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Archive for Thursday, August 3, 2006

School board intends to raise property taxes

Money sought for equipment, maintenance

August 3, 2006

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Lawrence school officials formally announced their intent Wednesday to raise property taxes.

The announcement followed a two-and-a-half-hour study session, during which board members reviewed a long list of equipment purchases, program needs and maintenance projects.

Plans call for increasing the district's 6-mill capital outlay fund to 7 or 8 mills and pushing its local option budget from 27 percent of the general fund to 30 percent.

Taking the local option budget to 30 percent would raise an additional $1.7 million. Adding 2 mills to capital outlay would raise almost $2 million.

"We have a lot of deferred maintenance - the list is pages long," said board member Craig Grant. "The longer we wait, the more it's going to end up costing."

The capital outlay fund can be spent only on equipment, maintenance and building repairs. The local option budget is folded into the general and can be spent on anything. Teacher salaries, for example, are part of the general fund.

Neither increase is subject to a protest petition. Both will take effect in December.

The district's overall budget - $74 million - will be discussed during the board's Aug. 14 meeting, after which a legal notice will be published in the Journal-World. The board's decisions will be final after its Sept. 11 meeting. Both meetings will have time set aside for public comment.

Also, board members voted Wednesday to take advantage of a new cost-of-living provision that lets the district raise its general fund by as much as 4.37 percent.

Several board members have said they're likely to seek an additional 1 or 2 percent - not the full 4.37 percent. The exact amount will be decided at the Sept. 11 meeting.

A 1 percent increase would raise an additional $664,000; 2 percent would raise $1.3 million.

The cost-of-living provision is subject to protest. If 5 percent or more of the district's registered voters sign a petition opposing the increase, it would have to be put to a vote.

The board would have to either hold - and pay for - a special election or drop its pursuit of the increase.

The provision is limited to school districts where the average home valuation exceeds the state average by more than 25 percent.

Eighteen districts meet the criterion: Lawrence, De Soto, Tonganoxie, Lansing, Piper, Bonner Springs, Blue Valley, Spring Hill, Gardner, Olathe, Maize, Paola, Manhattan, Andover, Louisburg, Auburn-Washburn, Basehor-Linwood and Shawnee Mission.

In Lawrence, the average house is appraised at $216,338. Statewide, the average is $118,581.

The provision is designed to help the so-called "Sweet 18" districts increase teacher salaries to offset their above-average housing costs.

To be eligible for the provision, a district first must maximize its local option budget.

A quirk in the state's new school finance formula pushes the local option budget maximum to 31 percent next year - and subjects the increase to protest.

If voters were to overturn the increase next year, the district would likely be forced to cut several hundred thousand dollars from its general fund.

Grant predicted lawmakers will be asked to protect the new provision.

Supt. Randy Weseman warned board members that he has already heard from taxpayers questioning the district's need for additional revenue so soon after last year's $62 million bond issue.

"The reality is this is a big district with a lot of buildings that aren't getting any younger. If we don't keep them up, it's only going to cost us more later on," Weseman said. "That's the message that needs to get out, 'Nobody's trying to take you're money, we're trying to save you money.'"

Also, Weseman said he'd been assured that "the three districts to the east of us" intend to both maximize their local option budgets and pursue the cost-of-living increase.

That's not good news, said board president Sue Morgan.

"Our salaries are behind virtually every surrounding district - not just to the east but Topeka as well," she said.

"And with over 40 percent of our staff being age 50 years or older, we are looking at significant retirement and attrition in the next five years or so," Morgan said. "We need to be able to replace these people and unless we have competitive salaries, we won't be able to replace them with the quality that we demand, our community expects and our kids need."

Grant said the district doesn't have much choice.

"The amounts provided by the Legislature - even with the increase in LOB - don't cover the costs associated with teacher salaries and quality programs," he said. "And this is the tool - the only tool - they've given use to deal with it. It's up to us to use it."

Comments

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 4 months ago

redneckbuddha stated "I am against getting taxed on something that does not concern me." Help me understand how education does not concern you?

Kelly Powell 8 years, 4 months ago

This is getting farcical.....I want the teachers to get their raises, but they need to quit jacking with the property tax as a solution to everything....If they do this they need to lower the property tax for some older program.....I hate to crap on teachers but I will sign that petition.

Sigmund 8 years, 4 months ago

The Federal Gov't funding of schools has never been higher. $65,000,000? We could have had a new library for that kind of money!

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

Godot-- Your facts are for a renewal substitute...not a highly qualified teacher.

ilovelucy 8 years, 4 months ago

Teachers in this City don't get paid crap. The money will once again go to the FAT at the top of the heap so they can live their cushy lives. If they're lucky, the teachers will get a 5% increase. I know someone who has taught for 28 years. Her salary? $39,000.00. She started at $27,000.00 28 years ago. Do the math.

MWIV 8 years, 4 months ago

The problem is that public schools are run by people who have education degrees. People with education degrees should be in the classroom. They should also be paid better. The front line folks. Like it or not, education is a business. The programs should be run by people with business degrees.

conservative 8 years, 4 months ago

The school district needs to start consolidating smaller schools into larger ones. Too much overhead repairing tiny neighborhood schools. And way too much overhead providing principals and support staff to all of them. Show me you can make smart money choices and then I'll be willing to pony up more money for the district.

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't think that other public service positions have mandates, with penalities, that even compare to public/private schools.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires school districts to employ teachers deemed "highly qualified" in the subject matter(s) in which they teach. I actually do not have a problem with this at all.

NCLB also requires all schools to make annual yearly progress (AYP), proving that students are making ongoing progress each year. No excuses either--students with special needs, English language-learners, the kid on the fringe who just doesn't understand why he/she can't learn as well as he/she would like, or the kid that can give a rat's behind. It all affects a school and its districts' AYP figures, which is then tied into State and Federal sanctions, and federal funding.

