District gears up for school board election
Last-minute filings ensured that Eudora voters will have decisions to make about who sits on the next Eudora USD Board of Education when they go to the polls April 5.
Current School Board members Brenda Clark and Bob Rice have each filed to run for another term. Carlie Abel, whose term expires this year, decided not to seek re-election to the Board.
Several newcomers have also added their names to the ballot. Brandon Boyd, Marion Johnson and Jim Martin have each filed for the three Board positions that will be contested this year. All seats on the Eudora Board are at-large, meaning voting is open to all registered voters in the district.
Clark has served on the School Board for eight years. She said she would like to continue her service with the school district to see some of the Board's long-range plans to fruition.
"There are just a lot of things that we have started as a board, long-term and long-range plans," she said. "I would just like to see that on down the road a little further and be a part of that, because I think that we're doing some really neat things."
Clark said the biggest issues facing the district this year were meeting the progress goals of the No Child Left Behind Act and annual state assessments.
"I think those are really consuming a lot of our staff and our teachers' time," she said. "And there is a big commitment within the district to see that our students do achieve in those areas."
Clark said the school district made a lot of progress in the last decade
"I just think our district has really come a long way over the last eight to 10 years with a lot of new programs," she said, citing the districts' reading program and vocational training.
"I think those are tremendous -- something that we've needed for a long time. And I've seen great strides in those.
"Those types of programs will continue to grow. They'll meet and surpass our expectations in most areas."
Abel is also proud of the accomplishments made by the School Board but said he will not seek another term.
"I've served long enough. Twelve years for me," he said. "I think I'm going to just ride off into the sunset."
Abel said his youngest child will finish high school next year, and that it was a good time to give up his spot.
"We've got a good thing going on down there with the School Board," he said. "But I think I've served my fair share."
Although he was on his way out, Abel still had some ideas for the School Board. He said that "learning to live with less" would have to be a priority.
"I don't think we're going to get more money out of Topeka," he said. "And I think we've taken enough away in taxes, expecting people at the local level to foot the bill. I think we're going to have to learn to live within the constraints of our budget."
Abel said one way for the School Board to stay within spending boundaries would be to look very carefully at technology packages before purchasing them, making sure they have been proven effective in the classroom.
"I know I'm probably stepping on some toes here, but I would like to see in the future that we watch what technology packages we buy," he said. "If there are no studies that show whether technology works in that classroom, we need to question the big purchases that we make. I don't have a problem with the technology we've bought in the past, but sometimes we've gotten into some pretty heavy leases. If it's warranted I don't have a problem with it."
Johnson said he would like to serve on the Board again after leaving it four years ago..
"It's a very good district and I would just like to participate in it," he said.
Johnson has lived in Eudora for 11 years and is employed by Douglas County as the county appraiser.
Martin has lived in Eudora for eight years. He is a detective for the Lawrence Police Department.
Because Martin has three children in Eudora schools and his wife works for the district, he said he wanted to be a part of the decisions made for schools.
"I just like to put my 2 cents in for the district," he said. "I do have a vested interest in the school district, so I want to make sure that whatever does happen, I don't just sit idly by."
He said one of the major issues he would like to address going into the election was a need for more school funding.
"Some things that concern me are the lack of state funding and programs that may need to be cut," Martin said. "That alone is something of great concern."
He said because of growth to the student population, the district might have to consider putting another bond to a vote, and he would like to be involved.
"With the direction that the school is going to have to take now, there may be a need to find another bond," Martin said. "We need to see what the possibilities are for that and if it's actually a necessity."
Boyd and Rice did not immediately return calls for comment. The News will continue to follow the election and report on the candidates leading up to the April 5 election.