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Archive for Monday, March 17, 2008

District makes case for raising taxes

Statistics show Lawrence teacher salaries losing ground in state

March 17, 2008

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Supporters have uttered a familiar line in trying to drum up support before the April 1 Lawrence school district local-option budget election.

They say the $679,000 is needed to recruit and retain teachers who may otherwise be wooed by Johnson County school districts, such as Shawnee Mission, Olathe and Blue Valley.

According to Kansas State Department of Education statistics, Lawrence's average teacher salary in 2006-07 was $48,348, including benefits and supplemental salaries. In comparison, average teacher pay was $59,216 in Shawnee Mission, $56,678 in Blue Valley and $52,739 in Olathe.

Though after three years of raises in Lawrence to try to catch up on teacher salaries, the district lost ground after last year's average 3.28 percent raise, say leaders of the district's teachers group, the Lawrence Education Association.

They cite Kansas National Education Association data that has Lawrence dropping from 52nd to 73rd with benefits and supplemental compensation included, and from 41st to 59th without the benefits.

"I know that by the fact we did drop in state rankings, that is not going to help," said LEA president Adela Solis, a Cordley School teacher.

School board members are seeking the authority from voters to raise the extra money from the local-option budget, or LOB, which is funded by local property taxes. If successful, the $679,000 would allow school board negotiators to make a higher salary raise offer to the LEA during contract negotiations. The new money could also help fund the WRAP program, which places clinical social workers from Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center in some schools.

School districts are restricted by state law on how much they can tax and on how they can spend funds, such as for staff salaries versus building and capital costs. Administrators expect to receive an additional $2.1 million in funds from the state for next year, but about half is earmarked for certain purposes, such as special education.

Comparisons

Lawrence Superintendent Randy Weseman said it's hard to compare Lawrence's tax base with Johnson County's. Still, Lawrence also offers things other communities don't, such as being home to Kansas University, he said.

"Lawrence being unique, we have been able to hang in there with quality teachers and staff. ... We have a quality-of-life issue that appeals to people," Weseman said.

Lawrence school board member Craig Grant said one reason he voted to put the LOB question on the ballot was that Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley had already approved to go to the maximum LOB allowed, which is 31 percent of a district's state general fund.

Lawrence is seeking to go from 30 percent to 31 percent through the election. Johnson County districts have also benefited from an economic development county sales tax, which is set to expire at the end of this year.

One question is how the comparison between Lawrence and area districts translates into student achievement. Weseman said Lawrence has strong academic tradition and also beats the state average on assessment scores, although some areas need improvement.

According to state education department data from 2006-2007, Lawrence - except for fifth-grade reading when it beat Shawnee Mission - had a lower percentage of students score proficiently in math and reading at Blue Valley, Olathe and Shawnee Mission at three different grade levels.

Solis, citing KNEA figures, said she's concerned that Lawrence has fallen behind many other area districts in certain levels of the salary schedule, which determines teacher pay based on experience and education.

LOB's impact

For Lawrence property owners, a successful election could mean a tax increase - one of about $14 more per year for the owner of a $200,000 home.

Some say they want the district to be more efficient because property taxes place an unfair burden on older residents.

"I think there are much better ways at doing it than this," said Craig Sundell, of Kansans for Common Sense and Accountability, a political action committee.

Weseman said it might be difficult to persuade some voters to approve the measure because a property tax increase can be burdensome to residential homeowners. The LOB increase would equate to a 0.48 mill increase. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

"When that's the only tool we have, you have to ask," Weseman said.

But he also said that even if the April 1 vote were successful, it wouldn't guarantee a net property tax increase because the LOB increase is only one piece of the district's budget puzzle.

Last summer, after 2007-2008 budget discussions began about a 3.5 mill increase, Weseman recommended offsetting that increase by lowering other levies, the bond-and-interest and the capital outlay fund, mostly because the 2005 bond projects were bid under budget.

"There's no guarantees at this point, but the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior," he said.

Teacher retention

As advance voting began last week, board members have tried to provide information to parents about the election. The LEA has also supported the LOB increase.

Grant said as about 40 percent of the district's work force becomes eligible for retirement in 12 to 14 years, salaries will remain a hot issue.

"You want to be able to replace them with a mix of young teachers and veteran teachers," he said. "And in order to attract those teachers to the district and retain them, it's going to take us to have a competitive salary situation."

Solis said teacher retention is also important based on the cost of bringing new teachers up to speed.

"It's expensive," she said. "Though salaries for new teachers may not be expensive, training them and getting them up to par with what's going on educationally ... that all costs money."

Comments

Stain 6 years ago

I am shocked at how high the student fees are. We pay taxes and we're supposed to get a free education after that. It costs a family several hundred dollars a year to send a couple of kids to public school in Lawrence.

Teachers need to be paid better. We can't get good teachers for a pittance.

Obviously the school district needs more money, if they can't pay for textbooks and pay teachers a competitive wage that will keep them in this district. Lawrence is expensive for Kansas and the teachers don't get paid enough here.

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volunteer 6 years, 1 month ago

I support the teachers but I don't support the tax hike. I agree with the two members of the Board who voted against putting this issue on the ballot.

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hail2oldku 6 years, 1 month ago

Valkyrie_of_Reason (Kathy Getto) says:

Student and Instructional support is mainly teacher salaries. If you want to cut substantial costs it would have to be primarily teaching staff.

