Many choices for Waterloo School Board


The Waterloo School Board has four seats up for election on April 4. 

Current board member Gary Most is not seeking re-election.

While voters can select four candidates total, school board seats on the ballot are also broken up into sections labeled by township and range, with only a certain number of seats available in each section.

In Township 2S Range 9W, no more than three candidates may be elected. Incumbents Jodi Burton and Kim Ahne seek re-election alongside newcomers Nathan Mifflin and Ed Luedeman.

In Township 2S Range 10W, only one candidate can be elected. Incumbent Lori Dillenberger faces newcomer Lloyd Wesley Jarden.

In Township 3S Range 10W, all three candidates could be elected. On the ballot are newcomers Amanda Propst, Dawn Burns and Joshua D. Kurth.

Jodi Burton

Burton, 68, is an incumbent in Township 2S Range 9W. She has been married to her husband Mike since 1979, and the two have three children and several grandchildren.

Burton received degrees from Illinois State University. She then worked as a teacher at Waterloo Junior High School from 1976-2010. She was also a junior high and high school cheer coach for 32 years, has served on the school board for three terms and has ties to Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church and the Waterloo High School Legacy Committee.

Burton said she is seeking re-election for community service. She said she has a personal interest in “preserving and improving the quality of the school system for the students and staff,” also noting her focus on transparency.

She added that she would continue to support teachers and administration in their daily work if re-elected. Burton said the board’s decisions are “based on what is best for kids.”

Burton said the many key issues in this race include teacher shortages and retention, student behavior issues, safety measures, COVID learning loss and budget issues among others.

Burton also said she stands out among her opponents thanks to her public education background. While not the strongest member on buildings and grounds, she said she is the “go to” on the board for education and curriculum matters.

Kim Ahne

Ahne, 56, is another Township 2S Range 9W incumbent. He has been married to wife Lyn for 17 years and has two daughters and a step-son and step-daughter.

A lifelong resident of Monroe County, Ahne graduated from Eureka College and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

He said he is the digital team lead at Ameren as well as past president of the Waterloo Jaycees and Waterloo Citizens for a Pool. Ahne also mentioned his time as financial secretary and deputy grand knight for the Hecker Knights of Columbus and his current work as president of the Kaskaskia Swim League.

Ahne seeks re-election to “see active projects to completion. He pointed to several such ongoing items including the proposed expansion at Zahnow Elementary School, addressing employee retention and acquisition.”

Ahne said there aren’t many issues “related to this specific race, but more so opportunities.” He did say employee retention is a concern for teachers, nurses, paraprofessionals and other positions in the district.

Ahne added he stands out in this race because he listens to understand and is a person with good ethics and dependability. He said he carefully considers the decisions he makes on the board and makes those choices based on facts rather than his person opinions.

Nathan Mifflin

Mifflin, 40, is newly running for one of the Township 2S Range 9W seats. He has been with wife Elizabeth for 18 years. They’ve lived in Waterloo since 2008 and have three boys in the Waterloo school district.

Mifflin joined the Army National Guard at 17, serving in an infantry unit for four years before he was hired at Ameren Missouri. There, he was later able to start an overhead power line apprenticeship, and he has since been a crew leader at Ameren Missouri for 20 years.

Mifflin said his three boys are a big reason for him wanting to join the school board. He added “it is critical today that parents have a voice in their children’s education,” also noting the importance of communication between the district and community.

He further spoke about “putting the kids first” and keeping the focus on education. Mifflin said the district should continue to opt out of the National Sex Education standards while also keeping good employees happy and students and faculty safe.

Mifflin said the key issues in the race are transparency and communication. He added the pandemic showed many that the school board election might be the most important local race, and it’s important for the school board to have open communication with the community.

Describing how he stands out in the race, Mifflin pointed to his listening and leadership skills as an overhead power line crew leader and willingness to sacrifice learned from his military experience.

Ed Luedeman

Luedeman, 56, is the second newcomer for a Township 2S Range 9W seat. He and wife Ann have been married for 28 years and have two children.

Luedeman is the owner of Murphy Flooring. He also mentioned his ties with the National Federation of Independent Business Owners, Better Business Bureau, multiple chambers of commerce and Waterloo High School Athletic Boosters.

As he seeks a spot on the school board, Luedeman said he wants to give back to the community that has helped him and his wife raise their children. He said he wants to help the district continue growing while listening to the concerns of students and parents and making decisions based on the board’s available resources.

He said he would hope to work closely with the community to improve student achievements and look for ways to enhance the student experience while staying fiscally responsible.

Luedeman identified recruitment and retention as the big issue of this race. He noted many administrators, teachers and coaches will be eligible for retirement in the next 5-10 years, so it’s important the board has a plan to fill those positions.

Luedeman pointed to his passion for the district as a way he stands out in the race. He also mentioned his experience running a business and managing a budget, adding he is willing to go above and beyond for the district while listening to and working through the community’s concerns and questions.

