Archive for Thursday, February 20, 2003

Chat with school board candidate Cindy Yulich

February 20, 2003


Welcome to our online chat with school board candidate Cindy Yulich.

The chat took place on Wednesday, February 19, at 5:30 PM and is now closed, but you can read the full transcript on this page.

Moderator: Welcome, everybody, to tonight's chat with school board candidate Cindy Yulich.

Cindy Yulich: Hi everyone!

Moderator: Let's take our first question.

Noelle: I assume that you are familiar with the $$ spent on teachers per student ratios in this Sunday's paper. Do you feel these ratios are fair? If yes, please explain why and if not, please explain what you would do to make these figures more "equitable."

Cindy Yulich: Thanks, Noelle. Clearly, the numbers in Sunday's paper are of concern. In today's environment, we must be more efficient. While I don't believe the $$ will be equal at all schools, we should be closer - we must be given today's financial concerns. I think we have to look throughout the district to find inefficiencies to solve the problem.

Question: Why should I vote for you for the school board?

Cindy Yulich: I am not running to represent one student, constituency or issue. I believe that all of our students deserve to be represented on our school board. I've been a parent in the district for 11 years, I've been a volunteer with E. Heights and Quail Run Site Councils, on the Business Educ. Partnership board and on a number of other community boards including the United Way of Douglas County. Finally, I believe my experience as in banking (management and financial expertise) is an asset.

Jill: How do you propose the district balance its operating budget if the bond does not pass?

Cindy Yulich: It will be very, very hard for every student and parent in our district. It will be difficult even if the bond passes. The bond will allow efficiencies of operation that will reduce the cuts but will not eliiminate them. As yesterday's initial budget hearing indicated, the cuts needed to balance the budget will be far and wide.

Question: What is your position on the teaching of creationism or "Intelligent Design" in school science classes?

Cindy Yulich: I believe evolution should be taught in school. If we begin teaching creationism, whose version should we teach? I believe that responsibility is best left to parents.

Bob: You have expressed support for the $59 million bond and elementary consolidation, but at times take a middle-of-the-road stand, such as "If voters want it, I'll implement it. If they don't, I'll help come up with a new bond." Is this fence riding?

Cindy Yulich: Bob, good question. I hope this bond passes. I will vote for the bond. I've been in each school in the district and have yet to see any of the proposed improvements that are not legitimate. That said, the community must and will decide the bond. The board that is in place after that election will need to 1) support efficient implementation of the bond based on what was proposed to the voters (if it passes) or 2) go back to the drawing board to bring another bond proposal back to the voters.

Question: Should the school board require all secondary principals and top-level administrators to teach a class?

Cindy Yulich: I suppose in an environment of cuts all things should be considered. I know our principals and administrators are very busy. I'd have to weigh all sides but this is an interesting idea. Besides the savings, there could be benefits to putting adminstrators more directly into the classroom setting. Again, I'd need to know at what expense that would come.

A. M.: What do you think is the real reason that so many parents choose home schooling and private school to public education? Do you think they are dissatisfied with the public system.

Cindy Yulich: I think a number of decisions go into the decision to remove children from the public school setting. Individual needs, the concern for safety, the desire for a more one on one approach. And certainly, some are dissatisfied with the public system. I believe in public schools and that every child is entitled to a public education.

Question: Tell me, really, is the district's administrative staff bloated?

Cindy Yulich: I cannot use the adjective "bloated" to describe our administrative staff. I realize that opinion is "out there". In my involvement with the district, I've seen dedicated individuals working very hard to educate 10,000 kids in an environment of increasing mandates and lack of funding. That said, the administration cut approx. $600,000 in the past two years and another $1 million was proposed at yesterday's budget hearing.

Jakob: As a Lawrence newcomer with no kids, I feel a bit disconnected from this school board race. Why should I be following this race?

Cindy Yulich: I believe that public education benefits ALL of us - not just our kids or those with children. When children do not become well-rounded, productive citizens, we all pay the price. Lawrence is a great place - we need to invest in our schools to keep it that way. I'd encourage you to study the issues and the qualifications of the candididates involved. The Journal World Web Site is an excellent source of information, both written and video.

Lion: Do you think extracuricular activities should be cut?

Cindy Yulich: This is a tough sale at my house. But what is left? The classroom and teacher salaries must be protected. Given the percentage that is of the budget, there is little else to "go after" but extracurricular activities and support services. That said, we need well-rounded kids who enjoy school. They deserve band and orchestra, sports, art, the musicals. For that reason, I am willing to consider the need for consolidation when we look at the entire education profile.

Question: How responsible is the Kansas legislature and former Gov. Bill Graves for the budget woes of public school districts?

Cindy Yulich: Extremely responsible. The Federal Govt. gets some blame to for not funding special education and more recently the "No Child Left Behind" program. In Kansas, we have a flawed school finance formula. The spirit of the law was to create equity so that children across the board - wealthy district or not - would have equitable educations. However, the weightings in the formula, the rewarding of the lack of efficiencies in smaller school districts, has created a terribly unequitable environment. The state is required to provide an "adequate" education for every Kansas child. When they requested a study to determine what an adequate education "looked like" they discovered they were over $1,000 short per pupil in aid and disregarded the study. Lawrence legislators know this - but we have a difficult time convincing the smaller school districts of this fact.

Question: Is discussion of academic issues getting lost in the headlines about bond issues and school closures?

Moderator: (We'll take one more question after this.)

Cindy Yulich: A good point. A lot is getting muddled in our discussions. We need to separate school closures from the bond issue. We also need to look at delivery of education to kids when we look at school closures. I believe by maintaining small class sizes and consolidating smaller schools (into buildings that will still be relatively small) we can actually deliver more academically. Teachers can collaborate, support services such as reading/math will be more efficient, class sizes are easier to control than in one section schools.

Dave: Be honest -- only crazy people volunteer to run for school board, right?

Cindy Yulich: I've been told that. And I've recently thought that myself! A former Lawrence mayor said given the choice between school board or city commission - she'd choose the commission every time. That said, good people need to run. We can't be thin skinned - we need to do it for our kids. I hope to have your vote next Tuesday!

Moderator: Thanks, everybody, for joining us today.

Moderator: That wraps up our chat with candidate Cindy Yulich.

Moderator: Our next chat is in 30 minutes, with candidate Leonard Ortiz. See you then.

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