I do not know the public service sector for firemen, police, nurses...

...but I do know that despite their 100% NEED to succeed at every moment, they do fail on occasion. But their failures are usually explained, and sometimes, excepted. "We did all we could...we just couldn't save him. I'm sorry."

If they need more equipment...thank goodness for the Department of Homeland Security, who can bring towns like Olathe a full Haz-Mat unit, used maybe 2 times in one year.

And while they undergo training for such programs, it's on the job. It's built into their contract and they receive trainings on government time.

For a Kansas teacher to demonstrate advancement...we must attend college courses and degree programs which cost anywhere from $5,000-$9,000...so we can move up a lousy $500 on the pay scale.

And if we can't demonstrate "success" or "progress," we have lay individuals all over our rears saying, "just what the heck are these schools doing over there? Where's all that money going? They want a salary increase? I haven't had a salary increase or a day off in 3 years. Over my dead body!" Meanwhile, the State or federal government is classifying a school as being "on improvement" or "not meeting their AYP."

One last thing...be prepared folks. Of instructional fund allocations, the overwhelming majority are directed straight to special education departments.

The State of Kansas has now demonstrated over the last five years, a decline in "regular education students" and a HUGE increase in students now identified as "having a special need."

Laws like IDEA and NCLB back and support that student with a special need and their special education departments. This is going to only have a major impact on school districts everywhere...and is never going to go away. It will only get worse. Be prepared for insurmountable tax increases in the coming years. Special education law requires these services, or gives families just cause to sue the heck out of a school district...which they cannot afford.

American public school education needs a systemic overhaul!

Now.

neopolss 8 years, 4 months ago

MWIV, it should be run with people who have common sense and are honest hard-wroking individuals. Part of our problems are our focus on hiring based on degree and credential. Personality needs to become an important factor too. We can't have geniuses that can't tie their shoes running these things.

blessed3x 8 years, 4 months ago

All I know is that if I had the $7,000-$8,000 the state spends on my son, I could send him to one heck of a private school and still have money left over!

ECM 8 years, 4 months ago

Exactly blessed3x!

Where do I sign the petition!

pz5g1 8 years, 4 months ago

I also think IL teachers do not collect social security so I guess that would be considered in looking at their state pensions.

monkeyhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Sigmund, I'm sure they are trying to build that tower in front on LHS on a shoestring...

BrianR 8 years, 4 months ago

"The programs should be run by people with business degrees."

One look at the 'mental health' system in Kansas should erase any thought of the value of business degrees running anything public.

conservative 8 years, 4 months ago

Blue, 29K for only 9 months is getting paid almost 40k if they worked year round. I believe that is what the poster was getting at. If the average salary in Lawrence is 38K, then that equates to a 50K salary if they worked year round.

Sigmund 8 years, 4 months ago

When was the last time the Lawrence Public Schools finances were audited? Has their finances ever been audited? When was the last time you ever heard of the public schools actually finding ways of saving money (I mean REALLY saving money, not the "were saving money by taking more of yours" nonsense). Average salaries of $50,000 per three-quarters of year plus medical and retirement benefits that most in the private sector would envy is really quite alot.

staff04 8 years, 4 months ago

Public school drive property values up. Enjoy the equity, and use a fraction of it to pay this small increase...

aeroscout17 8 years, 4 months ago

OK, let me get this straight; they can raise property taxes because housing is so expensive here? Isn't this what is called a vicious circle?

Kelly Powell 8 years, 4 months ago

What? That I am against getting taxed on something that does not concern me, or that they are trying ti increase property tax?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

When these sensitive matters surface it would behoove the school board and the LJW to provide an itemized list of projected expenditures and keep it available for some time.

When the taxpayer is uninformed negative reactions are to be expected and rightfully so.

costello 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't understand, Kelly. Are you saying public education doesn't concern you?

cowboy 8 years, 4 months ago

The school district should be required to pay " living wage " rates " like the local biz has to to feed from the tax trough. Pay the para's and others a decent wage !

conservative 8 years, 4 months ago

Jayhawks, actually I was referring to the ones that regularly hit Henry T's on Wednesday afternoons. Again I'm not saying all teachers, but many aren't as dedicated as many on this board want to make them out to be.

Moderateguy 8 years, 4 months ago

Meanwhile, Washington can claim how wonderful our lives are since those magical "tax cuts." I feel like I'm being trickled on. The middle class is rapidly disappearing. Even with raises etc, I'm much worse off than I was 6 years ago.

Just let me get my checkbook. How much was it again?

Maybe Chevron / Texaco is hiring.

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

blessed3x & ECM--

The petition is in Bob Corkins' pocket.

Better hurry though, I hear he just revised his resume for distribution to a few other job postings.

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

justmehere--

I will admit, classified/non-certified staff is probably a key forgotten piece.

Everybody knows darn well, non-certified staff probably work the hardest and keep the darn districts operating properly.

Wish I can give you an increase in salary...but a thank you will have to do for now!

justmehere 8 years, 4 months ago

Jayhawk-- Somehow I think "thank yous" are all I should expect at my position. LOL...but thanks for your appreciation. Even that seems rare at times. Too bad thank yous dont pay the bills. : )

weeslicket 8 years, 4 months ago

seems i posted out of time. read post 2, then post 1, then post 3. sorry. must be bedtime.

Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

How many hours are required, per year, to maintain certification? Or is it per two years, or four years, or what?

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

I will admit...it is significantly easier to bribe a judge in IL.

I couldn't even get out of a speeding in MO this past week.

Now, are you done with the insults?

bmwjhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Sensitive.

The Sweet 18 is a little odd. Just because a teacher works in a particular district doesn't necessarily mean that he or she lives in a home in that district.