Hail - please explain the extra layers you speak of.

Sorry Kathy, but you are reading this incorrectly. With teachers pay taking as much of the budget as it does, there is no way it is in Student and Instructional Support. Teacher pay is in Instruction. I think I've answered the other part of your question regarding layers in other posts.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

Help me out please on this , anyone. Grant says that in 10-14 years or some nonsense like that, that there will be teachers retiring and thus, we need to have more money to hire good teachers. What is he smoking. If a teacher is retiring, they most likely are at the top pay scale. So, if I get this correct. When they retire, the pay they were getting could go to a new teacher and that would be pretty high starting pay. Is this Grant on the school board for real? Why do they need money now, because each time someone retires, they use the same salary , even if higher than starting, to attract someone. God, are they stupid.

It is one thing for the city to continue to prostitute the older neighborhoods and the residents, but is another for the district to think that John doe, because they aren't of the "elite teachers club" is stupid.

Vote no, vote no, vote no and boycott any business that comes out and supports this bond issue. Let' see what names show up in some big ad to "impress" us. Remember, when the city manager, the superintendent, the head of LHM, bill self, Hemenway, and it goes on and on,,all make $12,000 a month. we are screwed.

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max1 6 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence Superintendent Randy Weseman said it's hard to compare Lawrence's tax base with Johnson County's.

Ya think?

Johnson County Median household income $61,455 Poverty Rate (2003) 4.8% Douglas County Median Household Income $38,868 Poverty Rate (2003)12.4%

Lawrence also offers things other communities don't, such as being home to Kansas University, he [Weseman] said

http://www.ku.edu/pri/publicat/01annual.pdf The graph below compares the average wage per job in Douglas county to several other 'college-town' counties in other Midwestern states. Douglas county has again had by far the lowest average wage of them all. http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/povertyrates/PovListpct.asp?Longname=Kansas&ST=KS&SF=4A 2005 County-Level Poverty Rates for Kansas Ranked from least poverty to most povertry out of 105 Kansas Counties 1 Johnson County: 5.2% 95 Douglas County: 15.3% http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/PovertyRates/PovListpct.asp?ST=KS&view=Percent Children ages 0-17 in poverty (2005) Douglas County: 12% Johnson County: 5.5% http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/aug... August 29, 2007: Lawrence's poverty rate in 2006 was 12.5 percent for families, and 15.9 percent for families with children, according to the Census Bureau. The corresponding statewide averages were 8.6 percent and 13.8 percent. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/mar... March 29, 2006: In Douglas County, one of every five children is living within a few hundred dollars of the federal poverty line.

Weseman said it might be difficult to persuade some voters to approve the measure because a property tax increase can be burdensome to residential homeowners.

http://www.nccp.org/profiles/KS_profile_6.html 45% of children in low-income families live in owner-occupied housing. [And Grant wants to raise their property taxes] http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/aug/31/kansas_household_income_dropping August 31, 2005: Median household income in Kansas dropped 4.2 percent in 2004 http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/aug... August 23, 2005: The Lawrence school board on Monday passed the largest tax increase in six years.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

cool, the less money the district gets the better off everone is...so don't worry about the TIF. At least with a hotel, the guests will come and leave, unlike the whiny teachers and the LEA in Lawrence. Oh, by the way, wasn't it one of their own who fleeced the teachers union kitty? my, my , my. and I suppose that dude wasn't paid enough either.

Married or not married, we are not lucky to have two people on the same payroll, when it is a public payroll. Do the math. Let some other town be "lucky". and we will come out the winners.

Remember every time you think about voting , think about Corliss, Weseman, and Gene Meyers who are all making $12,000 a month and ask yourself "what am I making". Let them pay, let the teachers work for less. It won't make a diddly squat difference in their pay, this $600,000. When the district gets done messing with it, they will come back and want more. This is not a one time thing. Merrill, forget about vo tech. Lawrence is an elistist, socialist community. Look, you think that Bill Self making gazillons of dollars or Hemenway, with free housing cares about taxes or for that matter the doctors at LMH or their director, he doesn't pay any property taxes in Lawrence.

I thought city hall was bad about pimping out the 5 target neighborhoods, with their paid coordinators, the neighborhoods who serve as the whores of the city to garner federal funds. Now the school district wants us to believe that the teachers are underpaid and need more money for the "trick" they are turning to further better education.

Don't give them a raise and lets see who leaves. For everyone that leaves, there will be another city employee or KU prof or TA's spouse who needs and will take the job. More money doesn't get the job done. If the gal at Lawrence High had been paid more, would she have not banged the teen dude?

Vote no, vote no, and find out what businesses plan to vote yes, don't shop with them. When their revenue decreases and their taxes go up, they will "get smart".

didnt downtown lawrence have a "Smart" campaign? someting about shoppping downtown, well now is the time for the taxpayers in the city of Lawrence to get smart and the bankers as well. They won't mind paying more taxes on empty foreclosed homes, or will they?

Vote no.

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cool 6 years, 1 month ago

also - arguably the district could have saved this much by keeping a closer eye on building costs in the 2005 bond issue.

several of those projects have minimal 'nods' to energy conservation while others do quite well. The Central Junior High Gym addition for example is not 'state of the art' on building insulation for example and could have been designed to reduce energy costs much better if the district had watched operating costs better.

