Archive for Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Free State donation breaks board rules

District accepts soccer shelters even though equity with LHS ‘out of whack’

Despite a policy violation, the Lawrence school board still approved a donation to Free State High School for soccer shelters. The shelters were built before the donation was approved.

November 10, 2009


The Lawrence school board accepted a donation at its meeting Monday night that included materials and labor to construct soccer shelters at Free State High School. However, they OK’d the donation after the structures were already finished, breaking a general administrative procedure.

“I failed in enforcing that procedure,” said Tom Bracciano, operations and facility planning division director. “The donor wanted them for the first game at home. That was really the stipulation.”

Board members voiced concerns over equity between Free State and Lawrence High School and how they did not like doing business by breaking procedure.

“I just think it’s extremely bad practice to do what we’re doing right now,” board member Mark Bradford said. Bradford was the only member to vote against accepting the donation.

Plans for the shelters had not been finalized when the anonymous donor stepped up to finish the structures at Free State. Chief operations officer Frank Harwood said the district will be placing non-permanent shelters at the soccer field at Lawrence High and will work with the school to see what works best for the situation.

“The shelters that were donated will probably be less expensive than the portable ones,” Harwood said, noting that the bleachers will eventually be built on the west side of the field, where the shelters sit now at Free State, meaning the buildings will have to be moved to the east side.

As for equality, board president Scott Morgan said it will be maintained.

“I think it’s a little out of whack right now just because of the timing of things,” he said. Morgan said he pulled the donation item out of the consent agenda for discussion because donations being acted upon before the board approves them isn’t standard practice. “It wasn’t the way I think things ought to operate. This isn’t acceptable,” he said.

Morgan noted that the board policy regarding donations was pulled by the policy committee to be looked at for changes, like amending the policy for school principals to be able to accept donations under a certain dollar amount.

“We need to have a policy that we can apply consistently in all situations,” board member Marlene Merrill said.


kathryndmyers 8 years ago

You only have to compare the LHS football stadium to the FHS football stadium to understand were the district's priorities lay. This "donation" should have been rejected. Bet I can guess who the anonymous donor is.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years ago

The populist/egalitarian mindset: every student must have an equal amount of everything at all times. This flawed mentality emphasizes average, rewards mediocrity and heralds the status quo.

mom_of_three 8 years ago

STTR, since we are discussing public schools within the same city, it only makes sense to place things on equality.

thebigspoon 8 years ago

I don't think there is any reason to place things on equality when it comes to donations. If a donor wants to donate money or anything else to a school of their choice that is up to them. LHS has plenty of alumni who could donate as well. If I was to donate something to one of the schools and the school board said no that it had to be equal then I would just back out altogether. Why would they turn it down when it is saving the taxpayers and the school board money ?

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years ago

mom of three,

So we deny an outstanding opportunity to one group because it's not available to another group? I'm just trying to clarify.

Hop2It 8 years ago

"The donor wanted them before the first game."

So we let the donor make the rules and set stipulations that are against board policy? That is part of the reason why donors don't have have free rein and why there are regulations in the first place.

It is amazing what people will bend or break to get a little more here and a little more there. Just think if college football boosters and administrators started using the excuse that they were "saving the taxpayers money."

craigers 8 years ago

Wow people get their panties in a bunch over things like this.

pace 8 years ago

Why did I suspect that somehow, we would have to match funds. I think school sports are bad for students, the culture is corrupt and the kids often end up injured for the rest of their life. We spend a lot of money and resources on sports in our culture.

hail2oldku 8 years ago

Ok mom, then why is it that when Prairie Park was built the district installed new playground equipment, while the PTAs at Sunset and Schwegler had to fund raise for new equipment and install it themselves?

Or let's go a different direction, should the Ryan Grey (or is it Gray sorry I really don't know) playground for all children not be allowed at Hillcrest school since it was built using donations, or should we have required those people who did that fundraising to come up with enough to build a similar playground at all of the schools that existed in the district at that time?

There are many, many more examples of things not being equal throughout the district. My kids schools benefit from some of those inequalities and the are on the short end on others. Guess what, life is that way. You just hope that you're gonna be on the high end at least as often as you are on the low end.

Hop2It 8 years ago

Are the Fritzells going to build locker rooms for the PE classes at the Langston Hughes and Quail Run?
There is significant difference between community groups working together to fund new playgound equipment for elementary schools across town, and the current context of 'anonymous' donors funding large capital projects.

hail2oldku 8 years ago

Parallels can be drawn hop. The Ryan Gray playground cost almost 100k to build 20 years ago (I can't believe it's been there that long already).

The real point though was that there are many areas around the district where things are not equal at each school, and to try and force them to be such is not realistic.

One other thing that I find funny in all of this is the people whining while comparing the two when projects aren't even completed at either school. Let's get to the finish line at both schools and then, maybe, we could see what deficiencies one project has in comparison to the other and what steps might need to be taken in order to correct that problem.

In the mean time, Jim Fender, Dr. Kevin Steuver, Kevin Pritchard, Doug Brenn, Larry Sinks are just the start of LHS boosters that could be tapped for donations to address those areas where you feel things are already falling short.

hail2oldku 8 years ago

Should have said ALMOST 20 years ago.

Robert Tryanski 8 years ago

Here's one area of inequity that merited some attention while everyone was busy building two sets of overpriced redundant facilities that they couldn't afford.

Students that live within 2.5 miles of school have to walk to school, the others get to ride the bus.

Talk amongst yourselves! (just like the school board)

Robert Tryanski 8 years ago

Here's another inequity that might be worth pondering:

Prior to the construction of LPS' Sports Double-Helix Sportsplex, the annual rental costs for competition venues for both high schools was about $85,000 per year.

Thanks to the latest boondoggle, the bill will be $1.25 million per year for the next ten years.

That's the cost of the loan payments to pay off what has been financed on this project. It does not contain maintenance costs, electricity, construction overruns, press box installations or any of the new costs that will need to be absorbed in the annual operation of these two very beautiful but poorly conceived and underutilized sports complexes.

Your board members are running the school district the way Ken Lay and his goons ran ENRON.

Tom Bracciano is in so far over his head on this project, that he makes Michael Brown ("you're doing a great job Brownie") of FEMA look like a genius.

If Rick Doll has any hope of succeeding as the new superintendent, he needs to begin by making some significant administrative personnel adjustments. Mr. Bracciano has more than earned the right to "pursue other opportunities" much like LHS' recently departed Principal. Do it diplomatically; do it politely; but for God's sake get it done!

Nothing succeeds better than the removal of arrogant incompetence.

hail2oldku 8 years ago

90% keebler? Care to reach up your @ss and pull out another number? The areas around Prairie Park, SWJH and out on Clinton Parkway are all seeing as much if not more residential growth than what is being experienced north of 15th/Bob Billings.

All that development would also explain why Free State is the SMALLEST high school in the 6A classification right. Oh wait, commercial development doesn't add students to the school.

Better get that glass ball checked, it seems to be out of focus.

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