Archive for Wednesday, May 13, 2009

District must choose programs, positions to cut

With budget cuts looming, Lawrence High School students are supporting their prevention specialist.

May 13, 2009


Now that the state Legislature has settled on a budget that slashes an additional 2.75 percent from Kansas public school funding, the Lawrence school board is looking for another $900,000 to cut from its proposed budget.

On May 26, the board will see an updated list of potential reductions totaling $3.6 million. It will be the board’s job to choose what will stay on the cuts list.

But some Lawrence High School students hope they can persuade board members not to cut one of two prevention specialist jobs. The specialists coordinate and oversee programs aimed at preventing alcohol and drug use among students.

Each high school has its own specialist, and one — Lawrence High’s Diane Ash — is on the list of possible cuts.

“She’s the engine of this program,” said Marshall Rawley, a sophomore who spoke to the school board Monday in support of keeping both prevention specialists. “Prevention is what I’m passionate about. I really like it. I just want to defend it, not go down without a fight.”

As they review the list of proposed cuts, board members also will consider: reductions in bus services, the parent-teacher program, uniform purchases, attendance secretaries, custodians, learning coaches, assistant coaches and library media assistants. There’s also the possibility the board will leave open some teaching positions.

“If we don’t fill some of these vacancies, it will ... have the effect of raising class sizes,” Superintendent Randy Weseman said. “That’s still on the table.”

The bright spot in the recently completed legislative session was passage of Senate Bill 84, which allows the district to keep the local option budget at its current level.

“Had that legislation not passed, we would have had to cut another million,” Weseman said.

Some LHS students are hoping their prevention specialist, Ash, and the programs she coordinates are spared.

“I just feel really strongly about it and I don’t feel like it’s fair for us to take that away from other kids who might not have the opportunity to get that information,” said junior Erica Demby, who also spoke at Monday’s meeting.

The board will have until the middle of June to decide what to cut from the proposed budget.


walkthehawk 9 years, 1 month ago

the "parent-teacher program" up for a cut would be the Parents AS Teachers program.

beawolf 9 years, 1 month ago

"The specialists coordinate and oversee programs aimed at preventing alcohol and drug use among students."..

Is anything left up to parental responsibilities anymore?

Aileen Dingus 9 years, 1 month ago

beawolf- the program you question is a peer-to-peer program, overseen and facilitated by the Prevention Specialists. It is kids discussing the prevention alcohol and drug use with other kids, not to alleviate parental responsibility, but to augment it.

You know that if a parent says it kids will often roll their eyes and disregard the information. But if they hear the same information from a peer, they're more likely to believe it. That's why this program and these Prevention Specialists are so important.

Aileen Dingus 9 years, 1 month ago

Plus, it's not just drug and alcohol use prevention. Other peer panels include B2B- Bullies to Buddies wherein the discussion is about bullying, how to spot it, how to avoid it, and how to help others you think may be being bullied. The CHP discusses Cultural Heritage- everything from an exchange student's religion, to a teenager's struggle with sexuality, to another's fight against obesity.

In my opinion, peer to peer education is as vital as Algebra or French or Social Studies or any number of other classes offered at public high schools. To the best of my knowledge, no student has ever OD'd on The War of 1812 or was brutally beaten due to an interest in Quadratic Equations.

However, on a daily basis, students around the country are exposing themselves to danger with drug use, and bullied for their beliefs. If more schools had the opportunity presented to USD 497 students with the Peer Education program, I can almost guarantee tragic accidents like the one we saw this past week (the Free State HS student's death) would be dramatically reduced. If more students were exposed to panels like Bullies to Buddies, fewer students would go home and kill themselves, as a young, bullied Springfield Massachusetts student did last month. With a broader understanding of cultural differences, presented in Cultural Heritage Panel discussions, fewer students would be ostracized for their ethnic backgrounds or other "differences."

avoice 9 years, 1 month ago

Sounds to me like one facilitator for both high schools would be sufficient, especially as the students themselves are participating in administering the program.

beawolf 9 years, 1 month ago


Why isn't this a privately funded program? I will not question the fact that it could potentially avert some of the situations you mentioned, but those who are interested in this type of consultation, should pay for it.

Christine Anderson 9 years, 1 month ago

Damn it! I don't know how our legislators can sleep at night! It's always the schools and special needs services that seem the most "expendable". Frankly, I would like to see sports reduced before the program mentioned in this article gets axed.

mom_of_three 9 years, 1 month ago

They already pay to play sports, and how fair would it be to cut those?

beawolf 9 years, 1 month ago

There are 13 Special Service employees at LHS, 20 at Free State, and at least 35 more in the Middle and Elementary schools. I'm not going to dispute that some of these positions are needed and neccessary, but it re-enforces my belief that public school systems have become bloated with social programs. Couple the costs of these programs with the increase in administrative personnel and you have educational systems that can not afford to teach basic academics.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.