Archive for Monday, February 19, 2001

School board issues - Linda Robinson

February 19, 2001


Linda Robinson, 50, 1317 Pinehurst Circle.
Experience: director of a Kansas University program that introduces new faculty to the state.
Education: bachelor and master in education.
Family: Married, one son and one daughter.

The school board should consider consolidating elementary schools in Lawrence. Yes or no? Why?
"Yes. When a school can no longer provide an equitable level of educational excellence, then the parents, the teachers and the community need to engage in serious discussions about the situation. The focus of the discussions should be on providing appropriate curriculum and instruction for all students in the district to ensure educational success for all."

Tax abatements to draw large businesses into Lawrence are detrimental to the public school district. Yes or no? Why?
"No. Deciding upon the appropriate level of tax abatement is an important topic that is under serious consideration by our elected officials and by our local experts in economic development. The relationship between quality businesses and quality schools is a symbiotic one. We cannot attract quality businesses without quality schools. We are fortunate to enjoy a level of economic growth and development in Lawrence that is exceptional for Kansas. Because of that, our schools benefit from the increased tax base that this growth provides. If we couldn't attract quality business, the schools would lose the benefit of that added tax base."

The introduction of technology in Lawrence schools is a blessing. Yes or no? Why?
"Yes. To be appropriately prepared for the 21st century, all students will need technological preparation. Virtually every home, business and post secondary institution will require a level of technological competence. If our students are to be competent they will need this understanding and preparation."

I would modify the district's approach to inclusion of special-education students. Yes or no? Why?
"Yes. I think that the district needs to develop a policy on inclusion that is made know to, and is understandable to, all of the schools. A uniform understanding of the goals and practices of inclusion will help the district provide better and more equitable services to all students, and it will allow for better fiscal oversight."

The district should alter the three-year junior high school format or create four-year high schools. Yes or no? Why?
"No. A decision about a three-year versus a four-year configuration should grow out of a curriculum discussion, and out of the needs identified in the district's curriculum audit. Does our current format allow teachers the best curriculum and instruction opportunities? Are we successfully preparing junior high students for high school? The educational needs of the students should be the foundation of any proposed reform in the current system. How cane we best serve the students?"

It was a mistake for the district to spend $4.1 million on a new warehouse, which is too small, and an administrative headquarters. Yes or no? Why?
"Yes. The purchase of the administrative headquarters was a mistake in the sense that it was not included as part of the school bond issue, and was neither voted upon nor approved. Therefore, it felt like a betrayal of trust for many of the voters who had worked very hard on the other issues contained in the bond issue. The purchase came at a time of fiscal uncertainty, and at a time when the needs of students and teachers should have been the first priority. The warehouse, which was voted upon, still remains a problem to be solved."

I support substantial pay raises for district teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and classified staff. Yes or no?
"Yes. With the state of Kansas facing a shortage of 500 teachers this year, it is essential that we make educators' salaries equitable an competitive with other school districts and with our industries. School funding is being seriously discussed at both the state and federal levels. It behooves us to lobby our legislators about the importance and value we place on education. Any money coming from the federal level to the state level should be part of the formula for increasing salaries for teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and classified staff. Quality education comes from quality individuals in the system."

There is over-emphasis on college-bound students in the Lawrence school district to the detriment of students with technical or vocational interests. Yes or no?
"Yes. With 80 percent of our graduates pursuing some form of post-secondary education, it would appear that there is an interest in that type of preparation. Whether or not it is over-emphasized by the district, the parents, or the community is hard to determine. There is excellent, state-of-the-art vocational and technical equipment in our schools, and technical schools are becoming ever more rigorous in their educational demands. Our School-to-Careers task force is ready and willing to assist students who have an interest in pursuing technical skills and careers. As a district, we need to make sure that we are addressing the needs of all types of learning, and all types of students."

Raises for teachers should be tied to academic performance of students in their classes. Yes or no?
"No. Cost of living raises should not be tied to the academic performance of the students, since teachers have no control over the nature of a classroom assignment nor of its composition. We need quality teachers in all classrooms, not just the classrooms with the high performing students. On the other hand, merit raises could be used as an incentive, and could be tied into accountability."

I support a policy allowing high school students to graduate early if they score above state benchmarks on the ACT or SAT. Yes or no?
"No. Standardized test scores are just one measure of readiness and preparation."

Homeschools should be subjected to greater oversight by the Kansas State Board of Education. Yes or no?

All-day kindergarten should be extended to all Lawrence elementary schools. Yes or no?

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