A 1988 Lawrence High School parking lot expansion didn't do much for the aesthetic quality of the school's surroundings, so it seemed only appropriate to use student parking fees for beautifying the school campus, says a Lawrence school board member.
"If you take away from the environment, you give back to the environment. That was our philosophy," said Mary Lou Wright, who along with LHS Division Principal Max Rife administers an LHS landscaping program financed by student parking fees.
Students can purchase a yearlong parking permit for $5.
"They'll buy clear up to the last week of school because some students will get new cars," said Judy Sieg, who works in the LHS financial office. "And some students have two or three cars in the family that they want to be able to drive to school if they have to."
Last year, $4,320 were raised, and about $1,877 worth of landscaping was done along the walkway to the school's northeast entrance.
This year, $3,605 have been raised, and the latest additions to the school campus were made in early March.
NOW LINING 19th Street north of the school parking lot are nine red cedar juniper trees, accompanied by more than 50 Korean lilac plants. Two Scotch pines also were planted just outside the bandroom on the northwest corner of the school.
"Some people have already noticed, and that's kind of neat," Ms. Wright said. She and Rife have hired George Osborne, the city's superintendent of parks and forestry, to create a general landscaping plan for additions to the campus.
"Max and I decided we had to hire someone to do the designing, and nobody knows as much as George Osborne does about trying to keep trees alive in extremely high traffic areas," Ms. Wright said.
Osborne said that because LHS has a limited budget for grounds upkeep, he has tried to select trees and plants that require very little maintenance.
He said the red cedar juniper is "an extremely hardy tree. It's the toughest evergreen in the world, and probably one of the toughest plants anywhere."
PROVIDING additional support for the program are this year's LHS seniors, who have decided to donate $1,000 for landscaping through money they raised in candy sales. Also, members of a Student Council environmental committee will be placing mulch around some of the trees on campus in conjunction with Earth Day, which was Monday.
Earlier this year, Ms. Wright applied through Kansas State University's forestry department for a $5,000 federal grant to help with long-range LHS landscaping plans. However, she said, the LHS project was turned down because it involved planting shrubs and other plants in addition to trees.
"I think the state forester's been out in the woods too long," Osborne said.
Osborne said it made sense to plant shrubs and other plants along with trees because "plants kind of tend to each other a little bit."
He said it also makes sense to group trees and shrubs and cover the the whole surrounding area with mulch. That way, lawn mowers aren't constantly butting up against the trees and plants. Also, mowing takes less time because the campus' grassy area is reduced and there isn't the hassle of mowing around individual trees.
OSBORNE said the wood-chip mulch used on the campus has other advantages. The wood chips act as a natural fertilizer as they decompose, seal in moisture and provide the trees with a more constant soil temperature.