Archive for Friday, July 3, 2009

School district needs to cut $500K more

July 3, 2009


Kansas schools face cuts

Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson announced Thursday schools could see sizeable cuts in the coming year. Enlarge video

The Lawrence school district’s budget ax will need to cut deeper.

District administrators said Thursday that school board members must cut an additional $500,000 for the 2009-2010 school year. Gov. Mark Parkinson announced another $39 million hit statewide to public schools in the midst of the state’s budget crisis.

“Our teachers will feel the pain with less support in the classroom, and so we’ll need to tighten our belt,” Superintendent Rick Doll said. “We kind of feel like a boxer here getting punched, and we just took another major blow today.”

The news could have been worse, Doll said. Last month, school board members followed the advice of then-Superintendent Randy Weseman and implemented about $700,000 more cuts than they needed to at the time.

Weseman has retired this week, and Doll, the former Louisburg superintendent, took over on Wednesday.

In the last year, the school board has cut more than $2.5 million from its budget — including reductions in the number of custodians and elementary school clerical aides. The district also eliminated bus service for students who live less than 2.5 miles from their schools.

Administrators will present board members with options on more cuts at their July 20 meeting.

Scott Morgan, school board president, said board members likely will look again at cutting more into the budget for support staff members and programs for students.

On top of Thursday’s announcement, board members have also asked for options to minimize a possible property tax increase. The economic recession has decreased property values in the school district, meaning it would take a higher mill levy rate to generate the same amount of revenue a year ago.

Preliminary district numbers anticipate an increase of 2 to 4 mills from last year, mostly to help make district bond payments because property values are lower than expected. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.

“There is a lot of interest on the board in trying to bring that number down because obviously everyone is hurting out there,” Morgan said.


volunteer 8 years, 10 months ago

Maybe a fresh face in the superintendent's office will find some fat in the central office. Scott Morgan said nothing about looking at that, instead focusing on the classroom. This is the opposite of what I hear parents and taxpayers wanting.

One hears that Lawrence has some central office bloat while other big districts are more earnest about combining central office staff positions and finding other central office efficiencies.

The Wednesday early dismissal should be looked at. My LHS teacher friend told me they only collaborate one Wednesday a month, not each Wednesday. How many of us believe the education is better now than before the early Wednesday dismissal? The required extra days of running the schools to make up for lost student time on Wednesdays is an expense that perhaps we cannot afford now that the schools must make harder choices.

Finally, too bad the Lawrence NEA did not press for a 30 minute, duty free lunch for the elementary teachers while the money was flowing during the state Supreme Court ordered force-feeding years. The elementary teachers here deserve a half hour lunch uninterrupted by playing lunch monitor. If the little burgs around us are enlightened enough to provide some paras to do that duty, it is a black mark that Lawrence does not.

mysixthsense 8 years, 10 months ago

Volunteer, I stand to correct the assertion that Lawrence teachers don't get a lunch break...indeed, they get a 40 minute uninterrupted lunch while the Paras do lunchroom and recess duty. It is the Paras who do not get a paid lunch break or any scheduled breaks at all! Further, if support staff is decreased, it puts the teachers, paras, and all students in a much worse situation than already exists, and that will be unbearable. Paras already work very hard for not much compensation. Lawrence Paras make the lowest rate of pay of any school district that I have heard of. I know of many bright young teachers going to KC school districts for the same reason. Wake up Lawrence, your kids school experience is about to become sub par!

dandelion 8 years, 10 months ago

This is what my sister sent me from her KNEA group. They can continue to cut taxes to keep businesses in the state, but how will they attract new business when they the schools start to go downhill? Will a business really spend millions to move out of a state, because they have to pay a few more dollars in taxes? Doesn't sound like good business practice to me. Corporations could care less about communities.

"For the past several years, policy makers have been on a tax cut spree. According to a memo from legislative staff, just calculating the tax cuts passed since 2005, the impact on the 2010 fiscal year is a loss of over $180 million to the state treasury. By FY 2013, that impact will be $1.135 billion. This is providing they pass no more tax cuts between now and 2013!   It is long past time for legislators to stop this tax cut madness and rethink the whole Kansas revenue system. It is possible to craft a system that is fair to both individuals and businesses, provides for economic development, funds quality state services, and is less susceptible to swings in the economy.   Once again, we call on the legislature to establish a tax modernization commission made up of economists, business leaders, representatives of non-profits and state agencies, and legislators to study the system and bring forward recommendations for change. Only then will the legislature deal effectively with the structural deficit in our system. Only then can Kansans begin to count on quality state and local government services."

absolutelyridiculous 8 years, 10 months ago

Hopefully the new Super will do some house cleaning at the top and we'll get back to teaching again...

volunteer...thanks for sharing the truth on the early Wednesday dismissal...what a farce. Where is the accountability?

Mr. Doll...Welcome to Lawrence and best wishes to you. Hopefully, you can invibe some common sense and backbone leadership...we need that right now.

