If it’s new and different, stretches boundaries and opens up possibilities, Les Lindauer is in.
Recently appointed superintendent of the RE-1 School District, Lindauer arrived at his new post in the midst of a standoff between the library and school districts.
“When I got here July 1 their plan (librarian Mike McDonald and Southern Teller County Library District board) was to be out (of its location within the high school) Aug 3. They’d already started packing,” Lindauer said. “I think it (the disagreement) just got off to the wrong start.”
Seasoned negotiator, Lindauer stepped right into the controversy and secured an agreement between the presidents of the library and the school boards, Penni Donatto and Tim Braun, respectively.
“You talk about what people are upset about, talk about the positive and don’t allow any side issues,” he said. “Within an hour and a half we had a 20-year agreement, signed, sealed and delivered.”
Lindauer fine-tuned his negotiating skills as a member of the original teachers’ union in Colorado, the Denver Federation of Teachers.
Colorado native, Lindauer took a circuitous route to education. From initiating an apprenticeship program for iron workers in Denver, Lindauer accepted a position as field superintendent for the Rocky Mountain region with Pittsburgh Plate and Glass.
“We built almost all those high-rise buildings in Denver that have glass on them,” he said.
As some abhor change Lindauer thrives on temporary upheaval. For instance, when the glass company closed its commercial construction division, Lindauer moved on.
“I went to college and got my bachelor’s and teaching degrees and went to work for Denver Public Schools teaching construction trades at the Career Education Center,” he said. “I finished my master’s degree in education during that time.”
After three years Lindauer accepted a position as the dean of technical trades and industry at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School in Denver. He retired as the school’s executive director in 2009.
“The next day I went to Mesa State College in Grand Junction and started their community education program,” he said.
In the back of his mind was another goal yet to accomplish. “I wanted to finish my professional career as a superintendent- I always felt that was the toughest position in education,” he said. “I wanted to prove to myself I could do it.”
Earning an administrator’s license from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was the springboard for his first job as a superintendent, at the Arickaree School District in Anton, a small town 100 miles east of Denver.
Three years later, Lindauer saw the opening for a superintendent in the RE-1 School District which serves about 350 students. Whether or not he knew it, the job included mediation between the library and school district board presidents. Check.
“This is a significant benefit, not only to the students and staff, but the community of Cripple Creek,” he said. “We have the opportunity to make this the best library in the state.”
The resolution was in place before school started. “Now that that is out of the way we can focus on making this the best school district in Colorado. I don’t want to lose any more kids,” he said.
Lindauer has his eye on attracting students through excellence. “We have a hard-working staff;, the kids are good kids,” he said “We have a nice facility, a nice library, which helps us become the hub of the community. That’s how you build success in the school district.”
The superintendent and his wife, Kim Lindauer, who teaches special education in the district, have four grown children and three grandchildren.