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Archive for Tuesday, October 26, 2004

School board hears from parents on bond issue

October 26, 2004

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Deb Passig's son eats a rushed lunch at Southwest Junior High School.

"As soon as they're done eating, they have to get up and go into a commons area," the stay-at-home mom, 46, said of her seventh-grader and his fellow students. "They have to open up a table spot for someone else. You've got a child who's in school for seven hours, and he can't even sit down for 25 minutes to have lunch."

Passig was one of about 10 people who spoke in favor of more than $62.4 million of school needs, which could become part of a bond issue, during Monday night's Lawrence school board meeting. About 45 people attended the meeting at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. No one spoke in opposition of the bond proposal.

The board has discussed a bond issue but has not yet approved its specifics. The bond issue likely will include replacing South Junior High School and providing for expansion or renovations at the district's three other junior highs, Broken Arrow School and Lawrence High and Free State High schools. It also will provide for technology updates throughout the district.

District voters rejected a $59 million bond issue in April 2003 that would have made improvements at 15 schools.

Broken Arrow's art teacher, Linda Kelly, said she supported a bond issue because she currently teaches in a small portable building.

"You get a bunch of sixth-graders in there -- it's very crowded," she said.

She said her sink was not hooked up to the sewer system, so a custodian had to bring in clean water and take out dirty water. She has to carry her students' clay creations through the school because the kiln is on the other side of the building.

And Broken Arrow's approximately 265 students sometimes have to walk outside in stormy weather, because there is not a covered walkway between the portable and the building, she said.

Kathy Rathbun, a Langston Hughes School first-grade teacher, read a letter on behalf of her husband, who is a site council member at South Junior High School.

The junior high's band room is too small to hold the entire band, so the band can only rehearse together on the day of a concert, Larry Rathbun wrote in his letter. The band members rehearse in the gym on the day of a concert, which means physical education students must have their classes in the hallways if it's raining or snowing.

About five teachers roam from classroom to classroom each day because they do not have their own classrooms, there is asbestos in the school ceiling and the auditorium stage is too small, he wrote.

The ninth-grade English and drama teacher "gets the kids to perform all kinds of plays" in the auditorium, he wrote.

"In this setting, a Greek tragedy would probably be more appropriate," Kathy Rathbun read to snickers from the crowd. "But that doesn't dampen her or the kids' enthusiasm for all types of drama."

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