I feel sorry for people who work in the not-quite-as-sweet 19th and 20th school districts.

Anyhow, increasing local funding options is the legislature's way of avoiding making difficult choices that will benefit all Kansas schools. They put the "burden" on those wealthy districts that demand more than their share. Generally, patrons in those "three districts east of here" are happy to pay more. They contribute the lion's share of funding for the entire state and feel like their kids deserve a larger share.

"Cost of living?" That's a farce. It's an attempt to make everyone happy. It's just not a system that insures fair-funding for everyone.

monkeyhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Weseman said. "That's the message that needs to get out, 'Nobody's trying to take you're money, we're trying to save you money.'"

The old thief/politician theory comes to mind again with this perfect example. Makes me feels good, how about you?

Can the LJW please tell us again what the teachers' average salary is? Don't they make around $50k for an abbreviated year?

Teachers should be paid only in accordance to the quality of education they produce. Get rid of the union that enables teachers to feel protected and entitled. There is a direct correlation between the need for "living wage", unions and poor educators.

prioress 8 years, 4 months ago

MWIV: "The programs should be run by people with business degrees." Some of them are, but top leadership should be an educator. Schools have an interesting dilemma when compared to business. The missions are different, and "quality control" is another issue. For example, schools must serve all, no matter how damaged, with a system which assumes all kids arrive loved, clothed, fed and not twisted by parents or other caregivers. A business, on the other hand, controls its "raw" materials so they can control the system. If schools could do this (and private schools do this to some extent) they could operate in a more business-like manner.

weeslicket 8 years, 4 months ago

Sigmund: "Average salaries of $50,000 per three-quarters of year plus medical and retirement benefits that most in the private sector would envy is really quite alot."

a 50K salary is not the average teacher salary, it is at the high end of the salary scale.* fringe benefits, including medical, are not free (for teachers; fringe benefits are free for administrators). the only retirement benefits i am aware of are KPERS, but teachers pay into that account monthly (not free, just like other retirement accounts). so, think of your monthly take home pay. the average lawrence teacher takes home less than $2000 a month. for beginning teachers it's closer to $1200-1500. if you teach for 20 years or longer, and have a master's degree plus additional graduate coursework hours, you can actually get over the $2000/mo pay threshold.
still envious?

mom_of_three 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't mind the teachers getting a raise. I don't think they get paid enough for what they do. One year, the teachers only received pennies for a raise.
BUT I don't understand why taxes have to be raised, since the school district has been receiving more money from the state, and the increased fees the parents have paid the past 3 or 4 years have not been decreased.
3 or 4 years ago, when the money from the state was decreased, the school district TRIPLED the fees for each student.
Let the teachers have their raises, but find some way to reduce the fees for the parents.
By the way, our school district has one of the highest school fees in the state.

born_n_raised_n_kansas 8 years, 4 months ago

Most teachers work year round, having to take classes for re-certification, and new circulums during the summer. Not to mention that teachers have to pay for those class out of their own pocket.

Most teachers have their paychecks stretched out to include the summer months so they can recieve some sort of income. So that 29k is for the whole year and then they have to pay to take classes so that your children will be getting a better quality of education.

Why not spend funding on classes that teachers need to take.

Being a good teacher (one who is dedicated to their profession and students) is a long and tiring job. Their jobs never get left at work.

Jamesaust 8 years, 4 months ago

I would like to thank the poster of the "certified master salary index." It exemplifies exactly what causes consternation when the subject of teachers' salaries comes up.

Some teachers deserve to be paid in the six figures! The "certified master salary index" precludes that. Some teachers deserve to start at $29.55k and never get a raise! The "certified master salary index" precludes that.

And yet, you can't seem to ever convince the six-figures teachers to cut loose the no-raise teachers.

(Btw - there are no "free" retirement accounts. I can only assume the impression of "free" refers to traditional pension schemes, which - besides not being free - are very rare these days: I suspect that the telephone company probably still has some legacy pension program.)

Leaving aside those who work by their wits (the more pure entrepreneurial types), the average worker out there knows that their (mildly) superior wages come with their own drawbacks - accountability, managers with unfair whims, company cutbacks and bankruptcy, and just your general "you're fired" moments. They must demonstrate results to skeptics who have every reason to remain skeptical, they're free to be dismissed for any (or no) reason except a narrow few, there is no salary matrix they're guaranteed moving up in, getting a master's degree doesn't guarantee anything, and they can't just find an identical job anywhere in the state if their spouse relocates. Those are not something the typical teacher worries over daily. What price do workers put on those additional concerns when demanding compensation?

Of course, teachers could reform their industry and model their profession closer to other professions. The payoff would be, in general, (much) higher incomes. But so far, no one anywhere seems to have persuaded the group to pursue such a (more difficult) path.

prioress 8 years, 4 months ago

Sigmund: "When was the last time the Lawrence Public Schools finances were audited? Has their finances ever been audited?" Just FYI, all accounts are audited annually according to law. The documents are public; go ask for a copy. 75-1122 Chapter 75.--STATE DEPARTMENTS; PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES Article 11.--MUNICIPAL ACCOUNTING BOARD 75-1122. Annual audits of school districts and certain municipalities; township exemption; assistance from division of accounts and reports For full text: http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatuteInfo.do +++++++++ P.S. Just for the record, the more acceptable phraseology is" HAVE their finances ever been audited?"

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

Sorry to pipe in on this topic, which I frequently do...but I always feel as though I have to jump in.

Everybody who has ever attended a public/private school somehow has become an authority on the job responsibilities of an educator...as well as how much salary ought to be allocated to each educator.

A $50,000 salary in the Lawrence schools is reserved for those that are on their way out the door retiring. The information and salary schedules are all public information, available at every school districts' website.

