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Archive for Friday, December 1, 2000

School group to examine budget, programs

December 1, 2000

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The Lawrence school district's budget development and program evaluation team Thursday identified seven new areas to be scrutinized.

The 15-member group agreed to form subcommittees to analyze the alternative high school, all reading initiatives, central administration staffing, utility costs, maintenance, computer technology and the School to Careers program.

Supt. Randy Weseman said during the meeting at Free State High School that subcommittees would be asked to help determine whether district money was invested wisely in these areas. Subcommittee research will lead to recommendations on each topic to the school board.

"We're going to have to have a little courage," he said.

Evaluating reading strategies deployed by teachers in Lawrence schools will be complicated, said Janice Nicklaus, the district's executive director of instruction and a member of the group.

"To me, that's the most exciting of all," said Austin Turney, school board president. He said the district needed to unify its approach to teaching children to read.

The district's purchase of hundreds of computers the past two years will be studied, Weseman said. By mid-December, all teachers are to have a networked computer on their desks. Does the district have the right mix of training, computers and software?

"It's a basic question: How are we going to make a difference in the classroom?" Weseman said.

In terms of the district's alternative high school, the program has a waiting list and may not be reaching all needy students.

Utility costs, especially for natural gas, will be reviewed because bills are expected to increase dramatically this winter.

Vocational programs warrant assessment because they may not be producing desired benefits for students.

Central administrative staffing would be surveyed to make certain all obligations were being met.

Weseman said he plans to ask the school board to endorse a project that would give veteran teachers administrative experiences that prepare them for promotions.

The district's building and grounds maintenance expenses will be looked over because the board ended its relationship this year with a private contractor, ServiceMaster.

Assessment of full-day kindergarten, authorized by the team two weeks ago, is under way. Only five of the district's 19 schools have all-day programs.

"There are some hard questions that need to be asked about that program," Weseman said.

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