School Board Election 2007
School Board Race
- Egypt trip doesn't affect candidate's campaign focus (03-28-07)
- Self-proclaimed 'character' goes against the grain on some issues (03-27-07)
- Candidate seeks to help district improve community relations (03-26-07)
- Morgan taps parental experience (03-23-07)
- Incumbent candidate wants competitive district (03-22-07)
- Educator sees three challenges for Lawrence district (03-21-07)
- Ability to keep pace with technology deemed priority (03-20-07)
- Candidate selector: see which candidate's views match your own Â»
- More about the school board race Â»
Robert Rauktis sees himself as a little different from the other eight candidates running April 3 for four seats on Lawrence's school board.
"I'm the character," Rauktis said during a recent candidate forum, getting some laughs.
While some of the other candidates arrived in more formal dress, Rauktis wore a colorful Hawaiian shirt.
And he wasn't afraid to go against the grain on certain issues, either.
For example, he questions the need for all-day kindergarten, saying it "sounds suspiciously like day care" to him.
He also calls himself "pro-teacher and anti-intimidation," in reference to his stand against the district's new wellness policy, which takes a hard line against sugary snacks and drinks being offered in school.
Rauktis has called the district's new wellness policy that bans junk food in schools "kind of silly." Rauktis also said he was against having teachers enforce such a policy.
"It's a big rock to push up a steep hill," he said.
At 55 and single, Rauktis is a retired neuroradiologist who has worked in Boston, New York City, Seattle, Northern California and Johnson County.
He currently is seeking a master's degree at Kansas University in teaching English as a second language.
His past community service includes serving on the board of directors of Community Alliance with Family Farmers in California and Surfrider Foundation, a California organization.
A fiscal conservative, he also has said it would be "preposterous" to spend money on all-day kindergarten when the district needs money for existing programs and teacher salaries.
"I target my money to the grown-ups," he said.
He said kindergarten used to be considered a half-day transition period, "between home and industrial education."
"An all-day thing is difficult for somebody that age," he said. "It's not for everyone. I just think there's a better expenditure of your money and you have to make tough decisions."
However, he said Lawrence probably wouldn't be able to afford to pay local teachers what is being offered in more wealthy neighboring school districts.
"It would be difficult to conceive of an arms race with Johnson County over teachers," he said. "I think the main thing Lawrence has is simply the community because they want to come here."
He said if a teacher's decision comes down to salary, Lawrence probably would be better off if those teachers chose Johnson County instead.
"You don't want them on your teaching staff moving up here because they've got different priorities than the people have in this community," he said.