Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Morgan, Loveland return to school board

Minder, Merrill also win

April 4, 2007


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Some familiar faces are returning to the Lawrence school board.

Scott Morgan and Mary Loveland, both defeated in re-election bids four years ago, are back on the board after the voters spoke at the ballot box in Tuesday's general election.

They will join Rich Minder, the lone incumbent who helped defeat them in 2003. Minder was re-elected, finishing second behind top vote-getter Morgan. Loveland finished third. Marlene Merrill, former Lawrence school administrator now working in the Kansas City, Kan., school district, won the fourth spot.

"It's an interesting mix. That's what makes this a great country," said Morgan, who picked up 7,865 votes, or 22 percent, nearly 2,200 more votes than the No. 2 vote-getter.

Morgan and Loveland were defeated in 2003 in a backlash from voters angry at the board's decision to close some elementary schools.

"I've always been someone who could talk to people with lots of different beliefs and I enjoy that," said Morgan, 49. "I think people can sense that."

The anger over those school closings has eased because the transitions have gone well, Loveland said, who garnered 5,445 votes (15 percent).

"Education has always interested me," said Loveland, 58, a school volunteer who previously spent 16 years on the board. "I appreciate the opportunity to serve again."

Loveland, Morgan and Minder said they look forward to working together.

"I think the voters know that our hearts are in the right places and we may disagree on some issues but that doesn't mean you can't move on and work together," said Minder, 48, who finished behind Morgan with 5,668 votes, or 16 percent.

Merrill, 62, said she was excited about winning her first election for public office. She finished fourth with 5,118 votes, or 14 percent.

"I feel very humble," she said. "I'm going to work my darndest to show that (the voters') faith is justified."

Merrill retired from the Lawrence school district in 2003 after 12 years as director of assessments.

The candidates said there were no hot-button issues during the campaign.

"If we all essentially agreed on things, I think it came down to name recognition and who you thought could best represent the kids, and I guess that's how it came out," Morgan said.

Morgan, president of Morgan Quitno Press, said he thought he would be elected but was surprised that he finished first in the race among eight candidates.

"You can always quote Chumbawamba, the great anarchist band: 'I get knocked down but I get up again.' That's sort of what I feel tonight," Morgan said.

Minder said he now hopes the school district, city of Lawrence, Douglas County and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce can work together on issues facing children and families, especially finding ways to support working parents and their children.

"I don't think it's purely a school issue," said Minder, a collaborative projects coordinator for Success by Six Coalition of Douglas County. "It's something we all need to do."

Michael Machell finished behind Merrill, with 4,083 votes (12 percent). He was pleased with his campaign.

"In January nobody even knew my name," said Machell, 46, human resources manager for Igenix, a health care informatics firm in Lenexa. "Even though I didn't finish in the money I felt like I had some influence on the debate.

"I'm not one to really look back," he said. "I'll be looking forward."

Does that mean he might run again?

"I don't know. We'll see," Machell said.

Trailing Machell were Victor Sisk (3,684 votes, 10 percent), Michael Pomes (1,945 votes, 5 percent), and Robert Rauktis (1,619 votes, 5 percent).

The vote counts are unofficial until canvassed later this week by Douglas County commissioners.


SettingTheRecordStraight 11 years, 1 month ago

Does anyone know which of the school board winners are least in the pocket of the NEA?

Stephen Roberts 11 years, 1 month ago

Merill is my guess. I have heard that they current admin did want her on the board. they were looking for people that could influence.

motomom 11 years, 1 month ago

joy of joys--scott and mary are back. probably ready to close more schools again. i just don't get it....

Tammy Copp-Barta 11 years, 1 month ago

motomom .. I ABSOLUTELY agree .. what are people thinking?!?!?! We FINALLY got them off the board and now they are back .. amazing ..

rhd99 11 years, 1 month ago

Let's hope I don't have to say four dreaded words in the future: I told you so. Schools close again, then we close another chapter & VOTE OUT Scott Morgan & Mary Loveland. Lawrence, you let our kids down again. Shame on you.

