Building adequate school facilities, getting much-needed technology into classrooms and ensuring equal educational opportunities throughout the Lawrence school district wouldn't be such pressing issues if the district did more long-range planning, says Lawrence school board candidate Gene Ramp.
"A vision of the future is something that Lawrence schools don't have and desperately need," Ramp said. "To me, almost every other problem and every other issue that I see in Lawrence schools could be addressed if we had good long-range planning."
Ramp, 50, 1700 St. Andrews Dr., noted that before November, the district's total bonded indebtedness for past building projects was about $3 million. With the $29.9 million school bond issue that voters passed in November, the district's bonded indebtedness now is 10 times what it was before.
RAMP, executive director of Educational Systems at Kansas University, said that with better planning, the district wouldn't have had to request money for three new schools and several building renovations all in one bond issue package. Ramp said he's concerned that the district's bonded indebtedness will soar even higher with the building of a second high school in a few years.
"We haven't had a good long-range plan for our facilities," Ramp said. "A long-range plan doesn't require pushing the school district to the brink of disaster before people realize we have a problem. Waiting until the shoe pinches is the wrong way to approach anything, especially the special educational lives of our students.
"I think our community would be much more appreciative of a board that would lay out a 50-year picture of what Lawrence is going to look like and have a plan and a budget."
RAMP SAID another goal as a school board member would be to have a communitywide coalition involved in such things as long-range planning and setting district goals. The large coalition could be broken down into several smaller groups that would focus on different issues, Ramp said.
"It wouldn't be the school district setting up the team," Ramp said. "I'm talking about something that the community would really run. Teachers and principals would be involved, but it wouldn't reflect `education-ese' and would have a flavor for the broader community."
Ramp said he appreciated the work of such groups as the 26-member Commission on Mid-Level and High School Education, which last year developed recommendations for secondary facilities. However, he said, a communitywide coalition could do much more.
"The group would almost be like a broker for ideas and issues," Ramp said.