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Archive for Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Egypt trip doesn’t affect candidate’s campaign focus

March 28, 2007

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Victor Sisk ran a long-distance campaign during the early part of March - he was on a vacation/educational trip to Egypt.

For that reason Sisk had sent longtime friend and fellow retired teacher Stan Roth to stand in for him during recent candidate forums.

But Sisk is back. And even though he isn't taking campaign contributions or putting up yard signs, he said he was serious about being one of the eight candidates running April 3 for four spots on Lawrence's school board.

Sisk, 63, who is now retired, was a music teacher and Lawrence High School band director from 1984 to 1988. He also was assistant executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, retiring in 2005.

He is now president-elect of the Douglas County Association of Retired School Personnel and serves as a volunteer at the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen, Lied Center and Topeka Performing Arts Center.

Sisk explained that he had set up his trip months ago, long before he decided to enter the race in early January.

Now, he is ready to talk issues: how to retain quality teachers and whether to implement all-day kindergarten.

Sisk said making teacher salaries competitive is a priority because other school districts have been luring away Lawrence teachers.

"When new high schools to the east of Lawrence were started, bonuses, as well as higher salaries, siphoned off our experienced teachers," he said. "In order to maintain the quality of our educational program, I think Lawrence needs to look at attracting experienced teachers and to pay experienced teachers for their years of service."

He said strides had been made in the last few years to increase teacher salaries, but improving benefit packages for longtime teachers would help keep them from being enticed elsewhere, he said.

Sisk also has been skeptical of the district providing the funding for all-day kindergarten.

"I'm not in favor of all-day kindergarten at the expense of our teachers' salaries and the cutting back of other established programs," Sisk said.

He said all-day kindergarten should be phased in only if the state provides the funding.

"All-day kindergarten depends upon adequate facilities, teachers and an approved curriculum that doesn't lead to a baby-sitting situation," he said. "I think that all-day kindergarten is very helpful for some families, and they've been identified through the Title I program. But it's not something I think we can go into with a price tag that causes problems for established programs."

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