A six-figure teacher??? In Kansas?? Get real. In other states, such as Illinois...a strong right-to-strike, teacher union state, a six-figure salary isn't only common, it's the norm.

The problem lies in how the State of Kansas opts ot fund the school districts. They do such a p&ss-poor job adaquately funding the districts (despite the recent legislative increases which will help), that now the school districts have no choice but to raise property, commercial, industry taxes.

The Lawrence school district is, or at least was for the longest time, the lowest salaried district in the Kansas Metropolitan area (and i'm obviously stretching the metro area several more miles west). Lawrence is lucky to have any good teachers, since one can easily accept a position in a signficantly-higher paying district.

And the poor Lawrence parent, oh man! Fees have been relegated everywhere! Yearbooks, transportation, sports, clubs, textbooks, "tuition" and who knows what else they pay.

The money has to come from somewhere...and a Kansas school district certainly cannot rely solely on the legislature to help them out.

Unfortunately, that means at the price of your already overly-inflated property taxes. Unfortunately also, I have opted to never even consider applying in Lawrence because of competitive salaries and benefits in other states.

I wish it weren't so, but it is, what it is.

conservative 8 years, 4 months ago

Yes, teachers are required to take classes to continue teaching. But you know what, business people aren't compensated for the suits they have to buy in order to remain employed, why should teachers be compensated for the classes. But wait, by taking those classes they work themselves into a new group that does get higher pay. Gee I guess they are getting paid for those classes, just not up front.

Many teachers are quite good and put in long hours. Those are the ones who deserve to be making more. But I also have personal knowledge of many who do the minimum, take no work home with them, and don't work the summers. If you can get off work one Wednesday afternoon drive by the parking lots of the schools where the teachers are "in session" collaborating together while all the kids are out early. The number of missing cars is a very telling statement about how dedicated many of the teachers are.

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

macon47--

You do bring a up a very valid point. One that I have even stumped myself on. I can still remember about 10 years ago, starting at KU to pursue a degree in broadcasting.

Somehow, I finished with 2 master's degrees and a bachelor's in social studies and special education. I'm about 2 years from completing my PhD. I knew the reality of teaching in Kansas, and other select states/districts, where salaries are not very high...but I assumed, "eh, it can't be that bad."

And yes, I should have realized..."duh" a long time ago! I mean, here I have years of teaching experience, broad graduate studies from the #1 special education graduate program, but also a butt-load of debt to show for it.

So here I am now. Just graduated last week with my 2nd master's and about to finish my 3rd year teaching in the KCK district with a salary of a whopping $35,200. No salary increase for me this year, not even a cost-of-living adjustment... again.

Time to head home to Chicago, where I can join a strong teacher-union area....AND, teach in communities where property, commercial and industrial tax payers recognize the importance of coughing up some additional tax dollars. Those communities and neighborhoods realize the importance of their taxes and get what they pay for.

So my "duh" realization should have come much earlier...I really feel dumb for this.

My "duh" is a no-brainer. I'm outta here.

And like you, I now say "duh" to all the others that continue to perpetuate the problem by remaining educators in communities and states where they are so undervalued, underappreciated and whose jobs are entirely misunderstood.

Sorry KNEA memebers...but what has the union REALLY done for you lately?

Duh!!!

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

conservative--

You do realize that many of the schools are "clustered" and must commute to a neighborhood school for the mandatory professional development sessions, right?

Perhaps the empty parking lots would indicate they had to...hmmmm...drive to their designated building?

Just a thought.

Oh, and thanks to the media, I probably know a few more "suits" who have commited white collar crimes at the expense of innocent, hard-working middle-class Americans than teachers who have "abused" the system.

Just another thought.

P.S. I have summer off....I can go on all day long. Don't have to attend my meetings until next Tuesday!!

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

macon47--

You are right about absenteeism. It costs districts high amounts to have to pay for substitutes.

I gain 10 sick days and 2 personal days each year.

I generally use 1-2 for legitimate sick days. 4-5 to attend sporting events: KU away games, Chicago Cubs home opener

And thank God for that automated sub-finder system...I don't even have to lie to my boss!! Just type #1: "disability, sick leave"

Ah...I love it.

justmehere 8 years, 4 months ago

The provision is limited to school districts where the average home valuation exceeds the state average by more than 25 percent.

Well, isnt that lovely? I work for the school district, and its nice to know that they are going to raise my already outrageous property taxes so that they can possibly give me a raise worth less than the increase in taxes. Last year I think I got a 13 cent raise! woohoo!! Buy mama some new shoes!! Oh, and we havent even been given an annual raise yet from last year. And that cost of living raise? hmm..that was a whole whopping 8 cents. Gee thanks. (and I hear now that the raise Im looking at in my position is around .6%) An administrative person recently left LPS and went to BV... the increase in pay she acquired was more than what I make in a year. And she was taking a non-administrator job.

I think that a lot of you are forgetting that there are way more classified staff working at your public schools than there are teachers. We are the ones doing most of the hard work and we are the ones dealing directly with your children. Thanks to NCLB and the failure to fund it, teachers dont have the time to stop for individual students, so guess who gets that job? Lets not forget all the other classified staff--maitenance, food service, etc. We are the people that are paid on an hourly wage. We DO NOT get paid year round and its not even an option. That leaves us all scrambling to find summer jobs and jobs during the holidays. Do you know how hard it is to find anything over $7 an hour just to get by? We as classified staff are grossly underpaid--as the district knows since they brought in a consultant firm 2yrs ago to tell them this...oh, and as far as KPERS...thats something that we ALL pay into, regardless if we are a certified teacher or not.

So rant and rave about what teachers make. Rant more about what administraters make. But dont forget the small fry that is doing all of the individualize work with YOUR child that is getting peanuts for all they do.

