Archive for Sunday, March 25, 2001

Lawrence school board candidates Q & A

March 25, 2001

Advertisement

Linda Robinson

If a bond issue for school improvements were done today, what should it include?

"I'd include improvements that directly impact students (South Junior High School deserves serious attention), rather than administrative services. Although the facilities plan can serve as a guide, community input must be respected for a bond to be successful.

How can the district increase academic achievement at underperforming schools?

"We need quality leaders and teachers in our under performing schools, as well as smaller class sizes."


Should the city and county contribute to operating budgets of school?

"No. We need to explore all avenues, but I would be cautious about raiding the city/county budgets, and thereby raising taxes. I worry about those with low and fixed incomes, particularly our senior citizens. The district should be responsible for and in control of its own budget."

Has teacher collaboration time been successful?

"When the district evaluates collaboration it can be determined if it has been successful in meeting its goals. If it is has, we need to make sure that the community is involved in future discussions regarding collaboration."

Is the district doing enough on preschool education?

"No. Lawrence has been a state and national leader in early childhood education. Studies have shown that for every dollar spent on quality preschool education, $7.50 is saved down the line on remediation, dropout rates and welfare. The Kansas legislature is supporting early childhood education."

Do students spend too much time away from the 3 Rs?

"No. The district has identified the importance of art, music and physical education, and has pared down the ways of celebrating education and rewarding students to the bare minimum."

Should the district offer ROTC?

"Only if there is sufficient interest to justify the costs."

What should be the board's top three priorities in the upcoming year?

"Students are my top priority and maintaining excellence in curriculum and instructional programs. Fiscal stewardship is a top priority. Providing competitive compensation for all school employees is another priority."

Do you favor closing any schools?

"This is a systemwide issue and should be based on the strategic plan and the facilities study. It should involve input from the community as well as district personnel. We need to do what's in the best interest of the students."

How should the district deal with violence in schools?

"We must make sure that our schools are friendly, save environments, where bullying is not allowed and where we are not alienating or disenfranchising any students. We need to listen carefully and take our students seriously."

Should the school district pay to keep city police in the schools?

"Police officers are not the most effective deterrent. We need more counselors and social workers who can work with students and teachers to identify and help students who are in need."

Is 3705 Clinton Parkway the best location for the Alternative High School?

"The LAHS deserves a real learning center. When we so desperately need classroom space and improvements, I question the purchase of two Service Centers in the past 10 years. The priorities seem to be misplaced."

Should the district make more computer technology investments?

"Investments in technology are effective only if teachers are able to utilize the technology to enhance and improve teaching and learning. It is imperative that today's students be able to negotiate a technological world."

Should the district cluster special education students?

"This would be going from one extreme to another. We need to do what's best for the students. I'm not sure that busing students all over town will benefit them or save resources."

What do you consider the most significant accomplishment and/or blunder by the current board?

Accomplishment: "Hiring Randy Weseman as superintendent."

Blunder: "While not tragic, failure to complete the facilities study, as well as failure to resolve the junior high curriculum and scheduling problems, are concerning issues."




Dale Vestal

If a bond issue for school improvements were done today, what should it include?

"South Junior High School to remove portables and add permanent space; East Heights School, general (numerous) repairs; and Central Junior High School, athletic field."

How can the district increase academic achievement at underperforming schools?

"Get more parents involved in their child's educational experience. Look to Kansas University to help give more one on one attention the students who need it."


Should the city and county contribute to operating budgets of school?

"I don't hear the citizens of Lawrence and Douglas County screaming to have their taxes raised. If both entities contribute more to the operating budget, taxes will have to be raised. Let's spend more efficiently."

Has teacher collaboration time been successful?

"I believe collaboration time is being used productively by the majority of teachers. It allows the schools and teachers to better address the student's needs."

Is the district doing enough on preschool education?

"No. I feel a valuable service is being provided for children whose parents might not have other options available to them due to financial reasons."

Do students spend too much time away from the 3 Rs?

"No. Maturing socially is very important to a child's development. These other activities provide more opportunities for interaction with other students away from the standard classroom setting."

Should the district offer ROTC?

"Yes. It has been proven to be successful in other districts. Studies prove that the more students are involved in school activities, the more pride they have in themselves. Fewer at-risk students."

What should be the board's top three priorities in the upcoming year?

