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Archive for Wednesday, November 3, 1999

UNITED EFFORT

November 3, 1999

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Gifts to United Way of Douglas County fill a multitude of needs for thousands of county residents.

United Way of Douglas County is scheduled to end its annual fund-raising campaign on Friday and organizers say they need more help to meet their ambitious $1.34 million goal.

Many county residents already have contributed to this worthwhile effort, but anyone who has lost the United Way materials, delayed a decision on whether to make a donation or simply not been contacted still can make a contribution through the United Way office at 2518 Ridge Ct.

If you want to benefit the broadest spectrum of county residents and help fill their most important needs, there's no better route than supporting United Way. A volunteer board exhaustively reviews agency funding requests and the work those agencies are doing. There's never enough money to go around, so the United Way budget is a "no frills" proposition.

The 29 agencies scheduled to receive United Way funding in the coming year provide child care, homeless shelters, health care services and crisis counseling. The programs benefit county residents of all ages and focus their services on county residents who need them the most.

The need for the services these agencies provide increases every year and so does the demand for charitable dollars. Don't assume that United Way of Douglas County will be able to continue its important work without your help.

4-year high schools?

Moving ninth-graders to the high schools has been discussed before, but perhaps it should be discussed again.

Should ninth-graders be moved to the high schools to alleviate crowding at junior highs?

This question, raised at a school district forum Monday night deserves some thoughtful consideration by district officials.

This is not the first time this issue has been raised. The impetus now, as it has been before, is crowded conditions in the city's junior high schools, but there also are important academic issues to consider.

Ninth-graders are high school freshmen beginning a four-year high school curriculum. Yet they are being taught in schools with seventh- and eighth-graders rather than their high school peers. It can be argued that ninth-graders are far less mature than high school seniors, but are they developmentally any further removed from high school seniors than they are from seventh-graders?

Space, of course, is a key component. Moving ninth-graders to the high schools would ease the junior high crunch, but could Lawrence's two high schools handle that many more students without expansion? Hopefully neither high school is too close to capacity so soon after the opening of Free State High two years ago.

These issues have been discussed before, but it won't hurt to look at them again. Four-year high schools once were the norm in Kansas and across the country. Ninth-graders are expected to pursue a high school curriculum; maybe that would be easier if they also shared buildings with sophomores, juniors and seniors.

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