Lawrence must compete for teachers with neighboring school districts, including those in Johnson County. What do you think the district should do to retain its good teachers and compete for the best teachers?
The first thing Lawrence must do to compete for teachers with neighboring school districts is to increase pay and make the salaries of Lawrence Schools comparable with the higher paying districts. Lawrence must ensure that the best possible teachers educate our students. The salary grid that brings pushes younger teachers up the pay scale faster and better compensates veteran teachers is a step in the right direction. I also agree with Michael Machell that the District should conduct exit interviews of teachers leaving the district and analyze why offers are rejected. This information could be used to evaluate other working conditions faced by teachers that are not related to compensation. One of my concerns about teachers is how much they have to pay out of pocket for supplies for their class rooms. Besides advocating for increased teacher salaries, I want to find ways to provide supplies for teachers so they don't have to spend so much of their own money without being compensated for their expenses. Broken Arrow PTA does reimburse teachers for some of these expenses, but more must be done for teachers on the lower end of the pay scale.
Clearly salary is a big part of any effort to retain our experienced teachers. However, the local board is somewhat limited in what it can do with salaries in that most of our revenue is determined by the state. We also need to remember that our competition is not just other districts but other careers as well.
Beyond working to ensure that our teacher salaries are competitive, we need to remember the importance of factors beyond pay. Benefits, class size, planning time, facilities, support and even simple respect are all part of what makes a teacher stay or move on.
There is nothing more basic or important to education than placing the best possible teachers in front of smallest number of students and giving them the resources they need. This must remain a high priority.
Competitive salaries are a priority. Lawrence has had a "teacher drain" due to a lack of continued salary increases for our experienced teachers. There is a need to increase teacher longevity with competitive salaries and a continued, but improved retirement benefit package. Negotiation committees for 2007-08 school year have already been established to continue the process from last year.
The need to maintain competitive salaries is a critical one. There is a cost to the district of losing qualified educators who are familiar with our district and its students. However, we also have to consider the cost of student programs and the needs of the taxpayer.
We need to continue to collect data and study the trends. This includes benchmarking base salaries and benefits against the surrounding districts, conducting exit interviews with teachers who leave, and following up on rejected job offers. This has the added benefit of providing a fact-based justification for proposed salary increases.
The district also should consider the total offer not merely salary in addressing this issue. Competitive salaries are certainly important to teachers. We must also emphasize other benefits to teaching in Lawrence. For example, we offer very attractive retirement benefits. The district has made student-teacher ratios a priority and provided time during the week to plan lessons. We offer a teaching environment that is responsive to teachers' needs and concerns. In many of our schools, parents are active and engaged participants. We will need to consider how we can best offer our teachers opportunities for career growth, either in terms of skill enhancement or preparation for positions in administration. Investing in long-term career growth has the added attraction of ultimately providing benefits to both teachers and students. Lawrence itself is a culturally rich and diverse community that has a lot to offer. I believe that we need to consider how to balance these considerations with salary to provide an attractive value proposition that will attract and retain good teachers.
The easy answer is to find more money in the budget for teacher salaries. However, to actually do that is a difficult challenge and given much attention by the district and school board. It also is important to be competitive in the benefit package offered, another budgetary challenge because of the rising cost for providing health insurance and funding the retirement plan.
We also should pay careful attention to other issues that make the district an attractive place to teach: adequate planning time, a strong mentoring program for teachers new to the profession or the district, encouragement to participate in professional development and opportunities for team building.
The district also appreciates and benefits when community entities offer awards programs that honor teachers and classified staff for their dedication to the education of our children.
Lawrence must compete for teachers with neighboring school districts, including those in Johnson County. What do you think the district should do to retain its good teachers and compete for the best teachers?
If JoCo Districts keep burning books and the teachers attached, we don't have to worry about the financial incentives. Their going there deserves the sort of person who'd respond to that. We don't.
Lawrence would probably loose an "arm's race" financially to the east. Bigger to some extent will always squash smaller. So the wage scale has to be kept close, but exactly the same?? Maybe targeted better.
