School board forum leftovers
So, if I would have included everything in my article about the school board forum Monday night, it would have been unbearably long. Here’s a quick rundown of the questions asked and where each candidate stood on the issue. (I listed the candidates alphabetically to keep it fair.)The Candidiates:Mark Bradford: Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical chiefBob Byers: social worker and chair of the district’s Equity CouncilTom Hartley: pharmaceutical rep and former chair for the Douglas County DemocratsThom Hepford: accountantMichael Pomes: KDHE geologistMichael Riley: Salvation Army’s children’s ministry directorVanessa Sanburn: KU grad student in social workTopic: The BudgetBradford: He wants to use analysis and data to make sure budget reductions are reliable.Byers: Education is for kids and he’d rather focus on cutting things like infrastructure, buildings and staff to a degree.Hartley: He noted the first place to cut is the place where the district spends the most — people. He recommends not filling vacancies.Hepford: He had a list of three things to focus on for cuts — administration, capital expenditures and non-academic items. Pomes: He doesn’t want to take away from education or teachers.Riley: He says the cuts need to begin with administration. Sanburn: She’s hoping the federal stimulus package will help the burden.Topic: Mill levy — would you support raising it?Byers, Hartley, Hepford and Pomes all said no. Riley noted the district will have to decrease spending or increase income, but he’d rather take a pulse of the community to see how they’d feel about a raise in taxes for the mill levy.Sanburn said she’s hopeful there are other solutions, but an increase in the levy isn’t necessarily off the table.Bradford said he believes Lawrence would support a raise in the levy to keep the education programs as they are now.Topic: Charter schools — would you support one opening now in Lawrence?Bradford, Pomes, and Hepford say no, mostly because of budget constraints and diversion of resources.Hartley thinks they provide good education, but has questions about accountability, administration and funding.Sanburn said she’d be interesting in looking into it because it can provide different types of education.Byers said he didn’t know enough, but would want to take a step back a look to see if it would be possible.Topic: Teacher incentives, and basing them on student achievementAll candidates with the exception of Riley support rewarding teachers, but they did not want to base those rewards on student test performance.Riley said the rewards in teaching aren’t tangible.Topic: Sports funding — cut ’em or keep ’em?All candidates agree that sports are important in educating the whole child, but had different ideas on how to potentially save money during tight times.Pomes said that maybe raising student fees (and offering scholarships for those who couldn’t pay) is a way to do it.Riley and Byers want to make sure every student has the chance to participate.Hartley said maybe shortening the distance for away games could keep costs down.Topic: WRAP program — continue funding?Sanburn, Bradford, Byers and Pomes all support funding for the WRAP program.Byers also mentioned that he’d like to get other agencies involved in funding.Hartley said while it’s easy to say yes to a program like WRAP and in theory he wants to support it 100 percent, the smaller budget means some things are going to have to be cut. Hepford said WRAP would probably be on his list of things not to make it past budget cuts.Riley didn’t comment because he said he wasn’t familiar with it.Topic: Fine arts — if they were cut, what would you do to fill the void?All candidates find the arts to be a cornerstone in education.Bradford, Sanburn, Byers and Pomes all mentioned getting outside help from other agencies like KU, Haskell or the Lawrence Arts Center to potentially help students get their dose of arts. Riley noted if cuts have to be made, they need to be made equally between athletics, arts and education.Whew.They got through a lot of stuff in an hour! The next forum is March 18. The school board kicks off this one at 6:30 p.m.I’m currently working on profiling each of them for our Election Special that will run on 6News and in the LJWorld in March. Keep a look out!