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cool 6 years, 1 month ago

after the OREAD INN TIF ?

www.oreadinn.com

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Pogo 6 years, 1 month ago

Douglas County and Lawrence, Kansas are fraught with patronage type job assignments. Same with KU.

hawkperchedatriverfront makes a most valid point by pointing out all the husband and wife or wife and husband or domestic partner and domestic partner "teams" all working for the County or the City or KU. Anyone who cares to suggest that this unctuous manner of "social networking" is not what gets a person hired in these here parts hasn't been in these here parts very long.

The best qualified is not the target employee for a new hire. It's a commodity that is known and one which is going to "play ball" with the boss people running the show that is sought; a head bobber and a "team player".(?)

As for what teachers should be paid, there are a heck of lot of other touchy feely type jobs; you know....the one's that work with kids in other capacities and these people don't get annual pay raises. The nurses who work for the Dept. of Health don't get no annual pay raise; the clerk processing welfare documents don't get no annual pay raise; etc., etc., etc. These two examples are state civil service workers. Civil service.....there's a whole different bunch of B.S. when it comes to knowing people......

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Multidisciplinary 6 years, 1 month ago

I know a couple of married couples that work for the school district, and Lawrence is lucky to have them all.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Teachers deserve good pay for the time and effort that goes into a teachers work day. It does not matter if one happens to be married to Randy Weseman or a billiionaire rock star.

Their jobs are not a piece of cake considering what is expected. Teachers sometimes spend their own money for teaching tools,keep certified and act as behavior consultants(they would gladly give this up).

Parents expect children to learn the basics of becoming a productive person and think about improving their skills at higher education institutions. Those institutions could be 4 year college,Vocational - Technical level, JOCO or an Art Institute. No matter which one the community expects them to leave public school with the ability to think for themselves and move forward.

So I say stop the city/county projects leading nowhere so taxpayers can afford to put money into education. That is absolutely the most appropriate and productive bang for the tax dollar.

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Kathy Gates 6 years, 1 month ago

Maybe I've had too much St. Patrick's Day, but what difference does it make if both spouses work for the school district? For that matter, for any government entity? Are you saying that if one spouse works for the school district, city, KU then the other spouse shouldn't also be able to work? What difference does it make if your spouse works for the same entity you do or for a private business? What does that have to do with the issue at hand?

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Pogo 6 years, 1 month ago

http://jobs.usd497.org/app/app_Positions_JobDetail.asp?PosType=1&JobYear=2007&JobNumber=199&JobCode=1&pName=Teacher - Gifted&pLoc=District Wide&bFile=EmployeeBenefitProgram07-08.pdf

is a web link for a teacher job with our school system.

Please note: THEY WORK 190 DAYS!

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

This bond issue is not a one time vote. It is everlasting. Think about it. The district doesn' want 600, 000 thousand something once.

The district owes the public an accounting of the number of double tit employees. How many spouse employed and other famly members? We know the city has duplicity, but fails to reveal the facts. The J/W won't cover it> I have been told the dont have the staff. Look, a reporter shows up at Wesemans office and ask a simple question. Who, what when and where. the same at Corliss office. The J/W and that means Dolph, does not want to offend his cronies, Wouldn't be much fun at the cocktail circuit when the waste is talked about.

AGain, vote no, vote no, and keep voting no until the NO vote is so overwhelming that the board will realize that they are not as smart as the very kids they claim to be educating. How did this board ever get thru school? After all, they didn't have the freebies this district throws around nor have the 30 million dollar south jr. high which is an architectural "ugly", not to mention a maintenance nightmare.

Free State is just as bad. What city puts their high school on a backroad. Lawrence did and now for obvious reasons, it is UGLY.

Vote no, vote no, and find out what business you patronize will vote no. If they dont/ don't shop there. Let them get a taste of expense. I can't wait for the big ad when names we are supposed to be impressed with as if they really matter. They don't.

And again, when the superintendent ,the city manager, the hospital director (who doesn't live here either) all earn $12,000 a month or more, they don't care either.

Vote no, vote no, and continue to vote no, until the parents who whine about the teachers, those parents move! Vote no until the teachers who complain that they are underpaid becasue they have a degree, let them move, well they already don't live here!!, well, let them teach where they are living now.

Thjis crap about degrees is really getting old. Many people in this town have a degree, house painters, factory workers, carpenters, but they don[t go around complaining that they should be rewarded because they have a degree. For god's sake, move to where your degree gets you what "you" think it should. The process is called migration. But wait a minute, the next words, will be "well, my spouse is at KU and I need to work here". And, that is just the problem.; Two teat feeders, city, county, USD 497, Bert Nash, and the list goes on and on;.

Vote NO>

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gr 6 years, 1 month ago

Valkyrie_of_Reason: "Where is the waste? "

Not quite the itemized listed I requested, but $13 Million for "Other Costs" seems interesting. Another interesting area is Student & Instructional Support. Then, since sports is not broken out, "Instruction" would need to be looked at, too, unless that's part of the City's Park & Rec. Where are the expenses for sports such as busing, trips, etc? Special education taking over a third of general education seems out of line to me, but maybe it's a legal requirement - something to look at.

Any time there is a need for a new tax, there should be opportunity to vote down previous taxes. A replacement instead of additional.

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6 years, 1 month ago

Ok so I looked at the budget and have these questions.

