Archive for Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lawrence school board president suggests possibility of closing schools

The school board says it will consider the possibility of closing schools to save money in the face of impending budget cuts.

November 17, 2009

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With more budget cuts from the state to be announced next week, the Lawrence school district is bracing itself for a smaller general fund, and school board President Scott Morgan wants the board to start talking about potentially closing schools.

“I think we need to bring up the issue of school closings, take a look at it, let people know that we’re talking about it,” Morgan said. “We have to start looking at our facilities in terms of closing schools, potentially. It’s one of my least favorite things to bring up.”

Superintendent Rick Doll said everything is liable to take hits because of the severity of cuts yet to come, including the possibility of closing schools.

“What else could you say that would lead people to believe that this is serious and everything is on the table?” Doll said. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to do it. It just means that everything is on the table.”

Morgan has been through this before. He was a member of the board that decided to close three elementary schools — Riverside, Centennial and East Heights — after the 2002-2003 school year.

Lawrence is looking at an impending cut of about $2.2 million and the strong possibility of another in January before the Legislature returns to Topeka. While contingency funds and other frozen monies will help the district absorb the rest of this year’s cuts, next year will be the real struggle.

“I want to reduce the amount of damage we do to the classroom, and that’s part of why I want to at least discuss closing some schools because there are savings there in doing so,” Morgan said.

While the board hasn’t discussed any closings yet, Morgan said he would propose the discussion soon.

“Frankly, we probably have too many square feet for the number of elementary kids that we have,” Morgan said. “I’d much rather put money into programs and staff than I would into buildings.”

It would be part of the district administration’s job to research how much money could be saved if the decision to close one or more schools was made. The district would also give the public a chance to weigh in on the matter if the board wants to continue looking at the issue.

“Mostly I think it will come back to how much can be saved and is that worth it,” Doll said. “This is really getting serious.”

Morgan had no timeline on bringing the topic to the rest of the board and did not mention how many or which schools could potentially close.

Comments

Christine Anderson 5 years, 7 months ago

Good one, Moron. Just what is in our kids' best interests-not! Closing more of our schools will result in larger classrooms(they are already forced to be larger than they should be), a decline in the quality of education, and loss of staff jobs. Brilliant.

Gareth Skarka 5 years, 7 months ago

What else can they do? Conservatives have conned Kansans into believing that taxes are Eeeeeevil -- well, guess what, geniuses: It takes taxes to run public schools.

You reap what you sow.

Hilary Morton 5 years, 7 months ago

So, quite possibly, has anyone thought that our school district is unable to fund moving 9th graders to the high school? Why is this the priority, when we can't afford to function as is? Ridiculous.

waswade 5 years, 7 months ago

USD 497 is in a highly disfunctional and disentigrating state of events. What will it take for the administration to start thinking of the students????

windex 5 years, 7 months ago

Hilary is right. This seems like the worst possible time to be focusing on moving 9th graders to the high schools. There's no money. There aren't even enough custodians left to keep the schools presentable.

portstorm 5 years, 7 months ago

Guess they'll have to put the elementary kids in trailers on the BOTH the new football fields!

This is absolutely ludicrous. Even after the economy was tanking they were more than clear that there was no way they would let it effect sports and band. Good call. I loved the "different colors of money" blather. The only color that pays for facilities (and their maintenance) is green.

5 years, 7 months ago

Actually, it is my understanding that moving the 9th graders up into the high school (we are the only district in the state who has them in Jr. High) is feasible...therefore making room for the 6th graders to go up to the Jr. High...therefore making room for more elementary students AKA absorb those who's building closed. Seems practical and I understand where Morgan is coming from when he mentions building use is expensive..janitor, energy, etc.

Janis Pool 5 years, 7 months ago

Guys guys guys every budget has "house and grounds" and "operating costs" and yes sometimes they intermingle. But he did NOT say "let's cut staff salaries across the board" or do away with "all fine arts curriculums" or "eliminate sports programs". Be fair.

Markstaff 5 years, 7 months ago

Are you kidding me? Classes are already too large now. So lets close some schools and cram more kids into fewer rooms. Hasn't he thought about the kids? And what about the teachers? They are already spread too thin, overworked and grossly underpaid. He doesn't care about them either. Pretty sad.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 7 months ago

“Frankly, we probably have too many square feet for the number of elementary kids that we have,”

I saw population report for cities in the area. Lawrence is becoming an retirement community, getting older and older on average. Less and less students as the years go by.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

Morgan is OK closing schools because of budget shortfalls, but in almost the same breath he's more than willing to give his buddies at Critiech a $2.3 million gift of taxpayer money.

OutlawJHawk 5 years, 7 months ago

First we cut busing and now we close schools. Will our children be walking 4 miles to school? Looks like the conservatives are getting closer to their goal of homeschooling every child. Instead of having 22-28 students per class,the class size could possibly increase to 35+, so I guess we will put two teachers in every classroom. Is this how Morgan plans to save the teachers and programs?