I think this has struck a nerve....lol!

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

conservative--

I hear ya, and don't worry...I didn't take offense to your post.

I'm just trying to have some fun about the topic, although you guys are exposing some good truths about the profession.

I'm 26 and definitely young...I am assuming I will not be a "career teacher." There are still so many things I really want to do...

...and with that "fat cat" administrative salary option. Hmmmm?!!?

Just kidding.

usaschools 8 years, 4 months ago

I am a strong defender of our public schools, particularly here in Lawrence, because I know that most teachers and administrators truly are committed to improvement and are really trying hard to do the best job they can do.

However, there are some things that do bother me and that I cannot explain nor for which I can find a fact-based explanation. Chief among these is this: Teachers are often given a small amount of money to buy needed items for their classrooms ($50 a year). This is nowhere near what they will need, but it is something. I am speaking of elementary here, I don't honestly know what happens at the upper levels. This year, at least some of the schools are not providing this money. Also, in recent years there have been less supplies at the schools with tighter controls over the supplies. At times, we don't even have the things we need and have to go out and buy them (poster board, dry erase markers, things the kids need and we need for our classrooms). What I fail to understand is how more money can come in yet less money be available for classroom supplies. It just does not make sense to me.

I greatly appreciate the recent pay increase that we had. It was the first substantial increase I receieved in the last 10 years. Thank you taxpayers. Paying people is the #1 expenditure of the district, but it doesn't account for all of the increase. I think classroom supplies should be a priority!

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

usaschools...I agree with you strongly!

"I think by far the most important bill in our whole code, is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom and happiness... The tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance." --Thomas Jefferson to George Wythe, 1786. ME 5:396

Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

jayhawks226 wrote: "Time to head home to Chicago, where I can join a strong teacher-union area....AND, teach in communities where property, commercial and industrial tax payers recognize the importance of coughing up some additional tax dollars. Those communities and neighborhoods realize the importance of their taxes and get what they pay for."

The key phrase in your post is "commercial and industrial tax payers recognize the importance of coughing up some additional tax dollars."

Lawrence doesn't have the commercial and industrial base it takes to support the kind of salaries and amenities Lawrence wants for its schools. Neither does Kansas.

When a community's largest employer, even the State's largest employer, by leaps and bounds, is GOVERNMENT, taxes are going to increase and increase and increase - because there is no REAL GROWTH in revenue sources. So you government employees just have to pay the government more and more money just to keep your paychecks coming. In a socialist society, which Kansas has become, by default, higher taxes are the key to job security for the majority of the citizens.

Those of us who are in private business have a choice - do we accept the increasing tax burden required to feed the seemingly insatiable appetite of our growing government bureaucracy, or do we move to a community that welcomes economic growth? And I mean real economic growth, the kind that welcomes and nurtures private enterprises, not like Lawrence, and most of Kansas, where "economic growth" means adding more high paying government jobs.

prioress 8 years, 4 months ago

Macon47: "WHY DO THEY GO INTO TEACHING WHEN THEY KNOW THE PAY IS SO POOR? it's kinda like "DUH"?" ++++++++ The same can be said for firemen, police, many nurses, etc. People who enter public service do not (or should not) do so for high salaries. Teachers should not whine about their pay, but the good ones deserve more. Like most districts, Lawrence is probably paying 80% or so of their budget in salaries and wages and, because over the past 15 years of minimal school funding increases, they have deferred maintenance and repairs, they have a problem. The money that should have gone for repairs went into salaries and wages. KU is in a similar situation due to legislative inaction.

Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

"For a Kansas teacher to demonstrate advancement...we must attend college courses and degree programs which cost anywhere from $5,000-$9,000...so we can move up a lousy $500 on the pay scale."

Boo hoo. No one promises people in the private sector a pay increase for getting additional education. AND, they don't get the summer off to pursue it. Yet they many get the additional education, anyway, either by goign to school nights and weekends, or by taking an unpaid furlough. Why? Because they want it.

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

Godot--blue73harley is correct. I mean, don't get me wrong...I have career aspirations and personally want more education.

But in addition to my wants, to maintain certification, the state does mandate and require additional trainings and collegiate courses, at the expense of the educator. In the private sector, that is not the case.

The majority of D-I, research institutions will only provide the core of their courses during the fall and spring semesters. Of course, introductory courses are available in the summer for teachers who are taking time off, but the chief courses remain reserved for fall and spring semesters.

Smaller schools like Ottawa, Friends etc. do offer classes in summer and year-round too...but don't offer true academic programs. Majority of those enrollees are after a "higher pay scale," or to maintain certification putting forth the minimal amount of work necessary.

Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

"the state does mandate and require additional trainings and collegiate courses, at the expense of the educator. In the private sector, that is not the case."

Except in the case of physicians, nurses, attorneys, cpa's, insurance agents, chiropractors, financial planners, real estate agents, physical therapists, engineers...self employed, or working for a small firm, without education "benefits." I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Looks like you are comparing Chicago to Kansas, again, and that just does not work.

Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

Google results from the Kansas Teacher licensing FAQ:

"A. For individuals holding a currently valid 5 year substitute certificate: -Five semester credit hours related to the content subject area the teacher has been prepared to teach or related to professional education. "

Jayhawk226, does it really cost $5K to $9K for five credit hours? And once every five years? That is one credit hour per year?

usaschools 8 years, 4 months ago

For classroom teachers, the additional training that you need to maintain certification (as opposed to salary enhancement) is typically gained by the inservices and trainings that your district offers during the school year and in the summer. Usually you don't have to actually pay for additional training unless you want to acquire skills in a new area, add endorsements, or just branch out beyond what the district offers. I know that in the private sector many firms pay for training as a perk to compete for quality employees, but it is certainly not a given. I doubt anyone really knows the percentage of workers maintaining a state, national, or other certification that have their on-going training paid in full or in part by their employers. I know that I personally spent thousands of dollars to get an additional certification, but that was my choice and it was for my personal professional goals. Most teachers that I know pay for some training in an area of interest on at least an occasional basis, just to pursue their own professional development. I think that just goes with the territory in any career and is part of being a professional. At any rate, if you are new to teaching, don't worry that you will have to spend a fortune to stay certified. When I started I didn't realize the state would count the continuing education that happened in the workplace.

craigers 8 years, 4 months ago

Property values are already too high for what they are worth so the schools are getting more money already. If there is a petition I will sign it, if there is a vote to overturn this I will be there. This stinks. Learn how to budget your money people. I hope the schools don't try teaching budgeting to the students. A subject they know little about.

dviper 8 years, 4 months ago

I wonder how many school board members are supporters of the extreme liberal PLC PAC (Political Action Committee) in Lawrence. They've got at least two things in common, --- raising taxes and spending it faster than a drunken sailor, and the inability to properly maintain the public infrastructure.

Mr. Weseman points to building maintenance as a main reason for the 62 million bond issue that passed last year. So, it sounds like the school maintenance business is where the money is at, unless it's a just a convenient cover for hidden spending elsewhere? Apparently the 62 million is not enough, and now they want to raise property taxes even higher to pay for more spending.

I went to a private school until we merged with the public school system at the high school level. The private school teachers we're paid 8,000 to 12,000 less than public school teachers, and dollars spent per student were 50% less than that at public schools. We didn't have any computers, nice desks, lockers, nice playgrounds, new books, sports fields, etc. Yet amazingly, at the high school level, the advanced classes were at least 75% private school students. And even more amazing is that all but 4 people from my private school class went to college and graduated.

It's apparent that the Lawrence school board thinks that money is the answer to everything, and that more money will give our students a better education. Oops:..I meant fancier digs, and extravagant administration digs, and sports fields, etc:. A better education was never mentioned.

Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

jayhawks226, my mistake. Here is the section for full time teachers: Credit:

"Bachelor?s degree: completion of eight (8) semester hours of additional recent college credit from a regionally accredited college or university within the six-year period prior to application for renewal;

Master?s degree or above: six (6) semester hours of additional recent college credit from a regionally accredited college or university within the six-year period prior to application for renewal

OR

Inservice (Professional Development)/Credit:

Bachelor?s degree: completion of 80 additional Kansas inservice/professional development points and a minimum of four (4) semester hours of additional recent college credit from a regionally accredited college or university;

Master?s degree or above: completion of 120 additional Kansas inservice/professional development points or its equivalent in hours and points

OR

Master?s degree or above only: verification of three years of accredited experience during the validity of the most recent five-year Kansas certificate and within the six-year period prior to the application for renewal. This type of experience renewal may be used only twice in the applicant?s career and is only available for advanced degrees earned prior to July 1, 2003."

Not too difficult to obtain your education credits at all. Just for kicks, why did you throw out those ridiculous figures in your earlier post? Just playing today, are we?

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

It is not difficult to obtain education credits at all, within your respective track.

If a person needs to change roles, it generally always requires certification/endorsement in that separate area, at the expense of the individual.

You mentioned "ridiculous figures" in my earlier posts...which figures are those?

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

Godot--You exhaust me.

I have enjoyed reading your posts throughout Game #1 of the Cubs' double-header today.

You do have some information, but overall are grossly misinformed and lack the full breadth of knowledge to have a full grasp of these issues.

Consider a blessing though...sometimes I wish I wasn't even in the field. So much red tape and bureaucracy, coupled with everybody thinking they know all there is to know about public education affairs.

Until there is a major overhaul...you and I will stick to doing what we do best.

You keep paying those taxes, and I'll keep drawing from them.

See...we all win.

Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

"You do have some information, but overall are grossly misinformed and lack the full breadth of knowledge to have a full grasp of these issues."

Oh, really. You must not be all that exhausted to throw that out.

Please, child, show me where I am grossly misinformed, and, by inference, unqualified to even have an opinion (or a vote) on the topic of our exchanges today.

mom_of_three 8 years, 4 months ago

responding to dviper: I was willing to pay for the new South Junior High, as that building was over 25 years old, and busting at the seams.
My kids' elementary school is now over 10 years old, and I never saw new desks or fancy equipment. Yes, computers are needed for our children to learn on and how to use, as they are, seemingly, an everyday necessity in the working world. Their playground wasn't fancy, but new equipment was purchased by the PTA from time to time. I haven't seen the more recently built elementary schools, but I don't see "fancy" as a description for them. Maybe compared to when and where I went to school, yes, but Lawrence, NO

pz5g1 8 years, 4 months ago

The real perk of teaching in Illinois (as I understand it from others teaching there) is that they collect a significantly higher percentage of their working salary after retirement than Kansas teachers. That is on top of higher salaries, though 6-figure salaries are not common among teachers (non-existant, I believe, outside of Chicagoland). The teachers there have their own pension; it is not connected to other state employees. Not sure if that makes a difference or not.

classclown 8 years, 4 months ago

Posted by rednekbuddha (Kelly Powell) on August 3, 2006 at 5:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What? That I am against getting taxed on something that does not concern me, or that they are trying ti increase property tax?

========================================

The second one.

dviper 8 years, 4 months ago

Response to Mom_of_three

Seems that you completely missed my key point, which was about EDUCATION. sigh

A school building that is 25 years old is a youngster. These schools should be lasting 80+ years or more. The private school I went to was built in 1920 and is still in use today. The public high school I went to was built in 1946.

According to the news story the 62 million school bond and the soon to be increased property taxes largely goes to pay for maintenance, NOT new schools.

