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Archive for Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Portable classrooms expose permanent problem

District weighs options for fighting overcrowding at Hillcrest School

September 20, 2006

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A new year. More students. And another portable classroom.

That's been the trend for several years now at Hillcrest School, 1045 Hilltop Drive.

Is it time to quit plopping in portables as a solution to the school's growing enrollment, now at 467 students?

"We're probably at a point where we need to decide what we want to do with Hillcrest," said Tom Bracciano, division director of operations and facilities planning for the Lawrence school district.

Bracciano talked about plans for Hillcrest on Tuesday as several school board members visited the school briefly as part of their daylong tour with stops at seven schools.

Bracciano said school officials have several options for Hillcrest:

¢ They could take the building built in 1954 as a two-section school (two classrooms per grade level) and add on to it to make it a three-section school.

¢ They could change school boundaries to send students to other schools.

Hillcrest School students Anna Brown and Colin O'Neal, in foreground at left, sit elbow to elbow in Jessica Larsen's sixth-grade classroom, which meets in one of the school's portables. Lawrence school board members toured district schools Tuesday to assess construction progress and possible future needs for schools. A new surface is being put on the Ryan Gray Playground, but the continued need for portable classrooms at the school is eating away at playground space.

Hillcrest School students Anna Brown and Colin O'Neal, in foreground at left, sit elbow to elbow in Jessica Larsen's sixth-grade classroom, which meets in one of the school's portables. Lawrence school board members toured district schools Tuesday to assess construction progress and possible future needs for schools. A new surface is being put on the Ryan Gray Playground, but the continued need for portable classrooms at the school is eating away at playground space.

¢ Or they could spread the English as a Second Language program to other schools. Hillcrest now houses most of the district's ESL students, though some are at Cordley.

"Right now, I think all the options are open: to look at boundary changes, to look at program changes, to look at expanding the building and kind of going the way we are," Bracciano said.

The district has about $3 million to $5 million a year available in its budget for capital outlay projects, such as construction and building maintenance, he said.

Planning for a Hillcrest expansion would take about a year and construction, another year, he said.

There is no money targeted for Hillcrest in the $54 million bond issue that was approved by voters in 2005.

"That bond issue did not include anything for the elementary level, and someday we're going to have to address those needs districtwide," board member John Mitchell said.

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Meanwhile, Hillcrest is getting along with its fifth portable classroom, said Tammy Becker, the school's principal.

It is used for music instruction on one side and by special education teachers on the other. Two classes of third-graders and two classes of sixth-graders also are in portables, she said.

"If the district could build, that would be wonderful," Becker said. "I know parents definitely need to see something done with portables."

That's a sentiment shared by Ann Patterson, president of Hillcrest's parent-teacher organization.

Patterson, who has had children at the school the last 10 years, said the district should quit using portables as a "Band-Aid" fix.

"It's like the cheapest way is to drive one in there and plop it down and solve Hillcrest's problem for today instead of looking a little bit ahead," said Patterson, a Kansas University professor of architecture.

Even if portables are used, their placement should be better planned instead of being "almost thrown onto the playground," Patterson said.

"Everyone sees crowding," she said. "But I see a lack of planning."

Comments

ASBESTOS 7 years, 7 months ago

Of course Lacoov, what do you expect, you are a citizen of the US of A and a citizen of Kansas, you are SUPPOSED to pay for all these benefits and not be able to use them.

That is for special people, ie NOT AMericans.

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lacoov 7 years, 7 months ago

I live in an apartment complex that has alot of foreign nationals in it who are either attending KU or work at KU.All their children attend Hillcrest and a schoolbus picks the children up everyday and drops them off at the end of the parking with no charge to the parents. If my child were to ride the bus I would have to pay a fee.

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ASBESTOS 7 years, 7 months ago

According to the Asbestos NESHAP Applicability Determination Indes, EVERY TIME one of these portable classrooms are moved,...it is a demolition and is required to be notified to the EPA. The KDHE asbestos program with their finger in their ear probably will not pay attention to the federal NESHAP, even though the federal is more stringent.

Plus it is a school building, it needs a full AHErA asbestos inspection. Just last month, a Lewisville, Texas school district had just found out the NEW drywall imported from CANADA had between 11% and 15% chrysotile in it.

ALl those cuttings, and sanding of the joints, releas3ing cancer causing fibers.

As asbestos regulation goes so geos compliance with law.

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devilfish 7 years, 7 months ago

Hoots:

Changing boundaries could be done if leaders were leaders. But they do not want to risk desegrigation lawsuits. If it is not done just right they will find themselves in court and a much larger bill to pay.

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Confrontation 7 years, 7 months ago

Sounds like adky is a little upset about living a crappy life and wants to blame it on others. Just admit to yourself that you are a loser, and no immigrants have anything to do with that.

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Hoots 7 years, 7 months ago

What ever happened to changing school boundaries? That was the way they fixed the crowding problem when I was going to school here back in the 70's and early 80's. For some reason that has become some kind of evil thing. No one thought a thing about switching schools back then but now everyone acts like it will kill them. So instead we spend millions of our precious tax dollars to build new schools or to expand them. It's so much cheaper to draw a new line and use the space we have in other places than to keep building anew. But I'm sure you would all rather just pay more...right?

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dhill00 7 years, 7 months ago

adky- have a little grudge, didnt get the job you wanted, life miserable? Turn around look at the wall and talk to yourself

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adky 7 years, 7 months ago

Most of the funding for public schools is derived from property taxes. Those foreign people living at KU pay rent, but KU, being a State entity, does not pay property tax. The result is that many of these foreigners get their kids educated for free. I pay and you pay. They don't pay.

I wonder if when your kids want a good job and they can't find one because these foreign kids have them all, you will still be so happy welcoming them here and giving them every adavantage over our own kids!