Why don't we knock out the walls at all the schools and have an open classroom with everyone mixed together. So much for "differentiated instruction." We will be back to the good ol days of single room schools. Schools should then start around 9:00 so kids have time to finish plowing, harvesting, and milking cows and then walk their 4 miles to school in driving rain and snow.

Happy Holidays Mr. Morgan!

puddleglum 5 years, 7 months ago

yeah, can't they use those fancy donated locker rooms as class rooms? Why not build a dome over free state football coliseum? that would rock!!

thelonious 5 years, 7 months ago

Let's not forget that the Lawrence school board OK'd a tax giveaway by the school district to the developers of the Oread hotel when the school board gave their blessing to the TIF financing.

So the Oread developers will get to keep some of the tax revenue that the school district sure could use right now. I wonder how those developers can sleep at night having raided public coffers to support their privately-owned hotel, while the schools and city have to cut services.

They probably read Atlas Shrugged every night before bed and convince themselves that they are doing us all a favor.

skinny 5 years, 7 months ago

How about making the parents pay the cost of educating their children!! I don't mind helping out a little bid but the parents are the ones that decided to have the children they should pay the majority of the cost of educating them!

kugrad 5 years, 7 months ago

Tax cuts are not the basis of a strong Kansas economy. A strong public education system, early childhood through high school and on into vo-tech and the university system, IS the basis of a strong economy. The politicians have it backwards. They are looking out for themselves and their own re-election. That's why they sign anti-tax pledges with out-of-state groups that care nothing about Kansas.

You can't have it both ways people - no tax increases and strong public schools. It just won't happen. Quality costs money and the costs of operating schools have risen just like our costs at home have risen. Keep in mind that our legislature is sitting on over TWO HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS that is an emergency fund. I guess the biggest recession since WWII doesn't count as an emergency.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

More than likely this man is thinking of building new larger schools so more parents will be forced to drive. This is Chamber thinking and it will NOT necessarily save money.

I wondered how long it would take for Mr Morgan to get around to this.

Neighborhood schools are healthy for neighborhoods and all of those who cannot afford to NOT work and own two or three cars.

We need our kids to be able to walk and/or ride bikes. It is in the best interest of their health.

Is the school district going to pay for 20 million dollars worth of new athletic facilities on the backs of our children?

LadyJ 5 years, 7 months ago

"Lawrence school board OK'd a tax giveaway by the school district to the developers of the Oread hotel when the school board gave their blessing to the TIF financing."

Well then I say hold classes at the hotel. The school board should never be allowed to give away tax money without voter approval. Basically taxpayers have to make up the money they gave away. We need to close this loophole and make sure they cannot raise our taxes to cover this.

rcr 5 years, 7 months ago

"therefore making room for the 6th graders to go up to the Jr. High"

Are they also going to be moving the sixth grade teachers up to Jr. High. Last I knew most Jr. High teachers were certified to teach secondary education, but not primary education. I believe sixth grade is still considered a primary grade.

Stephen Roberts 5 years, 7 months ago

What happened to the three buildings that were closed last time?

Riverside - sold for a one time gain of 700K (?) to Doug Compton

East Heights - now being used as the Early Childhood Center- how much was saved to "close" this school???

Centennial- is being used by the "Virtual School"-

To me there were not a lot savings the last time around. Be quite honest how many people can tell their boss that they need more and more money to keep up the buildings for years and not get fired??? Very few in the private sector- Probally a whole lot more in the government, USD497, and KU & KSU.

laughingatallofu 5 years, 7 months ago

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." Derek Curtis Bok (born March 22, 1930) is an American lawyer and educator, and the former president of Harvard University.

youngjayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

Yes ... 6th graders to middle schools!

Yes ... 9th graders to high schools!

Yes ... close costly, less efficient schools. Consolidation will save money over the long term. The board might also want to consider lengthening the school day; shortening the calendar year to save money as well. As a community, we need to work with the board, supporting their efforts to serve our students in these tough economic times. Offer constructive ideas and feedback instead of panicking and digging in your heels.

youngjayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

rcr -

"I believe sixth grade is still considered a primary grade."

Elementary teachers are certified to teach K-8, so filling the middle school positions would not be an issue.

Cindy Yulich 5 years, 7 months ago

youngjayhawk - You need to run for school board. Hang tough, Scott. We need leaders who aren't afraid to investigate unpopular ideas that may be the answer to best help the overall system.

Sheila Hooper White 5 years, 7 months ago

windex - so are you saying that the custodians aren't doing their jobs? i know for a fact my husband takes pride in the school he keeps clean. yes he has lost many employees over the years and has to catch up the slack but that in no way means the school is not presentable. if the kids, and these are secondary kids, would take some pride in their school it wouldn't be so dirty. oh the stories i have heard about what these kids do to the locker rooms, cafeteria, classrooms...it's pitiful!! so before you start putting down people who take pride in their jobs, think about how you would feel if someone that doesn't know you tells you you're doing a crappy job.

