Meet The Candidates

Meet three of the five candidates running for the Francis Howell school board positions on June 2nd.


Francis Howell School District

CANDIDATES: From left to right are candidates Mary Lange, Patrick Lane, Mike Sommer, Peggy Sherwin, and Doug Ziegemeier.

Soon five candidates are to be voted on for the three open Francis Howell board member positions by those who live within the district’s boundaries. Originally on April 7, the date was moved to June 2 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With Dr. Nathan Hoven stepping up as new superintendent in July 2020, all eyes are on how the candidates intend to help transition him into his position as well as how they execute the plans put on the ballot.

Candidate Mary Lange, mother of both a middle schooler and freshman in the district, described how much she has learned from her first three years on the district’s committee.

“It has taught me that it takes many different backgrounds, many different opinions and strong individuals who are willing to speak up for things that are important to the community, students and staff,” Mrs. Lange said.

Mrs. Lange was awarded an advanced certification in the Missouri School Boards’ Association Certified Board Member Program in June 2019 for receiving an additional 12 hours of training, reading two books on school board service, attending a minimum of two association regional and/or statewide events as well as writing a reflection paper related to her study on board service.

Spanish teacher at FHC, and world language department chair for the district, Dr. Jennifer Miller, will be affected by the results of the voting, although she is unable to vote herself. She knows that some are incumbents and one has been a member in the past. She also thinks the current board is very approachable.

While the superintendent and her cabinet make many decisions

 that affect my job and the education of FHSD students, their hands are tied if the board doesn’t approve what they are doing. The people we elect to the board set the tone for how teachers, students and parents are treated by the district.” Dr. Miller said.

She does not want to see people get elected who are happy with remaining stagnant in the goals of the district. Dr. Miller wants the candidates to  promote progress.

“If we elect people who are happy with [the] status quo, it will be difficult for us to evolve into a high school that is capable of serving all of the needs of our students.” Dr. Miller said.

Mrs. Lange’s fellow candidate Patrick Lane, who is also finishing up his first three-year term, knows all too well what it means to educate and be educated. After being a teacher for 21 years, and a principal for 12, he now has two grandchildren in the district who are following in the footsteps of his four children who all graduated from Francis Howell North. Just like any candidate, Mr. Lane has plans for what is ahead in the district. 

“The Board’s goal is to update, revise and build appropriate learning facilities; seek adequate funding…and to be active in ensuring that our children are provided an exemplary education,” Mr. Lane said. 

Candidate Mike Sommers, former certified public accountant, is focused on both the district’s financial well-being, as well as that of the students within. 

“As a member, I will encourage the Board of Education to make decisions that focus on the success of our students, both in and out of the classroom,” Mr. Sommers said.

Mr. Lane and his fellow candidates are all in support of Proposition S, which will be on the June 2 ballot. Prop S allows FHSD to borrow $244 million but does not increase taxes. The money used from Prop S will go toward urgent facility problems. 

Mrs. Lange has been working on getting the no tax Prop S, also known as the Bond issue, passed. She also worked on the Prop Howell tax levy in 2017 which lost by 3,600 votes. 

“[My goals are] continued student success in the classroom, using my previous board experience to assist our new Superintendent…[and] using my financial experience to assist the school district through all…projects that are on the horizon,” Mr. Sommers said.

The board is also helping the district with Missouri School Improvement Plan VI, according to Mr. Lane. 

“I will continue to help guide the district as we enter MSIP VI…[which] is the process by which public schools in our state are evaluated for accreditation and the need for state level intervention,” Mr. Lane said.

As FHSD enters the improvement plan, Lane states that he will make sure he keeps the district steady and able, continuing to be the best school district in St. Charles county and number 11 out of the 50 best school districts in Missouri, according to a 2020 Niche article. 

*The author of the article reached out to and gave all five candidates a chance to comment, only the three mentioned responded.