Archive for Sunday, October 28, 2007

Talk turns to third high school for city

Athletic facility discussions also under way

Free State High School, Lawrence.  Some school board members have mentioned planning for a third high school as talks continue about outdoor high school athletic facilities.

Free State High School, Lawrence. Some school board members have mentioned planning for a third high school as talks continue about outdoor high school athletic facilities.

October 28, 2007


A third Lawrence high school.

It might seem odd to mention it with the city's two existing ones appearing to lose enrollment for the second year in a row.

But some school board members have mentioned planning for the concept as talks continue about outdoor high school athletic facilities.

"I don't see it as a very short-term need, but I see it as an inevitable need," board member Scott Morgan said. "A big thing we could do now as a gift to Lawrence folks when we need it is get pretty serious about buying land for it."

Regarding athletic facilities, district administrators will soon begin talks with Haskell Indian Nations University leaders about improving Haskell Stadium, home to both high school football teams and Haskell.

Administrators will also soon bring back more options to the board about costs for improving facilities at the two high schools and also a district sports complex, which is just an idea at this point.

Board member Mary Loveland has said any facilities decisions should consider the future, including accommodating a possible third high school. She mentioned that investigating land for a future outdoor sports complex would be "a wise investment."

Although they say it's impossible to predict the future, Morgan and Loveland say they are thinking about 15 to 20 years into the future and that the district's boundaries extend south of Lawrence, which administrators have said would likely be the site of a future high school if needed.

They also point to construction of the sewage treatment plant south of the Wakarusa River, which could free up development.

Board member Rich Minder also said it's difficult to predict if Lawrence could explode in growth again soon or stay level for several years, but he did support purchasing land as a precaution.

"I don't think you have to choose between entirely not doing anything and being proactive," he said.

Growth has leveled off in Lawrence recently, after the population jumped from 65,608 in 1990 to more than 88,000 in 2006.

According to the district's head count Sept. 20, Free State High School has 1,206 students and Lawrence High School has 1,316. Included in that are 93 students who take high school classes through the Lawrence Virtual School who are assigned to either high school.

Those numbers are down from 1,236 at Free State last year and 1,339 at LHS.

After a 1994 bond issue, voters authorized the district to build Free State in northwest Lawrence. It opened in 1997 with 994 students its first year and 1,163 the next.

LHS dropped from 1,979 students the year before Free State opened to 1,215 in 1998-1999.

If a future need develops for a third high school, Minder said planning should not focus only on demographics but also the relationship between a school facility and students. With online learning becoming more popular, he said one day there might be less need for a giant, centralized school building.

"If teaching and learning gets changed in the future, then let's not constrain ourselves by that old model," he said.

Morgan said the public may get worried of talk today about a third high school because of enrollment numbers, but he said planning now could save money in the long run.

"Planning is a lot cheaper than letting the train run over you and then acting surprised that there was a train coming at you," he said.


Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago

Keep athletic fields on site or share.

Too much chamber thinking going on for my tax dollars.

LogicMan 10 years, 7 months ago

No, no, no! It won't be needed. The population is aging; two are more than enough.

Drive around south of town, and north of 1100 N Road -- it is largely flood plain, and the high spots are already built upon. It's far too expensive for the City to incorporate due to the extremely high infrastructure costs that would be incurred.

Besides infill developments, the City is growing, logically, to the West on high ground. New elementary and junior highs will be needed there.

honestone 10 years, 7 months ago

OMG.......didn't we just hear how the last bond issue didn't provide enough money for the furniture for the new school...planning? Now we want to spend money that we don't have on property for a sports complex that we don't need. Wow..........good move school board......

