Archive for Monday, February 19, 2001

School board issues - Austin Turney

February 19, 2001


Austin Turney, 71, 1501 Pa.
Occupations: retired certified public accountant, elected to school board in 1997.
Education: bachelor's degree in business from KU.
Family: Married, one son.

The school board should consider consolidating elementary schools in Lawrence. Yes or no? Why?
"Yes. I expect that the school will consider consolidating schools. Consolidation should be done only when that will significantly improve academic and other services for all the students in the Lawrence district. We must take into consideration the needs of the students in each school and those of the school's neighborhood."

Tax abatements to draw large businesses into Lawrence are detrimental to the public school district. Yes or no? Why?
"There is no yes or no answer. A large packing plant with many low-pay, low-skill jobs would clearly be detrimental. A large business in research or skilled manufacturing would bring families and a tax base that would be favorable."

The introduction of technology in Lawrence schools is a blessing. Yes or no? Why?
"Yes. Most of our students will work with technology and all will use and live with it throughout their lives. They must learn to use it efficiently and effectively. Technology offers new options for instruction and learning."

I would modify the district's approach to inclusion of special-education students. Yes or no? Why?
"Yes. I strongly support inclusion for its good effects on both regular and special-education students. I would refine our approach to group some special education students in order to better serve their special needs, the needs of regular education students and to better equip our teachers to meet those needs."

The district should alter the three-year junior high school format or create four-year high schools. Yes or no? Why?
"No. Education can be effective in the present format or with four-year high schools. It is a community decision. There is no consensus for change now."

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. The service center is more. It is a resource center, a technology center and a place for conferences and training. An increasing number of teachers are obtaining supplementary materials from the resource center. The warehouse is not yet fully utilized and it is not too small. The district is now earning income by renting space not needed now that will be available when required by future growth. The center should be fully adequate for decades."

I support substantial pay raises for district teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and classified staff. Yes or no?
"Yes. Substantial pay raises are needed for teachers and some classified positions. They are needed to attract and retain the best persons for these jobs. We are not competitive now."

How would you pay for it?
"The right answer is for the state to provide adequate funds and for the federal government to provide funds for mandated special education services. Until that happens, we will economize where we can, as with the cut back in administrative staff; pursue income where we can, as with the Medicare reimbursements; and explore with the city and county ways they can support the schools. The last thing we want is to pay for this with larger class sizes."

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. We must offer students with technical and vocational interests both curriculum options and career options. We can work more closely with local businesses, crafts people and artists and also with technical and junior colleges."

Raises for teachers should be tied to academic performance of students in their classes. Yes or no?
"No. Teachers have no control over the selection of students for their classes. We must not introduce a selfish motive into class composition. We should require an acceptable level of performance and professional growth based on our evaluation system."

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. There is more to high school education than a single test score. Students should not miss out on the social and emotional development in the high school experience. We do allow high achieving students to take advanced placement courses and to take some university courses."

Homeschools should be subjected to greater oversight by the Kansas State Board of Education. Yes or no?
"Yes. Homeschool students should meet the same academic standards as public school students. The public schools should not have to make up deficiencies in home school education."

All-day kindergarten should be extended to all Lawrence elementary schools. Yes or no?
"Yes. As we raise our standards for all grades there is need for more learning opportunities in kindergarten. It would better fit the needs of families with working parents."

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