It also should be weighted toward experience as this IS education you know, and that should, by definition count for something.
The fact Lawrence with surrounding colleges has a young milieu helps keep the youngest attached. A closer relationship with KU, Haskell, Baker, and Ottawa should also be an incentive for someone who wants to be in front of a classroom. I'd think such a masochist, on most days, is not there for the money, but for the quality of life.
Again if a young person thinks they're finding the right "path" in JoCo. Let 'em go.
Let the community sell itself. Those people don't come back here to see Lew Perkin's mug.
Middle-load the salary scale.
And I'm still inquiring with teachers I know on what they think is equitable.
Exact numbers haven't been crunched.
I sure as heck wouldn't add responsibilities and bureaucracy like all day kindergarten.
We should increase salaries as state funding allows. We should keep in mind that the best teachers understand that there is more to life than money. Benefits such at health insurance, an economically sustainable retirement package are also important. A quality work environment also attracts and retains the best teachers. Our district offers collaboration time, sensitivity to equity among faculty, and effective leadership at the building and district levels. We can always improve in all these areas. With respect to salaries we have new salary schedule this year. With respect to benefits we are going out to bid this year in search of improved health insurance. With respect to early retirement we are working collaboratively with the Lawrence Education Association to craft a plan to transform this into a sustainable retirement plan that will benefit new recruits and reward loyalty to our district. The Board of Education has steadfastly supported collaboration time and encouraged faculty leadership in creating professional learning communities. We need to continue these efforts and resist efforts to undermine our faculty.
What do you think Lawrence's school board should do about kindergarten? The school district now offers half-day kindergarten. Should the school district offer all-day kindergarten? If so, how should it be funded?
I am encouraged by Governor Sebelius's call for gradually increasing state investments both in full day kindergarten and in pre-k programs. At this juncture state funding that specifically targets "at risk" students are a promising source of revenue with which Lawrence Public School may have the opportunity to implement full day kindergarten in Title I schools (schools with at least 35% of students with family incomes at levels that make them eligible to receive free or reduced school lunches). Over the long run a state-wide economic development plan for early childhood development from birth to five must be designed and implemented. Such an early childhood economic development plan needs to dissolve what is currently a jolting transition from pre-k to kindergarten for working families.
Wouldn't entitle this misnomer on "day care" unless the money was in the pocket. I'd also see if it were a competitive issue vis-Ã -vis other competing districts in some fashion. And in attracting business. But that is an issue outside the scope of public schooling:i.e. the business/city government.
Also, I'd think this city could have private enterprise do this if it thought it really kept Johnny from his Rhodes Scholarship in 15 years.
I favor all-day kindergarten as an option for parents. However, the difficulty lies in finding the funds. The state does not pay for all-day kindergarten. Any funding for it must come from our district's operational funds which means it would be in competition with salaries, class size and all the many other programming efforts the district does to meet the needs of our 10,000 students. We also have the issue of insufficient class room space at some of our elementary schools.
I know all-day kindergarten is popular with a number of parents and is very important for a number of children who currently start school behind their peers. It would be easy to just say I support it and leave it at that. However, until the state is willing to fund it, I would need to weigh its implementation against the district's other equally as important needs.
Personally, I would like to see all-day kindergarten available at all our schools. Kindergarten curriculum is broad and complex and represents critical skill mastery that is built on in subsequent grades. Our teachers do the best job they can, but could do a better job with more time. The governor would like to see the state fund all-day kindergarten. If the funding is phased in over several-year period I would state by implementing it in the Title schools as soon as possible. We could study the costs and determine a fee for a family to pay for an all-day program if they choose to. And I would continue to advocate for funds for full-day kindergarten with our legislators.
Yes, all-day kindergarten should be offered, but to what extent and how it should be funded are issues that need research and input from the community, teachers, and administrators. This issue has funding questions that need to be first addressed by our state legislature. Lawrence had several all-day programs a few years ago and has options for implementation. Unless mandated by the state legislature, I would have a hard time supporting a new curriculum over teacher salaries.