"Equality between schools (baseline approach). Preserve neighborhood schools. Evaluate inclusion of special-education students."

Do you favor closing any schools?

"This questions assumes that schools will have to be closed. I will not vote to close any school unless every other option has been exhausted. School boundaries must be studied."

How should the district deal with violence in schools?

"The community must be educated on the warning signs and encouraged to speak up. Many feel that violence cannot happen here, but communities which have experienced school violence felt the same about their community."

Should the school district pay to keep city police in the schools?

"Yes. If the presence of officers at school deters even one violent act, it would be worth the expense."

Is 3705 Clinton Parkway the best location for the Alternative High School?

"No. The community was told it would be sold to help pay for the current district building. We need to decide what that school needs first."

Should the district make more computer technology investments?

"The future itself is based on computer tech. If our students are not exposed properly, they will be at a disadvantage when attending college or other professional training. We owe it to them."

Should the district cluster special education students?

"Yes. We would be better able to serve them in this situation than forcing inclusion at all schools. Let's help them succeed to their maximum potential and not worry about making ourselves feel good."

What do you consider the most significant accomplishment and/or blunder by the current board?

Accomplishment: "Recognizing the fact that a qualified superintendent, Randy Weseman, was right here and giving him the opportunity.

Blunder: "More unfortunate than a blunder not completing the facilities planning committee study."




Austin Turney


If a bond issue for school improvements were done today, what should it include?

"Major renovations to South Junior High School and the Alternative High School, additions to other junior high schools to meet enrollment expectations, other changes to elementary and high schools to adjust to teaching and student needs as defined in the facilities plan."

How can the district increase academic achievement at underperforming schools?

"Identify students who are not learning effectively, focus on them through team teaching and student improvement plans. Apply best practices in the district. Build up school and student morale."

Should the city and county contribute to operating budgets of school?

"We need a community discussion and consensus about this. The schools have been belt tightening since 1992 and have a strong case for teacher pay increases, class size reductions and textbook purchases."

Has teacher collaboration time been successful?

"We want every child to learn, not just to teach to the 'average' child. Team teaching and individual student improvement plans are essential to do this. Teacher collaboration time makes this possible."

Is the district doing enough on preschool education?

"Many children need preschool education in order ot be ready for our strong curriculum. I look forward to the day when this is part of a 'suitable' education, not dependent on gifts and grants."

Do students spend too much time away from the 3 Rs?

"Art, music and physical education are essential to lifelong learning and a well-rounded person. The curriculum audit did reveal a need to focus our curriculum more and prune some of our less effective activities."

Should the district offer ROTC?

"We can do more for the defense and security of our country by giving our students a strong scientific and technical education. This is not the time to take on another narrowly focused program."

What should be the board's top three priorities in the upcoming year?

"Completing the comprehensive facilities plan. Making our curriculum a seamless sequence from kindergarten through high school. Developing our financial reporting so we know the cost of each school, subject and program and can focus our personnel and materials better."

Do you favor closing any schools?

"Closing a neighborhood elementary school is a last resort. There must be a compelling educational reason. The parents of the students to be transferred must embrace the change. We have not reached these essential factors for a choice."

How should the district deal with violence in schools?

"By making sure that every student has respect and a positive role in his or her school. By creating a lively but friendly and relaxed atmosphere and responding immediately to signs of tension."

Should the school district pay to keep city police in the schools?

"No. Community policing is a city and county function and our schools are part of the community. Police officers are under the control of the chief and the sheriff, never of the school district."

Is 3705 Clinton Parkway the best location for the Alternative High School?

"No. The Alternative High School deserves to have a facility designed to meet its particular need and optimum enrollment. It should not be pushed into a building that is 'about the right size.'"

Should the district make more computer technology investments?

"Our students will use computer technology personally all of their lives. Many of them will use it constantly in their work. They need to be adept at using it and to have access to the information resources it makes available."

Should the district cluster special education students?

"We now do this in some cases. We will continue to modify this as the numbers and needs of special education students change. The best environment for both special and regular education students will be considered."

What do you consider the most significant accomplishment and/or blunder by the current board?

Accomplishment: "The selection of Randy Weseman as superintending was our most significant accomplishment."

Blunder: "The board has probably made a few mistakes, but no tragic blunders."




