Archive for Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lawrence School Board to consider boundary change to move Kennedy students to New York

Students attending Kennedy and New York elementary schools may change which school they go to.

April 8, 2010

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Proposed boundary change


View New York Boundary Changes in a larger map

Students in the shaded area would no longer attend Kennedy school, but would instead now attend New York.

Lawrence school administrators have proposed a boundary change to shift more Kennedy School students into New York School for next year to make room for early childhood students at Kennedy.

In a release Thursday afternoon, administrators said board members would consider a boundary change for families who live north of 19th Street from Bullene Avenue east to Maple Lane to attend New York, 936 N.Y., instead of Kennedy, 1605 Davis Road. The change would also move families into New York’s district if they live north of East Glenn Drive and west of Harper Street.

As part of $4.6 million in budget cuts for next year, board members voted to close the East Heights Early Childhood Family Center and move its programs into Kennedy.

“We are working now to inform Kennedy and New York families of the proposed changes,” Superintendent Rick Doll said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “We’ve also initiated discussions with both staffs to plan for a smooth transition that will ensure that Kennedy families are welcomed into the New York school community.

“By working together, the East Heights, Kennedy and New York school communities will meet the challenges of this transition and continue to provide a strong foundation for learning for all students.”

Board members will consider the boundary change during their 7 p.m. meeting Monday at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. Final approval would have to come during the board’s April 26 meeting.

In addition for next year, board members will consider changing New York’s current school hours, 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., to coincide with Kennedy’s hours, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A parent meeting to discuss the proposed changes will be 6:30 p.m. April 19 at the Kennedy school library.

East Heights, 1430 Haskell Ave., this year serves 130 half-day and full-day students in its eight classrooms. Kennedy’s enrollment for this year is 336 students, and New York, serves 135 students.

Comments

budwhysir 5 years, 3 months ago

hmmmm thought it was too expensive to teach on the east side? why not bus the kids to the west side where education costs less. Also, wont Kennedy be overcrowded with all the kids moving there due to the sale of the building to Boys and Girls club?

Stephen Roberts 5 years, 3 months ago

budwhysir- It isn't too expensive to teach kids on the east side, there are more kids in the schools on the west side than on the East Side. New York & Woodlawn have two of the lowest number of students.

GardenMomma 5 years, 3 months ago

Why didn't they move East Heights to New York school and keep the boundries between New York & Kennedy the way they currently are?

Seems like moving 130 kids into a school that currently has 135 students makes more sense than re-arranging the boundaries between the two schools in order to keep Kennedy from becoming overcrowded.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 3 months ago

Was it necessary at Kennedy today to hand out fliers showing all the kids the new boundaries? I think it would be better hearing it from your parents that your switching schools. What's too bad is some kids that can walk home from Kennedy will not be able to walk to New York .

amberT 5 years, 3 months ago

The flier/letter was from Doll. It wasn't Kennedy's call, it was the districts.

Stephen Roberts 5 years, 3 months ago

would it be nice if all of the elementary school kids could walk to and from school but it won't happen. Look at the boundaroes at Langston Hughes & Wakarusa Valley there is a lot of land.

lawrencechick 5 years, 3 months ago

Budwhysir- you couldn't bus them to the West side of town because there is no room. Those kids are used to having 30+ in a class....

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

My family is moving to Lawrence this summer from an excellent school district. I've been reading about the changes in Lawrence, and I am extremely concerned. No buses, one principal for two schools, 30+ students per classroom, a lack of supplies, half-days on Wednesdays -- these things are unacceptable. I am reconsidering my move to Lawrence and have tried to contact school administrators with questions, but have received no response. Having driven around looking at the schools, they seem quite out of date and the grounds are terrible. Can someone answer some questions I have? My son is currently in the 3rd grade in a classroom of 23 and attends a 5-student gifted class one day a week. He is also a part of after-school clubs and has been able to participate in some fantastic field trips. If someone would be willing to answer some questions, I'd appreciate it.

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the reply!

