Lawrence school board candidate Bob Byers to chat with readers

March 30, 2009

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

Vying for one of three open spots, Lawrence school board candidate Bob Byers will chat with readers on March 30 at 1p.


Today we're chatting with school board candidate Bob Byers. I'm K-12 education reporter Lindsey Slater and I'll be moderating the chat today. Thanks for joining us, Bob.

Bob Byers:

I'm glad to be here and have this opportunity.


We'll jump right into some reader submitted questions.


Teachers work with children. So do social workers. Do you believe that teachers as well as social workers should be required to submit to pre-employment drug testing and, once hired, be subject to random drug screens. If your answer to these questions is "Yes", please provide your reasons. If your answer to these questions is "No", please provide your reasons why people who work with children should not have to demonstrate they are drug free? If elected, will you make the pre-employment drug testing of teachers a priority? Thank you.

Bob Byers:

No, I do not think that teachers or social workers should be subject to pre-employment or random drug testing while employed. Should a situation develop that indicates that an employee has an issue with drugs, then appropriate action should be taken.


I have 1 kid in high school, 1 in junior high, and 2 in elementary school. What are your plans on reducing or eliminating the fees just to attend school?

Bob Byers:

Any fees that are assessed to students should be evaluated on a yearly basis. The fees should only be used when absolutely necessary to enable schools to provide the best educational environment possible.

My plan would be to set up a process that would allow for an annual review to insure that any fees being charged are necessary and the funds are not available from any other source.


If you are faced with budget cuts as a board member, can you address how you would prioritize items and issues during the process?

Bob Byers:

The first step would be to address anything that is required by federal or state regulations. The next would be to look at what directly supports the district's ability to educate the students. The overall issue is what is best for the students to achieve their highest potential.


I know you've spent your entire life working with children at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services. Would this experience help you on the school board and why?

Bob Byers:

Yes, my experience with the department will help. Over the years, I have worked with budget issues and their effects on children. When dealing with these types of cuts, along with the bottom line, you have to keep in mind how the cuts will affect the children directly. Throughout my career, I have worked directly with children, with their families, with the school disctrict and other community agencies. I feel that I have a well rounded view of the community and that this will be a benefit to the district.


What kind of experience have you had working with the school district?

Bob Byers:

As a frontline social worker, I worked directly with school personnel regarding issues of child safety. As a supervisor, I worked with the district to set up procedures between SRS and the school district. As an administrator in conjuction with other community agencies, I worked with the district regarding the development of procedures to ensure that youth in the agency's custody received educational services. As a member and current chair of the Equity Council, I have had numerous contacts with the district. I am a member of the Education Committee which is a joint committee between the school district and the NAACP, working on achievement gap for youth 13 to18 years of age. And lastly, as a parent, my son attended Lawrence Public Schools from K through 12.


You've previously mentioned your concern with Lawrence's achievement gap. What groups does it affect and what are your plans on overcoming it?

Bob Byers:

The group affected is minority males from the age of 13-18 years of age. Up to the age of 13, all youth within the school district continues to perform. At age 13, minority males begin to drop off in their achievement levels while other groups continue to move forward. It is important that understand that this is a national problem. The Education Committee is a good start and the district leadership has shown a willingness to address this issue. No one has the answer at this time. I would continue the work with the Education Council and would be open to any involvement with other community resources to help find a solution.


Just to wrap the chat up, is there anything else you'd like Lawrence voters to know about you?

Bob Byers:

Lawrence has been my family's home since 1977. We moved here so that I could attend graduate school at KU and have never wanted to leave. My working life since KU has included children's services from the beginning. Being a member of the School Board is a contination of my working on behalf of the children and their families. I feel that I will bring a point of view that is familiar with children's issues in the community and the experience in working with the existing community resources. I welcome the opportunity to serve the community in this capacity. Please vot on April 7th and I hope that you will include me on your ballot.


Thanks for joining us today, Bob. Keep up with chats from school board and city commission candidates right here on


Pogo 5 years ago

Why shouldn't the professionals who look after our children demonstrate their committment to a drug free workplace by agreeing to a pre-employment drug screen?

Aren't our children our most precisous and vulnerable people?

Citizens day in and day out are compelled to take these drug tests for 7/11 clerks and any other manner of jobs. Is it that money is involved in those jobs that make them more important than our children?

Mental health professionals who work with convicted felons in our state prison system have to submit to pre-employment drug screens....and they're working with scourge of our society. Why not teachers who work with our most precious and vulnerable?

Do teachers have something to hide? Is Mr. Byers' helping them hide their drug usage habits, including marijuana? Does Mr. Byers himself smoke cannabis?

Applicants for jobs with the City and County of Lawrence are required to cooperate with pre-employment drug screening. Why aren't our teachers?

If the teachers to be....and the existing work force of teachers are afraid of drug it because they have something to hide?

Shouldn't our School Board do everything they can to make certain our children are safe and not around "druggies"????


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