Priorities: Wages, class size, reading skills

School Board candidate/Donald Ludwig
Tuesday, March 22, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:05 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Strolling through the supermarket is a task some people find to be a burden, but Donald Ludwig enjoys his everyday trips to the market.

Ludwig, who is running for his second term on the school board, goes to the market each day to purchase all the ingredients to prepare dinner for his family — a chore he gladly takes on in his retirement.

Along with cooking, Ludwig has enjoyed volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Missouri, reading to first- and second-graders at their schools and providing free business consultations.

“Don is very much committed to excellence in our schools and our community,” said Jeri Doty, chief planning officer for University of Missouri Health Care and a Ludwig supporter.

She said Ludwig is active in the community and is a family- oriented man.

One of Ludwig’s campaign priorities is the creation of an early-childhood education program in the district. “Children who cannot read at their grade level by the third grade will be less prepared to read to learn as they progress through upper grades,” Ludwig said. “This will impact their ability to achieve in our schools.”

Through the creation of an early-childhood education program, Ludwig said, children would be prepared for school success when they enter kindergarten.

“We have found that in many cases, there is not enough time between the start of kindergarten and third grade to increase the reading skills in many of these children up to the third-grade level of reading,” Ludwig said.

Ludwig said this program would be a cost trade-off from tutoring and other remediation methods needed for children struggling with reading, by spending the money earlier.

Ludwig’s other priorities include smaller class sizes, after-school tutoring programs and competitive salaries for teachers.

“One thing that is always a struggle is teachers’ salaries and we want to be competitive,” Ludwig said, though he recognizes funding is a key component to these goals. “We want to hire the best teachers.”

Smaller class sizes and after-school tutoring programs would help close the achievement gap between subgroups within the district, Ludwig said.

The achievement gap has become a focus of the board since the No Child Left Behind Act was enacted in 2002.

The district has three goals to comply with No Child Left Behind: increase student achievement, eliminate achievement disparities and maximize resource efficiency.

If elected, Ludwig said he plans to implement policy to help the board reach its goals.

Since moving to Columbia in 1992, Ludwig has been an active member of the community, from serving on the PTA at several Columbia schools to volunteering throughout the community.

Doty said if Ludwig were re-elected, he would be a voice for excellence and innovation in Columbia’s schools.

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