Sunny Parker 5 years, 7 months ago

Bozo, since when are you worried about taxpayer's money? Give me a break!

Tootieonskates35 5 years, 7 months ago

They have already cut 7th grade sports out, closed three elementary schools previously. Our kids are suffering behind mismanaged money. Maybe instead of building 2 stadiums you could have put that money into saving our schools. Lawrence High has been utilizing Haskell for many years. Why now? In a declining economy do we build lets focus on rebuilding education and the classrooms! This is pathetic! My children no longer can ride a bus to school, I have to wake up and rush around every morning to take them because buses was cut out of the budget too! I take some of the neighbors because not everyone has transportation to walk 2.5 miles to school everyday!

findaway 5 years, 7 months ago

this is why i plan to go out of town for college and only return to visit my parents...i would NEVER put my possible/future kids into this S*** hole of a school district, not after I've had to suffer the careless schoolboards decision making "skills".

windex 5 years, 7 months ago

dancemom - I'm on your side! The janitors are working like dogs and doing good, honest, very valuable work, and I'm sure they don't get thanked enough. They should have MORE help and yes, kids should value school property more than they do, absolutely. I'm NOT criticizing the janitors - my point was that there aren't enough of them and they can't possibly get it all done (going off the stories I read/hear about kids having to pitch in, etc.)

findaway 5 years, 7 months ago

i love janitors! they're great and do so much more than anyone realizes. Plus they have to deal with jerkwad students who aren't willing to do their part to help.Major respect to all janitors! :)

Mike Edson 5 years, 7 months ago

I am an employee of USD 497 and I have developed quite a distaste for learning about what is to become of my job through reading the Lawrence Journal World. Since Dr. Doll has started with USD 497 we have heard nothing from him on the state of our district. In hard times people need to see and hear from their leader, more so than in good times. There are many of us who go to work at the schools everyday wondering if we will have a job the following week. We are short staffed and struggle to keep up with the demand of day to day operations. We would rather face the day informed than face the unknown.

Sheila Hooper White 5 years, 7 months ago

windex-ok...just seemed like you were putting them down for the jobs they do. i know there have been stories about kids helping out. i'm not sure thats happening much where he is. he has a new story for me everyday. and the sad thing it's not just the students, it's everyone who uses the schools. please forgive me for coming across like i did. so sorry

i just get tired of hearing this is such a bad town or what awful schools we have. my oldest daughter was the fourth generation to graduate from LHS and I have two other children who i hope will get to. are there things i don't agree with that the city commish or the school board do, sure, but that doesn't make it such an awful place to live or send your kids to school. that's one thing this community could be better at is thinking about the children.

texburgh 5 years, 7 months ago

While I agree that Scott Morgan is an idiot - I voted to get his backside off the board and I sure as heck didn't vote to put his sorry backside back on - this is no time to focus anger on Morgan or the Board.

This is the time to get angry at the anti-public education majority led by Mike O'Neal and Kevin Yoder in the Kansas legislature. You want schools funded? Vote Democratic. You want Kansans with disabilities and seniors cared for? Vote Democratic. You want good roads, quality universities, public safety? Vote Democratic.

And for God's sake, vote for Wiggans for Governor!

Once the neo-fascists are out of the legislature, concentrate on electing school board members with brains.

texburgh 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh, and Skinny? I hope you are childless.

If not, who paid for your kids to get an education k-12?

windex 5 years, 7 months ago

@ Skinny: Who paid for YOUR education?

@ Did I Say That: Nice try but those numbers are fiction. Teachers don't work 40 hours per week; the average is around 55 hours per week. Add in the cost of materials, books, supplies and continuing education and your equation delivers an answer that's absolutely worthy of Markstaff's description of "already spread too thin, overworked and grossly underpaid.”

budwhysir 5 years, 7 months ago

So here is what I find very interesting. A full length report on the president of the school board ( a new president I believe) introducing the idea of saving money by closing schools and during this complete detailed report, no mention of exactly how much money is saved by closing each building or what the savings "per square foot" would be. When the elementary schools where closed, how much money was saved? If I remember, we kept staff on board to keep the buildings clean and also kept heat and lights on during the same time.

I also remember Centennial School being used for a virtual school. Does a virtual school employee teachers or is this done by other teachers? How much money could be saved at the corporate level of our school system? Could we review this?

I believe in balancing and cutting a budget, it is best to start with hard numbers that can be added and subtracted in order to give a complete and honest answer. Not just a "I think its time to close buildings cause that sounds like it would save money and there is no way you will know cause I wont give numbers" type of answer

Come on people, wake up and see the report card, If there is a real need to close schools and cut our education programs, lets start looking at running our school off of the athletics program, they had enough to build how many football fields this season??? How much money is the upkeep on those

thrifter 5 years, 7 months ago

When public school was first brought up into national consideration, it met the same resistance and complaints as our current healthcare issues are.