kugrad 11 years, 1 month ago

None of the school board members are "in the pocket of the NEA." None of them receive financial support of the NEA. It has been hard for the LEA (local NEA branch), the district administration, and the School Board to develop the good working relationship that they, for the most part, enjoy. Attacks on the NEA are rarely based on evidence, experience, knowledge of the facts, and are virtually never backed with clear, factually correct examples. The entire idea of attacking the NEA can be traced to the Reagan administration's attack on public education, leading to the voucher movement (with its historical roots in the extreme christianist right) and is now simply a talking point of right-wing blogs. It is a classic sophism; oft-repeated but rarely based in fact. As with any other organization, the NEA is not above reproach or criticism, but it has been subjected to purely political attacks not based on facts or actual events. The politics of andecdote. I challenge settingtherecordstraight (ironic name) to give 2 clear examples of a group of school board members in Lawrence acting against the best interest of children, the district, and community because they were "in the pocket of the NEA." You won't be able to do it, as it has never happened, but I'll look forward to your reply anyway. I think the current mix of board members will do well. I think the incumbent board members learned that school closings were a financial necessity and the hysteria that surrounded the issue was largely overblown.

Warmly, kugrad

kugrad 11 years, 1 month ago

One point of clarification. I believe the LEA makes a small contribution to the campaigns of the candidates they endorse. When I say they do not receive the financial support of the NEA, I mean this in two ways. First, literally. NEA does not give them money, the local LEA may. 2nd, other than a modest contribution to the campaign (which I believe, but do not know for certain was made), there is never any money that changes hands between the LEA or NEA and school board members. There are no other fabulous perks handed out to school board members, people who really do a public service by working hard for basically nothing.

lily 11 years, 1 month ago

Loveland and Morgan make me very nervous.

rhd99 11 years, 1 month ago

It's time for Lawrence voters teachers & parents to protest any policy proposed by Loveland & Morgan.

porkchop 11 years, 1 month ago

The people in this town refuse to close schools that need closing. These same people complain when their kids' music program [or fill in the blank of your favorite pet program cut back for lack of funds] gets scaled back or done away with. These same people complain about the most qualified teachers going to Johnson County because teacher salaries are not competitive.

And for what? I don't want to hear any tripe about "studies" that supposedly show that kids in "neighborhood schools" do better. I have never seen a study, not one, whose conclusions can't be disputed on nearly every level, and which can at best show somewhat of a correlation, but cannot begin to explain causation: how the magic of geography somehow makes kids learn better.

Whatever rhetoric parents choose to cloak their true motives in, it simply comes down to not inconveniencing themselves at the expense of the children of this community--including their own children.

Thank god Morgan and Loveland are back. I don't think, given the political climate in this town, that the closing of schools will be brought up anytime soon. And that's a crime against our children. But I am glad to see the return of anyone willing to take a principled, common sense stand in the face of irrationality and abuse from a vocal minority of the community.

porkchop 11 years, 1 month ago

On the other hand, apparently 1,619 people voted for a complete and utter nutjob, so maybe there is no hope.

weedwacker 11 years, 1 month ago

I agree with the others. How could we let Morgan and Loveland back on the school board? I would have thought that Morgan wouldn't be back after he ran and LOST. Guess someone talked him into trying again. This time, Lawrence voted him in, and in a big way! It hasn't been that long ago, do we have a lot of new voters?

Jackson 11 years, 1 month ago

In 2002 a neighborhood group had a special meeting with city commissioners and school board to discuss the problem of how student rental housing affected neighborhood schools.

All commissioners were present, however only two (2) school board members showed - Mary Loveland (who disagreed with everything), and Austin Turney, who slept thru the entire meeting.

All neighborhood ideas were ignored, and within two years three schools were closed, and taxpayers are now paying off a $60,000,000.00 school bond.

Thanks Mary, Scott, & Austin, for raising our taxes and closing our neighborhood schools.

It appears that the majority of the board will remain firmly "in the pocket" of the administration. Look for taxes to rise again.

Eudora thanks you aso, because that's where young families that are disgusted with Lawrence taxes and school "mess" have moved .

motomom 11 years, 1 month ago

i just kind of wonder if ol' randy "weasel"man didn't have somethin' to do with these two running again. i also wonder if there is a hidden agenda with these three like there was years ago and the whole centennia/cordley business. randy knew ALL ALONG that his virtual school would be going in to centennial's building.honestly folks, these board members really should make us all nervous. i just do not trust them from their past record. jackson----your e-mail was right on.......

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