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Archive for Tuesday, February 12, 2002

District raises summer school fees

February 12, 2002

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The Lawrence school board approved summer school fee increases ranging from 15 percent to 40 percent.

Board members backed higher fees Monday to reduce the district's operating losses for summer courses that serve about 1,000 students annually.

"It's never been self-supporting," said Sandee Crowther, the district's executive director of planning and program improvement. "It will still not allow us to break even."

The district might lose about $10,000 this summer, assuming enrollments similar to 2001 and factoring in $13,000 generated from fee hikes.

Here are new basic fees:

 Secondary classes, $75, up 15 percent.

 Elementary classes, $70, up 40 percent.

 Music classes, $50, up 25 percent increase.

Meanwhile, the board also adopted an unprecedented $20 surcharge for each class taken by students from other districts. Thirty-one secondary school students from other districts attended summer school in Lawrence last year.

"It seems absurd that we're losing money on students who come from out of the district," said Scott Morgan, the board's vice president.

The vote on the fee package was 5-0, with members Sue Morgan and Jack Davidson absent.

The district spent $110,000 on the 2001 summer program, but it collected only $88,000 in fees.

Board member Leni Salkind said the district might not be able to sustain large operating deficits in the summer program in the future.

"It does concern me in terms of cost," Salkind said.

The district's budget committee is contemplating $5 million in possible budget cuts.

Mary Loveland, a school board member, said elimination of summer school would be a mistake. Some students need summer school to keep up with peers, she said.

"It's a significant graduation intervention program," Loveland said.

In other business, the board:

 Voted 4-1, with Austin Turney dissenting, to approve a five-year lease with Sprint PCS for construction of a mobile telephone tower near Free State High School's athletic fields. If also approved by the city, Sprint would pay the district $17,700 annually. Sprint can renew the contract four times in five-year increments. The district gets an automatic 3 percent annual increase in the lease fee.

 Voted 5-0 to approve the purchase of a $45,000 double-wide classroom trailer for Hillcrest School. It will replace a trailer that burned in December and another that's been in use for more than 25 years. About $20,000 for the purchase will come from insurance on the burned unit, which was used by students in the district's English as a Second Language program.

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