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Archive for Thursday, July 8, 2004

Board’s new leader seeks bond issue

Salkind says overcrowding in junior highs needs to be remedied

July 8, 2004

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Putting another school bond issue before voters is among the top goals of the newly elected president of the Lawrence school board.

Leni Salkind, elected to the post Wednesday by her colleagues, said there were pressing needs the district would not be able to address without the extra funds a bond issue would supply.

Overcrowded junior high schools, she said, cause her the most concern.

Salkind said South Junior High School, built in the 1960s, couldn't be remodeled because of asbestos and Southwest Junior High School, which opened in 1995, had several portable buildings, which she doesn't consider safe or secure.

"We don't have enough money to build a new junior high school," Salkind said.

The board's vice president last year, Salkind was voted into the yearlong president's post on the strength of her second-place finish in the 2001 school board election. Board member Leonard Ortiz, the top vote-getter in the 2003 school board election, was tapped as the board's vice president for the coming year.

Salkind said after the board's vote that people knew of the district's good schools, dedicated staff and faculty members and quality programs.

"But we all know there's more to be done," she said. She cited a lack of funding as one of the biggest challenges facing the Lawrence school district.

For now, Salkind said she wanted a good, healthy beverage contract, which is slated to be on the school board's July 20 agenda.

Salkind remains hopeful that the district will receive more funding from the state, which is defending itself in a lawsuit brought by several midsize districts that allege the Legislature is not meeting its constitutional requirements on school funding. The case is before the Kansas Supreme Court.

"We just can't keep going like this indefinitely without really doing some damage," Salkind said of the flat funding from the state. Legislators failed to pass a school finance plan keeping the present plan in place.

In addition to school funding, Salkind said she wanted the district to remain focused on doing the best for children.

"So much attention is placed on the budget," she said. "But once we get through that, we can go back to putting our attention on children and learning."

Salkind has been on the school board for seven years. Her term ends in 2005, and she has said she wouldn't seek a third term.

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