Let's face it: public schooling is socialism.

Is there anything wrong with it? No. Whine as you must, but everything settles down and becomes second nature. Everyone is resistant to change. If we need to close a few schools to rectify a mishandled budget, by all means! But let's be thankful schooling is available for all children. It wasn't too long ago that each family WAS responsible for paying for their own kids' education.

Now we have the issues of parents EXPECTING certain qualities taught to their children at school. Our teachers and staff are NOT your kids' babysitters or legal guardians. If your child has a hard time in school or difficulty with their homework, it's YOUR job as a parent to sit down and teach them effective study habits and help them work things out. Don't expect teachers to do your job. They are educators, not parents.

That being said, there are few in our country that didn't attend some sort of public school or another during their formative years. Be positive. Support those who are with your children for so many hours of the day. If you don't like what they're being taught, teach them yourselves.

If you don't like that budget cuts took away busing services, walk with your children. Don't complain you have to get up really early to take YOUR kids to school that EVERYONE in the community pays for with tax dollars. Heaven forbid you have to spend time with them before you've had your coffee. We could go back to the time when it was a privilege, not a right. Would that make the majority happy? No. Give and take here and there is just a fact of life. The sooner we all learn about sacrifices that have to be made and tough decisions that will stir the pot, the better off we'll ALL be.

AND, Lawrence might have a higher student/teacher ratio, but we're definitely not the highest in the country. There are many STATES who have more children per classroom.

Count your blessings.

budwhysir 5 years, 7 months ago

Wow Thrifter, if asked I would say you are a teacher or a parent. Dont think about getting mad as you read, I agree with many of your points, I just know someone out there will run in the wrong direction with them. Either way you bring some interesting points to the table. As a current parent who attended Lawrence schools for my entire education, I find myself eager to weigh in on some of the bird brain ideas proposed and voted on.

So if I read your comments correctly, you are saying that as a tax payer and a parent, I am to believe that closing some of these schools will lessen the effect and cost of people who use public education as a babysitter? Please explain how this works, is it because there are less buildings to do so? Also, does this promise me that my average kid will soon be able to pull an "a+" average due to the fact of less buildings?

I would say your thoughts are correct under one condition, in order for this to be true, the Lawrence School system would have to increase teacher salary pay our teachers the salary required to increase the value of the education provided.

Public school can in no way be called socialism. If I had the choice, I would more than gladly pay for my kids "public education" from my pocket and not object to it not being a tax run program that all people in the district pay for even if they dont have kids in school. However if I did this, I would expect that the education given be of a higher quality than the current public education. And in order to do this, the teaching staff would need a larger salary. They dont get paid enough as is, how could I expect more results with less pay.

salad 5 years, 7 months ago

Notice how none of the board members are saying, "Hey, how about we jettison some of them useless educrats at the head shed, instead of closing schools or cutting teacher salaries?"

BTW, the only way a teacher is ever gonna get paid more is to find a different line of work. Sad but true, so if you don't like it, don't waste your time and money entering the profession.

SpeedRacer 5 years, 7 months ago

If the 9th graders go to the high schools, won't that free up enough space in 3 of the Junior highs to move students in out of the fourth and close it?

budwhysir 5 years, 7 months ago

You are correct Salad, it is a shame that the day has come that people who tell teachers how to teach our children get paid 3 times what a teacher gets. And I am sure you will not find a person in the corporate school setting that works in a classroom more than 2 days a year. so sad

budwhysir 5 years, 7 months ago

speedracer, moving 9th grade to high school will require the addition of MANY more teachers and a move of many current teachers to other buildings. The amount of money involved in just researching such a move has never been revealed because you would go nuts if you knew how much it cost

thrifter 5 years, 7 months ago

@ budwhysir - I'm neither a parent nor a teacher. I am a homeowner who pays a ridiculous amount of taxes to the school district, but that's life. If I didn't want to pay it, I didn't have to buy a house/move to Lawrence.

I'm not saying that taking away buildings will increase your child's IQ or GPA or whatever scale you'd like to use. I'm saying that if you're struggling to understand why your child is having a hard time with homework, don't blame teachers. Look at how they're being helped at home. Is their homework a nuisance for both of you? Why would they have that attitude? A little introspection could be beneficial to all parties.

People are looking for a scapegoat instead of taking responsibility; someone to place blame on when they don't agree with current events. In the situation of closing schools to save money and the possibility of more kids per classroom, what are you doing to help? Have you volunteered at your child's school in the last semester, year, ever?

There are options to have your child be publicly educated and you pay out of pocket. You can send them to charter schools or a Montessori. You can home school them. Those who make the most noise are rarely the ones who are first to volunteer. There are always exceptions, of course, but some people just like to add resistance to an already difficult job.

In regards to the quality of current public education, well, that's having to do with 'No Child Left Behind'. It really should be rephrased to be 'Every Child Left Behind'. The teacher can only move as quickly as their slowest student. As a parent, step in and help keep your child on pace!

