C.J. Costanti can’t express enough the belief in the importance of schools serving as a central part of the community’s collective fabric. So, the opportunity to contribute to Lynden Schools as a board member since December 2017 and be the eyes and ears for people in the district provides him plenty of motivation. Add in that both C.J. and his wife, Angie, are Lynden graduates and the couple’s three boys are all currently in the district and the vested interest in schools only grows.
With roughly 16 months already on the board, Costanti knows the complexity of the organization and that the classroom serves as just the tip of the iceberg. “The amount of overwhelmingly positive things I’ve learned about the work that goes into running three elementary schools, a middle and high school, plus Lynden Academy and our myriad programs like the district preschool and Family Community Services is a great success story,” he says. “We have an amazing, dedicated staff and solid professional culture that is going to be a great springboard into the future.”
Even as the board and Lynden Schools face change, Costanti knows they can do so with the same ethos they’ve already shown. “It’s said that the only constant is change, and I think our board is like any similar organization in that we are constantly presented with change and evolution while having the need to keep aligned with our goals and core values,” he says. Growth remains a central topic of the board and he expects the conversation with the community about facilities to continue as “Lynden definitely isn’t going to get any smaller and we have some big decisions to make in the next several years.”
But paramount to physical needs is the absolute priority, he says, to stay in front of the change inherent in education while ensuring students have the best tool kit available for post K-12 life.
A pilot since 1994, Costanti currently works as a corporate pilot for a local construction company, “one of those lucky people that get to do what they love for a living.” When not in the air, the couple’s three boys — sixth grade, fourth grade and kindergarten — keep them “busy and happy” with sports, skiing, motorbikes, animals and farm life.
Costanti’s personal interests bleed into the board too, which his desire to grow the communication between Lynden Schools and the community about the great things going on in the schools as a way to celebrate success, support staff and encourage and motivate students. “I feel it’s critical that we tell the story of our schools to the entire community, especially to fellow voters and taxpayers that might not have a direct connection to the district,” he says. “Board member Kelli Kettles and I, along with superintendent Jim Frey, discuss communication as part of a new board committee and we hope to continue to expand our efforts.”
As one of the less visible parts of the district, the board remains engaged in a variety of issues and Costanti says that having input from the community helps drive those constant discussions. “We are you,” he says. “The board is not a distant ‘them’ making decisions in a vacuum. We really encourage the conversations and dialogue that can make our schools even better.”
Moving forward, Costanti says the great bedrock combination of an incredible staff and historically supportive community will help the district firm up plans to address future needs — facilities included — responsibly and with an eye toward longevity.
“Our music, arts, athletic and extracurricular programs have had fantastic success and received well-deserved recognition,” he says. “Nearly everywhere I look in the district I see excitement and hard work and I think we’re in a great place to continue that momentum and build on it.”