The latest candidate to file in the April 3 race for Lawrence's school board says the school district didn't do a good job of keeping nearby neighbors informed about construction on the new South Junior High School.
"The school district as a whole needs to mount a better community relations effort, take initiatives to go to neighborhood associations or organizations, especially when construction is taking place in their backyards," said Michael Pomes, who filed Thursday.
Pomes, a member of the executive committee of the Park Hill Neighborhood Association, said many neighbors along Park Hill Terrace didn't realize how the wide-open view to the south from their backyards would change once construction began on South.
Pomes is the sixth candidate to enter the race for four seats on the board. He also was a candidate for school board four years ago, finishing eighth in the primary and eighth in the general election.
At 43, Pomes is an environmental scientist who runs the permitting program for storage tanks for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. He also is a public affairs specialist in the Topeka-based 102nd Military History Detachment of the Kansas National Guard.
He and his wife, Marsha, have a daughter, Jennifer, 7, a second-grader at Broken Arrow School, and an adult daughter, Sarah Trogdon, who graduated from Lawrence High School in 2001.
Pomes and his wife are members of the Broken Arrow PTA. He also is helping to organize a Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Good Standing) program at Broken Arrow, where fathers spend a day at the school.
School board election
Pomes, whose wife uses a wheelchair, said he noticed she had trouble moving around the construction zones at Broken Arrow.
"The school district needs to keep accessibility for all students, both able-bodied and handicapped, as well as faculty, staff and parents, in making sure they can get to the schools easily," he said.
Pomes said he was unhappy with how the wellness policy was handled.
"I'm not necessarily against the wellness policy, but implementation needs to be looked at a little more closely," he said.
The other five candidates who have filed are board member Rich Minder, who is seeking re-election to a second term; Michael Machell, a human resources officer; Victor Sisk, a former Lawrence High School band director; Robert Rauktis, a retired physician who is studying to teach English as a second language at Kansas University; and Marlene Merrill, a former assessment director for the school district.
The filing deadline is noon Jan. 23.
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 will not seek re-election.
If more than eight candidates file, a primary will take place Feb. 27.