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Archive for Monday, February 19, 2001

School board issues - Gordon Longabach

February 19, 2001

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Gordon Longabach, 64, 3612 Boulder Court.
Experience: substitute teacher, retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel.
Education: bachelor's in graphic arts, master's in education.
Family: widower, two sons

The school board should consider consolidating elementary schools in Lawrence. Yes or no? Why?
"Yes, if some schools have a declining enrollment then you can't keep them open just to please a neighborhood. The board has the fiscal responsibility to thin of the broader picture and distribution of money and assets to do the greatest good."

Tax abatements to draw large businesses into Lawrence are detrimental to the public school district. Yes or no? Why?
"Yes, the school board should formally ask the city to consider growth costs, not just dollars gained per dollar abated, because enrollment goes up years before the abatement ends. As tax rolls increase, the city should take the school district burden into their equation."

The introduction of technology in Lawrence schools is a blessing. Yes or no? Why?
"No, I can't say it's a 'blessing' but it can help. Teachers should teach. If computers help, then they should be used, but not as a teaching substitute. Nothing beats a real live teacher directly instructing a student."

I would modify the district's approach to inclusion of special-education students. Yes or no? Why?
"No, federal law states we are to provided the 'least restrictive environment' except they didn't provide the funds. We are probably doing the best job we can now to educate these special students and keeping them safe with the limited resources available."

The district should alter the three-year junior high school format or create four-year high schools. Yes or no? Why?
"No, this would harden the need for a third high school. I would prefer an additional junior high. A lot of parents are concerned about ninth-graders in association with much older students. I think this is a valid concern."

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?
"No, I don't know that it was a mistake, but the idea was to get scattered offices under one roof. This has allowed for better control and coordination. The selling off of unused buildings should help to offset the initial cost."

I support substantial pay raises for district teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and classified staff. Yes or no?
"No, I certainly support annual cost of living raises for all based on the consumer price index, but not a 'substantial' pay raise across the board. Some teachers that merit raises should get extra others that are lackluster and just putting in their time don't deserve a raise."

How pay for it would you pay for it?
"Obviously, if the administration doesn't have the resources then the taxpayer will have to step up. It's a necessary evil if we are to keep good schools in Lawrence."

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, it's great to have kids go to college but not all aspire and we owe them a chance to learn a trade and be competitive in the job market."

Raises for teachers should be tied to academic performance of students in their classes. Yes or no?
"No, raises for teachers should be tied to merit, otherwise teachers will 'teach the tests.' Also, it would be hard to distinguish between different schools with different potential students in that teachers would try to be in the better schools."

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?
"Yes, if they are that smart give them a small scholarship to help them at college, because they have saved the district money in their leaving the system."

Homeschools should be subjected to greater oversight by the Kansas State Board of Education. Yes or no?
"No, the present oversight is adequate. We don't need a 'greater' one. perhaps we need to 'oversight' some of our public schools more. Homeschools are probably doing a better job than some of our public schools."

All-day kindergarten should be extended to all Lawrence elementary schools. Yes or no?
"All kids need the same good beginning of learning. Young minds are the most adept at learning and we should take advantage of this. Kindergarten is not just play time."

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