Lori Dillenberger

Dillenberger, 59, hopes to keep her board seat in Township 2S Range 10W. She has been married to husband Don for 33 years, and the two have a son and daughter – both Waterloo High School graduates – as well as two grandchildren.

Dillenberger has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Much of her career has dealt with sales organizations, specifically administration and data management. She is currently an executive assistant for a CIO of a growing design build company.

She also spoke about her eight years on the board, including her current position as president. She previously worked as board secretary, Waterloo Athletic Booster Club vice president and Zahnow Elementary School PTO secretary.

Dillenberger said she’s seeking re-election as she feels her work on the board is not yet finished. She mentioned the difficulties schools have experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, describing progress the board has made but adding more improvement is possible.

She said a district-wide survey could help the board get a better perspective of how the district could further improve. Dillenberger also said continuity on the board is important, though she feels the candidate turnout is a good thing.

She pointed to employee burnout and the continued impact of the pandemic as two big issues in this race.

Dillenberger pointed to her passion for and experience on the board as a way she stands out in the race, noting past board accomplishments such as hiring a new law firm and architectural firm to represent the district.

Lloyd Jarden

Jarden, 40, is also running in Township 2S Range 10W. He is married to wife Ashley and has three young children.

He is originally from Bunker Hill and graduated from SIUE, moving to Waterloo with his family in 2012 largely because of the schools’ reputation.

Currently vice president of industrial construction at Murphy Company, Jarden said he has also volunteered at his family’s church and coached youth sports. He’s also been involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and United Way.

Jarden said he’s attended  school board meetings for a year and a half and noticed few of the members have children still in the district. He not only wants to be more involved and informed about curriculum and policy changes as a parent, but also wants to encourage parent engagement within the community while helping the district retain teachers and staff.

If elected, he said he’d like to help the district maintain its “charm” and culture – the quality and dedication of teachers and staff – as it grows.

Communication and transparency are this race’s big issues, Jarden said. He previously and unsuccessfully contacted the board in an attempt to improve the district’s online platform. He is also concerned about the removal of the Zoom option to view board meetings.

Jarden said he stands out in the race thanks to his perspective gained from working at a major St. Louis corporation.

Amanda Propst

Propst, 41, is one candidate running for a seat in Township 3S Range 10W. She lives with husband Clinton and has three young children.

She is a graduate of Hong Kong International School – she lived in Honk Kong as a teenager. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Indiana University and a Master in Social Work from Saint Louis University.

Propst has previously worked with Catholic Social Services in Belleville as a foster care case manager and Illinois Mentor in O’Fallon as a program coordinator. She currently works at Pathways School and Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative as a school social worker.

Locally, her family attends Hope Christian Church and her husband and children have been active in coaching and playing local sports.

Propst said she’s running for the school board because an important role for a board member is to be a link between schools and parents, a role ideal for a parent who is also an educator.

She added that a key goal for her would be to bridge the gap between parents and the board that she feels developed during the pandemic.

For Propst, two key issues in this year’s election are the teacher shortage and the impact that the state, pandemic policies and politics have had in Waterloo schools.

Propst said she stands out in this race both for her willingness to speak her mind and willingness to listen to and understand concerns in the community.

Dawn Burns

Burns, 44, is also running for school board in Township 3S Range 10W. She is married to her husband Jim, and the couple have one child in seventh grade and two in fourth grade.

Burns said she is seeking a position on the school board to “be a voice for our children and the community.”

She noted the key issues in the race are busing concerns, ensuring students and staff have the resources they need to focus on a quality education while staying within budget, addressing the education gap that has occurred due to the pandemic and keeping the community up-to-date on what’s going on in the district.

Burns added that while there are several quality candidates in this election that “will have our children’s best interest at heart,” she stands out as a candidate with children in the district.

Joshua Kurth

Kurth, 41, is another newcomer running in Township 3S Range 10W. He has been married to wife Heather for 20 years, and they have two young children.

Kurth said he’s earned an Education Specialist Degree in Administration, a Master of Arts Degree in School and Professional Counseling and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education.

He said he has 16 years of classroom, counseling and administrative experience. Kurth added he served eight years in St. Louis Public Schools, started his own school overseas in a third world country and has most recently served as an elementary counselor in the Columbia school district as well as a volunteer firefighter in Maeystown.

Kurth said the students in Waterloo are his top priority. His past education experience has motivated him to run for the board.

Expanding trade education opportunities for students is one of Kurth’s expressed goals, as are enhancing school safety and student mental health and supporting employees, all within the district’s available resources.

Kurth said this race’s big issue is acknowledging the district’s growing enrollment in order to plan for its changing demographics in the future. He also spoke further on the importance of opening opportunities for those students interested in pursuing a trade.

While many candidates have children or grandchildren in the district or otherwise care about students, Kurth said his experience in the classroom helps him stand out. He noted his understanding of the school environment, social emotional status, culture and curriculum as well.

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