Looking at Instruction expeses page 5 Why did the budget for summer school for 07-08 go up 568% from 21725-145100? (let's give them double last yeat and there is 100000 back)

Since when is driver education a school's responsibility?(there is 125250 back in the budget)

Why was there NOTHING budgeted for Text and Student Material when as a parent I clearly pay TEXTBOOK RENTAL FEES?

Adult Education. I hate to be harsh but those that help themselves first get help. The kids have no choice and are mandated by law to be in school. As an adult if you didn't get the education the first time, then find a way to finance it. (there is 440881 back in the budget)

So far that is 666131 back.

Now, tell me what is being spent line by line for the 279800 budgeted for gifts and grants?

Where can I go to see detail of what has been spent in each fund so far this budget year?

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otto 6 years, 1 month ago

The layer of fat can be trimmed starting at the service center. There is apparently plenty of employees that their salaries should go to teachers. They have plenty of time to watch TV, read books etc... while getting paid. They could start by doing the cleaning etcc. rather than paying others to do this as well.

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le 6 years, 1 month ago

wish i could afford a home in lawrence...so i could throw city "commies" (commissioners) outta my window!followed by weseman...member when he tried to get parents to pay outta pocket for all day kindergarten?guess when yer wallets full you forget about the little people that line yer pockets (taxpayers) whom keep the (larrytown) machine on track! welcome to the machine...and dont get me started on the city planners...arrrrgh!!!!!!

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pbfh88 6 years, 1 month ago

Good grief. Here we go again. The teachers in our community believe their salaries need to be increased once again. $48,348 sounds like pretty good salary compared to a lot of the jobs in this community. And this is for 9 MONTHS!!! What about the other district employees -- the secretaries, the janitors, etc.? When do they get a decent raise? Our taxes continue to increase, then we are required to pay textbook rental fees (didn't we already purchase the textbooks with our tax dollars?); we are charged extra for band, art, technology classes, etc. I agree that teachers need to be paid a good salary, but they never seem to think it's good enough. Of course the Kansas City area pays better -- they're bigger communities!

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deskboy04 6 years, 1 month ago

I would sure like to go to Orlando at the end of the month.

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hail2oldku 6 years, 1 month ago

Hawk I think you and I are on the same side of this issue as far as VOTING NO.

I'm far more concerned however with the number of people, some students others who are not, who like live and work in Lawrence, even sending their kids to Lawrence schools, yet they are driving around town with out of state plates. Taking that one step further, our former Superintendent at the school district was one of those people that took our paycheck but never bothered to pay taxes here in the state.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

hail2oldku,,,those folks driving in are doing the community a service as they put the burden on their towns for schools. Why should we have teachers working in Lawrence not living in Lawrence. Why? I also come from a family of educators and those in Lawrence are whiners. This bond issue is not necessary, The teachers are not underpaid. You apparently don'tt get the drift either about the double tit income. How many employees in the district have a spouse working for the district and/or the city, county not to mention KU. The whole is almost now feeding from one shriveling breast. How much longer before it dries up?

The district buildings are in shambles, despite millions of dollars being spent..

Vote no, vote no, and vote no.

and by the way, those who drive into work in Lawrence do not want to live here. It has nothing to do with housing costs. It has to do with a school district that panders to the children, drug infested, a university climate that the parents don't want their kids around and a town that is becoming more dirty as we speak and rundown. They do not want to live here. And further, I have inquired among workers at various employers and they told me if they got a raise, they would MOVE from Lawrence.

Vote NO, vote NO, find out what businesses support the bond issue and don't shop there. Let's see when the big page ad comes out, who will support the bond issue. People like Corliss who makes $12,000 a month plus his wife's income. People like Hemeway who makes $12,000 a month plus his wife's income from KU, people like Perkins who makes 100,000 a month, people like the board members whose husbands make thousands a month. Again, how many employees at the district have two more more family members working in the district? The same with the city. The J/W refuses to do a story about this. They will claim they don't have the staff. Wanna bet that Dolph will come out and support the bond issue? How much?

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hail2oldku 6 years, 1 month ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says:

Taxes in this state are out of control and it is time for TABOR which would include personal property tax.

My retired, disabled mother just received a tax bill which indicated a 50% valuation increase on her house!

No way and no way that such an increase can be justified!

The house would not bring the original evaluation in this market!

Where does your mother live Marion? I would imagine it would be fairly easy to protest that evaluation unless her property has somehow been reclassified.

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Marion Lynn 6 years, 1 month ago

Taxes in this state are out of control and it is time for TABOR which would include personal property tax.

My retired, disabled mother just received a tax bill which indicated a 50% valuation increase on her house!

No way and no way that such an increase can be justified!

The house would not bring the original evaluation in this market!

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Kathy Getto 6 years, 1 month ago

Student and Instructional support is mainly teacher salaries. If you want to cut substantial costs it would have to be primarily teaching staff.

Hail - please explain the extra layers you speak of.

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BigPrune 6 years, 1 month ago

Are there very many children moving into Lawrence, or are people just laying around having children? I'd like to a historical chart displaying enrollment numbers over the past 20 years - that also differentiates between REAL school and VIRTUAL school.

I'd also like to see the school district do away with half day Wednesdays every week. I'd also like to see the superintendent's salary cut.