Any other issues we need to expose readers?

ljwreader64 8 years, 10 months ago

I think it is time we asked teachers/students/parents to think outside the box and use this as an opportunity to teach a lesson in government, budgeting, social policy and creativity. This district has apporox. 10,0000 students. During the summer break students could work together or individually to each be able to contribute $50 to the district to makeup the $500,000 difference. It would be interesting to see how creative they are and how proud they would feel at the end of the summer. If the entire community was aware of the goal and helped with in-kind contributions and time, this could happen. Come on Lawrence--quit complaining. We owe this to the future leaders of our city.

kugrad 8 years, 10 months ago

While I think LPS paras are fantastic, the person who posted that teachers get a 40 minute duty free lunch is way off base.

Here is the actual facts for elementary lunch: All teachers get a 30 minute duty-free lunch. Not 40, 30. However, because students must also be walked to the lunchroom, sometimes supervised while in line, the actual time is reduced by about 5 minutes or perhaps a bit more. If you have ever taught elementary, you know there is just barely time to wolf down your food and use the restroom before you pick the kids back up. I had a more leisurely lunch when I was a dishwasher. The paras have to clock out during lunch, which is ridiculous. Any supervision that paras do during lunch break is paid.

What elementary teachers need is plan time that is equitable with that receieved by Jr. High and High School teachers. I don't hear elementary teachers complaining about lunch; that is just part of the job. Plan time is a much more important issue to teachers.

basketballer 8 years, 10 months ago

I can only speak for myself, but as a para this past year here in the district, yes we had to clock in for the morning, clock out for lunch, then clock back in after lunch and then clock out after our duty day. Numerous times (especially dealing with the special edu paras) we had to "on our lunch break (supposed to have been 30 minute duty free/student free-never really happened) we had to watch silent reading, assisted student issues and messing around from restroom to class, the lunch room was not an issue, but if students were not able to "handle" themselves in the lunch room they were sent to us, while our supervisor was able to leave and go to her 30 minute lunch.

The 30 minute duty free lunch time is a touchy subject for me, we had many meetings about "if we are working then we need to clock back in after we scarfed our food down or didn't eat, that created time clock overload" then we started clocking out and and working through lunch and then we were in trouble for that. There was no happy medium, there simply are not enough people to cover the building so that we could have duty free lunches.

I say all this from the view of a para....and with the budget cuts, and lay-offs and rehires- I have my Kansas Teaching License and Bilingual Endorsement with a Special Education minor........and I can't find a job.

I just wish everyone really truly knew how hard it is to not have enough paras for the number of students who need true honest help. It just creates grumpy impatient teachers, supervisors, and paras. This is so sad since we are all supposed to be doing everything in the best interest of the kids.

So, I just want to say there are some truly dedicated paras out there that make $9.50 an hour not getting their 2 fifteen minute breaks a day let alone a full 30 minute duty free lunch. (And gosh forbid if you forget to clock in or out....time clock overload......).

worldaway 8 years, 10 months ago

RE: Wednesday early dismissal and collaboration: That may be the case at LHS but at the elementary school where I teach, we collaborate every Wednesday with our grade level. We also meet with specials teachers, SPED, Title, OT, counselor, social worker, principal, etc. These times are very valuable to elementary teachers. Wednesday afternoons are also used for meetings at the ESDC. Many of the above mentioned teachers go there once a month for specialized meetings. We are also field testing two math series this year and will be meeting several times on Wednesdays to discuss the pros and cons of each series.

My duty free lunch break is 25 minutes at the most.

I do sympathize with the constant clocking in and out that paras are required to do. I have seen many of them eat their lunch on their feet or whenever they can sneak in a quick snack.

chargdup 8 years, 10 months ago

How much will that new neighborhood eyesore near Lawrence High School cost? That was something that should never have been started.

volunteer 8 years, 10 months ago

I'm surprised the Master Agreement does not contain language such as "Every teacher will receive at least 50 minutes a day, within the student day, for planning time." The contracts I have been privy to in other districts did contain such language.

My elementary teacher pal was attracted here because Lawrence is such a cool place to live and she saves time and money by not commuting. This district also has an early retirement plan that teachers in other districts envy. Most smaller districts have no such thing as an early retirement incentive.

I fully agree with those who have mentioned that having to line up the students and walk them to lunch, pausing for the kid who trips and needs to tie his shoes or whatever, means that elementary teachers are not receiving a thirty minute duty free lunch. Grievance, anyone?

In other area districts the paras walk the kids to lunch.