Which schools are best rated? Can I chose which elementary school my child attends as long as I'm willing to provide transportation to and from the school? Where can I find information regarding class sizes at each school? Is there a gifted program? What school is the gifted program located in? Is it a full day program? Is the teacher specifically trained to deal with gifted children? How many students are in the gifted class room? Are there extracurricular activities in the elementary schools and are there field trips and field days? The schools look very old from the outside, have the classrooms been updated? Is there a high level of technology in each classroom such as interactive boards, computers, and other modern supplies? Is there an emphasis on math and science as well as on reading and writing? Are there still Art, Music, and Physical Education programs that the students attend each week? How much does the after-school program cost and what activities are provided? Why are Wednesdays short and how do the teachers make up for that loss of learning time for the children? How much homework is required each night? Will I be allowed to show up unannounced to have lunch with my child?

I just don't understand how the schools could be in such a bad situation when they don't even pay to bus the children and I also read on the district website that there are huge fees that have to be paid each year for things like book rental. I don't pay a dime for my son to attend his current school and it has never thought of cutting school hours, not updating technology, sharing principals, getting rid of buses, dropping field trips or extracurricular groups, or putting more than 25 children in a classroom. What's the deal? Does Kansas just not support primary education?

Thank you for your time in looking at my questions.

greenquarter 5 years, 3 months ago

You can apply for a transfer to a school other than the one whose boundary you live in--application (due 6/1) and instructions: http://www.usd497.org/ParentsAndStudents/IntraDistrictTransfers/documents/2010.2011ElementaryTransfer.pdf

Fees: Not sure what you consider "huge" (especially if you're open to paying $650/month for a Montessori school someone suggested) but $72/year doesn't fit in that category, in my opinion: http://usd497.org/documents/2009.10SchoolFees.pdf

Gifted: each school has its own program. TYpically they're not full-day programs. I can't find a link, as they're often called something other than "gifted," but I don't have time to search for it. Homework will vary by teacher.

Yes, still art, music, and PE classes each week. Also field trips, field days, etc. The classrooms are up to date. To ease your mind, take a tour at any school.

School report cards are available at http://online.ksde.org/rcard/district.aspx?org_no=D0497 (click on "Show Buildings" in top right of purple box; categories for each school will be along the left side of the page)

Before- and after-school pgms: http://usd497.org/documents/09.10BeforeAfterPrograms.pdf (or http://www.bgclawrence.com/, $20-$40 per week, depending on school)

Wednesdays are short to provide teacher preparation time. Nobody likes it except possibly the kids. Each school has a different feel, and personally I wouldn't hop right into private school based on newspaper articles. Give the public schools here a chance rather than basing your decision on a bunch of articles and on the physical appearance of the schools (some of the elementary schools and one junior high are historic but they have been updated, including central air--a luxury we did NOT have when I attended in the 1980s and very early 1990s). Broken Arrow is a brand-new elementary building, and South Junior High is brand-new as well. Free State High is less than 15 years old, and Lawrence High was extensively renovated at that time as well.

A word to you, though: I would open your mind a bit--the tone used in your post isn't going to go over well (here or anywhere else you might move) if you start spouting off as soon as you get here about how great your old schools were. Schools just about everywhere are hurting, and we're no exception.

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

I do appreciate all of the information.

I don't feel that talking about how great my current school district is should be considered a bad thing. The fact is my current district is amazing, and I wish all children could receive this type of experience.

I haven't had time to spend a day touring the schools, so that's why I asked about renovations inside. It is a valid question as the exteriors of the schools I've seen during my weekends in Lawrence are not impressive. Broken Arrow is the only one that I've seen that looks similar to the structures in my current district, but I have reservations about elementary age students being on the same campus as older students. I don't know if there is any interaction, but that is something I would like to know.

I do appreciate the information you provided, but I do not feel that I was out of line comparing two districts. Comparison is something I think any good parent would do when considering a move.

Thanks again and enjoy the rest of your day.

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

Another note, I was talking about the total fees, not just the textbook rental. At my current school all of those things are provided free of charge, so it seems huge to me. $209 for enrollment fees into a PUBLIC school is a lot. Not everyone can afford another $209 along with supplies, clothes, and other back-to-school expenses. I would only be able to consider a private school if I am able to obtain good employment when I move to Lawrence. i graduate from University this May, but the job opportunities aren't looking promising.

greenquarter 5 years, 3 months ago

Broken Arrow and South JH students don't interact during school hours. They're not in the same building, just the same grounds.

