Archive for Friday, February 7, 2003

King hopes anti-bond, anti-consolidation majority will be rule school board

February 7, 2003


Cille King is convinced one is the loneliest number on the Lawrence school board.

"One person sitting on the board with a dissenting vote isn't going to change the way things are being done," said King, one of 13 candidates running for school board.

The board recently voted to close East Heights, Centennial and Riverside schools and place before voters a $59 million bond issue for school construction. The votes were 6-1 in favor, with Jack Davidson voting "no."

King said it would be distressing to get elected only to replace Davidson as the lone source of dissonance on facility issues. But, she said, if all goes well in the Feb. 25 primary election and April 1 general election, a new majority will rule the board. There are four open seats, and King wants to fill them with consolidation and bond-issue foes.

"There are at least four (candidates) with similar views and strong backgrounds who perhaps can turn around the district's view of where the facilities and education ought to go," King said.

King, born on the Fourth of July in 1947, is an apartment manager who worked previously in the state architect's office and as a travel agent. She has college degrees in human development and architecture.

King, who first moved to Lawrence in 1965, has a son at Free State High School and a daughter at Central Junior High School.

She is no stranger to school politics. In 1999, King captured 2,653 votes in the school board election, but finished sixth among seven candidates.

She said that losing effort might help with name recognition now.

"A lot of people have trouble with my name," King said.

This is one of 13 school board candidate profiles that will run in alphabetical order online each weekday, Monday through Friday, through Feb. 21.6News will provide an accompanying video profile at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. each weeknight through Feb. 21 on Sunflower Broadband's cable Channel 6.Video and text profiles on the candidates will be compiled through the series online on our school candidates site.

It's pronounced "seal," as in the furry torpedo-shaped mammal with flippers.

Memories of King's campaign, especially her quest to block closure of schools, were strong enough that about a dozen people urged her to pick up the torch again in 2003.

"I was perfectly willing to let other people step forward and run," she said.

But as the filing deadline neared, she didn't see enough candidates speaking to her vision. There were candidates standing up against the bond and consolidation, but none speaking just as forcefully about the need for a revamped bond-issue plan that would permit extensive construction and renovation of schools.

King said the current $59 million bond proposal had no chance of passing.

"I don't think they'll support this one," she said.

That means the next board should develop a substitute proposal large enough to replace South Junior High School, expand Lawrence Alternative High School and address safety, maintenance and classroom deficiencies at school buildings throughout the district.

Additions that replace portable classrooms and expand vocational programs are priorities, she said.

King said the school board must pay more than lip service to public opinion. A majority of board members and the district's facility consultant, DLR Group of Overland Park, ignored outcries over consolidation, she said.

"They didn't really ask for our input and what we did say to them, they didn't listen to," King said.

She said DLR Group's claim closure of Centennial and East Heights will save $1.3 million annually couldn't be believed. That number, she said, is "manufactured."

Consolidation jeopardizes the education of at-risk students at East Heights, Centennial, New York and Cordley schools. All would attend much larger schools if additions to New York and Cordley are completed with bond money, she said.

"It's been shown over and over they achieve much easier, much better, with smaller schools," she said.

King said the district could improve its budget situation by reducing administrative staff, eliminating duplicated courses and fund-raising through the Lawrence Schools Foundation.

Despite concern about the board's vision for public education in Lawrence, King said the district generally offered its 10,000 students a quality education. Undermining that system would be foolish, she said.

"The students now are the ones who will be making decisions on our behalf in a few years. I'd like them to be educated decisions."

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