Archive for Thursday, March 29, 2007

School board forum issues ‘peaceful’

March 29, 2007


Four years ago, the city's school board election was marked by a divisive battle involving a bond issue and the spectre of closing neighborhood schools.

This year, the talk is about issues such as all-day kindergarten, junk food and expansion of English as a second language programs.

"We're kind of in the peaceful waters of education, instead of this intracommunity bloodbath of closing schools," candidate Scott Morgan said Wednesday night after the last of a series of voter forums sponsored by the Voter Education Coalition.

The forum, at Lawrence High School, 1901 La., attracted about 50 audience members to listen to views of the eight candidates who are competing for four open seats in Tuesday's election.

Morgan said he thinks it's candidates' backgrounds, more than their stances on issues, that will help members of the public differentiate among them.

Some candidates at Wednesday's forum were critical of the board's handling of a plan recently approved to designate Sunflower and Schwegler schools as neighborhood English as a second language schools. Sunflower teachers have voiced concerns that obtaining the certification required will be a hardship, especially for those in their final years of teaching.

Candidate Michael Pomes said, "I don't agree with the current board's work to make certification a requirement for every teacher."

"The trouble has been ... the lack of involvement of staff and teachers," Morgan said.

Candidate Mary Loveland said that there were still lots of details to work out and that it might not make sense to require teachers who are nearing retirement to obtain certification.

Incumbent Rich Minder, who voted for the plan, said he's struck by not only how well the schools have embraced the children coming to their schools but also by how differently the two schools have reacted to the plan.

Candidate Michael Machell said he supported the idea of ESL schools in neighborhoods where students live, and that he'd like to see a five- to seven-year plan for expanding ESL school-by-school in the district.

Candidate Marlene Merrill said, "I support the decision that the board has made. ... I think some elements of the plan need some fine-tuning."

Candidate Robert Rauktis said he thought people were afraid they were getting dumped with "someone else's problem kids." Candidate Victor Sisk said of ESL, "It needs to be carefully expanded within the funding limits we have."


bearded_gnome 11 years ago

right article, right headline now. however, Mr. Morgan, the shadow of the school closings still looms for many of us. so, you can't wish that away.

very well run forum and all the candidates did a good job. Minder got in touch with his feelings in response to a "how do you feel" question. Pomes spoke directly about the ESL cert requirement that it was wrong. Machell spoke well on noncollege prep for students to give them skills and perhaps a trade. Merrill spoke well on consideration of different students as well as the big group in the middle. support these three.

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