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Archive for Thursday, November 8, 1990

SCHOOLS CONTINUING AS USUAL, DESPITE DEFEAT OF BOND ISSUE

November 8, 1990

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Just as Lawrence school officials had predicted, teachers were still teaching and students were still learning Wednesday, despite the defeat of the proposed school bond issue in Tuesday's election.

Even if district patrons had approved the $31 million bond issue, the second high school the bonds would have financed wouldn't have been in use for another three years.

However, said Central Junior High School Principal Dan Jaimes, "Now we don't have a solution for overcrowding to look forward to."

"I'm disappointed," said South Junior High School Principal Randy Weseman. "I feel we lost an opportunity to create opportunities for kids, but we'll just hang in there and continue doing the best job we can."

THE PROPOSED second high school would have eased crowding in the district's three junior high schools by transfering ninth-graders into four-year high schools. In fact, school officials say, space needs now are greater at the junior high schools than at Lawrence High School, and the junior high schools will be the first to be hit by the current record elementary enrollment.

Despite the disappointment of some over Tuesday's bond issue defeat, LHS English teacher Janet Mody said the vote didn't necessarily lower teachers' morale.

"I don't think the community was saying anything against education, and I don't think the teachers feel that way at all," Mody said. "I think people are seeing this as an expression that the community didn't want this plan implemented now, and they're pretty hopeful that a new plan will be developed."

MICK LOWE, principal at West Junior High School, agreed that teacher morale wasn't low right now but said it could change as added space problems "kind of creep up on us in the next few years."

Already, Lowe said, classes are being conducted in the school's cafeteria throughout the school day, and two classes are actually forced to share a room during one period.

Weseman said South also holds classes in the cafeteria. And Jaimes said that as the growing enrollment numbers create a bigger demand for classroom space, "more teachers will be expected to give up their rooms during their planning periods."

Max Rife, assistant principal at LHS, said the school already has five "traveling teachers," who must cart their teaching materials from room to room. He said the number of such teachers will increase.

"Any time you travel a teacher, that doesn't help morale," Rife said.

LOWE SAID that in light of the bond issue defeat, the district might have to propose a solution to overcrowding that is "politically expedient, even if in the long run it is not in the best interest of the kids."

Local attorney Tom Murray, who campaigned actively against the bond issue and has announced his intentions to run for the school board in the spring, said he sees two alternatives that might be more acceptable to district patrons.

He said one possibility is to build a fourth junior high school and expand LHS.

Another possibility, Murray said, would be to house grades 9-10 at the present high school and construct another building for grades 11-12 on the same site.

THAT PLAN would follow the recommendation of a district committee studying middle level education to move ninth-graders to the high school level. It also would follow a secondary schools task force proposal for a mid high-senior high system.

Edwyna Gilbert, who chaired the secondary schools task force, said she still believes a mid high-senior high is a better solution to overcrowding than building two high schools.

"People don't want to split the community," she said.

Gilbert also took exception to school board member Mary Lou Wright's recent statement that the mid high-senior high was "never proposed as anything other than a step toward having two high schools."

Gilbert said the committee gave eight reasons for its recommendation, one of them saying only that "if the community continues to grow and two four-year high schools are desired in the future, most of the facilities and the locations would be in place."

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