Archive for Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Despite lawsuit, district pursues field financing

Funding for the new high school athletic fields has been approved tonight. The school board agreed on a measure to enter into a $8.8 million loan to fund construction of the fields.

November 11, 2008


Superintendent search update

For anyone who complains about the current school district leadership, your time is running out. And in the future, you might not have a reason to complain.


The Lawrence school board is looking for the public's help in identifying the qualities of the next superintendent.

The board drafted a timeline Monday evening in a meeting between board members and the firm leading the search for Superintendent Randy Weseman's replacement, and it targeted Dec. 9 and 10 as days when the public is invited to provide input as to what attributes the next superintendent should have.

Interviews with candidates are scheduled to begin Feb. 27, and the board will make a list of finalists the next day. The schedule calls for a public announcement of Weseman's replacement March 12.

The Lawrence school board Monday night voted to enter into a loan agreement with global lender De Lage Landen to finance construction of new athletic fields at Lawrence High School, Free State High School and Lawrence Virtual School, formerly Centennial School. The loan, just over $8 million, will be paid over 10 years and supplements $3.8 million left over from a 2005 bond issue already committed to funding the projects.

The district is set to have a hearing Friday with Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone to address the temporary restraining order leveled against the LHS projects. Last week, neighbors of the school filed a lawsuit against the district, complaining that the district and the city skirted protocol when identifying the proper building code for the projects.

The board voted Monday to set a special meeting for Nov. 17 to consider the status of the litigation, and "possibly authorizing immediate action as necessary" with regard to the LHS projects. The construction at Free State is not affected by the suit.

But Superintendent Randy Weseman said the Free State fields could meet the same fate as the Lawrence High projects if the restraining order is not lifted. "The board's strong commitment to equity" could put those projects in jeopardy, Weseman said.

The board also approved school calendars for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years. Classes will resume earlier in the next two years than they did this year; in 2009, classes begin Aug. 12, and winter break ends Jan. 4 for elementary students. In 2010 the school year begins Aug. 11, and winter break ends Jan. 3 for elementary students. This year school began Aug. 13; winter break ends Jan. 5 for elementary students.

The board also voted to retain Wichita-based Fruehauf Uniforms to design new band uniforms for LHS. The school district will pay $103,764 for the uniforms, which are expected to last 10 years. Free State's band will get new uniforms next year.

"It's been something we've been working hard to find a way to do for a number of years," said Scott Morgan, school board vice president.


Shelley Bock 9 years, 2 months ago

At this time, the football, baseball and soccer fields at Free State are completely torn up and all grass has been removed. Unless completed, there is no potential for usage during the Spring. I believe that softball is also torn up. There isn't any space for baseball or softball practice. Soccer has an alternative practice field, but would have to play competition at the less than acceptable YSI fields.I find it unfortunate that the LHS project has this roadblock. However, this should not impact Free State development. There wasn't any opposition by anyone to the improvement there. Not a single community member came to any meeting to protest the Free State plan.The lawsuit involves opposition to the LHS football field. That being the case, the District's continued "Noah's Ark" equity policy (everything in 2's), has been frustrated. Construction of facilities as planned at Free State should be continued for the Spring. LHS development has been delayed by the community it represents. Although the football field is the major source of contention, it would be great if other facilities such as the soccer field, baseball stadium, softball stadium, tennis and additional parking be continued.I have heard that some of the opposition to an onsite LHS venue is the desire to maintain LHS football at Haskell. If this is the case, that is probably the only way Haskell Stadium supporters could be successful. The Lawrence community and non-football participants shouldn't be harmed by their efforts.

cowboy 9 years, 2 months ago

read the lawsuit , its really weak , more of a whine than any reality , I predict it will be shot down pronto due to not being able to prove any damages. One of the plaintifffs is two blocks away.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 2 months ago

I would LOVE to know how much the good folks at De Lage Landen charged for interest and fees.

mom_of_three 9 years, 2 months ago

Hepburn, I get your point, but LHS baseball and softball haven't been able to practice at their own schools at all. (unless the softball uses the teeny tiny softball field next to the auto shop). I understand your frustration because no one has complained about Free State and noise, but would it be fair to improve Free state facilities while LHS is up in the air. It was bad enough that Free State had baseball and softball facilities at their own school, while LHS didn't. Why can't LHS continue building the baseball, softball and soccer fields? Isn't the only real contention the football stadium with the "noise" and parking?

compmd 9 years, 2 months ago

Wow, looks like the school board is taking a lesson in obtaining loans from the Custom Highline Book of Financing.

publicschoolsupporter 9 years, 2 months ago

Judge Malone will consider motions Friday afternoon. LPS hopes for a prompt decision in its favor. Otherwise this thing may drag on for months and the kids of Lawrence will be screwed royally by these narrow-minded "neighbors." That is.... assuming the "neighbors" are willing to pay huge sums for legal fees and potential "damages" to the schools. Stay tuned to this rediculous case.

SayWhat 9 years, 2 months ago

Admittedly, I'm learning of this late in the process. It seems reasonable to me that the people who live near LHS would be concerned about the impact. My question is this: Is there any reason why they can't build the practice fields at each high school and use the money it would take to build the two stadiums to instead build one sports complex? Many surrounding districts have their high schools share a main facility and it works well.

Shelley Bock 9 years, 2 months ago

Mom...That's really my point. Why not continue construction on the other venues while football is held up? It seems like all of the focus is on the football stadium. Why should baseball, softball, soccer and tennis be punished for controversy regarding football. I guess there maybe some discussion regarding the LHS softball field regarding setbacks of the stadium seating from the property line, but few had problems with the baseball stadium. (Tennis had some discussion regarding lights and proximity to neighbors on the west. I don't know if that problem has been resolved with the immediate neighbors.)I want local sports programs to be successful. Although I'm strongly a Free Stater, I wish the best for LHS against all except FS. But, I don't want football to hold all other outdoor sports (exception of cross country and golf) hostage to LHS field controversy. If this can't be resolved without litigation, then let those venues which lack dispute go forward. Build more parking for LHS students. Get the other sports on campus. If LHS wants to play in an antiquated, unsafe facility for exhorbitant rent, then so be it. Free State improvements have no opposition. Let those venues without problems go forward.

John Hamm 9 years, 2 months ago

hepburn, mom-of-three the school district is using a time old proven process. If you force us to halt this project for what ever reason. We'll halt all the other projects. People will blame you for the delay and try to force you to let us get our way. It's same thing the county tried to do on 31st Street when the "bypass" was originally tied up. They stopped maintaining 31st so it deteriorated thinking that would make people come around to accepting the bypass - didn't work then and you shouldn't let the school district get away with it now.

Shelley Bock 9 years, 2 months ago

Whatever the decision on the temporary restraining order is from Judge Malone, whether I agree or disagree with the outcome (and I am passionately for construction), I will accept. Without a doubt, Judge Malone is the best jurist in the state. His decisions constantly impress me with their clarity, insightfulness and adherence to the law.Putting it succintly, he'll do the right thing. I say this knowing that my position may be the wrong thing.

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