Chat about the Lawrence School Board race with candidate Victor Sisk

March 22, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Victor Sisk is president-elect of the Douglas County Association of Retired School Personnel. He was the LHS band director from 1984 to 1988. He was assistant executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, retiring in 2005. He has said the district needs to continue efforts to keep teachers in the district by improving salaries and benefits.


Hi! I'm Joel Mathis, managing editor for convergence. Victor Sisk is here and ready to take questions.

Victor Sisk:

Glad to have the opportunity to be able to answer questions regarding my candidacy for the Lawrence School Board.


I don't think too many people think most teachers are overpaid. However, if their salaries are to be raised, where would the extra money come from; highter taxes? Is there any way to cut the administrative costs (including the salaries of people in that division) and give that money to the teachers?

Victor Sisk:

Before determination could be made about "extra" monies, a study would need to be made of the current financial limitations before the Lawrence School Board. Higher taxes are not something that I would be in favor of, as it directly creates challenges for parents with children, as well as adults whose children have already graduated from our public schools. Cutting administrative costs is something that is studied by our school board every year, and I feel that an in-depth study occurs each year regarding administrative cost. It is my understanding that during the past week the state Legislature has looked at and is dealing with issues presented by the Lawrence School Board concerning the cost-of-living index. Hopefully, this will be a positive development for the Lawrence school district.


Funding ongoing maintenance for existing facilities was asked at some of the forums. Since you were not available for the forums, what is your proposal for funding maintenance costs?

Victor Sisk:

Maintenance costs are a factor that needs to be considered each and every year. Funding maintenance costs have been dealt with by our current school board, and will be considered every year, as this is an issue that cannot be ignored. At this time, not knowing the budget limitations, I would not have a specific proposal for maintenance funding.


Why all-day kindergarten? I don't think all children are ready for all-day school at this age. I think we push them too hard, too soon, already.

No Child Left Behind has no fans among any of the teachers or parents that I know. Is there a chance Kansas will opt out of this deeply flawed program?

Victor Sisk:

All-day kindergarten is a complex issue that needs to be looked at from "wants" and funding availability. In today's society, all-day kindergarten is a must for many parents. But at this time, for Lawrence to have a new program for all-day kindgergarten would depend upon appropriate funding from the state Legislature. If partial funding were available, I would then be in favor of all-day kindergarten for our Title I schools. I would not be in favor of all-day kindergarten at the expense of existing programs or teacher salaries. All-day kindergarten needs to be considered within budget constraints, facilities, an approved curriculum and teacher availability.


Do you believe that requiring all elementary classroom teachers at neighborhood ELL sites is necessary. When the numbers average 3 or less per grade level. Would you support a phased program, or a program that is supported by research showing the most effective approach is strong professional development? Are you at all concerned that the district requires this training for the elementary schools, and not the cluster sites for the high school and junior high?

Victor Sisk:

This is an issue that I just became aware of upon my return to Lawrence this week. It is an issue that needs to be studied and discussed by all parties involved. I believe a lot of time was spent at the last board meeting discussing this very issue. Before it can be resolved, research and more involvement by teachers and the community needs to be considered. English as a Secondary Language is becoming a major issue in Lawrence, as more international students become a part of our school district. Our present school board is in the process of discovering all sides of the issue.

Victor Sisk:

At this point, I do not believe the district is definitely requiring training for elementary schools and not the secondary teachers. I believe this is still an issue that is under discussion and advisement.


You worked for the state's high school activities assn. How will your educational background affect your board service?

Victor Sisk:

As both a teacher in the Lawrence school district and assistant executive director for the KSHSAA, my background in working with committees and listening to all sides of the issues will give me an advantage in helping to make appropriate decisions for the students of Lawrence. I became a candidate for the Lawrence School Board and have no agenda for particular issues. I look forward to looking at all issues from both an educational and administrative background.


Any other issues you'd like to address today?

Victor Sisk:

I am very concerned with the apparent "teacher drain" in our Lawrence school district. I hope that policies and financial assessments are made to encourage experienced teachers to remain a part of our school programs. Salaries are important, but other considerations must be studied to help experienced teachers with decisions regarding their educational future. I am very proud to have received the endorsement and support of the Lawrence Education Assn. If elected, as an educator I will do my best to serve our students, teachers and community.


Thanks for your time.


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