I went off on a tangent, of course, but you can understand what I'm getting at. Run for the school board! VOTE in local elections! Those who loathe what's currently happening and want change, MAKE the change.

thrifter 5 years, 7 months ago

In regards to public schools not being socialism...it totally is!

It's a federally monitored/run program that all taxpayers contribute to, whether they have kids in school or not.

My mother-in-law remembers when everything was changed to public education. People had just as much to say about public schooling for everyone as they do about the healthcare reform.

budwhysir 5 years, 7 months ago

Thrifter: Dont get me wrong, I see all valid points in your post. Im not arguing with what you say only pointing out that it is not people like you or I but others that will twist your words and run in another direction. In response I would say this, yes I believe the teachers should be required to teach. Not babysit, not hold my childs hand during the day and do My job as a parent, just teach. Yes I help with homework, yes I volunteer frequently as well as give equal time to each school that each of my kids go too.

I would not home school or private school my kids for one simple fact, there are too many corporate level educators making a living off of my tax money and not running the school system correctly. If I did not make use of public school, I myself would be like you, paying for something I have no use for. While I would never complain about this, (and promise not to when my kids are out of school) I will be darned if I am going to NOT use it while I can. And if that means complaining about how it is ran, I earn the right by paying. As to no child left behind, once again just another government program to make everyone equal. Never going to work. BUT, if my kid does not live up to expectation, can blame a teacher for that. If my kid learns 2+2 is 3, then I can complain about teachers.

So, I hope I didnt sound like I disagree with your view point, just the opposite. Both your opinion and mine fall on deaf ears. I am the guy that does vote, at some point I will be on the school board, and I do volunteer and do my part in the public education system. I can only say that the article we are talking about, has no base. The plan to close schools will NEVER improve the education our kids receive. And to be honest, this article and proposal never even lists how much money we are even trying to save

formerksteacher 5 years, 7 months ago

It's hard to believe that some childless people still complain about their taxes paying for the education of other people's children. They may be other people's children, but they are YOUR future leaders, scientists, engineers, lawyers, and health care workers. I'd rather MINE be educated, but maybe that's just me.
And while I don't exactly love No Child Left Behind, I can assure you that teachers are NOT forced to hold back until every child gets it. We are professionals and most of us are quite capable of teaching to the child, when the child is ready. We know how to adapt each lesson - same content, different methods, different approaches, different tools. We don't leave ANYONE behind. Instead, our focus is to know where EVERY student is at and push them to grow as much as possible - whether they come from another country, have any disability or are 'gifted'. And to that end, many of us work WAY more than 8 hours a day or 10 months a year. We aren't glorified babysitters, and some of us don't complain about the pay, because we knew what we were in for when we chose this profession.

Stephen Roberts 5 years, 7 months ago

If we are looking at closing schools, are the teachers going to get a raise next year?? If so, why??

Lori Nation 5 years, 7 months ago

Wow Eudora is looking better and better for education, what are they doing right that Lawrence is not, get rid of the overpaid superintendent and work your way down!!!

LadyJ 5 years, 7 months ago

It took years to get Loveland off the school board, so she sits back and waits a few years until a bunch of new voters move here and gets back in based on her experience which people didn't bother to check out. If they had tax money available through the Oread hotel why did they give them a free pass? What did the developer offer in return and to who? By law a parent cannot sign away a child's right to child support. Why is the school board able to sign away children's education support?

Paula Kissinger 5 years, 7 months ago

I appeal to the new school board members to do some real homework on this issue. I am not talking about looking at sheets of paper with numbers. I am talking about doing what you did when you were elected to the board - get out and talk to the parents and the kids. Do not rely on what the old-timer back on the board again members are telling you. These are the people that got their way 7 years ago when they closed 3 great schools and caused tremendous chaos and discontent among the community because they insisted it would save money for the sake of the children. If it was such a great idea then and was purported to be the thing that would save the district for years to come why is it coming up again so soon ?

I am so thankful that my child will graduate in May and I will be done with this joke of a school system. My oldest child went K-1 at Broken Arrow and in the 80's it was good. We lived overseas for several years and she went to the DOD school and it was super. We returned to Kansas and she went grades 4-7 in Manhattan and, again, it was a pleasurable experience. In Manhattan they begin fine arts education in the 5th grade. Then we came home to Lawrence where she finished her school years and my son started his.

It has been a nightmare for the past 12 years. The teachers are split between decent and incompetent with very few excellent in the mix. The administration in the schools iis usually clueless and at the district level the politics are too prevalent for anyone to do anything constructive...they seem too busy trying to reach the top. I have no idea why all of this exists in a system that does not promote from within as other institutions do. That, in itself, speaks volumes. Why would children strive to achieve while attending classes in a district that does not set forth the example of acknowledging or rewarding decency and hard work ?

