Archive for Friday, February 21, 2003

Yulich supports bond, but doesn’t want one-issue candidate label

February 21, 2003


Cindy Yulich wants to be more than a one-issue candidate.

No easy task in a Lawrence school board primary dominated by debate about the $59 million bond for school construction and elementary school consolidation.

"Whoever is elected to this board will make decisions the next four years for all our kids and it shouldn't come down to one single issue," she said. "I will not represent a single issue, a single neighborhood or a single constituency."

Yulich, a 43-year-old bank executive, said issues surrounding teacher compensation, budget options and implications of government mandates have been overshadowed by hubbub over the bond and school closures.

For the record, Yulich is solidly in the pro-bond and pro-consolidation camp. But her position comes with a twist.

"I'm not running to support or defeat the bond," Yulich said. "If the bond issue passes, I will work for efficient implementation. If it does not pass, we'll go back to the table and come up with a bond that will pass."

Voters can grade her spin on the issues in Tuesday's primary, which will trim the 13-candidate field to eight. Four board seats will be filled in the April 1 general election.

Yulich moved to Lawrence in 1991 to work for Emprise Bank. She's a senior vice president and oversees of both Emprise branches in Lawrence.

She sits on site councils at East Heights and Quail Run elementary schools. Her volunteerism in the district extends to 1995, primarily through the business-education partnership. She won the district's outstanding citizen award.

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.

Cindy and Mitch Yulich have two sons, one at Southwest Junior High School and the other at Quail Run.

Yulich was the first candidate to file for the race. She signed up in early December, more than five weeks ahead of a majority of candidates.

From the first day of her campaign, she has blamed the state's school-finance formula and the Kansas Legislature's refusal to fully fund the plan for many problems in Lawrence schools. She wrote every member of the House and Senate last year to lobby for better funding.

Instead of increasing education budgets, lawmakers are likely to reduce spending on schools. This forced the current board to push for elementary school consolidation and to consider cuts in academic, sports and administrative programs, she said.

Yulich said the shrinking budget pie jeopardized the district's ability to maintain a quality teaching staff.

In these times, she said, her graduate degree in banking from University of Colorado and job experience would be useful in this financial crisis.

"I think that financial and management expertise would lend itself to the board," she said. "We've got to use our resources effectively and efficiently to maximize what we give to kids."

The campaign has offered Yulich insight into how clueless some people -- including candidates -- are about financing of public schools and the board's extensive long-range facility planning process.

"One thing has become clear to me in this campaign. The 13 people running aren't all on the same page in terms of knowledge," she said.

She said the Lawrence's declining elementary enrollment had left the district with half-empty schools. By consolidating -- and shifting students in a way that doesn't exacerbate class-size issues -- the district can deliver a better educational program to all students, she said.

"It's a regretful situation that we find ourselves in," she said. "Consolidation is one way we can maximize resources for kids."

If the bond fails, she said, "we'll end up consolidating schools anyway and it will be a much less attractive picture for kids."

Yulich said that if the bond fails the board would return to voters with a replacement bond that addresses many of the same facility needs.

It's important to invest money and time in public schools, she said.

"I believe in the equalizing power of public education," she said. "I'm committed to this community. I was committed to the school district long before this campaign and will continue to be."

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