Forced to join other Kansas school districts in stretching their education dollars, the Lawrence school board on Monday could not bring itself to help finance the new $2.8 million headquarters of the Kansas Association of School Boards.
The board tabled voting to renew its membership with the KASB, which is increasing membership dues statewide to help pay for a building it began using in December. The building is at 1420 Arrowhead in Topeka.
The board's 1993-94 KASB dues would be $13,145, an 82 percent increase over the $7,228 in 1992-93 dues. The higher dues would continue for the next three years, the period in which KASB would like to pay off the mortgage on the building.
Board member Harriet Shaffer moved to approve the 1993-94 dues, saying KASB informed members in November that dues would increase because of the building. She said the information was provided in a timely manner and that KASB provides "innumerable services to board members."
Board member Tom Murray said it didn't matter that members had received timely notice.
"The building is way out of line for any kind of a body like this," Murray said. He said he learned from the Kansas Film Commission that when Brooke Shields was in Topeka to shoot a movie in December, the KASB building was used to duplicate "a high-level executive office in Silicon Valley."
Murray said he was concerned about "the signal this sends . . . particularly at a time when people are being told we don't have enough money to educate our kids. . . . I do not want the taxpayers to have to pay for their building."
BOARD president Barbara Ballard said she was ambivalent about renewing KASB membership.
"It's a very nice building. I'm not sure it's ultra-plush," Ballard said. "I don't like the fact that it's such a large amount, but I do think their services are valuable."
Board Vice President John Tacha, who like Ballard has visited the building, said, "I think they were justified in doing what they did." Meanwhile, board member Mary Loveland has said she would like to visit the building before voting on the matter.
Murray said he hasn't been inside the building but has been told by various people in Topeka, including Kansas Speaker of the House Bob Miller, that they feel the purchase was unjustified.
The board also tabled voting to pay $500 to continue membership in the KASB Legal Assistance Fund. That vote pends on the decision to renew KASB membership.
Also Monday, the board voted 5-0 to approve a land swap with local developers, a move that will put an elementary school planned for southeast Lawrence closer to Lawrence Prairie Park. Murray did not vote because of a business-related conflict of interest.
The school now will be built on 17.5 acres owned by Cimarron Partners, and Cimarron Partners will develop on the 25 acres that had been slated as the school site. Cimarron Partners also will pay the district $4,000 an acre for the approximately 7.5 additional acres it is receiving.
The school, which will replace India School, will be built south of 27th Street and on the east side of Lawrence Prairie Park.
IN OTHER business Monday, the board:
Received an update regarding proposed changes to the junior high school cheerleading program. Parents and junior high school principals reached a tentative agreement on changes during a meeting last week.
Lawrence School Supt. Al Azinger said the agreement will be presented as a formal proposal for the board to consider at its April 26 meeting.
Approved on first reading a change to the board's policy on employee health examinations to bring the policy into compliance with state law.
Received a report on Chapter 1 Schoolwide Projects planned for New York and East Heights schools.
Heard a report on the district's junior high curriculum review.
Received an update on the district's work with Kansas University to create a Professional Development School. New York School will be the site of the Professional Development School, which will search for new ways to improve student learning and provide a school setting for university research.
Recognized Mary Gordon, the district's teacher of the visually impaired, who was named a 1993 Kansas Master Teacher by Emporia State University.
Discussed briefly the 1993-94 district budget.
Held an executive session on land purchase, personnel and negotiations.