BTW, I am a very strong supporter for education, and teachers. However, the way the school board is 'spending' taxpayer money is highly questionable, especially at the administration level, and apparently at the maintenance level. I think we could build a brand spanking new elementary school for 62 million, so why is maintenance costing so much? Is the money really being spent on maintenance, or something else?

hockmano 8 years, 4 months ago

The teachers don't get paid enough.BOTTOM LINE! The only ones making any money in this district are one, the superintendent and his cronees, and two, the higher ups in the building and grounds division.The custodians, lunch ladies, paraprofessionals all make food stamp wages. I know!BEEN THERE! ! The problem in this district lies with WASTE! They need to cut down on waste. Say like school district vehicles that sit and sit and hardly get used(outside of a certain High School)!All sorts of property that comes up stolen!Buying new computers constantly! Food that gets thrown away! Toilet paper and paper towels that get thrown out when it gets down to half a roll!WASTEFUL!You would not believe the stuff that gets thrown away! SEEN IT!

Everyone wants their own neighborhood school, but it's just not going to be feasible in the future!Other larger school districts renovate older buildings instead of tearing them down and building brand new ones.

A nice new building and pretty playground equipment won't help a child get an A!

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

I have been a classroom special education resource teacher for three years.

Serve on the Kansas City, KS special education advisory council.

Building Department Chairperson of Special Education Dept.

Consultant to Board of Education member Sue Gamble on special education affairs

M.S.SpEd Adapative Spec. Educ. '06 M.S.Ed Curriculum & Instruction '04 B.S.Ed. Social Studies '02

PhD candidate for Special Education with a concentration in Administration/Policy '08-'09

Founder of a Special Education Advocacy & Resources LLC

Age: 26

Sorry to justify myself macon47...I know it is what you wanted. My immaturity made me justify myself.

Now...you were saying?

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

Oh...and macon

Let me know if you need a job one day. We have an opening in our building for a classroom paraeducator.

Don't worry. I'll give you an ok evaluation. But I definitely won't buy you a beer at Friday's Happy Hour!

Jayhawk226 8 years, 4 months ago

Didn't mean to get personal...

...but I would assume by taking a stab at my work-ethic based solely on "tongue-in-cheek" statements on here, you started it.

Since I have nothing to hide, I also opted to change my profile and not remail anonymous any longer. Hopefully LJ-World will update that accordingly, feel free to contact me anytime.

I'm really not that bad of a person...and would assume you are not either.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 4 months ago

prioress wrote: "MWIV: "The programs should be run by people with business degrees." Some of them are, but top leadership should be an educator."

I disagree. I believe the top leadership should be the most qualified person for the job--regardless of whether the degree is in business, education, civil engineering, &c.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 4 months ago

Jamesaust wrote: "superior wages come with their own drawbacks - accountability"--kind of like 'No Child Left Behind' and Outcomes-Based Learning?

"managers with unfair whims"--are you suggesting that principals and superintendents have only fair whims?

"company cutbacks and bankruptcy"--not at all unlike the budget cuts that occurred not even five years ago, huh?

"and just your general "you're fired" moments"--kind of like the teacher in a rural district who has been doing well for three years but is denied tenure so a fresh college graduate can be hired at only three-quarters the cost

"They must demonstrate results to skeptics who have every reason to remain skeptical"--skeptics very similar, I infer, to the people who suspect that teaching is not a full-time job because they get three months in the summer to take classes, update their lesson plans, go to continuing education conferences, order supplies to replace the ones that wore out the year before.... And, hey, when was the last time you heard of a teacher taking their 2-week vacation in the middle of a school year? Better than 95% of them take their vacations only during those breaks--unlike the rest of us who can often schedule our work to accommodate our vacations

"they're free to be dismissed for any (or no) reason except a narrow few"--such as to prevent them from achieving tenure? Oh, and as long as it's not for a protected reason or not constructive discharge.

"there is no salary matrix they're guaranteed moving up in"--just like when the economy tanks, tax revenues fall, and they don't get raises for a couple of years because that's the only way to keep the place open; or, of course, like those belonging to a collective bargaining unit that bargained for guaranteed wage increases

"getting a master's degree doesn't guarantee anything"--except opening new opportunities at new places of employment, huh?

"and they can't just find an identical job anywhere in the state if their spouse relocates" such as social workers, psychologists, accountants, nurses, web-designers, plumbers, or auto mechanics....

Jamesaust, I'm rather surprised at that rant. You have the capacity to reason much better than you did on this one.

weeslicket 8 years, 4 months ago

it is a good thing that people are talking about this. i also enjoy not reading a lot of name calling. it really does cheapen the language.

but, i posted a comment earlier and am only now sitting down to the computer. i was out working today. i always work another job in the summer and also throughout the year because i am a "highly qualified teacher" in lawrence, kansas. not that i have a problem with that. i like to work and i feel that something is not right if i'm not working. teachers are like that, you know. just so, i would like to say, on my behalf, that what others on this site call a "vacation" i experience as unemployment. fortunately it is structural unemployment, as it always happens at about the same time every year, so at least i can plan for it. still, it is unemployment all the same. i envy those who spend it summering about the pool!

weeslicket 8 years, 4 months ago

other thoughts if feel like spouting out: - the $5000 amout is pretty reasonable. $9000 is possible, but that would most likely effect someone trying to move to a masters or doctorate level. - which also means that it would take about 10 years to recoup the cost of said education (and that is once the move is approved; it does not include the time needed to complete the coursework) -test it. pull up the salary matrix http://www.usd497.org/district/benefits/... select 2005-06 certified master salary index then, pick a cell in the masters column and compare its salary value to the one to the left (the educational level just below masters level). let's assume that it cost $5000 to make that move. how many years will it take to recoup that cost. then, try the same thing at a doctorate leve. - that being said. i have no idea what the history of the salary schedule is. i don't know how we've wound up in this particular place. i know each year the teachers and the board try to come to a more progressive (if i may be allowed to use such a word) understanding regarding this. i wish them good fortune.

weeslicket 8 years, 4 months ago

seems i've manage to violate the 3000 character rule!