Given Governor Sebelius' decision to use a "phased-in" approach over five years, the district would have to stretch its resources in order to allow all schools to offer All Day Kindergarten. The cost to the district to offer All Day Kindergarten at all schools is approximately $1 million. If we must select which schools receive All Day Kindergarten, I support an emphasis on schools supporting large Title I populations where there is evidence that children will most benefit from the additional learning time. Otherwise we will have to make some difficult choices about which programs not to fund in favor of All Day Kindergarten for all schools.
I think the Lawrence School Board should offer all-day kindergarten. All-day kindergarten will give students a better start in school. More is expected of first and second graders today than was expected of us when we were in first and second grade. It's a matter of time before all-day kindergarten will be available statewide. Governor Kathleen Sebelius has included funding for all-day kindergarten in her State Fiscal Year 2008 Budget. District personnel have estimated that implementing all-day kindergarten at 15 elementary schools could cost up to $1 million. State funding would alleviate some or all of that of that expense. However, should the state funding be delayed, the District should phase all-day kindergarten in at those schools where the students need to most help with making standards on assessment tests. The District may be able to off-set some of the expenses of phasing in all-day kindergarten by obtaining grants to deliver educational resources these students.
The Lawrence Virtual School is expected to be the largest school in the district in three years at its current growth rate. What do you think the growth of such online educational programs will mean to traditional education in five years?
I would first note that the virtual school is really more of program than a school. However, one of many things I learned in my four years on the school board is that what constitutes "traditional education" is an ever-changing concept. The point of our schools is to educate our children and prepare them for a changing world. The point is not to keep doing it the same way just because we have always done it a particular way. If the world we are preparing them for is changing, it makes sense that the way we prepare children changes as well.
The schools of today, real or virtual, are not the schools I attended nor will they still be the same thirty years down the road. I appreciate the sense of community that comes with our physical schools. They bring an important element of kids learning to work with others and respecting those with differences. However, the virtual school reaches out to a number of children for whom a traditional school is not currently an appropriate option.
I do not see online educational programs greatly affecting traditional education in five years. I see it as a program that reaches kids who might otherwise have fallen through the cracks or for kids whose parents have already decided to educate them at home throughout the state.
What is very real about the virtual school is the funding it brings to our district. This cannot be overlooked.
My first hope for online educational programs is that they make it possible for students to pursue curricular interests that are not available either at their school or not available to an individual student because of schedule conflicts. We had a daughter who could not take an advanced math class because the time it was offered conflicted with the choral music class. We had another daughter who took Spanish at KU because of conflicts when creating her LHS schedule. Some classes are more amenable to online instruction, but it still creates an option that did not exist when my children were in high school.
Online instruction also offers an opportunity for students to retake required classes that they did not pass the first time so that they can stay on track for a timely graduation.
Some families choose to educate their children at home. The Lawrence Virtual School offers a rigorous curriculum and other resources that make that choice a more sound option for families. It is used by some families because they may be away from Lawrence for a semester or some other circumstance where the Lawrence Virtual School makes available resources, a structured curriculum and educators that can be consulted by phone for those situations.
I do not believe that online education will replace traditional education. Traditional education provides our young people with a wide array of instruction thanks to the talented educators employed in the field. I could take credit for our son's interest in history, but he's an architect with an English major and a pediatrician as parents. So it was wonderful that Lawrence Public Schools offered great art teachers and technical teachers. One daughter majored in vocal performance and is a professional singer now, but I can assure you that you do not want to hear me sing. she thrived in our excellent choral music classes. Our children learned from both amazing educators and from the experiences of sharing the road to knowledge with classmates. I don't think that that can be replaced by a computer/online experience.
I don't view the Virtual School as a replacement for the traditional classroom, but a supplement to it. Students will still benefit from live social interaction and learning to work collaboratively with others. However, the Virtual School will continue to benefit the home school community and provide flexible credit recovery options to students who have failed classes.
