The seven candidates vying for one of three spots on the Lawrence school board had their final say at their last public forum sponsored by the Voter Education Coalition on Wednesday night.
Candidates talked about a wide variety of topics, including social services, economic development and what exactly a school board’s purpose is.
“The primary goal of the school board is to create programs and policy that ensures that all students are able to academically achieve to their potential,” said Vanessa Sanburn, a Kansas University graduate student in social work.
Michael Riley, the children’s ministry director for the Salvation Army in Lawrence, agreed with the current board’s position on bringing a charter school to town.
“I think charter schools tend to focus our children’s interest too early,” he said.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment geologist Michael Pomes thinks the city, county and school district must work together to bring better paying jobs to Lawrence.
“I think education is one of the drivers of economic development,” he said.
Thom Hepford, a local accountant, finds the district’s primary goal is to provide students a wide range of knowledge.
“That purpose is to help our students or our children to become productive members of society,” he said.
Former Douglas County Democratic Party Chairman Tom Hartley is focused on elementary school facilities, getting and keeping the best teachers and having the best curriculum.
“I think if we can get that done, that’s what I’d like to be remembered for,” Hartley said.
Bob Byers, an administrator for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, sees his role on the school board as one of representing parents and the community.
“We’re there to set the tone to move the district forward, to help the district continuously improve,” he said.
Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical chief Mark Bradford wants to give back to the community by keeping education standards high.
“We spend a lot of money to educate locally. We want to keep them, just like a business, locally. It’s an investment back into our community.”
The election is April 7.