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hail2oldku 6 years, 1 month ago

Valkyrie_of_Reason (Kathy Getto) says:

gr (Anonymous) says: Let's see an itemized list of expenditures. I bet with minimal effort, there is so much waste, those teachers could have a much greater salary. But, I bet the school board wouldn't want the public to see the enormous waste.


http://www.ksde.org/LinkClick.aspx?filet:

Where is the waste?

General Administration, School Administration, Operations & Maintenance all have extra layers that could be trimmed. Can you get some detail on the $12 million in other? There is probably some that can be sliced there as well as in Student and Instructional Support.

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hail2oldku 6 years, 1 month ago

Lawrencereader (Anonymous) says:

How many of you complaining on this board have ever attended a school board meeting or read the annual budget that is published every year? Not a one of you, I bet. Before you complain about all the money being "hidden", look at the budget and see where it all goes. Until you are informed about how money is spent in school districts, you are just whining.

Been there done that reader. There is plenty of fat to be cut. I come from a family of educators and know that we could be running this more efficiently.

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hail2oldku 6 years, 1 month ago

Hawk - that $48k isn't an average salary, that takes into account the fringes like life/health insurance, the employers portion of FICA, WC, U/I, etc.

I can also find a large group from K-Mart distribution that lives elsewhere and drive in to work so don't try and throw that one out there either.

I'm not saying there aren't some out there doing better than alright for themselves.

I'm just pointing out that I wouldn't have any problem paying the teachers more and the administrators less.

You point out Bracciano, I'd like to add Hunter who reports to Bracciano. What the hell is he doing to earn his paycheck? That's just two in the layer that are being paid better than our educators and doing less for that money.

What about the school secretary that is getting extra duty pay for lunch duty while collecting her regular pay at the same time? How much double-dipping is going on this district that could be eliminated and the saving could be used to cover the proposed pay increase.

Do we really need a Chief Academic Officer, Director of Curriculum, Social Studies, Specialist, Science/Health/PE Specialist, Career/Technical/Fine Arts Specialist, Information Resources Specialist and a Special Ed Specialist? What about a Director of Assessment and Director of Instructional Services?

I think you get my point. There is plenty of fat to be trimmed before we need to give the school district any additional funding.

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Lawrencereader 6 years, 1 month ago

How many of you complaining on this board have ever attended a school board meeting or read the annual budget that is published every year? Not a one of you, I bet. Before you complain about all the money being "hidden", look at the budget and see where it all goes. Until you are informed about how money is spent in school districts, you are just whining.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

I would rather spend money on education any day of the week.

But city /county government keep increasing tax bills this way yet we never get a chance to vote it down. Adding these items to our tax bills is not necessarily a sign of fiscal responsibility...quite the opposite. It increases the cost of community services each time new homes are approved: water and sewer line streets and repairs houses public schools fire stations law enforcement manpower sidewalks snow removal bike trails and cross walks Traffic signals Traffic calming developers requesting more tax dollar assistance(new infrastructure) for their warehouses and retail strip malls.

*In general increases the cost of community services to all taxpayers which is a tax increase. Where is the outrage?

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

hail2oldku...just curious? If a worker at Kmart Dist Center making $30,000 a year can afford to live here and buy a house and save money and own multiple properties, why then can't a USD 497 teacher with average salary of $48,349, do the same,not to mention the spousal income tacked on also.

Weseman is full it. Bracciano is inept at managing the district facilites. God, just drive around and look at how run down the buildings are. Paint needed on every building. Central Junor high looks like a mess on the south side. crapped out parking lot, old fence stored, chain link that even a salvage yard wouldn't have around it . not to mention the shoddiness of the whole surroundings.

Vote no, tell the folks you do business with in Lawrence that they need to speak out against the bond issue. Their taxes will go and so will your prices. If the Chamber supports this, make a point to not to business with anyone who is a member of the Chamber of Comisery!

Vote no! The teachers are not going to leave anymore than they are not going to live in the town they suckle from. They are the worst examples of leaders and educators, crying for more. Some teaching example they set.

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Godot 6 years, 1 month ago

The school board should cut $600,000 from the administrative salary line of budget and move that over to the teachers' salaries.

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Dont_Feed_The_Bears 6 years, 1 month ago

I will make sure I vote no on this one. I can afford $4.00/gal for fuel, I can not afford the property tax. Hell with the sub prime problem... in the 5 years I have lived here my escrow account has added over $200.00 to my house payment per month. I am damned tired of our "Servants" enjoying a raise every year .... which is given at my expense. Let them do without like I have to. They might also try showing up for work as often as I have to also. Just a thought.

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Pogo 6 years, 1 month ago

Read carefully: "...including benefits....". The $48,348 dollar figure includes, I expect, health insurance, holiday pay (the good Lord knows schools have LOTS of those...); retirement....etc. It's not just the pay....

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williaa 6 years, 1 month ago

I'm not sure where that average salary came from. I work for the school district, have a masters degree, and make about 10-15k less than my peers I graduated with who work elsewhere. I choose to continue to live and work in Lawrence, because I love this city. However, between the outrageous cost of housing here and the lag in salary we are scraping by each month. I can't afford to pay the tax hike that will increase my salary!!

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Norma Jeane Baker 6 years, 1 month ago

I think the issue, smgkag, is not necessarily an extra $1.17 per month, but rather the continued habit of taxing and then taxing some more, and then implementing another tax. The school district needs to practice fiscal responsibility.