Let's be sure to cram more bodies into fewer facilities with less qualified personnel and into fewer buses that will be filled to capacity, if the parents can afford such a luxury. That will certainly help alleviate the issues of classroom disruption, bullying, assaults, batteries, and the various other issues that occur every day in every school that get swept under the rug. I only have to endure this another 6 months. I feel so sorry for other parents that are just beginning to walk this crooked path and the others that will still have to keep looking forward to the day when they are set free from it. But, again, who loses ? We all know the answer.

getreal 5 years, 7 months ago

All I see is a lot of personal attacks on school board members, teachers, and administration. The state has a constitutional responsibility to fund schools and instead they have decided that corporate tax giveaways result in more campaign contributions and have thrown schools overboard.

For those complaining about their taxes, you are right you haven't seen a tax break, those go to commercial property owners and big business. Wouldn't you rather your tax dollars go to support your community schools and other services? Right now they are going to support any big business that can make a campaign contribution.

Quit whining to your local school board that has to provide certain services to our children by state and federal law and start asking your Kansas legislators why it is your tax dollars are serving as subsidies to every corporation who asks. If these corporate tax subsidies worked wouldn't there be plenty of jobs? Over 1 billion in tax cuts has produced the worst recession in Kansas in my lifetime.

I challenge you to look at who is giving Kansas leaders their campaign money and then take a look at who is advocating for more business tax cuts. Do some research.

Get mad, but get mad at those who have the real power and are leading you over a cliff. Go to Topeka and ask why corporations are entitled to pay no property tax for 10 years while your district is bleeding and possibly having to close schools.

I have no problem paying my property taxes to support local schools whether I have children attending or not. I for one am sick of paying taxes so that big corporations who are NOT supplying any jobs skate by with a big tax cut.

true_patriot 5 years, 7 months ago

The Kansas legislature has fiscally mismanaged both the spending and revenue sides of the equation based on the extremist ideology of cutting government to the point of near-collapse while giving the shop away to those at the top of the bracket.

Round and round we go, alternately cutting state services, K-12 education, and higher education, while phasing out the modest estate tax and allowing effective corporate tax contributions to fall to absurdly low levels.

By now the public is so used to thinking in terms of budget cuts, it's the first thing always discussed when there is another budget shortfall.

After all we've been through in Kansas, the first tool on the table starting several rounds of budget cuts ago should have been and should certainly now be to target the low-hanging fruit on the revenue side of the equation:

  1. Immediately abandon the phase-out of the estate tax.

  2. Immediately pursue real enforcement of corporate tax payments. There is no reason why a family with two working parents struggling to choose between medical care for their children and keeping their home should have to fully pay their taxes while corporations do not.

If these measures prove not to be sufficient, the next step is to raise corporate taxes, and if that still isn't enough, it's time to raise income taxes in Kansas, which have not been raised in years. It's a no-brainer.

budwhysir 5 years, 7 months ago

I must say, I have never seen so many posts by so many people who have missed the point of an article. In no part of this article are the topics of teacher raises, tax reductions, or changing public school to private funding. This article addresses the real fact that the school board has found a topic that overshadows the real problem of corporate level overspending. If you are thrown the topic of closing schools, you have no idea if you can argue that this will save operating expenses. I can assure you it will not. Our teachers will never receive the pay they deserve, and I can assure you that in our school boards eyes, closing three schools is no reason to give a raise to the people who do the real work. I leave you with a REAL topic for the school board to research. How many corporate level employees at usd 497 set foot in a class room every day of the week, how many work with our kids on a daily basis. And to clarify, when I say corporate level, I do not refer to teachers, lunch room staff, or janitors at operating schools.

KSManimal 5 years, 7 months ago

Before you go blaming our school board for suggesting school closings, try pointing your outrage where it belongs: Topeka. You know, that big green dome with the statue on top?

Between 1995 and now, the legislature has cut taxes amounting to over one billion per year. Had they not done this, Kansas would have over $6 billion in reserve, and the state of the economy wouldn't be crippling our school system.

If you still feel the need to blame our local BOE, before you do that....why not present YOUR OWN plan for cutting $2 - $3 million from the budget? If you have ideas how to do that, I'm sure they'd love to hear 'em.

grammaddy 5 years, 7 months ago

I can see moving 9th graders to the High Schools since 9th grade is really their "freshman" year, but moving 6th graders to Junior High schools is just stupid.

