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Archive for Thursday, January 11, 2007

Two more candidates file for school board election

January 11, 2007

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Two more candidates entered the race for a spot on Lawrence's school board: an incumbent school board member and a political novice.

Rich Minder, who is seeking a second four-year term, and Michael Machell, a human resources director who commutes to Lenexa, both filed Wednesday at the Douglas County Clerk's office.

Minder and Machell are among five candidates who are competing for four seats opening up on the school board.

The filing deadline is noon Jan. 23, and the election is April 3. If more than eight candidates emerge, a primary will be Feb. 27.

Victor Sisk, a former Lawrence High School band director, and Robert Rauktis, a retired teacher, filed Monday. Marlene Merrill, a former assessment director for the district, filed in late December.

Minder is the only school board member who has filed.

Leonard Ortiz, whose four-year term also will expire this year, has said he is leaning against running.

Board president Sue Morgan and board member Cindy Yulich said they would not seek re-election.

In filing again, Minder, 48, said he would like to continue the efforts the board has made in the last four years.

"We've made a lot of investments in our faculty and our students and our schools and in moving everybody in the direction of 'learning for all, whatever it takes,'" Minder said. "I want to maintain those investments and expand our accomplishments."

Minder said he would like to implement all-day kindergarten in at least a few schools next year.

Minder, 48, who was first elected in 2003, is collaborative projects coordinator for Success by Six Coalition of Douglas County. He and his wife, Vicki Penner, have two children who both attend New York School: Joey, 6, a first-grader, and Sophia, 9, a third-grader.

Machell said he became interested in the race when he learned that few candidates have filed.

"I had thought for a long time about getting involved in community activities," he said. "It was almost like a New Year's resolution to me."

Machell, 46, is a human capital partner for Ingenix, Lenexa, which is affiliated with United Health Group.

He has worked for about 20 years in human resources management, working for Amoco, Sprint and United Health Group. He also worked for a European company, UCB, and came to Kansas when UCB purchased the old DuPont plant in Tecumseh.

He has a degree in foreign service from Georgetown University, a master's degree in business administration from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Georgia State University.

Machell and his wife, Denise, have a daughter, Emma, 12, who is a seventh-grader at West Junior High School.

In terms of school finance, Machell said he has been "a responsible steward of budgets," but said he was not a fiscal conservative.

"Where education is considered, I'm more open to spending if I know what we're spending it on and what the value added is," he said. "Frankly, I can't think of a better return on investment than the future of our children."

He said he was interested in placing more emphasis on liberal arts, history and social sciences.

In terms of standardized tests, he said he was concerned that students were being educated on how to pass tests.

"For me the true measure of an education is instilling a love of learning and intellectual curiosity and an ability to think critically," he said.

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