After years of serving behind the scenes, parent of two and volunteer Leah Bailey Langston says she's eager to formally begin her school board term April 27.
"We as a district spend about six percent of our budget on general administration when the average is three percent," she reflected. "On the outside looking in, we don't know why that is. We have a lot of things behind closed doors."
From lunch room to school board, she's also filled multiple hours as a volunteer, and says, whether filing, helping with the school's great books program or serving in the lunch line, she's confident that hours spent serving the school have an impact on the bottom line.
"The less time teachers spend making copies, the more time they can spend teaching," said Langston. "We need to make our decision to put the students first."
Banker Gregg Lunceford agreed with Langston that prior to taking office, it's difficult to determine why administrative costs are higher than average at District 161.
In addition, Lunceford says he hopes the search for a new school superintendent would not be completed before he takes office.
"The intent was to get it done before the new board came in," he said. "I would hope to be part of it...the new board will have to hear from the community about that (decision)."
Lunceford, father to Dylan, 9, and Hailey,6, said that it's important to retain top teachers, and to build a sense of unity between the district's schools.
"Sometimes, it's necessary to pay more to get top talent," said Lunceford. "But you've got to be doggone sure you can justify it to the taxpayers."