Opinion

Opinion

District direction

Budget cuts will pose many important challenges for newly elected members of the Lawrence school board.

April 3, 2011

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Many important decisions will be made by current Lawrence school board members before they leave office at the end of June, but continuing state funding cuts ensure that many important and difficult decisions also will await new board members who take office on July 1.

Although three incumbent board members chose not to seek re-election this year, Lawrence is fortunate to have a strong field of nine candidates, including one incumbent, seeking to fill four board positions on this year’s ballot. Most of the candidates are seeking elective office for the first time, but they offer a variety of personal and professional experience and expertise, along with a desire to serve. It’s important that voters get to know these candidates through forums, interviews and news stories available on LJWorld.com so they can make educated choices at the polls on Tuesday.

The current board has voted to close one elementary school next fall, but it likely will fall to the new board to decide how or whether to implement the elementary school task force’s recommendations to further reduce the number of elementary schools in the district. Reduced state funding also will force the board to make difficult choices about the district’s priorities. For instance, athletics and other extracurricular activities are important, but, if push comes to shove, are they more important than full-day kindergarten, smaller classes, vocational training, retaining high-quality teachers or other factors that influence student achievement?

It’s important for voters to look not only at what candidates think about these issues now, but how they will work with the public to set priorities for the district in the future. Board members need to share as much information as they can and listen carefully to the community they serve.

With any luck, emotionally charged issues such as possible school closings may increase interest in the school board election and boost voter turnout for both the school board and City Commission elections on Tuesday. Regardless of the cause, higher voter concern and turnout is a positive development in local elections.

Following one public forum, one candidate complimented his fellow candidates by saying that it would be hard for voters to go wrong this year and choosing from among the school board candidates would be primarily a matter of “personal preference.”

That may be true, but there are differences among the candidates, and voters still face an important choice. The right to express a “personal preference” about the people who will set the future direction for Lawrence schools is something district voters shouldn’t take lightly.

Comments

grimpeur 4 years, 1 month ago

I'll vote for (almost) any candidate with the brass to call out the stadium debacle for what it is: a short-sighted monument-to-me by a tunnel-visioned board and a waste of money that should have been used for other facililties. Who would vote yes on a capital bond issue at this point, after the poorly-planned, unnecessary, bait-and-switch mess of a project at LHS?

David Klamet 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm glad this editorial emphasizes that tough decisions need to be made and priorities should be set based upon the values of the public.

The sentiments that oppose closing Wakarusa Elemenatry, reflected in comments and LTEs, may not reflect overall public opinion. However it is inline with all of the people that I've spoken to.

kjh 4 years, 1 month ago

One of the main issues is this - whether you have a vested interested in keeping Wakarusa Valley open or not, I would hope it would be difficult to "sell" the voters on the idea that it makes sense to close a perfectly good building (again...) and then turn around and ask us to fund the construction of multiple new schools. I will be very surprised if a bond issue doesn't appear for two new schools within the next 3-5 years. In these economic times how does it make sense to close good buildings and then ask us to pay to build more? IT DOESN'T.

Salvia 4 years, 1 month ago

I will not be voting for any candidate who is part of the Lawrence School Board or a branch of it, i.e,. task force and endorsements by former administrators. Neither will I vote for a city commission candidate who was part of the planning process and has developer endorsements. Please! Is there someone who can think, question and communicate? This kind of planning (or lack of) by district administrators , not just the superintendent, needs to be addressed. Heads need to roll! On second thought- is there really a plan, just not communicated.

begin60 4 years, 1 month ago

If you equate justice with revenge vote for Ola Faucher. If you support conflict-of- interest mismanagement and a local political culture of unbelievable corruption and incompetence vote for Ola Faucher. It's a matter of personal preference.

kjh 4 years, 1 month ago

A full on attack like that needs to back it up with facts. Please explain.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 1 month ago

"It’s important that voters get to know these candidates through forums, interviews and news stories available on LJWorld.com so they can make educated choices at the polls on Tuesday."

It is important to know about the candidates, so why isn't there a summary of the candidates in the newspaper? Not everyone has access to ljworld.com

And, if everyone did have access to ljworld.com, there would be no reason to buy a newspaper.

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