FlapJack 5 years, 7 months ago

I went throught the Lawrence Public school system in the 80's - guess what? My parents didn't pay a dime for ANY schooling! Where is our money going? Oh, that's right - to hotels. Well, the school board could ask for some of the money back - just like Obama! Am I REALLY the only Republican here??

momfromlawrence 5 years, 7 months ago

I have heard that there are different budgets for different sections of the education. In these economic hardship times, why can't some of those budgets roll over into where we need them to be? I agree that teachers are very important in teaching our children. I also agree that bigger class sizes is not the answer. I would re-evaluate the way teachers are teaching. There are so many resources that they have which are a ways of money right now.
If you look at what they waste as far as materials, furniture, technology, it is incredible. They spend a lot on paper alone. They also spend a lot on printing materials which end up in the trash at the end of the year because the teacher never got around to using them.
Teacher spending on unnecessary items is incredible. They worry about how their room looks inviting to a student instead of other issues. We have some really good teachers out there, but then there are those who are skating by and allowing others to help them teach. There are a lot of ways to cut costs and not close a lot of schools.
One building that could be cut is the virtual school. How often do the students go to the building anyway? Yes, they do have teachers, a secretary, a principal, a library which is totally unnecessary. Put those kids in a real school to be taught by real teachers like other students. They could use that building for storage. Wait does anyone in the public know about that? Storage which we don't have for stuff that is not being used at this time, but might next year. Check that out if you want to be steamed as a tax payer. There is a lot of wasteful spending, including personnel, that could help reduce the budget and not cut jobs like custodial.
And to add to the custodial staff doing a good job, they do. They have to put up with students who destroy property, use the restroom stalls to do their artwork instead of using toilet paper, teachers not asking students to pick up at lunch when they drop something, students marking on walls instead of paper, etc. etc. etc. If you worked their job, you would be thanking them every day for their dedication, then go home and discipline your child on his actions. If the district has to cut custodial, they understand. Just make sure your kids are doing their part to help their school.
Take a long look at where the spending is being misused. Figure out a way to rearrange the budget to help keep teachers and schools open.

akt2 5 years, 7 months ago

Irish- You are correct about Eudora schools. Ninth graders are in high school where they belong. 6th graders are in middle school where they belong. The teachers are wonderful. Administration does what it is supposed to do. As of this year we still did not have fees to start school. The kids that live in town are shuttled by buses. They go the school closest to their home and grab a bus to whatever school they attend. No charge.

gert891 5 years, 7 months ago

I know southwest jr just had its -winter elementary school Bel Canto choir tour cancelled due to lack of funds and personel to transport risers. I doubt the football team had to cancel any away games due to lack of funds. all hail sports in this town..forget about arts

beagledog 5 years, 7 months ago

close more schools and overcrowd the ones we already have. good move. what we need is a small state sales tax increase so our kids might be able to get what they need in school. come on governor, pass the bill and make us ALL pay for the state's mistakes, not just the kids.

thelonious 5 years, 7 months ago

Iristh1230 says -

"Wow Eudora is looking better and better for education, what are they doing right that Lawrence is not, get rid of the overpaid superintendent and work your way down!!!"

My wife and I moved from Lawrence to Eudora last year to get her closer to her job in JoCo. Our home in Eudora has an assessed value less than our house in Lawrence did, and our property taxes are more - why? Our local school taxes are higher. Even though we don't have any kids, we don't mind paying the higher taxes, because our schools in Eudora are great! When a community has good schools, everyone benefits - housing values are better, there is pride in the community, teachers are paid better (Eudora pays as well as Blue Valley, certainly better than Lawrence schools do), etc.

So what is Eudora doing right? Higher local taxes to support the schools. So to all you Lawrencians thinking about it, come on over! Housing is cheaper (but taxes are higher), it's only a 10-minute drive to downtown Lawrence, the schools are nice, and we'll be hiring some of the laid-off Lawrence school district teachers.

It's really simple what the Lawrence school district needs to do - raise the locall mill levy. Think Scott Morgan will propose that - hardly! The state of Kansas needs to raise taxes to support schools as well (or restore the cuts of the last decade), but that is another matter altogether.

It's really simple, folks - you can't get something for nothing!

sherlock 5 years, 7 months ago

Is my memory faulty? Recently didnt the school board vote to purchase more land in addition to some they already own for "future schools?" So what do you think? Close some schools probably in the east part of the city then later down the road build a newer one on the west side? No schools left in east Lawrence, but Kennedy and Prairie Park which is really in the SE part of the city. Or will they choose Woodlawn in north Lawrence? Or Wakarusa?
Must be expensive to just build new schools tho?

LadyJ 5 years, 7 months ago

momfromlawrence-- Maybe schools should have a printer paper drive at the beginning of the year. People could donate one or two packages of printer paper which is about $2.50 a package. I wouldn't mind dropping off a couple of packages, they could set up drop boxes at local stores even. Maybe it's time to get creative.

ohgeeze 5 years, 7 months ago

"momfromlawrence (Anonymous) says…

If you look at what they waste as far as materials, furniture, technology, it is incredible. They spend a lot on paper alone. They also spend a lot on printing materials which end up in the trash at the end of the year because the teacher never got around to using them. "

Technology is never a waste, in my opinion. The more we can expose our kids to, the better. As far as paper, I know of one school that is taking "used" paper from a local CPA's office that might have one line of print on one side and using that to copy things on....believe me nothing is being wasted there…

"Teacher spending on unnecessary items is incredible. They worry about how their room looks inviting to a student instead of other issues"

These items aren't so unnecessary. Did you know that teachers are unofficially "graded" with a rubric during walkthroughs on the presentation of their classroom? Is it inviting and safe? How many bulletin boards are there? Board usage? Have the students helped created these boards? Are there educational posters? Math facts, writing help, etc... If you're lucky the district will provide the butcher paper, but everything else is up to the educator to provide...

