The school board candidate forum for USD 253 met to discuss the $78 million bond on Oct. 17. The candidates: Jeremy Dorsey, Art Gutierrez, Mallory Koci, Jeff Lules, Grant Riles and Leslie Seely were hosted by the League of Women Voters at Flint Hills Technical College. All six candidates supported the bond.
Riles was the first to give his position on the school bond.
“I definitely support it, I think the time is right,” Riles said. “$78 million is a lot of money, but the last series of renovations was in 2000. If you have a house or vehicle, over time it requires maintenance, it requires adaptation.”
Koci answered next.
“Personally, I am in favor of it as well because I am not just a board member, but I am a community member,” said Koci. “When my kid was in kindergarten, he had to do speech therapy. They put up cute little posters and had fun little games, but my kid was receiving speech therapy in a closet.”
Seely has had several children attend Walnut Elementary School as well.
“It’s not very different from when I went to Walnut,” said Seely. “The same carpet is on the walls. It’s gross.”
Dorsey, a current lawyer for Kansas Legal Services, agreed with the bond, but was concerned about Emporia becoming a training ground for teachers to move elsewhere.
“When Mallory talks about teacher retention, I don’t want USD 253 to become training ground for Johnson County,” said Dorsey.
Lules was more concerned with the security of the buildings than the look of them.
“I think safety and security is the biggest piece of this,” Lules said. “We have schools that don’t have storm shelters.”
Each member was given two minutes to answer questions.
“I thought they were good questions,” said Garrison Smith, junior political science and economics major. “I’m in favor of the bond.”
Three of the candidates are incumbents while Seely, Lules and Dorsey are new.
“I do a lot of cases with children and state custody and children who are in foster care,” Dorsey said. “We have a lot of issues with drugs…with poverty. The majority of Lyon County is actually low income.”
The school board election will be held on Nov. 5 with early voting at the Lyon County Courthouse beginning Oct. 21. An audio recording of the meeting will be available on KVOEs website.