  • i've been teaching for a very long time. i've worked with thousands of teachers, and many of them were really good, and some of them were ok, and a lot of them were so increadibly talently it'd make you shake your head and wonder how you got to be so damn lucky as to work with them. there are hundreds of those teachers in lawrence.
  • and i can count on one hand the number of incompetent, flat out bad teachers that have been in the same building i was. then again, i am a lucky duck.
  • wanna know what class of people hate bad teachers the most? other teachers. wanna know who is the happiest when they go away? same answer.
  • your public schools look like america. they are america. pick a subgroup, and they're in a public school kindergarten.
  • therefore, think a little about your kindergartens. think about how every person you ever met or read about. every person that committed a crime, or was mentally infirm, or homeless. every person that started a business, married a spouse and loved them and started a family and loved them, ran for govenor and won, ran for govenor and lost. every person (exceptions being made for home schoolers and immigrants and just leave me the hell aloners, not that there's anything wrong with any of those) went to kindergarten.
  • your kindergarten teacher knew you. cared about you. spoke on your behalf. thought about you constantly. did what was right for you. your first grade teacher too. and many more along with them. think about your kindergarten teacher for a moment, and get back to me.
  • an earlier poster is correct. para and support staff are treated shabbily by this administration. just shabbily.
  • and so i have gone on long enough (it's good to rant at the end of a long day of vacation labor), and so will leave this last comment. the problem is this administration. in lawrence we have a superintendent who is kept in place by a school board. they have the ability to set right what has gone so terribly wrong. what does it say about the public school superintendent who does not feel welcome in any building? what does it say about certain school board members who do not see? there's what this superintendent says, and then there's what he does. so here's a riddle: how do you know when he is lying? (his lips are moving) thank you. you have been very patient.

Jamesaust 8 years, 4 months ago

Thanks Wilbur, but I'll stand firm. Nothing but shadows of the realities faced by average workers.

Its always so easy to see the grass greener on the other side.

Susan Mangan 8 years, 4 months ago

weeslicket - "highly qualified teacher", I'm sure. But you might want to run your posts through a spell checker before you hit "send". It really damages credibility when you get stuck on the errors and can't get past them to see your point.

Btw..."Governor" has an 'r' in the middle of it. There are more mistakes you can correct, if you run it through spell check, but I'm off to bed and don't have time to point them all out.

Oh...and I'm a CPA and an RN. Both of those require 30 hours of continuing education per 2 years to remain certified at your current level. Employers sometimes pay for it and sometimes don't. That doesn't include the constant changes in both tax law and medicine that you have to learn just to remain competent in your field...a mistake in accounting can get you sued...a mistake in nursing can kill people. To even qualify to take the CPA exam in Kansas (and many other states now) you are required to have a master's degree, as I do. With that, my first job in public accounting paid just over $34,000...and I worked 12 months and 80-hour weeks for 3 of them, every year. My last job paid just $37,000. Teachers, for some reason, believe that a master's should automatically qualify them for considerably more money. The real world just doesn't work that way. Teachers have no idea how easy their "continuing education" requirements are...or how nice it is that they get a long 3 month vacation every year during which to accomplish it. I have to work it AROUND my work hours (that means in addition to the hours I put in to get paid). Cry me a river, but I'd take the pay and benefits any day, for being a teacher.

And before I get accused of "not understanding" teachers' jobs...all 4 of my grandparents were teachers, my father, brother, uncle, aunt, and cousin are all current teachers. Some of them choose to work in the summer because they get bored. Most take a nice vacation. They are lucky to have that option and they realize it. But they also don't live in the "overentitled" environment of a place like Lawrence.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 4 months ago

Jamesaust noted "Its always so easy to see the grass greener on the other side."

Which is true. My point was simply that the grass on the other side has to be mowed, too.

Larry McGlinn 8 years, 4 months ago

I thought the bond issue we passed last year was for building a new jr high and for maintenance (repairs) to existing buildings? Why are they having to raise property taxes for maintenance? Could it be that they did not include enough in the bond issue for fear of making it so large that it would not have passed? I think the tax payers of Lawrence are constantly being "bambozzeled" by the school board. Maybe we taxpayers are as dumb as the school board thinks we are!

texburgh 8 years, 4 months ago

The district gets a share of two large state increases in school funding, we pass an enormous bond issue, we parents start the school year with a bill for $162 per student for things like "technology fee" (and we still have to send discs and CDs in with supply lists) and "supplemental enrollment fees" (What the hell is that for?). Then they bill us another couple hundred for bus service and allow Laidlaw to be rude to any patron with a question. Now they want to raise the mill levy for LOB and another mill levy for "cost of living" supposedly to give a raise for teachers but with no requirement that the cost of living money go to teachers. IF things have to be raised then any LOB increase should be offset by the elimination of fees and bus charges and then EVERY dime of cost of living money should go directly into teacher pay and benefits. If those two things were guaranteed, I'd say okay. If not, then don't raise my mill levy.

And isn't it time for some school district to say enough is enough - schools are a state responsibility. If the legislature does not have the guts to revise the state's tax structure to meet the needs of schools, vote them out. The legislature loves to say "we did not raise your taxes" while forcing local units of government to make painful choices like raising taxes or reducing services.

mechman 8 years, 4 months ago

Hey! usd 497 i have a lot worth $10,000 can i sell it to you for $60,000? you paid 3x to much for 110 mc donald ........now you will have more money to spend!!!!!! by the way how come riverside school was sold without public bid??????????????????????????????

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