We should continue to explore alternatives that will allow students to take college-level courses for credit and get a head start on earning a degree. We can also use the Virtual School to enable students to keep up with their studies if they need to travel or are recuperating from illness. The Virtual School can be a vehicle for engaging with students in other countries, further expanding opportunities for inter-cultural education.
As the "virtual classroom" is incorporated into the traditional education, we need to be aware that accessibility to the internet may become an issue for less-fortunate students. The growth of online educational programs shouldn't create unfair advantages for students with greater financial resources. Again, these needs must be balanced within the overall district budget.
I see the Lawrence Virtual School, as it currently operates, functioning to catalyze change throughout Lawrence Public Schools as well as an innovative model for delivery of educational services. This does not mean that the Virtual School, as a school, will continue in the future to have the same impact as it has in recent years. Our community also invests in faculty who are trained in the use of technology in assessment, curriculum and instruction. In the future our classrooms will look less and less like places left over from the industrial or in some instances pre-industrial economies and begin to look more and more like the work places of the 21st century global information based economies. Indeed, it is as likely that these transformations of our overall classroom environments will mean as much for the virtual school as the virtual school will mean for traditional education.
Currently, traditional brick and mortar schools are doing a better job in attaining state standards than the Lawrence Virtual School. Page 9 of the January 2007 Lawrence Public Schools Newsletter showed that Lawrence Virtual School met the Kansas Standard of Excellence for reading in grades 6 and 7, but did not attain the same standard in any grade level for math. Enrollment in the Lawrence Virtual School will certainly increase in the next five years, however, Kansas Standards of Excellence have to be attained at more grade levels. The Lawrence Virtual School should meet the same standards as traditional schools. I don't think that the Virtual School poses any threat go traditional schools, unless resources are diverted from the traditional schools to the Virtual School.
Today (Sunday) had a story of how Wikpedia is thought to be a valid reference source. It has no editing or real life supervision. Thus, while "on-line" schools SOUND sexy, they still need a live adult for accountability, if not certification.
So many skills are pre-keyboard, and depend on live prompts and answers.
In language instruction, the students NEED a certain live feed back to have a confident grounding before they can fill in the breaks from strictly reading and responding to the written word. It isn't all the Doctor of Google-ology unfortunately. The younger the student, or more language impoverished, the more this "on-line method WILL NOT WORK.
Does it replace books at some level?? Of course. Will it teach a student critical appraisal of information, and how to formulate a question? UH-UH..
Now there IS a new/old technology called "the party line". Congressman Moran and his office have been favorably impressed with its ability to connect far flung constituents in Western Kansas. Again, that can be a supplement.
Truth be told, the gifted students, at some level, do not need high school as they can read and have the curiosity and the research skills. I don't think they can learn sports on line.
Some revamping of time might be occasioned by Internet supplement, so we might turn some out of hours or days in the classroom.
But then someone will need day care for the teenagers loitering in the mall with nothing to do!
As all students learn differently, the Lawrence Virtual School offers a choice for parents and students. Lawrence is an early participant in this new program and it is making a difference as it is keeping some students in school and providing enrichment classes for others. Technology continues to develop by leaps and bounds. Traditional education and online education will both benefit from technology that is constantly changing and improving. An additional benefit for USD497 is the $4316 state aid received for each full-time virtual school student.
In the 2007-08 school year, food and beverages brought into schools must comply with the school board's new wellness policy. That means no more sugary snacks and soda pop. What do you think about the policy and how it is being implemented?
I agree with the implementation of the School Board's new wellness policy except when it requires healthy foods for school parties and birthday treats. The Policy reaches too far if teachers have to become "Food Police." There are only three class parties a year, and birthdays are not an everyday event. The policy should target things that have a greater impact on the wellness of students. More opportunities should be found to increase exercise at school. Having daily gym classes would be one way to increase the level of exercise at school for students. Ensuring school lunches are balanced will have a greater impact on students than limiting what students can bring for parties and birthday treats. Implementation of the Wellness Policy also should encourage the involvement of parents because parents have the greatest impact on the wellness of their children. Having parents buy in to the Wellness Policy will ensure their families experience the benefits of increased exercise and healthier eating choices.