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Pogo 6 years, 1 month ago

Oh my word.....looking at that school board "conference" schedule, I can find not one thing that addresses how to finance a school district!

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Pogo 6 years, 1 month ago

The 2008 National School Board Conference is being held in Orlando, FL. The dates are March 27---April 1.

Please don't say the school board from here is going to that thing?

http://www.nsba.org/conference/schedule/glance.cfm

deskboy04 (Anonymous) says:

Where is this year's national school board convention? I'll bet that it's in a nice warm weather location.

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Kathy Gates 6 years, 1 month ago

You're complaining about spending an extra $1.17 a month if you own a $200,00 house? I know they've got money from the bond issue. They can't spend it on academics, can they?

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Kathy Getto 6 years, 1 month ago

gr (Anonymous) says: Let's see an itemized list of expenditures. I bet with minimal effort, there is so much waste, those teachers could have a much greater salary. But, I bet the school board wouldn't want the public to see the enormous waste.


http://www.ksde.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=RhvjHZ6hK6E%3d&tabid=1932

Where is the waste?

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

" headdoctor (Anonymous) says:

Merrill, that $2 plus million construction savings is not money that just fell from the sky."

Yes I know but if it's going to be spent I say spend it wisely on other buildings or put the high schools on solar power.

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Defender 6 years, 1 month ago

I will NOT pay more tax to this idiotic school district, period.

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headdoctor 6 years, 1 month ago

Merrill, that $2 plus million construction savings is not money that just fell from the sky. It is money that either didn't need to be borrowed or is money that was borrowed and needs to be paid back plus interest. School financing is just like the election process. It is governed by laws that the rules are created from. The way it stands now you cannot mix capital improvements with the annual budget. If you don't like the system try to change it. I personally think it stinks that the school can blow thousands of dollars on temporary class rooms because they need voter approval for building repair and or replacement. At the same time I don't want to allow the school board to just start building schools with out some sort of check and balance. There needs to be more oversight in what s going on with the annual budget.

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George_Braziller 6 years, 1 month ago

"the district lost ground after last year's average 3.28 percent raise"

Waaaahhhhh. A 3% across the board COLA is all the staff at our agency have ever gotten. Last year it was 2%. It would be interesting to know what the range of raises was to come up with the "average". Who got the 1% raise and who got the 15 or 20% raise?

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gr 6 years, 1 month ago

"If the $2 plus million were to spent more wisely voters might approve the increase."

You're right. There is waste galore! Playing sports is fine, but I'm not sure how one could support spending $2 Million for athletic fields as a return on investment. Totally unnecessary. Wouldn't spending $2 Million for teaching kids give a better return than burying it in the ground? How does spending that much for sports ever help educate a kid for meeting the requirements for life?

Let's see an itemized list of expenditures. I bet with minimal effort, there is so much waste, those teachers could have a much greater salary. But, I bet the school board wouldn't want the public to see the enormous waste.

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deskboy04 6 years, 1 month ago

Where is this year's national school board convention? I'll bet that it's in a nice warm weather location.

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ChristmasCarol 6 years, 1 month ago

As much as Merrill knows,

I wonder if he knows who funds most the states legislators campaigns.

I found it to be the HBA. Which is definitely a special interest group.

Don't they expect kickbacks.

thanks for making sense of some of it for me merrill.

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mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

I would like to know how the school budget is spent. Several years ago, the state cut the funding for the school district and the school fees skyrocketed. Then a couple of years ago, the funding was reinstated, but the fees charged to parents haven't reduced. So where is the money going? I know finally school bus fees are reduced a bit, but not gone.
If they can prove they need the money, then I would vote yes. But I think there is some money somewhere.

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hail2oldku 6 years, 1 month ago

I have no problem with giving the teachers an increase in pay. I don't have a problem with the number of them living out of town and driving in because they can't afford housing in town.

I have no beef with trying to improve the school district's athletic facilities - let's face it folks they are a joke compared with peer districts in the area.

I do have a problem with the district asking for more money from the taxpayer's though. If our district were run more efficiently, it wouldn't need to ask for more money. Randy and his good ol' boy network has been living large with little to no accountability. Cut the layers of fat at the administration building. Put administrators in the schools that actually do school work instead of running their NCAA Brackets or setting up their Pool Tournaments. Do away with the early dismissal on Wednesday since the only collaboration many teachers do is how to get out of the building as fast as possible. This would allow for a shorter school year meaning lower utilities, less time paying building support staff, etc.

These are just a few of the reasons I will vote no.

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OnlyTheOne 6 years, 1 month ago

What's important to Lawrence's school district? I'll tell you.We have a quality-of-life issue that appeals to people," Weseman said. Yes Mr. Weseman's and other administrators! The suits ain't sufferin'.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

Pogo, is correct. For some reason, Weseman wants us to believe that the teachers are desttitute. What Weseman is not telling the Lawrence taxpayer is what the spouse of this "underpaid" teacher is doing, like the wife of the former city manager. We had two employees both on the taxpayer's wallets. I wish Weseman would come clean and quit trying to brainwash the public as the school board is , into believing that Lawrence teachers are "poor" How about the doctor whose wife works for the district? Hmm? And again, how many USD 497 employees do not live in the city? It is time, that they at least keep their salary at home. Vote NO, tell your friends, hand out flyers, whatever. The sad thing is, the school board will drum up some big butt add (dolph makes more money!!!) and try to persuade us that we should vote, because Bill Self signed it, or some bunch of lawyers or whomever. Vote no, vote no, and vote no.