IBike100 5 years, 7 months ago

I am fed up with this school board and their priorities. The construction of two state-of-the-art sports complexes should have been put to the community for a vote. We paid for a bond issue for a new high school and school improvements, so essentially we paid for these high school stadiums. SPORTS is all they care about. Elementary classes are huge by any other district's standards. The number of special ed students in classrooms have increased, and so has the pupil-teacher ratio. Inquire about the number of students in the intermediate classrooms(4-6), and you will be astounded. They include librarians, etc. in their teacher-pupil ratio, so be wary of the statistics. No wonder so many people take their kids to Eudora or to private schools in Lawrence. The educational priorities are a joke!!

britt408 5 years, 7 months ago

"I can see moving 9th graders to the High Schools since 9th grade is really their “freshman” year, but moving 6th graders to Junior High schools is just stupid. "

You teach 6th grade then tell me they still belong in elementary...

As far as the teacher pay comments...sure, at 8 hours a day the pay is pretty good. But the fact of the matter is that most teachers put in WAY more than 8 hours a day. I teach elementary and I routinely put in 10 hour days, not including time spent over the weekend, summer work and planning, and the cost of continuing education. To get to the highest number on the payscale you have to take graduate hours...which costs a lot of money, so in the end it's a moot point.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

Why did Scott Morgan approve a $20 million sports project knowing full well this matter needed to be resolved?

*School Maintenance http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/oct/how_should_school_district_pay_20_million_maintena/

Recall for fiscal negligence......

KsTwister 5 years, 7 months ago

Idiots build football fields instead of schools. All children to follow suit. If students don't hurry up and learn something now the opportunity in the future looks dim and they will become identical to the crazies making their futures so ridiculous.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

Privatizing public education will require far more tax dollars let's not kid ourselves. That is what privateers like about it…all of those tax dollars.

Look at the most expensive medical insurance industry in the world that BTW in 2009 received $1.2 trillion dollars.

Don't raise taxes for pork barrel road projects raise taxes to support education a best bang for the tax buck.

budwhysir 5 years, 7 months ago

how many on the school board graduated from lawrence schools??

kansasfan21 5 years, 7 months ago

Which schools would potentially be on the chopping block? The first of my 3 children will start school next fall....

windex 5 years, 7 months ago

Actually, Sherlock, it just looks bad, period.

Boston_Corbett 5 years, 7 months ago

Do you notice the glee that Marion expresses because the state's budget problems are affecting schools?

He is a sick man.

BigPrune 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm so SICK of the schools bitching and moaning year after year that they don't have enough money but their facilities spare no expense!

Follow the game plan this guy took 5 years ago to see the eventual outcome - higher freaking taxes.

Such b.s.

Maybe he can work a deal with some hometown company from Prairie Village and turn this thing into some new schools getting built in addition to some others getting shut down.

childof60s 5 years, 7 months ago

Scott Morgan. Like a hyena waiting to attack the weakest victim.

Hey! I know! Let's close Quail Run or Deerfield and have those kids and parents learn how it feels to not have a neighborhood school. Force them to find a way to transport their kids to school across town, work, and keep their kids safe. Does anyone notice the trend that when Morgan is in a position of power, he only cares about the "rich" kids and nothing about the kids and community that needs the most help? Send those kids to schools that are their side of 15th. I know those parents would LOVE to drive to Cordley, Pinkney or God forbid, New York! Maybe if the parents and kids saw and experienced how the other half lives they would have an appreciation of how the majority of the country have to live with.

I was a Centennial parent. Morgan's argument was that the district couldn't afford new windows, a new boiler, and to redo the gym floor. Gee, last time I drove by(which is 6-8 times a day) the lights were on from 7am to well past 10pm. And the "virtual school" has a principal! I wonder how much that costs the district considering that the building is much more in use than it was with the family community of 197 students and their parents.Again, Morgan has his own agenda and could care about the community.

I am a firm believer that you reap what you sow. Scott, this will come back to bite you. You seem to forget that those of us that live east of Iowa also have a vote. What's next? Denial to the high risk kids to get things like breakfast and lunch through the district for free? Cut them off so that they get possibly the only good meal of the day? When was the last time your family and friends went hungry because of budget cuts? The last time I looked, education is a right, not a privilege for only those who are in a position to pay for it. If we are in such a short fall, have the wealthy make up the difference. They are so excited to have their schools in a neat little box with a big red ribbon.

The disadvantage shouldn't be the only ones who suffer the cuts. The big new schools need to feel the squeeze. Oh, but that might cut into the "ladies that lunch" daily activities.

I can not WAIT until Scott Morgan has to face the real world. I guess he won't have to because he will just pay someone to make it all go away...

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