So the teachers are the new food police. And they are fighting lax home compliance? And you're wondering why someone would go to Johnson County as opposed to Lawrence?????
This is RIDICULOUS:with a capital "R".
I agree with the policy, but I believe that this is also a "learn as we go" proposition. The district has said that it does not want to become the "food police", nor should it be.
As an employee of a health care company, and a Human Resource professional, I am very aware of the increased costs illnesses related to childhood obesity is adding to an already overburdened health care system. Rapidly increasing healthcare costs are making it increasingly difficult for both large and small employers to compete. Many employers will be forced to reduce benefits to their employees, requiring taxpayers to cover the gap. As a parent, I am concerned for what this will mean for my child's future.
The obesity epidemic in the United States is significant even before including our children in the discussion. Early onset diabetes brought on by poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyles is currently at epidemic proportions among young people. The real tragedy is that the current generation may actually be the first to see a decline in longevity. Eliminating sugary snacks and soft drinks is a great start, but we can do more.
Because of the magnitude of the problem, I want to ensure that we continue to supplement this policy with education in dietary habits as well as a rigorous physical education program. We must also seek ways to inform and educate parents, since eating habits are learned at home. Ultimately, however, this is an issue of personal responsibility.
The policy was created in response to scheduled implementation of food-related requirements by federal agencies that fund a significant portion of our food services budget. Lawrence Public Schools had to comply. The agencies are motivated by anxiety over the growing obesity rate in your people, a problem that has received a lot of coverage in the press. The more we can make patrons aware that the new policy is a response to these regulations, there might be a greater appreciation of its necessity. One of my concerns is that with "open lunch" at our high schools, more students might leave campus in order to purchase soft drinks. We need to be alert to any trends in that area.
My answer for this question follows my basic philosophy of all things in moderation. I whole-heartedly support cleaning up what the district itself sells through its lunch rooms. It really never made a lot of sense to offer some of the items we offered for sale.
I also know that the impetus for the changes come from federal regulations requiring adoption of certain policies to continue receiving federal aid. That being said, there seems to be a different approach being taken by different districts even within Kansas. I think the district runs the real chance of looking silly if it heads off on a crusade to save our kids from cookies at class parties.
What we want are our kids to know the importance of healthy eating and exercise. We also want them to learn to make good choices. Part of that educational process is giving them some choices. When my daughter in grade school asks if "they" will take away the cookies she brings in her lunch from home, I think the district may have things a little out of balance. We are not looking for impossible perfection. We are looking for healthy improvement.
I completely agree with the school board's new wellness policy. Healthy food choices are challenges in today's society. The board's policy is asking parents to think differently for classroom rewards and parties. The school district's transition year allows Parent-Teacher Organizations, school site councils, and parents time to understand how to successfully implement the policy for the 2007-08 school year.
First let me own up to my elementary school experiences which shape my general attitude. We never brought any food into the classroom. We were taught that food belongs in the lunch room not in the classroom. I have participated in the deliberations of the Coordinated School Health Council during the time that it designed the current policy. This Council consists of a broad spectrum of district and community participants from faculty, administration, public health officials, county extension service, business, private health care, university, etc. We have tried to take a holistic approach to wellness that includes health education, physical education, health services, nutrition services, counseling and psychological services, a healthy school environment, and health promotion for staff. The mandate from the Federal and State governments has tended to focus our attention in the short run on nutrition and physical activity. Eventually, policy, program and practice will need to address these other areas in order to truly lead our community to better health and wellness. Within the constraints of the mandate and within the constraints we face with funding and a culture that promotes many unhealthy habits and generally discourages delayed gratification, we have crafted a policy and resulting implementation plan that makes a pretty good college try at providing the leadership our community needs and expects. In the end I am guided by three principals. First promotion of healthy habits always. Second, prevention of unhealthy habits when possible. Third, intervention to cure poor health when necessary.