Leni Salkind

If a bond issue for school improvements were done today, what should it include?

"Purchase land and build a new Alternative High School; analyze needs of junior high schools and assess benefits of either a fifth junior high or additions to the junior high schools; technology equipment necessary to bring elementary schools up to standard; and playground equipment for older schools."

How can the district increase academic achievement at underperforming schools?

"Support for teachers and principals to increase understanding and use of test scores to target appropriate learning strategies for students and hire new principals who have demonstrated superior leadership skills and a thorough understanding of learning and equipment."

Should the city and county contribute to operating budgets of school?

"Lawrence is a community that will flourish and excel when all entities work together. Ways the city and county could financially assist the school district remains to be seen, but the concept is worthy of exploration."

Has teacher collaboration time been successful?

"Yes, collaboration time has been a valuable tool for teachers. It gives teachers time to share ideas and work together on curriculum, teaching strategies, individual student needs and both district and school staff development."

Is the district doing enough on preschool education?

"No, the benefits of such programs are well documented. This program should be assessed regularly to ensure student needs are being met and that it benefits the appropriate student population."

Do students spend too much time away from the 3 Rs?

"Research shows that learning in the arts has a positive affect on student performance and success in school in all projects. Physical education is essential to teach students how to incorporate exercise into their lives. Videos and parties should enhance the curriculum and be regulated by building principals."

Should the district offer ROTC?

"No, I believe supporting additional technical programs for our non-college bound students can be a more effective use of financial resources."

What should be the board's top three priorities in the upcoming year?

"Continue to address the goals and objectives of our long-range plan, including the completion of the following: the facilities plan, curriculum mapping and alignment kindergarten through 12th grade, and the technology plan."

Do you favor closing any schools?

"Closing schools does not insure an equitable learning environment. Decisions should be based on the facility study, community dialogue about services and resources for students. Delivery of quality education to all students is the important issue."

How should the district deal with violence in schools?

"By continuing to create an atmosphere of trust, implementing all appropriate board policies, and working with the city and county to find ways to curtail gun availability to youths in the community."

Should the school district pay to keep city police in the schools?

"Police officers have had a positive effect in school buildings and by extension the community at large. Again, working as a community I would like to see the city continue to provide this service to the school community."

Is 3705 Clinton Parkway the best location for the Alternative High School?

"The board of education approved the sale as planned. I believe the Alternative High School should not be shoehorned into an available building but have a quality educational facility in which to deliver services to students."

Should the district make more computer technology investments?

"We would be derelict in our duties if we did not provide technology education for our students to be competitive in the marketplace or prepared for college upon graduation. Computer technology is an important educational and communication tool and will certainly continue to be."

Should the district cluster special education students?

"The program assessment and budgeting process requires special education programs to be evaluated. Changes should be considered if they improve educational services and resources to the students in the program."


What do you consider the most significant accomplishment and/or blunder by the current board?

"The most significant accomplishment this year is by far the completion of the board policy manual. This document will serve the district well for many years. I really can't identity a tragic blunder."




Nicole Rials

If a bond issue for school improvements were done today, what should it include?

"An overall plan to provide adequate and safe school facilities, with special attention to improving old-neighborhood schools, facilities, libraries and resource equipment to support programs."

How can the district increase academic achievement at underperforming schools?

"Change how we measure success. Standardized test scores do not address the giftedness of a student's culture or natural talent. If we look at progress instead of end result, schools will not appear as 'underperforming.'"

Should the city and county contribute to operating budgets of school?

"Whether or not they 'should' is not the issue. The concern is whether or not they are able, and more importantly, willing to do so."

Has teacher collaboration time been successful?

"We need to know who has concerns, what the concerns are, and make a collaborative effort to revise if needed, keeping in mind the purpose of the collaboration time."

Is the district doing enough on preschool education?

"The purpose of district involvement with preschool programs is to work collaboratively, preparing children for transition into elementary school. Programs which have proven effective in doing this, should have support from the district, and community."

Do students spend too much time away from the 3 Rs?

"No. We must realize that such programs are educational and bring out natural talents of children. As a community we should strive to provide as many positive programs as possible. Education goes far beyond textbooks."

Should the district offer ROTC?

"This issue should be surveyed throughout the junior high and high school students, and the community as a whole. Depending on the response, the district should act accordingly."

