Archive for Friday, September 22, 2006

Virtual School helps boost district enrollment

Lawrence schools will likely receive about $2.8 million more than last year’s budget

September 22, 2006


Lawrence's public schools gained about 300 students from last year - a nearly 3 percent increase to 10,303, an official state head count taken Thursday showed.

"We haven't seen growth like this in a number of years," Supt. Randy Weseman said. "It looks good for us, in terms of what we projected for budget."

The enrollment numbers still must be plugged into the school finance formula to determine the total local budget, he said.

But the district probably will get about $2.8 million more than last year's budget, based on preliminary calculations, he said.

Weseman said that could help the school board's efforts to gradually reduce the number of fees parents pay at the beginning of the school year.

"Any time you're experiencing growth, rather than declining enrollments, it's going to give you more options with your budget," he said.

Virtual increase

Though the numbers show Lawrence has 300 more students, most of them won't be found taking up space in classrooms.

The lion's share of the increase came from enrollment at the Lawrence Virtual School, which conducts classes via the Internet.

"That Virtual School has been a real asset to the overall enrollment," Weseman said. "But the greater good of the Virtual School is that it gives people more options."

Lawrence Virtual School students Josh Vineyard, left, a Baldwin sophomore, and Shiloh Crews, a Lawrence freshman, do schoolwork this week on their laptops at the school lounge. Enrollment numbers are up in Lawrence, thanks largely to an increasing student body at the Lawrence Virtual School.

Lawrence Virtual School students Josh Vineyard, left, a Baldwin sophomore, and Shiloh Crews, a Lawrence freshman, do schoolwork this week on their laptops at the school lounge. Enrollment numbers are up in Lawrence, thanks largely to an increasing student body at the Lawrence Virtual School.

Students at the Virtual School, which includes those in the virtual programs at Lawrence High and Free State High, now account for 639, or 6.2 percent, of Lawrence's 10,303 students.

At the elementary level, the Virtual School's enrollment climbed by 193 students - nearly 75 percent - since last year, going from 259 students to 452 students.

The Virtual School also saw 40 more students in its seventh- and eighth-grade programs, bringing it to 100 students. That's a 66 percent jump from last year.

This year's virtual programs at the high schools include 54 students at LHS and 33 at Free State. Those students are counted in the regular enrollment figures for each of the high schools.

Weseman said he didn't have a breakdown of how many virtual students actually lived in Lawrence and how many were from outside the district.

Regardless, the numbers are rolled into the district's enrollment figures used when state aid is calculated, Weseman said.

"The charter from the state is that it's open to the state," he said. "We don't go out and actively recruit people, but they hear about it through word of mouth. It gains students by its own merits."

And some parents are choosing to send their children to the Virtual School rather than enroll in traditional elementary neighborhood schools, he said.

"I think we have to start thinking differently about what school looks like," he said. "It's a brave new world."

He said limits are put on the Virtual School's growth each year to make sure enrollment is handled smoothly.

Some increases

Six of the city's elementary schools saw enrollment increases, while nine saw numbers drop.

The largest increase was at Sunflower School in southwest Lawrence, which grew by 8.7 percent, or 38 students, from 435 to 473.

"That we had been watching. That was an area of growth," Weseman said.

Other increases of note:

¢ Enrollment at Deerfield School jumped by 6.6 percent, or 32 students, to 510. It continues to be the largest elementary school in the city.

¢ Langston Hughes School saw a 31-student increase, or 8.9 percent, giving it 376 students.

¢ Hillcrest School, which was at 435 students last year, increased its enrollment by 6.6 percent, or 29 students, to 464.

¢ Another increase was at Quail Run School, which picked up 15 students, a 3.7 percent increase, to 420.

¢ The largest percentage increase was at Cordley School, which saw a 12.4 percent jump of 24 students, taking its enrollment to 217.

Weseman said Cordley's increase probably was because of an English as a Second Language program that opened there this year.

Some declines

Of the nine elementary schools that lost students, the largest drop was at Pinckney, which fell by 22 students or 7.6 percent, to 264 students.

¢ Schwegler School's enrollment fell from 389 to 371, a drop of 18 students or 4.6 percent.

¢ Prairie Park went from 394 to 381 students, a loss of 13 students or 3.2 percent.

Enrollment declined at two of the junior high buildings:

¢ Central Junior High lost 6.7 percent, or 32 students, going from 475 to 443 students.

¢ And West Junior High lost 23 students, or 3.8 percent, going from 603 to 580 students.

Southwest Junior High saw its enrollment increase by four students, from 649 to 653, or a 0.6 percent increase. South Junior High stayed the same at 592 students.

High school

Lawrence saw a net gain in its high school students.

At Lawrence High School there was a 4 percent increase of 52 students, taking it from 1,292 to 1,344. That includes the 54 students enrolled in the virtual program.

At Free State, there was a drop of 20 students, or 1.6 percent, from last year, taking enrollment from 1,246 to 1,226. Free State's figures include 33 students enrolled through the Virtual School.


Shardwurm 11 years, 6 months ago

"But the district probably will get about $2.8 million more than last year's budget, based on preliminary calculations, he said."

Wonder how soon it will be before the teachers are demanding $2.75 million in salary hikes.

KS 11 years, 6 months ago

If a virtual school student is not taking up classroom space like a traditional student, the State should not fund the virtual student at the same level. The State should receive a discount.

