probably have the shortest learning curve of anybody since I've been gone from the board less than a month," Cooper said. "So I believe I do provide that advantage. I would just say to the board select the best candidate available because we're at a critical time for this school district so take your best player."

Cooper supported the tax-rate hike proposal and though it failed, said he does not support dipping into Lindbergh's $20 million reserve fund to help balance the budget. The district will need to consider cutting personnel and look for revenue increases through fee increases and grant writing, though both options are limited, he said.

Most of those seeking the appointment agreed with Cooper's stance on balancing the budget through innovative revenue in-creases and budget cuts, but Fabick, a re-tired accountant, and Frederich, a sales representative, said the district should spend down reserves to help sell a future tax-rate increase proposal.

Horton Gotsch, an attorney, said the tax increase isn't the answer. She said Lind-bergh must cut "waste" before asking voters for a tax-rate increase.

In a secret ballot, Cooper received three votes while Fabick, Frederich and Horton Gotsch each received one vote.

The last time the Lindbergh school board appointed a member was 1998, said board President Mark Rudolph.

"At that time I believe there was nine, maybe more members that came out to interview for that position, and three of the people that interviewed for that position ... were not selected in 1998, but they ultimately ran for election subsequently and were elected to the board," Rudoff said, encouraging the interviewees to seek election in future.

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