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School board candidate Michael Pomes to chat with LJWorld.com readers

March 25, 2009

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

School board candidate Michael Pomes will chat with readers on Wednesday, March 25 at 1p.

Moderator:

Welcome to our online chat with school board candidate Michael Pomes. I'm Lindsey Slater, the K-12 education reporter, and I'll be your moderator today. Thanks for joining us, MIchael.

Michael Pomes:

Thank you, Lindsey. I'm happy to be here.

Moderator:

Let's get to the questions. Keep in mind that questions can be submitted anytime during the chat.

intererstedparty:

Would you ever support the use of public school dollars (in the form of scholarships and/or vouchers) being used for private school education? If not, why not? If so, why and in what circumstance might you support this?

Michael Pomes:

My initial answer is no on supporting the use of public school dollars in the form of scholarships and/or vouchers being used for private school education. I don't see this happening in Lawrence because I feel that USD 497 is an excellent school system. I could see that happening in larger cities where there are documented problems occurring in the schools. Under those circumstances, parents have to look out for the education of their Kids. Attending private schools with vouchers is the way they can get the best education.

Moderator:

The budget is obviously a big concern with public schools this year and in coming school years. What is your plan if cuts have to be made?

Michael Pomes:

Before any cuts are to be made, I want the District to determine what costs could be reduced through savings. The District should develop a program to give out awards to those teachers and staff who come up with suggestions that save the District money. Grants could be found to fund such "productivity enhancement" awards. There's plenty opportunity to find savings -- for example the parking lot at Broken Arrow School Elementary School stays lit all night, and the air conditioning system at South Junior High School runs during the weekends. Utilities are paid out of the same funding that pays for the education of students. Teachers, staff, and students could come up with other ways to save money. It's my hope that a leaner District could overcome the need for any cuts.

Moderator:

There's been a lot of discussion on the WRAP program. What are your feelings on it?

Michael Pomes:

I think the services provided by the Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities, the WRAP program, are move important that ever, especially during poor economic times. Kids feel the impact when their parents lose jobs or have hours cut back. Kids cannot learn when they are distracted by their home life, other Kids become disruptive in the class room, or they do not feel safe in school. The intent of the WRAP program is to deliver mental health services to students and staff in the schools so all can learn in a safe environment. I think the social costs of not having the WRAP program would out strip any budgetary savings when consequences like distracted students, disrupted class rooms, increased bullying, student suicides and unsafe schools could result. If elected to the School Board, I will do all I can to preserve funding for the WRAP program.

Moderator:

I know you're an officer on the Park Hill Neighborhood Association. What kind of experience has that given you that you think would pertain to the school board?

intererstedparty:

There have been studies that show that it can be just an economical to leave utitlies running as it is to turn them on and off. Don't we have a facilities director who should be able to pretty easily inform the Board about such things?

Michael Pomes:

I'm currently the Secretary of the Park Hill Neighborhood Association and should tell where we're located. My neighborhood is behind Checkers Food Store at the intersection of 23rd and Louisiana. We're bounded by Broken Arrow Elementary and South Junior High School to the south, Haskell Indian Nations University and the Breezedale Neighborhood to the east, 23rd Street to the north, and Louisiana to the west. Neighbors whose properties bordered Broken Arrow School and what became the new South Junior High School became greatly concerned as construction progressed. Members of the Executive Committee met with the School District and the DLR Group to express the concerns of these neighbors on the front line of the construction. We got to the point after having several meetings to where individual neighbors could talk directly to the district and have concerns addressed like misdirected security lights and fencing.

As a member of the School Board I will ensure USD 497 is more sensitive to neighborhood concerns. The District, schools and surrounding neighborhoods all will benefit from better community relations. Having neighborhood representatives on School Site Councils is a step in the right direction. Representatives from the Brook Creek and East Lawrence Neighborhood Associations are on the New York Elementary School Site Council. I will encourage more neighborhood involvement on school site councils if elected to the School Board.

Moderator:

Our questions got a little out of order. This is from intererstedparty: There have been studies that show that it can be just an economical to leave utitlies running as it is to turn them on and off. Don't we have a facilities director who should be able to pretty easily inform the Board about such things?

Michael Pomes:

Yes, I believe that Tom Bracciano is a very capable facilities director. I'm sure that he will easily inform the Board about any savings that can be realized by leaving utilities running. Part of being a member of the school board is being a good listener and I will use all input from District Staff, teachers, neighbors, community leaders, parents and students to make the best decisions.

Moderator:

We're out of time here today. Michael, any closing statements?

Michael Pomes:

Thank you Lindsey for allowing me the opportunity to chat.

Please go to my website, www.michaelpomes.org, if you want to learn more about me as a candidate for the School Board.

One more thing, the Park Hill Neighborhood Association is sponsoring School Board/City Commission Candidate Meet and Greet on Saturday, March 28, at BridgePointe Community Church, 601 W 29th Street Terrace. BridgePointe is the red brick church across from Broken Arrow Park. Please come to meet School Board Candidates from 2 to 3 p.m. and City Commission Candidates from 3 to 4 p.m.

I am running for School Board because I believe that "Kids Come First" in education. That's the slogan on my yard signs. As a member of the School Board I will keep "Kids First" by ensuring all Kids have the best opportunities to learn, building on their abilities, regardless of their backgrounds; the best teachers teach our Kids, and everyone has full access to the best possible and safest facilities.

Be sure to get out and vote on April 7!

Moderator:

Thanks, Michael. Keep checking back to LJWorld.com for all of your April 7 election needs.

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