Terry Jacobsen 10 years, 7 months ago

Good grief... South Junior High is a fiasco. They didn't listen to a thing that the teachers and parents suggested. Auditorium is too small, the glass garage doors and useless, since the learing areas are separated by wide hallways. The lockers are so far from the class rooms that kids can't get to them between classes. They have had good weather all summer long and they still don't have the thing finished. I'm all for building and improving what we need for the kids, but I'm not in favor of the same group of people deciding what is built and when. We need some people to make these decisions who LISTEN to what the teachers and parents have to say.

mom_of_three 10 years, 7 months ago

There was lots of rain for the start of the summer, as they started on the building. Yes, the auditorium is too small, and I wondered myself what were they thinking, but the doors opened and the problem seemed to be solved. When I was in school, there were times you couldn't go to your locker between classes, and you dealt with it.
But so far, the kids seem to like it.
ANYTHING is an improvement over what was already there.

ljwreader1 10 years, 7 months ago

We should continue with the same successful practices of the past 40 to 50 years in Lawrence: a small clique of local family real estate, construction, banking and newspaper businesses collude with each other and city officials and the school board to enrich themselves at the expense of the general populace of Lawrence.

erod0723 10 years, 7 months ago

ibroke, Try living in some countries in Europe, such as Denmark, where you are taxed 80% of your income....

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 7 months ago

And years later, if Lawrence grows big enough to need 3 high schools, the whiners here will be complaining about why the present school board didn't look ahead and buy some land for another school while the land prices were cheaper. Whine, whine, whine. And have you ever bothered to attend a school board meeting? Not likely.

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 7 months ago

This is like dejavu or how ever you spell it sounds just like when they anted the second school everyone said no we don't need it but here we are with two. I guess time will tell.

erod0723 10 years, 7 months ago

I for one applaud the school board. They are actually designing long term plans that will better all of Lawrence. Who woulda guessed?

letsgetwise 10 years, 7 months ago

As far as I'm concerned the problems at South are NOT "solved" just because the doors opened. The auditorium is WAY TOO SMALL, and one of the teachers said they had asked for one with almost twice the seating. I am waiting for the first concert that has the choir, the band and the orchestra all on the same night. At old South, the gym (and the parking lot) were absolutely crammed. I cannot imagine this year. And yes, we did have quite a bit of rain at the start of the summer, but when school was out, I don't know what was done. And, either the paper or the website kept saying we were right on target, and then after maybe 1 or 2 rains, all of a sudden we were way behind schedule. I will believe that parking lot done when I see it. Doors open or not, there is much left to do...why? There is no flooring in the hallways and many classrooms. The lockers are too far away from the classrooms. The school looks nice, but I haven't heard any one that is convinced it's all it's been blown up to be. Better than the old South?? A resounding YES, however, that doesn't mean things are up to snuff, so to speak. There is still plenty to be done and I don't see any schedule at all.

thoughtpolice 10 years, 7 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront is the quintessential know-it-all who hasn't got the guts to make real decisions. It is so much easier to complain about what others are doing. If hawk doesn't like the decisions the school board is making, he needs to remove his dead ass from in front of his computer and run for the school board himself so that we can all share in his infinite wisdom. Of course that would mean that he would actually have to be accountable for something other than taking cheap shots at people like Mary Loveland and Scott Morgan who are giving their time to try to improve public education in Lawrence. Whether that matches my vision of what public education should be isn't the point; what is important is that they are at least DOING something about it. Get the hint, hawk?

hawk, it is clear to me that you have no clue whatsoever about what is going on in our school district. Our public schools have been continually underfunded and yet they continue to produce impressive results on standardized tests as well as high graduation rates. There are impressive efforts being made by educators to ensure that every student has an opportunity to succeed. I'm so sorry that you think your taxes are too high. Perhaps you should move.

perkins 10 years, 7 months ago

When it comes to school issues, I pay most attention to mom_of_three. She doesn't seem to have a hidden agenda and if the kids are reasonably happy with their school environment, let's give some credit to the Administration/Board and save our salvos for when we really need them. Having said all that, I do agree with those who are disconcerted by Board members discussing a third high school when enrollment is declining. It is easy to be skeptical about an Administration/Board that releases the students so early on Wednesdays rather than figuring out a way to give more planning/grading/collaboration (wink) time to teachers within the traditional school day.

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