Chat with Lawrence school board member Craig Grant
Lawrence school board member Craig Grant takes readers’ questions.
You touched briefly on the legislative races from Tuesday’s primary election in your opening question — what are your thoughts on what happened last night at the state school board level.
With the recent talk of raising our property taxes, my main question is….when is enough, enough? It just seems like education keeps needing more money all the time. Here are some more questions:
Are enrollment numbers dropping or increasing?
How many children are there per household as it stands today, and what are the projected number of children per household for the years to come?
How do smaller communities pay for their education needs when their property values are far less than Lawrence’s?
What has the school administration done to cut costs on their end?
Given the challenges of retaining teachers in Lawrence, why did LHS hire a non-teacher for the varsity tennis position when 3 teachers interviewed for the job? Wouldn’t hiring teachers for coaching positions be a way to improve teacher retention?
If you were truly interested in making the correct educational decisions for our childeren, you wouldn’t stifle what such arguements. What are some of the reasons why you would support an agenda that dissolves intelligent debate about this or any subjective topic?
Hi. We’re about to begin our chat with Lawrence School Board Member Craig Grant.
Good to be here today.
Mr. Grant, with the elections results of yesterday’s primary, are you convinced that the Legislature will finally wake up & start funding education properly? Thank you.
I wish I could say yes. However, there were moderates defeated and some moderates were elected. Until the general election results are in, we won’t know what the Legislative’ philosophy will be.
Craig,I am very distraught over the proposal to add 1.728 mills to the district’s property tax levy. If this should pass, it is possible that my house payment could increase $150 per month. Over the last 3 years my house payment has increased 2 times and I have to tell you I’m not thrilled about the possibility of it increasing again. How much does the School Board think Lawrence resident’s can afford to pay for? If everything continues to increase, I guess my family will have to consider moving out of Lawrence. Any thoughts or other options on school financing you can recommend instead of a property tax levy?
The Legislature gave our local school district only one option- the local mill levy — to fund our school district programs for next year. No one is thrilled about raising taxes — expecially elected officials; however, we must pay our employees a competitive wage and fund other important programs of our district. I am sure the district board will keep mill levy increases to as low as possible and at the same time give the district adequate money to run programs for children.
Good afternoon and thanks for taking my question. Is information available to the public on exactly where and how money is spent or distributed, by the school board? how much money actually goes to the class room and how much for office furniture at the administration building? For example when a tax increase is passed, it there an itemized list of how that money is used?
The district publishes a budget and there is a budget hearing before we pass the budget. It indicates the general areas of expenditure for the district and certainly is available to the public. I can say that over 80% of our budget is tied up in salary items, certified, administrative and classified staff, all who give services to the students.
I know that the traffic pattern dificulties have caused hard feelings among the different groups near Lawrence High School. Anytime that there is the appearance of not being treated well by anyone, I think the best way to solve the situation is to continue communications. I believe that any of our board members would be happy to come visit with neighborhood groups to try to understand where they are coming from. Certainly coming to the board with concerns is another option. I certainly would be glad to come to a meeting to discuss problems.
The district has called a special meeting tonight to discuss the budget for the upcoming school year. Please explain what’s expected tonight, and now that the local leaders have a clear funding picture from the state, how close is the board to finalizing a spending plan?
tonight the board will have a study session on the budget from 4:30 until about 7. At 7, the board will go into session to decide whether or not the board will use the new “cost of living” portion of the school finance law. The resolution will just indicate that we are desiring to use some or all of the provision. It will not say an exact amount. On August 14, we will pass a budget resolution for publications which will give the exact amount that the district is proposing for 2006-07 school year. There will be a hearing on September 11 for public input and the board will pass a final budget that evening.
The technology bond issue was passed a year ago. The school district still charges a technology fee. Is the fee going to go away or is it just a revenue enhancer for the district?
The technology bond was for hardware and wiring costs for the district. The technology fee is for software costs that need to be updated each and every year. I can’t say how long the fee will continue; however, many on the board would like for all fees to eventually be reduced.
You chatted briefly about legislative races from Tuesday’s primary elections in your opening response — what are your thoughts on how the State Board of Education primary shook out?
I am extremely pleased about the results of yesterday’s election. Taking back a moderate majority on the State Board was a goal for the group I have been working with since last January. I believe the children of the state will be much better off with a moderate majority. Our work isn’t done yet; we must work in the general election to widen the majority on the state board.
1. If you raise the mill levy what good will it do to give the teachers a raise if the majority of it goes to pay the mill levy increase? Since the city is also exploring the same idea what appears to be a good idea in reality
probably will not put much money if any into the teachers pockets. If there is anything left an increase in health benefits will offset any significant gain. 2. Is the board really interested in improving teachers salaries or just playing politics?
I believe that the board really does want ot improve teacher salaries. Our teachers work very hard and deserve better pay. We are not competitive with the district we compete with for quality teachers. If we can afford to give a teacher a $1000 raise and increase his/her property taxes $17 a year on his/her house, I think that will be a real raise. We have already agreed to cover the increased cost of a single membership in the health insurance. We are trying to do something significant for our teachers.
We have time for one more question this afternoon.
Will the school board increase the district’s local option budget to 30%? If so, in what ways will the additional funds be used?
If I were to guess, I think we will increase the local option budget to 30%. That is essentially the only tool we have been given to increase our budget to meet ongoing costs like increased salaries.
Thanks for chatting with us today, Craig.