Archive for Monday, March 26, 2007

Candidate seeks to help district improve community relations

Phasing in all-day kindergarten could help performance, Pomes says

March 26, 2007


Michael Pomes says he's seen several problems in the last year with Lawrence's public schools.

And they could have been avoided if school district leaders had talked first to parents and neighborhood leaders, Pomes said.

"What's needed is a better community relations effort," said Pomes, one of eight candidates running in the April 3 election for four seats on Lawrence's school board.

He ran for the school board in 2003, finishing in eighth place.

Pomes, 43, and his wife, Marsha, have a second-grader at Broken Arrow School and a daughter who graduated from Lawrence High School in 2001.

Pomes is an environmental scientist who operates the storage tank permit program for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

He also is a master sergeant and senior public affairs noncommissioned officer in the Kansas Army National Guard's 35th Infantry Division, with headquarters at Fort Leavenworth.

Pomes said what drew him into the race was what he saw as a lack of communication between the district and residents who live near him in the Park Hill neighborhood just north of the construction area at Broken Arrow.

Property owners adjacent to the school received letters from the school district about the construction, he said.

But the Park Hill Neighborhood Association had to initiate contact with the district when some neighbors complained about the effect construction was having on their homes, Pomes said.

Pomes also said he had some problems with the district's new wellness policy concerning the types of food that can be brought to school.

"The wellness policy should place more emphasis on exercise and parental education than forcing teachers to be the food police," he said.

He also saw problems with providing wheelchair access around Broken Arrow School during construction.

"Workers blocked the only wheelchair ramp with a construction fence before school started," he said.

In terms of all-day kindergarten, Pomes said if the state does phase it in, Lawrence's district could consider offering it at certain schools, starting with the Title I schools, Pomes said. Those are schools that have a large number of families that meet federal low-income guidelines.

"It translates into better performance in the classroom," he said.

Pomes said the district can keep its quality teachers "by paying them better."

He said he would like to provide teachers with more planning time and a more streamlined way to record their grades.

He also is concerned about teachers having to pay for class supplies out of their own pockets. He said the Broken Arrow PTA reimburses teachers.

"But more must be done for teachers on the lower end of the pay scale," he said.


Richard Heckler 11 years, 2 months ago

What I do know is Loveland and Scott Morgan were replaced for their failure to support neighborhood schools and were willing to close them and did so which in the end did not save money. I am beginning to believe this plan was launched by the superintendent. Loveland and Morgan would be the wrong choices.

The alternative would cost taxpayers a ton of money for a new building or two to bring all of the elementary students together under one big roof. This would require more busing miles and/or parents driving more,not making good uses of exisitng resources/school buildings. They will likely say neighborhoods are shrinking in so far as children are concerned however these neighoods will grow again.

Let's stop using personal property taxes to subsidize the real estate industry and maintain our school buildings aka existing resources. Let's make existing buildings energy efficient=saving dollars.

Pomes is a good choice!

altarego 11 years, 1 month ago

Let me get this straight. The Real Estate Industry is closing schools? I'm trying to understand here, but I'm not feeling the urgency based on what you think "they will likely say..."

Like or not, the new people that populate what you call sprawl are voting also. Most have no idea what you are talking about.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 1 month ago

I did not say the real estate industry is closing schools. What I did imply was that I would prefer more of my tax dollars go to supporting our existing public schools than support the real estate industry in their effort to develope expensive sprawl. Impact fees for the real estate/developement industry could potentially free up more personal property tax dollars FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION needs which provides substantial bang for the property tax dollar. New housing developments cost taxpayers money. However I will never support moving away from neighborhood elementary schools...forget that.

"They" meaning Morgan and Loveland would likely imply that neighborhoods are losing children for that is the argument that was put forward by them when they were ousted. Neighborhoods now have new babies that will grow into elementary grade school students. Therefore it makes no sense to shut down neighborhood schools.

Stephen Roberts 11 years, 1 month ago


A Huge part of the problem is that as the population moves wetsward, they need to change the boundaries. The boundary committee is reluctant to change any thing becasue they are afraid.

I requested twice to be on the committee as an at large member but was told they were keeping their at large members.

prioress 11 years, 1 month ago

497 needs to change boundaries, close some buildings and build modern, larger grade schools. They also need to move the 9th graders to high school. Cross-town bussing to mix the races and social classes would be an alternative to consider. Lawrence has too much racism and class divisions to build a unified system.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 1 month ago

497 has changed boundaries in recent times which is why many Free State students come from far east Lawrence in an effort to prevent class divisions. East Lawrence is unusal in that there are a fair amount of upper income households living throughout east Lawrence no matter what the neighborhood or owner occupant home may appear.

kugrad 11 years, 1 month ago

I'm going to disagree. I don't think Pomes is a good choice. There are reasons he finished last in the first election in which he ran. He has an axe to grind that hasn't come out in this campaign. He isn't the friend of neighborhoods that he is being portrayed as here.

Merrill, your history of the boundary division is incorrect. It is true that a north-south split along Iowa would result in more lower-income students at LHS than Free State, but I think the 15th street choice was a wise one. Redistricting has usually been done due to attempts to reduce overcrowding in elementary schools.

Although building schools with a capacity of 450-500 students is the most economical method long-term, there is no such movement underway in the district at this time. Communities such as Blue Valley are expanding rapidly, which is why they can do this.

I would also like make a couple of observations. In the last couple of elections, candidates made a lot of talk about school closings, but ignored the economic realities that were behind these moves. It has all turned out well. East Heights students have not suffered in their move to NY and Kennedy. The East Heights school is a much-needed preschool resource in the neighborhood in most need of services for at-risk preschoolers. All turned out well. The candidates who came in on the "keep small schools open" (Minder, Ortiz) learned that school finance was more complicated, political, and, by law, non-common-sense than they knew.  The voters would not be well served by scaring up the old "they are going to close the small schools" threat of the past. This is not an issue in this campaign because it is not part of anyone's agenda.
BTW, lots of small improvements have been made in the last 5 years or so resulting in huge energy savings in the district.

I am personally supporting Morgan (who asks the hard questions, plays the devil's advocate, and is stingy with the public dollar) and Minder, who has proven himself worthy of re-election. I oppose Pomes who I feel is portraying himself inaccurately and who has no knowledge of school finance.

That being said, no offense to Merrill whose posts I enjoy and whom I know, from these boards, to be a reasonable person.

Stephen Roberts 11 years, 1 month ago

I have personally talked to Scott Morgan. Even though he is a nice person with good intentions, I do not support him and Loveland. I would rather see people willling to shake up our adminsitration a little. the school baord has to hear a lot from parents and educators about money. Who says that the adminsitrators ( ones who earn above 70,000 a year) need a 6% raise? Why can't they get a set DOLLAR amount.

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