Sacerdotal 11 years, 6 months ago

Randy won;t (sic) take a raise, I doubt it. Remember do they openly discuss his compnesation (sic) or do the do it in executive session?

The discussion takes place (legally) in executive session. The decision, if any to change his compensation will be done by a public vote. Lay off the supt; most of you whiners would run screaming out the door if you had to deal with his plate of woes. Whom would Jesus slander?

promitida 11 years, 6 months ago

Hmm, 2.8 million, sounds like Weseman's up for another raise.

usaschools 11 years, 6 months ago

Macon 47 hasn't closely witnessed diddly squat. He/she just loves to bash schools with no real rhyme or reason. No matter what they do, they are always wrong to the troll that knows all, macon47. Once again, someone asks Macon to put up or shut up and describe in detail, providing specifics, the massive waste he always refers to (since this person posts about virtually every school story in a negative way and often cites waste). Once again, no details have been forthcoming. Hawkman has hit the nail on the head, Macon47, you know little or nothing about what you are talking about. No one but you knows why you carry such a grudge against schools, but your bias is evident and you never back anything you say about schools up with facts. Go away.

Hawkman 11 years, 6 months ago

macon..sounds like you are jealous...or maybe you are one of those teachers who is SO bad, you can't even get your foot in the door to be an administrator...hummmm...FSHS

Hawkman 11 years, 6 months ago

well macon, if you have "closely witnessed" waste--which I honestly doubt but it does give you something to bitch about-- you must have been fired and are a bitter old person about it...get a life and quit complaining about something you obviously know little or nothing about....

Stephen Roberts 11 years, 6 months ago

Randy won;t take a raise, I doubt it. Remember do they openly discuss his compnesation or do the do it in executive session?

lunacydetector 11 years, 6 months ago

it is disingenuous to count these "virtual" students. why would they want the numbers to grow anyway, if growth never paid?

oldvet 11 years, 6 months ago

Hmmm... virtual students in a virtual school... I wonder if the people paying out the money for these virtual students ever want to see a real body counted... or a valid social security number for these virtual students... it will be interesting to see if the total student enrollment changes next fall with a growth in virtual students... not that anyone on the receiving end of the money would ever do anything to create more virtual students (and thus receive more real money)...

satchel 11 years, 6 months ago

Virtual school is taking some homeschoolers as well because they pay out of pocket for the curriculum. Most homeschoolers have their hard earned money going to public via taxes, PLUS they have to pay $3000.00-$6000.00 per year for curriculum to homeschool their kids. At virtual school, they only have to pay $100.00 for the curriculum plus they get to use a laptop. That is a HUGE savings and well deserved for the homeschooler.

People usually homeschool for many reasons.. It varies with each family. Some do it because their kids ask them to. some do it because they don't want their kids indoctrinated and brainwashed with the liberals ideology. In other words, they want their kids taught history the way it used to be, not the liberals' revised versions. Some do it because their kids are having a hard time focusing on academics due to the social-peer pressure. There are many other reasons. The curriculum virtual school offers is WAY ABOVE public and these kids are getting an exceptional education as well.

fed_up 11 years, 6 months ago

Macon, the people who disagree have obviously never had 1 of the "New Found" teachers or principals that are resume padding, opportunity seekers! They may as well hand out hand slapping rulers with education admin. degrees now, but those leave visible marks unlike the mental abuse they endure now. LVS saved us last year when all avenues we took to remedy the damage dealt by 1 incompetant teacher and the principal that backed that teacher up could not fix the problem with the hostility and the negativity instilled into my child WHILE AT SCHOOL by both teachers and students. (Since new administration came, violence increased 4X in the same year. I also find it fascinating that enrollment dropped this year, but the 1st grade enrollment was so much higher than expected that they moved teachers around a week before school started. Is it because the older children are transferring out? Where are those statistics??)

The natural by-product of successful children is a supportive, positive, educational, fun, environment where parents and schools work together. By the way, writing it down but not implementing it does not count. Not hand holding, but by getting results in academic oriented, positive ways, not punitive, remedial, condescending, unrelated guidelines and strategies dealt out with poor "I'm the boss, that's why" attitudes. Those tactics get results that are archaic and have been proven time and time again not to work. It is impossible to work together in a system that your child doesn't feel safe in or that you, as a parent, don't believe in. Their new rules don't even focus on academics! Before anyone else comments negatively about children in LVS, and their ability to learn and succeed, I recommend that you look at their curriculum first. It is an AMAZING program! We did it last year, and the boost of self confidence that it gave my child was incredible! That confidence and love for learning stripped from him in 2 short months in that public school classroom was sparked again, and shows in his return, this year, to the public education system in a brand new school where he comes home happy and feeling successful every single day.(Thank you SWJH 7th grade teachers!) Teaching does not have to be punitive nor should parents have to feel like they are being bullied by schools to see learning and positive results in our children. I for one do NOT feel good about sending my child to the hostile environment that has taken over in the school where our boundary lines send us but it is too late to get into LVS now. My consolation is that the 5th grade teachers at that school are incredible women and teachers who truly love the kids, and what they do! I hope it's enough. I look forward to next year though, when I don't have to explain the negative remarks made by administration to my own child or to other children in the presence of my child.

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