Friday March 18, 2011: Read transcript
LJWorld.com asked Bill Roth five questions about issues facing the Lawrence school board:
1. Where, specifically, in the district's budget would you look first to make cuts to offset anticipated declines in state funding? Where would be the last?
The first thing i would do is find out exactly how much of a decrease in funding is going to be required as a percentage. Then each department would be asked to submit a budget that reflected that percentage decrease. Each department means Admin, Maintenance, and every Principal (Principal budgets would have the initial of the PTO President). I would encourage the Principals to coordinate their submittals with other Principals to encourage joint utilization or efforts. The Principals would not have the option of throwing their decision over the fence and saying that they recommend an action that had to be taken by another school, unless they had the other school's initials on the action, along with the PTO President.
2. What is the best way to "close the achievement gap" in schools?
One on one tutoring is needed to help students who are having trouble. This one on one can be done by teachers, para's or other students who are assisted by teachers.
3. What would you include in a proposed bond issue?
As the school system has excess capacity at this time, the requirement for a bond issue is questionable. With the currently existing facility funding, the feasibility of using those funds should be the first priority. I noted the recent use of a renovation project to more appropriately use high school space as an example of that type of effort. In addition, the use of "student Labor" has multiple side benefits. It saves money, but even more importantly it gives our students a chance to contribute and prove their capabilities. In addition, there are families in the district who could use a couple of extra dollars if we reduce their property tax when current bonds are paid off.
4. How would you increase public participation in district decision making?
A lot of things have been tried, such as PTO's and School Board Meetings. A bi-monthly district PTO President's meeting might have some merit. The different PTO's could tell about things they are doing or tell about a problem they are having and see it any of the other parents can offer suggestions.
5. If you could send a tweet — that's 140 characters or less — to legislators in Topeka on behalf of the Lawrence school district, what would you say?
Why is our country 23rd in the world in education? How can we expect our kids to be leaders in the high tech global economy, if we refuse to fund secondary education?