Still, to me $209 doesn't seem like that much, considering I pay almost $1,200 per MONTH for child care for two kiddos. I welcome $209/YEAR. ;-) And you may have seen that a parent-led group recently was asking the district to RAISE fees rather than close down schools. (Ultimately the district made cuts to avoid closing down the schools that are integral in tying neighborhoods together.)

Of course these are legitimate concerns/questions. But no one anywhere appreciates hearing how awful their own city is compared with the wonderland of someone's old one, especially on a contentious issue like schools. I'm just saying, don't be surprised if people don't jump at the chance to hear about your current district ... Best wishes! :-)

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

When I drove by Broken Arrow, I couldn't tell if the buildings were joined, so thank you for that information. I'm glad to hear that there is no interaction.

I would be all for raising fees, too, if it meant increasing the quality of educational programs. I just don't understand why there are fees to begin with. Maybe my current district has a higher tax in order to be able to fund everything we have. I'd also support higher taxes to help fund schools.

My main concern is that I don't do my child a disservice by moving. The move isn't completely necessary, but would allow us to help out a family member, so I would feel extreme guilt if I didn't make certain that I was doing something beneficial or equal with regard to his education. I've heard good things about Kansas schools in the past, and didn't question the move until I started reading about the budget cuts. I would think that a district that doesn't pay to bus the children to school would have enough money not to charge fees and cut programs. I wasn't aware that there were schools that didn't offer bus service to everyone. I can't imagine how a principal is going to be effective being in charge of two schools. This is all a new experience to me and my mind is swirling with questions and concerns. I may not always be the best at posing questions diplomatically, but I do have good intentions.

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

We live out of state, so it's not another Kansas district. I didn't realize there would be such a big difference in educational processes from state to state. I know my district has always passed tax increases when it comes to benefiting the schools, so maybe that's where the difference in funding comes from.

puckstah 5 years, 3 months ago

CAS - a clarification, Broken Arrow is not a brand new building - the jr. high on the same campus is. Regarding gifted education, in Kansas, gifted students are identified as "exceptional" so have Individualized Education Programs (IEP), like students with disabilities. The state is unique in this aspect - and it's really advantageous to parents. Each student's gifted program is specified in the IEP (a legal document). We have good schools in Lawrence. The problem is statewide (in fact other states are in similar situations due to the economy) because our legislature has cut the per pupil spending, thus the problem for our school board.

kugrad 5 years, 3 months ago

GardenMomma, The answer to your question is: They thought about that, but it turns out that NY does not have quite enough rooms to accomodate all the preschool classes.

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the info; I'll look into Raintree.

youngjayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

Note of caution regarding Raintree ... students experience difficulty transitioning to public school from Raintree as the curriculum is student-driven and students enter PS unprepared for traditional curriculum. Also, there are no report cards measuring progress only general conferences.

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

Would you be able to answer any of the questions I posted above about the public schools? I'd really appreciate it.

LadyJ 5 years, 3 months ago

There are several private schools that are rated very high academically. The Catholic schools are really good. I don't know about showing up unannounced any more but you are allowed to have your kid leave for lunch, we did it all the time.

LadyJ 5 years, 3 months ago

The leaving for lunch refers to the public schools.

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

I usually just show up at my son's current school whenever I end up getting the time free. I guess I could just take him out for lunch rather than bringing lunch to him if it's a problem. As for the private schools, my family is non-traditional, so we are not welcome at schools with religious affiliations. Do you know where I can find out about how each of the public schools are rated?

greenquarter 5 years, 3 months ago

Not sure what you mean by you're not welcome at religious schools (meaning you don't feel comfortable there? or they won't allow you to enroll), but at least at St. John's you don't have to be Catholic or even practicing to attend. See my long post above for how each public school is rated.

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for replying. My family consists of two mothers and a child rather than a mother, father, and child. This makes us unwelcome at most schools affiliated with religion.