Finally, my LHS teacher pal mentioned that Lawrence is the most political district in which he has taught; kids with big-name parents get preferential treatment if VIP parents call up to complain. How sad and wrong. Principals with a spine would be helpful, but the backbone needs support from central office.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 10 months ago

Next thing you know the USD 497 will come and say "oh my goodness we overlooked this ongoing situation. Instead we blew the $20 million on PLAY"

*School Maintenance

Steve Jacob 8 years, 10 months ago

How long until the next school bond issue is on the ballot again?

budwhysir 8 years, 10 months ago

The new walking bus??? how bout charging for hall passes. Lets just sell grades and then the wealthy can still come out on top. I know alot of people that would pay top dollar for all A's and a number one listing on the honor roll. Is there any possibility we have too much cream on top of the coffee? How many employees of the district never step foot in a school. How much money is paid in salaries to people outside of the builiding? How little do we pay our teachers compared to our principals and district employees?

I knew I should have taken a spot on the school board. If anyone needs a sit in, I could fix it all

multiagelearner 8 years, 10 months ago

Let's cut the learning coaches! They took a two position job and turned it into 12-15 positions. They do a lot of traveling, and a lot of talking, but they can't work with kids, and they make quite a bit more than $500,000. My friends who teach all agree the learning coaches were created by Angelique so she could complete her doctrate and have the district pay and supply her research!

How much are all the courses that the district is having to pay for so teachers can receive their ELL Endorsement? Maybe it is time to get a little bit more creative with the ELL Endorsement requirements? One teacher per grade level? Pull out program? (consult a district like Garden City or Dodge City where the ELL numbers are much higher and they don't pay for classes)
Let's hope Dr. Doll is more interested in our students than filling the central office with his buddies.

kidscount 8 years, 10 months ago

As far as paraeducators go and others saying that we are the least paid in the district, its very true! Other than actually writting IEP's, paras do as much or more than the teachers, paras actually have to carry the IEP's out and fullfil the goals., yet they make less than ten dollars an hour. SPED paras have to do some rather disturbing job duties that not even administrators will carry out, pretty sad if you ask me. ....when you have things done to you on a daily basis that most would consider inhumane or absolutely not appropriate for public school in any circumstance, it should be of a higher authority to make sure that ALL employees be compensated for it in the same manner. I have acually heard TEACHERS say that paras are just paras but when it comes down to it, they are more than just a para. Those that continue to stay year after year doing the same thing or more than teachers do, its because they love the job (SPED paras), totally not for the pay. SPED paras deserve sooooo much more that they recieve.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 10 months ago

more obsessive posting by Bronzie!

Bronzie, you've been thrown or TOSsed off here at least seven times. you've been demonstrated false on several points.

you don't care about LHS students, the school district, or lawrence taxpayers!

Bronzie, you don't even own that house, yet you agitated up a frivelous lawsuit against USD497 that cost likely well over $10,000. kinda hypocritical to now claim concern about the money spent when you yourself caused so much USD497 money to be thrown down a rat hole. at least this way the kids get a good field. too bad it disrupts your little domain, ooops I mean your mother's house where you squat.

I'm sure the new Superintendant is well aware of you, your history, and your tactics.

any more to say Bronzie? been into the chocolate covered coffeebeans again? you zinging on a huge caffeine high? or something else?

bong hits for ocean/bronze/cool/ariadne/spiderman/rusty2/jaguar/coltrane/et al. those are some of your past screen names. will the next one be Oedipus?

bearded_gnome 8 years, 10 months ago

okay Bronzie, you know better than to be PM'ing me, you've done that trying to get disappeareded?

yes I misspelled frivelous/frivolous. however, you're a joke and a parity to be Mr. Spellcheck! you wanna call me a "wingut" again? you've done that several times.

yes, the judge let the frivolous lawsuit go through, you took advantage of the law. however it didn't result in any meaningful change in how the district is doing the field at LHS. furthermore, that $10,000-20,000 sure could go a long way to help LHSoperating expenses instead of going down your little rat hole.

you have quite a history on these boards, spanning more than two years, thrown off at least seven times.

once you beefed about the lack of parking at lhs/cvs. then you've beefed about the moving of the tennis courts to make more parking! and, you've beefed about lights proposed for those tennis courts; you would deny players the opportunity to play tennis at night.

Bronzie/oedipus, you have tried to blame flooding in your neighborhood (five weeks ago or more) on the improvements at the lhs field, yet the drain improvements aren't done yet and last year you professed yourself satisfied with the proposed drainage plan. and, that flooding you tried to blame on the lhs improvements, it was under flash flood conditions! in other words, there was expected flooding all over town.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 10 months ago

Ravens, it seems that Bronzie's real problem is with the system of government we have in America. he forgets that the schoolboard members were elected to fill a certain term, and to have certain powers.

plus, he and Toe seem to forget that if a tax increase passes, that is taxation with representation. Representation by those elected to represent us, or representation by our own election to increase the tax.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 10 months ago

so Ravens, Bronzie lives in an energy inefficient home he is the environmental architect... you'd think he would want to make a good example.

he been PM'ing you too?

he said in one of his harrassing PM's maybe his next screenname will be Proteus. personally I think Oedipus is so if you aren't familiaar, look up Oedipus' life. `

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