What should be the board's top three priorities in the upcoming year?

"Raising the school board's awareness to the social implications of their decisions. School equity and preservation. Teacher compensation and minority recruitment."

Do you favor closing any schools?

"I have repeatedly stated that I oppose closing schools. You cannot determine the value of a school by enrollment numbers. Closing a neighborhood's school doesn't create equitable learning environments for that neighborhood or their children."

How should the district deal with violence in schools?

"Stop! Give students quality time and attention. Look! Be aware of what is happening in schools and what the struggles are. Listen to the cries for help. Recognize the warning signs. Respond immediately and appropriately."

Should the school district pay to keep city police in the schools?

"This is not a funding issue. This is a social issue. If we need police officers stationed in schools, we must find a way to make it happen with the support of the entire community."

Is 3705 Clinton Parkway the best location for the Alternative High School?

"The district needs a new alternative high school. If this building is suitable and will meet the needs of the students, it should be considered."

Should the district make more computer technology investments?

"Computer technology is a valuable asset to schools within appropriate limits."

Should the district cluster special education students?

"We should work collaboratively with parents and teachers, deciding what's in the best interest of students. It would be difficult to make such a decision without the input of those who work directly with the students."

What do you consider the most significant accomplishment and/or blunder by the current board?

"I want to focus on the future of our schools. I want to offer new and fresh perspectives to the board, working toward progress that our students, families and teachers can benefit from now."




Kurt Thurmaier

If a bond issue for school improvements were done today, what should it include?

"Requires a careful review of the new facilities project list that includes $28 million in projects. I'm aware of needs at South Junior High School, Lawrence Alternative HIgh School and Cordley School, which have already received some attention."

How can the district increase academic achievement at underperforming schools?

"First, we need to agree on what 'underperforming' means; simple graphs do not help Once we agree, we need to develop a school 'individual education plan' to target specific resources to the needs of each school."

Should the city and county contribute to operating budgets of school?

"As a community, we should explore innovative ways to fund the non-curricular activities that are provided to the community at our schools. These are two options for reimbursing the district. They are not subsidies."

Has teacher collaboration time been successful?

"The evidence is overwhelming that collaboration time is benefiting our students. I support it."

Is the district doing enough on preschool education?

"Again, we need a community approach to a community problem. Every $1 invested in preschool education returns $7 to the community. The whole community needs to invest in the education of our preschool children."

Do students spend too much time away from the 3 Rs?

"The question confuses multiple issues. Healthy bodies enhance healthy minds, and art and music complement math and science thinking. I'm concerned about how many videos replace teaching in schools. Students must learn to respect others."

Should the district offer ROTC?

"No. The curriculum audit suggests we already have too many secondary class offerings. If supporters want to form a club, that should be a viable option."

What should be the board's top three priorities in the upcoming year?

"A community dialog on how best to fund the services we want from our schools. Budget reform so the average voter can understand what things cost and how they're funded. A five-year capital outlay plan."

Do you favor closing any schools?

"This question is too biased and complicated for 35 words or less. We are dealing with children and neighborhoods more than spreadsheet numbers. People should call me to discuss my full answer."

How should the district deal with violence in schools?

"I will keep working to reduce the number of guns available to children. Everyone else should, too. Our kids and adults need to learn to recognize the danger signals and to treat everyone with respect."

Should the school district pay to keep city police in the schools?

"No. This is an important 'non-curricular' public safety function that should be funded from the city and county public safety budgets."

Is 3705 Clinton Parkway the best location for the Alternative High School?

"I do not know enough details yet to decide whether the Clinton Parkway building is the correct place for Alternative High School, but I am convinced that Alternative High School needs better facilities."

Should the district make more computer technology investments?

"Computers and other technology are replacing the pens and pencils of yesterday. Students must learn how to use them for something besides games. I support teacher training and educating our children to use current technology."

Should the district cluster special education students?

"There is a growing consensus that some special education students should be mainstreamed in classrooms while other are unable to learn in those classrooms. We should avoid a cookie-cutter approach to special education."

What do you consider the most significant accomplishment and/or blunder by the current board?

"Kudos for the mundane work of revising the archaic policy manual that prevented district personnel from responding quickly and appropriately to emerging problems and issues throughout the year, and more kudos for hiring Randy Weseman as superintendent."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.