LadyJ 5 years, 3 months ago

You might try calling and discussing it with them, St. John's at least. This is Lawrence after all. We were the only city in KS to vote for gay marriages if I remember correctly.

greenquarter 5 years, 3 months ago

Oh yeah, you'd by no means be the first or last same-sex/gay parents in Lawrence. For whatever reason, Lawrence has (or had--don't know if it died off) the same-sex-couple registry (put in place after the state banned gay marriage--eye roll); I think it's so same-sex partners can get spouse-like insurance benefits etc. The town is very welcoming and accommodating of all sorts of "nontraditional" families--whether because of multiple races, sexual orientation, country of origin, etc. Lawrence is not at all like the rest of Kansas! :-)

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

That's really good to hear. The one negative thing I can say about the schools where I currently live is that many of the parents won't let their children socialize with my child because of our family make-up. That isn't a fault of the school, just of the close-minded parents, but it has made things like not getting invited to birthday parties and such difficult for my son. I'm hoping that won't be a problem in Lawrence, and it sounds like it won't be.

fly_on_wall 5 years, 3 months ago

ConcernedAboutSchools

Welcome to New York. I have found New York to be a very diverse community, that is very involved. I think parent involvement is the best resource for my kids. Yeah the things you said about whats going on is a deterrent but this is due to a budget crisis that is affecting all of Kansas. If you want to know about New York Elementary. Just show up at the play ground at 3:40 before the kids let out and you will find myself and a group of parents who will answer any question.

ConcernedAboutSchools 5 years, 3 months ago

That's a great idea. If I can get to Lawrence on a weekday afternoon before school's out, I'll take you up on the offer. Thanks!

LadyJ 5 years, 3 months ago

So that would put the kids at Edgewood at New York?

LadyJ 5 years, 3 months ago

You can apply for reduced enrollment fees, it is based on income. You can apply for a transfer, but there is a good chance you won't get it, so move into the school boundaries that you want.

LadyJ 5 years, 3 months ago

You can also apply for reduced lunches.

puckstah 5 years, 3 months ago

LadyJ - actually, as I understand from my principal, if you apply for a transfer to a school that's not "at capacity" according to the district's #'s, and there is space in the grade-level your child is in, you have a good chance of getting in.

fly_on_wall 5 years, 3 months ago

Another aspect is With East Heights now Boys and Girls club the children in that program will be at that location which Might (I don't know for sure) provide busing from the two schools. FOR THE KIDS IN THERE PROGRAM. I don't know if the early start 8am changes anything about the before school program or if they had before school program how would breakfast be served, there or at schools. These are my questions for Boys and Girls club.

proudmom 5 years, 3 months ago

Kennedy has 330 kids which is a three section school and will go down to a 1-2 section school. The families aren't blessed with the best transporation for their children and over half of the families at Kennedy walk to school and home every day. These are families trying there best to make sure that their kids have water, electricity and food when they come home and now with the GREAT idea that the board decided on to change only the boundary for the Kennedy families they will be faced with another stress in their life by wondering how their 1st grader or 2nd grader or even 6th grader is going to get across town without being hit by a car, abducted or God forbid anything else. Look at the streets that the students will have to cross to get from the old Kennedy boundary to the new "revised" boundary and ask yourself if you would allow your children to walk those routes that the board is now asking the Kennedy families to. I seriously pray that you all think about this, is this really in the best interest of the students or the best for the board so they aren't having to answer to not closing any schools. Yes, saved for this year but what happens next year when another 5 million needs to be cut, where do the families go then when the school is filled now with a preschool program??? Make them walk to Cordley or Prairie Park? What about the teachers there now that you are cutting the classrooms down to 1 section? I don't feel good about this one at all and it really scares me thinking about those kids walking that distance between the two schools. I hope my feelings are proven wrong but right now..... it isn't very comforting.

Kash_Encarri 5 years, 3 months ago

Actually, looking at DIST's blog and the map overlays, comparing those to Google, it isn't as bad as I thought it might be from all the wailing and knashing of teeth going on. Crossing Haskell can't be too big a problem, because there are already kids going to Kennedy that have to do that who now won't have to in order to get to Kennedy not to mention the kids that already go to NY that already cross Haskell. The new Burrough's Trail would be a good route for those kids that have to the kids get to within three blocks of the school. My kids have walked this far themselves since they were in first grade having to cross both Lawrence Avenue and Kasold which receive as much if not more traffic.

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