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LogicMan 6 years, 1 month ago

"Vote "NO". Vote early. Vote often."

Ditto, and help all your friends and neighbors to get out and vote NO too.

It's time to send a firm message to elected officials to tighten their belts, like we are having to.

LJW: How 'bout publishing these comments in your printed version tomorrow? Today's 'pro' article lacked balance, so a 'con' article is needed.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

I would not put too much stock into those average numbers because that does not cover those on the lower end of the spectrum which may be many. Otherwise there might be the concern of losing teaching staff.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Put the $2.6 million excess back into the buildings towards energy efficiency thus reducing operating costs.

Why not install solar energy systems on the high schools and the USD 497 office building? Get off the primary grid and maybe sell some energy back??

JOCO school district passed a 1/4 cent economic growth sales tax to provide some additional funding to the school district. The general consensus nationwide is an excellent public school district creates economic growth.

Lawrence leaders chose instead to develop a high tax bedroom community which does not create economic growth but high tax bills which as we see makes it difficult for taxpayers to jump on the USD 497 bandwagon in spite of the fact it is a better bang for the tax buck by far.

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tir 6 years, 1 month ago

No offense, but if the average teacher in Lawrence makes $48,348, that's WAY more than I bring in per year. And yet, it seems that just about every year, the District comes back to me (and other lower income taxpayers) asking for more money for teacher salaries. Small wonder that I don't feel particularly inclined to oblige this year.

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Pogo 6 years, 1 month ago

Oh good grief. Here we go again.

What is this with teachers thinking they need an annual pay raise? State workers don't get an annual pay raise, why should teachers?

We agree, too, that all teachers and for that matter county and city workers should be required to live in the county and/or the city depending upon their job.

What we really need around here is a City/County earnings tax similar to the one in place in Kansas City, Missiouri. They're a lot of people who work in Lawrence and Douglas county who don't live in either. They come to our community, take our money, then go back to their cozy digs elsewhere. Meanwhile, those of us who live here and have watched our property taxes go up and up and up and our services go down and down and down are stuck with yet another bill (the increased property tax bill).

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MattressMan 6 years, 1 month ago

They are seeking more money yet dont have the brains to try and save where they can. It is probably a bad example but as we sit here today the LHS baseball team is on an extended road trip into the state of Oklahoma. Why?

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satchel 6 years, 1 month ago

Where does all the money go each time they raise taxes to give to the schools? Perhaps in the administrators and higher up's pockets? New buildings and maintances perhaps., but what about the teachers? I am willing to bet it gets caught up in the beurocracy instead of going to the teachers where it SHOULD GO. I think this has been the typical history of public schools. The money is given to the administration or the higher ups before it gets to the teachers. I would love to see how high the administraters salaries have gone in the past 10 years as opposed to the teachers. Apparently in Lawrence they haven't given as much to their teachers as Olathe, Blue Valley and Shawnee have given. Perhaps the problem is with the beurocracy in Lawrence, not the fact that there isn't enough money.

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Norma Jeane Baker 6 years, 1 month ago

I am forced to live within my means. If my expenses go up but my income does not, I need to reprioritize my budget and adjust accordingly. USD 497 needs to do the same.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

When the city and county come out with it will only cost this much on certain value amount.....

How many times have taxpayers heard this over the past 20 years?

Each time property values are inflated how much more then are taxpayers truly paying?

The point here is taxpayers have the city/county commissioners, in which 6 of 8 were funded largely by the development community, pushing hard for NEW projects which will require tax dollars and likely increase the cost of community services forever. While at the same time not investing in maintenance of older infrastructure. This needs to stop.

If taxpayers are feeling like they cannot afford USD 497 and cannot afford to maintain older vital infrastructure why are the city and county governments constantly increasing our liability?

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Norma Jeane Baker 6 years, 1 month ago

Vote "NO".

Vote early.

Vote often.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 1 month ago

So they need more money so that teachers won't teach at Blue Valley? Hmmm, I wish Weseman would come forward and tell the public how many current USD 497 employees do not live, repeat do not live in the city of Lawrence. Maybe it is time the teacher live in the town they get their breast milk from. Not only is the city prostiutiing the older neighborhoods, the school district treats all the taxpayers as whores to provide income to a bloated district.

Vote no. Send a message that the district employees need to live where they work!!

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macon47 6 years, 1 month ago

Do I believe some USD teachers deserve higher pay? absolutely!!

shall we just send all our money to randies dandies

it still wont be enough it never is

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spywell 6 years, 1 month ago

The school district should of Veto this Oread Inn's TIF deal and made the developers pay their own way.

I just can't wait until April 1st to vote, NO!

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

While developers continue to push the envelope for more residential construction which makes them tons of dough are they donating the space for more public schools OR is this on the back of taxpayers again? What about that?

Who wants to build new neighborhoods which creates the need for additional infrastructure? The chamber/real estate/development community. If this were put to a vote the majority of taxpayers would vote STOP IT NOW.

They and the city/county commissions create the tax dollar problems. More homes,more students = increased need for staffing = more tax dollars. If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive we would not be in a budget crunch.