As more Spanish-speakers move into the area, Lawrence's English as a Second Language program continues to grow. It has already expanded from Hillcrest Elementary School to Cordley Elementary School. How do you think the program should be handled in futur
I think our current approach, which grows largely out of the experience at Hillcrest, which was informed by solid research strives to provide both equal opportunity and efficient, effective delivery of ESL services in our schools by concentrating high quality staff in one place. This approach also recognizes the importance of a balanced student population between English language learners and learners for whom English is the first language or primary language spoken at home. In future years we should handle the expansion of ESL services using this same approach.
A committee has been working to make recommendations to the school board regarding overcrowding conditions, staffing, facilities, and most importantly the best way to educate the students. Lawrence has had an influx of international students and students from Spanish-speaking countries creating an opportunity to mix cultures and languages. USD497's mission is to serve and educate all students. Our school board is trying to determine the best solutions with current financial limitations.
Lawrence Public Schools should meet the increased demand for English as a Second Language classes and expand the program to more schools where there's a need for these classes. Legislation to make English the official language of Kansas has passed the State House and is currently pending in the Senate. Should English become the official language of Kansas, English as a Second Language Classes statewide will see increased demand and growth.
Our district, like many across the country, faces an influx of foreign, non-English speakers as the demographics of the country continue to change. There are approximately 560 elementary school students currently enrolled in ESL programs with an expected growth to between 1000 and 1200 by 2011-12. The ESL requirements for students at higher-grade levels, currently numbering about 100, are similarly increasing. It may not be possible for the Lawrence School District to continue to consolidate resources into a limited number of schools. I view this as an opportunity to broaden inter-cultural education across the district. Given the requirements of the "global economy" for a workforce that understands and embraces cultural diversity, we can provide all of our students with a unique and beneficial educational experience that will prepare them for this new reality.
Here is where some dedication is worth it. A recordable, testable facility with two languages requires dedicated one K through 6 programs.
Time with a second language doesn't detract from English skills. In fact, over the long run:it IMPROVES the primary language and meta-linguistic skills (I think I have used that jargon correctly.
Does it detract from some knowledge in other skills. Probably as you take some time-on-task from stuff which s not related to language skills. Higher math skills, for instance.
But getting that second language in earlier than later is unquestionably the ticket.
You are a better skier or b-ball player if you start younger. Language skills deteriorate with age.
Certainly motivation can make up for a lot of that, but the passive skills which are present in youth, simply do not improve with age.
I guess I don't see any downside and lots of upside when most of the New World speaks Spanish.
Also longer school days are being found to have an impact. This might serve to fit the category where this time might be spent.
I speak four languages and use them on vacation. I'm not paranoid of someone else's tongue.
There is a school district committee that will present recommendations about our ESL program. The policy committee on which I serve reviewed their policy recommendation. It is clear that we need to initiate the staff development required to prepare school staff so that additional sites for ESL can be implemented. It is both a staff and a facility issue and requires careful planning. The presence of English Language Learners in a school population enriches the cultural experience of all students by broadening the horizons of everyone. Only a minority of our students enjoy the opportunity to travel to other countries during their school years and so the presence of peers who are natives of a different country than the U.S.A. is a chance to learn about the cultures of other places.
I would first say that I don't think it is appropriate to look at our district's ESL program as just "Spanish-speakers." Part of the complexity of that program is the remarkable number of languages that are spoken by many of our students in their homes. My own kids have benefited from the great diversity at Southwest because of the junior high level ESL program at that school.
With regard to the program itself, I think it should be handled the same way all of our programs should be handled. Once a need is identified, programming is designed to meet that need. Part of the design of a program should be establishing its goals and how the program will be evaluated on an ongoing basis to see if those goals are being reached.
As the need for ESL expands, the program must be reviewed and adapted to ensure that both the needs of the students in the program as well as all other students continue to be met.