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ljreader 7 years, 7 months ago

Better yet, make the criminal employers who lure illegal immigrants here by illegally hiring them pay for building new schools. They are the ONLY ones profiting from these people being here. While these employers decrease their overhead and increase their profits, the taxpayers (who they will not hire) are carrying the burden of paying for childbirth, hospitization, medication, education, food, and housing for illegal immigrants and their families. Taxpayers are not only paying the fees for educating these youngsters, we are paying MORE because we have to pay ESL teachers more than other teachers- Now we have to pay to build bigger schools. This is exactly why so many communities are cracking down on illegal immigrants invading their communities. Also- If you don't pay taxes, you don't support schools. Even illegal immigrants who pay taxes are a net drain. The social services they receive surpass any amount they MAY have paid in. Since they are in a low income bracket, they receive all their taxes back anyway- in addition to getting earned income credits for their huge families.

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Sacerdotal 7 years, 7 months ago

Most of them live in KU housing, so they never pay any taxes towards schools, ...

Wrong again! Schools are funded by sales, income and property taxes state-wide. Most districts get a majority of their general fund budget from the state's coffers. Everyone who has an income, rents a place to sleep and shops is paying to support schools.

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adky 7 years, 7 months ago

Let the foreigners pay what it costs to educate their kids, if you all don't want to send them all back to their countries. Most of them live in KU housing, so they never pay any taxes towards schools, but educating their kids costs us taxpayers much more than the average US kid.

All the arguments about what our ancestors did are invalid. Taken to their logical conclusion we would just invite anyone and everyone here to enjoy our lifestyle. Not going to happen!

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blacksheep 7 years, 7 months ago

Hillcrest is not the only one with portables. When we moved here over 10 years ago Sunset had one small portable, now they have two large portables. When the parents asked for an awning to protect the kids from the weather (rain, snow) we were told no because they were "TEMPORARY STRUCTURES." Appearantly temporary means over the lifetime of the portable. This has been a trend over the last 10 years for various schools, please don't tell me after paying over $500 each year (since the increase in fees how long ago?) that this problem might get fixed. I am so fed up with this district.

And yes, I did vote yes for the bond issues.

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crazy 7 years, 7 months ago

It would be interesting to see how many kids are "transfers" and what the reasons are. I know of a few that the school district approves and there are so many options of good schools to choose from that are not overcrowded! Why send them to Hillcrest? All schools can be great with good parent involvement and support.

Is adky for real?

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Confrontation 7 years, 7 months ago

I think we should send adky back to where his/her ancestors are from.

One less jerk in Lawrence=Problem solved!!!

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Jake Esau 7 years, 7 months ago

There were already three portables when I was at Hillcrest for elementary school. The district has known for a long time that there is not enough room at Hillcrest. I'm now in college, you'd think the problem would have been fixed by now.

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devilfish 7 years, 7 months ago

We are experiencing a very similar problem in Topeka. Several of our schools are overcrowded.

At one school there were 30+ kids in each of several classrooms. The board decided to build a trailer park (4 mobile units).

This year there are less kids in each class. I am sure the school is glad to have the overcrowding eased. But as a taxpayer, I am appalled that we expect these schools to do more than ever before while trying to teach in mobile units. Not to mention the difficulties that could happen(god forbid) if a sudden tornado strikes and these kids are not able to go to shelter.

It is time for leaders to step up and find solutions to these problems as opposed to putting a band aid on it.

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Stefanie Berry 7 years, 7 months ago

Scarborough Elementary in Olathe used to have trailers (a long time ago), but they were removed. The reason: they were deemed a health hazard because they were filled with mold. The same will probably happen with these. It can't be helped.

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average 7 years, 7 months ago

I've known some of the ESL students and parents at Hillcrest. I can think of nothing better (in a promoting our values) than welcoming dozens of Saudi, Indian, African, Asian, etc children to our open schools. It's worth every penny to have these visiting children experience the US in this way for a few years, rather than go to a sheltered islamic-run arabic-only school like exist in many US cities.

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Sacerdotal 7 years, 7 months ago

Most of these kids are not American kids! We are spending our tax dollars to educate foreign kids from places we do not like.

Back under your rock, Sir! They are all God's little ones and we need to educate them. Did your grandfather come over on the boat? If he did, he was welcomed and educated. We owe the same to this generation.

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Mike Myers 7 years, 7 months ago

I've got the answer here! How about making all of the kids who LIVE IN THE EAST LAWRENCE NEIGHBORHOOD attend the EAST LAWRENCE NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS instead of getting transfers to Hillcrest and causing overcrowding there! Oh, wait, that wouldn't be right. I guess the children of east Lawrence parents with financial means shouldn't have to go school with the poor kids.

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adky 7 years, 7 months ago

Most of these kids are not American kids! We are spending our tax dollars to educate foreign kids from places we do not like.

Send them home! Problem solved!

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sybil 7 years, 7 months ago

Because they want to build and when the District tries to get money to do so they can't. So they close schools and overcrowd others in order to force the hand for tax increases.

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cutny 7 years, 7 months ago

What a joke. As high as the property taxes in this town and for the oft-touted "quality of life" and we've got these kids going to school in a trailer? Abhorrent. Why keep closing schools when this is the option?

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Ken Miller 7 years, 7 months ago

A tough decision needs to be made at Hillcrest, no doubt. I think an open discussion about where Hillcrest's ESL students are coming from within the district and how many Cordley can accomodate in the next few years needs to be quantified. $5 million is a lot to expand Hillcrest; how many students (particularly ESL kids that live closer to Cordley) can be moved from Hillcrest to other schools that are actually closer to their homes - that should be answered ASAP.

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