Placing a thousand acres aside for low paying warehouse jobs will not create the type of economic growth/return taxpayers need from a $50- $70 million tax dollar investment. Rebates,TIF's and abatements will not drive a net gain. This is what the our USD 497 is up against.

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KsTwister 6 years, 1 month ago

As they tax more families this school system will see less of a need for the money as they take their kids and move. The school board at least is consistent in that they always need more for teachers wages and when they get it, spend it elsewhere. This time is a resounding "no". I can find no one who will support another increase at this time. The one who is getting a better education seems to be the taxpayers. Finally.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

The fact that this city and county commission is constantly increasing the cost of community services to all taxpayers with new infrastructure and new projects weekly.This mismanagement style of government puts this vote in dire straits. USD 497 has heavy competition for tax dollars which works against the school district. The city and county both have big time tax dollar projects that WILL NOT pay back anytime soon on the table which potentially means property owners pick up the tab. Both want to increase taxes.

Consider this: The city's current budget crunch can be tied directly to infrastructure expenses needed to serve new housing developments. If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services they require from a municipality.

There are a lot of empty homes in Lawrence,Kansas. Some of these brand new homes have never had owners and have been on the market for nearly 12 months. If owner occupied homes do not pay for themselves how will more new empty homes make things better. I'd say the city and county commissions favor the Chamber led development/real estate industry over our need for maintaining an excellent public education district. An excellent public education district and a great Vo-Tech system is worth far more towards encouraging economic growth than more and more new residential will ever be.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Find a way to use the more than $2 million left from new construction and apply it academically. Some of us are not impressed with spending $45,000 to get $600,000: this will create problems. If the $2 plus million were to spent more wisely voters might approve the increase. I think this vote is in trouble which will be a waste of $45,000.

Do I believe USD teachers deserve higher pay? absolutely!!

Do I believe spending $2 million on the athletic fields is a worthwhile venture? No I don't . If it cannot be spent academically spend it on school buildings toward energy efficiency. I believe the powers that be would make an exception and allow capital improvement money to be spent academically. Has anybody asked?

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spywell 6 years, 1 month ago

Programs like the "T", roundabouts, homeless shelters and many other social programs were funded locally because the federal government cut funding for any new growth in neo-social concepts. Federal grants and special interest loans dried up at the federal level. Many cities that were controlled be these new local neo-dems wanted to re-develop their blighted areas and pass many new property grabbing laws which cause a stir clean to the supreme court. These cities would steal property for the common good of increasing their tax base and allow developers to re-develop and granted them all means of bonds and tax relief at the publics and former land owners expense.

So, instead of a "government for the people and by the people", we have this shift to a "government of special interest for the development of profit from taxing the people to fund special interest programs that benefit a few people" .

So, now America is at the brink of financial ruin. Who will bail us out? No one. What will your home be worth when you can't even leave your home without being in danger of your life. Depression awaits America and without doubt it is coming. The bond market, stock market, and commodities will all tumble in this crisis, one at the hand of the other.

There's no fixing the problem now its too late.

No more local taxes! Fools!

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spywell 6 years, 1 month ago

These local leaders and city and county government leaders are the root cause of our nations financial crisis at present.

Increasing taxes for more local social programs and to promote "GREEN" redevelopment. (like the $250,000 study the CC paid last year to this bogus group of street hustlers who travel around to all cities that are pro-green and locally Dems controlled and binked them all for $250,000 each with the same bogus software generated proposal.) FY-CC.

When the Dems lost control of congress back in 1994. America's 'big government". After 40 years of big national government spending under Dems control was halted by the GOP. It started under the former Clinton policies to help balance the national budget. The Clinton's only positive move in the white house was this slashing of big government spending and at the cost of all that 40 years of DEM control congress had gained. This was done solely to balance the budget, so that Clinton could claim his only and single victory for 8 years of nothing.

In reacting to this shift in power, the Dems quickly organized a national push to put Dems in control of almost all State, County and city governments. Million of dollars left the Dems national cauffers and was plowed into local political candidates elections bids. The Dems gaining control of many local governments while most republicans slept or did not really want local political offices. So the liberal robbers took power easy.

Quickly mill levies were increased and property re-evaluations were increased nationally. The real estate markets responded to these increased values and further pushed the market upwards.

Then the interest rates on loans began to fall due to responses to economic indicators because of NAFTA and bankrupt borrowers who were forced out of home ownership due to rising taxes and lower wages and layoffs. Many refinanced and pull this false equity out of their homes they had owned for years and couldn't make the payments and the market started seeing many loan failures, starting in 1996 and increasing for the past 12 years.

Interest rates continued to fall and this fueled even more higher home prices because the real estate industry, like the auto industry are payment sellers. What can you afford, each month? Lower rates on loans allow more room for sale price increases and more gross commission @ 7% of retail to be gained. So, suddenly, a home that was worth about $80,000 in a matter of about 5 years was selling for $170,000. County appraisers work together with home loan private appraisal groups and realtors and falsely pushed the property values of home across the nation upwards.

Cont'

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spywell 6 years, 1 month ago

By the time you figure in the transportation cost to drive to Kansas City, any teacher would keep less money by taking a job elsewhere. $48,000 per year is a lot of money considering what many people earn are other jobs here in Lawrence.

I vote no!

No more taxes for any reason whatsoever!

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