Archive for Wednesday, January 1, 1992


January 1, 1992


Some long-term plans for expanding local school facilities and support for education from the Kansas Legislature are two things that Lawrence school board members have on their wish lists for 1992.

"I would like to see us develop a long-range plan for building space needs for students at all levels," board member Tom Murray said.

School Board President Mary Loveland agrees, saying, "I'm interested in seeing in '92 what the facilities recommendations are going to be from the two task forces."

Loveland was referring to the Commission on Mid-Level and High School Education and the Elementary School Facility Task Force.

The secondary school group, which began meeting shortly after the November 1990 defeat of a proposed bond issue for a second high school, may make a recommendation early in 1992.

The elementary school task force, which began meeting in October, probably will not make any long-term recommendations until later in the year.

IN A YEAR-END interview, board member Jerry Hannah went as far as saying that he would like to see a school bond issue on the ballot in November of '92. And board Vice President Barbara Ballard said a lot of communication with district patrons will be needed before anything is taken to a vote.

"I'm hoping there is some way that we can make our community more aware of just how crowded our facilities are and that we really do have valid needs. It's something I'm going to work extremely hard on," Ballard said. "There are so many patrons who don't have children in our school system any longer, who do not have any personal contact with our schools."

Board members John Tacha and Alice Fowler said they hope to hear not only from facilities committees but from many other groups that have been meeting during the past year.

They said one especially important group is the Exit Outcome Task Force, which will recommend some skills and personal qualities that students should possess when they graduate. Meanwhile, another group has been meeting to develop some goals in the area of technology education.

"A lot of people have put in a lot of hours," Tacha said of the various committees. "I'm hoping the board will be able to pull a lot of things together and set some long-range goals."

FOWLER SAID she would like to see the board "pull together all the things we're looking at and have a plan of action."

"When the reports come in, then the job of tying everything together will not be difficult," she said. "It would be nice to see something take hold before the year is out."

Also on the minds of board members is the coming legislative session. The Lawrence school district lost $2.6 million in state aid for the 1991-92 school year, and board members don't know just what to expect this year.

However, they do expect some kind of significant reform in the state's funding of education: Shawnee County District Judge Terry Bullock, after examining lawsuits filed by several school districts against the state, has implied that the present funding system violates the Kansas Constitution because it does not provide each child with equal access to good education.

Board member Harriet Shaffer said that regardless of what funding formula is settled upon, "My wish is that everyone involved in school finance the legislature, the governor and the local school boards could view what we do about school finance as an investment for the future and act accordingly."

Hannah said his "No. 1 wish is that we would really be able to develop a statewide tax base that would reduce our property taxes."

"I know that every homeowner and business person really feels that burden," he said.

LOVELAND AND Fowler also said they would like to see property tax relief. Tacha said he hopes the legislature will address school finance early in the session so the school district won't be left in limbo for several months about its state funding.

Fowler added that the board should continue its efforts to trim the district's budget.

"We said last year that we would be looking at everything we could on a continuing basis to cut costs and to use money effectively," Fowler said. "We should continue to look for adjustments that we can make so we can be more efficient with the dollars spent."

Murray said he hopes that "if the school district spends money, the money is spent in a way that will directly benefit students."

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