Archive for Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Three Lawrence assistant principals to add teaching to their days

Three area assistant principals will soon return to classrooms to teach part-time. The move will help the schools battle through the current budget crisis.

April 20, 2010


Three Lawrence assistant principals will return to the classroom on a part-time basis next year, as the school district cuts $4.6 million from its budget.

The district announced Tuesday that assistant principals Lisa Clipsham of Central Junior High and Jeff Harkin of West Junior High spend one-quarter of their days teaching.

Mike Hill, one of three assistant principals at Free State High School, will teach half-time at the district’s smaller high school. Hill is also Free State’s athletic director and head baseball coach.

“With the immense financial pressure on the school district, our administrators, teachers and support staff are all being asked to do more with less,” Superintendent Rick Doll said.

Doll said administrators still must decide what the three assistant principals teach, depending on needs at each school and what they are licensed to teach. They could be asked to handle some directed studies, which are courses for students who need extra help in certain areas, such as reading and math.

As part of budget reductions approved in March, board members mandated the district cut the equivalent of one full-time assistant principal position at the district’s secondary schools.

This year, each junior high has a principal and an assistant. And each of the two high schools has a principal and three assistants.

Doll said no administrative cuts will be made at Southwest Junior High because it is the district’s largest junior high.

And none will be made at South Junior High because its administrators will be required handle some supervision at Broken Arrow Elementary because Principal Brian McCaffrey will split his time next year between Broken Arrow and Wakarusa Valley Elementary.

Tuesday’s announcement was the latest in a shuffle of administrators due to the budget. Here’s what’s happened so far:

• Broken Arrow and Wakarusa Valley will share a principal. The current principal at Wakarusa Valley — Elias Espinoza — resigned, effective at the end of the school year, to pursue jobs in the Kansas City area.

• East Heights Early Childhood Family Center will move to Kennedy School, and East Heights Principal Cris Anderson will be the new Kennedy principal. Felton Avery, the current Kennedy principal, will become an assistant principal at Lawrence High, replacing Jan Leonard, who is retiring.

• The district is searching for a principal for Langston Hughes School because Lisa Williams-Thompson took a job as principal of a Gardner elementary school, effective at the end of the year, to shorten her commute from Olathe.


midwestmom 8 years, 1 month ago

Can we find out specifically what cuts are being made at the 'Administrative Offices'. I keep reading, listening, etc. and the only cuts being announced seem to be at the students expense.

Just how much is being spent (percentage) at the district level vs. how much is being spent on teachers? It seems to me that the cuts are all happening where they hurt the most. Why aren't we hearing that (as an example only) that the facility operations supervisor or special education, or transportation or the communications director - isn't also managing another dept. or being cut? If that many teaching positions are being cut, is the person responsible for monitoring teachers also being cut or forced to do the job of 2 or 3 additional persons?


Thinking_Out_Loud 8 years, 1 month ago

Yes, you can find out which cuts are being made at Admin Offices. You do it by asking them. They will also answer the questions on where the money goes and who supervises whom. This information is all available to you under the Kansas Open Records Act.

Let us know what you learn.

puckstah 8 years, 1 month ago

The SB told Athletics to go back and cut more - I wonder if they ever did this? Did anyone enforce these additional cuts? Marlene Merrill was insistent upon she should be....Ms. Merrill, I hope you will ask this at the next SB us the $$ Athletics!

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Excellent question.

How is the budget of the upper level administration being reduced?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Let's put the big white building on the market ASAP instead of waiting. We need this money to rehab some school buildings and or reduce the debt incurred by the expansion of athletics aka PLAY.

jtfexpress 8 years, 1 month ago

okay, fine, people say "sell that huge white building", I agree, but 'ya gotta have a buyer or people of interest to purchase a behemoth like that! Just having the city buy it for a homeless shelter is just robbing peter to pay paul

Duane Mellenbruch 8 years, 1 month ago

I'm told that the Wesleyan church that is located in the former property that housed our district offices is outgrowing that building. Maybe we could do a swap . . . . . . . . . . ;0)

roamingnome 8 years, 1 month ago

Bluefirebird, what are you talking about? Just curious...

somedude20 8 years, 1 month ago

What, is Mary Kay Letourneau not available?

lettingoffsteam 8 years, 1 month ago

A couple of thoughts - First, could someone please explain to me why each high school needs a principal and three assistant principals? (I sincerely want to know) Second, I agree wholeheartedly with those questioning why the explanation detailing cuts in upper administration are vague, and why most of the "administration" cuts seem to be those closest to direct contact with students. and Third, it seems to me that if "The district is searching for a principal for Langston Hughes School because Lisa Williams-Thompson took a job as principal of a Gardner elementary school, effective at the end of the year, to shorten her commute from Olathe" and if "The current principal at Wakarusa Valley — Elias Espinoza — resigned, effective at the end of the school year, to pursue jobs in the Kansas City area." We have a solution!!!!!! Mr. Espinoza is said to be a well liked, successful principal. Do you all KNOW what it costs to conduct a search at this level???? Offer him the position, save the district from spending even MORE money it apparently doesn't have, and keep a good principal here in Lawrence. Why am I the only one who can connect these dots????

Jonathan Kealing 8 years, 1 month ago

I don't pass this off as a justification, merely as a "in my experience."

I graduated from high school less than 10 years ago. Fairly large, suburban school district. My HS was larger than Free State, but smaller than LHS and had four grades. As for administrators, we had 1 principal, an asst. principal for each grade level (4), an 80% FTE athletic director (taught one class per semester), and then either 6 or 7 guidance counselors.

And, the middle school (6-8) was located on the same campus and also had its own principal, plus an asst. principal and guidance counselor for each grade level.

All told, that's between 19 and 20 administrators for about 2100 kids.

Don't know that it was the most efficient organization, but I do think it's at least food for thought.

Jeff Plinsky 8 years, 1 month ago

The HS assistant principals are each responsible for various aspects of making the building function (grounds, infrastructure, overseeing security, administering testing, etc.). On top of that they are the disciplinarians. Each is responsible for just under 400 kids. By the time you figure in time for discipline, responding to parent questions/requests, normal functioning of the building, etc. they have very little free time, if any. On top of that, they have duty at games, performances, etc. that eats into their nights and weekends. I don't know how the high schools would function with fewer assistant principals, or with them having less time during the day. I'm not saying it isn't possible, only that the process would have to look very different.

The head principal deals primarily with staffing issues, oversees teachers, and works as a liason between the school, the ESDC, and community. He doesn't deal directly with students, except in limited situations.

Honestly JK, that is the sort of information I would have thought the paper would include in these articles to help the community understand the impact of cuts, and to help the community discussions be more informed. Would including an organizational chart be too much to ask? Or maybe a link to one?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Our high schools have guidance counselors on site or at least did have .

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

I think this is perhaps the concern:

Top USD 497 Admin Officials could use some trimming back I’d say considering such high dollar salaries:

Chief Officers X 2 = $ 278,047

Coordinator X 1 = $76,808

Director, Assistant X 3 = $276,461

Directors X 3 = $ 279,240 / $72,612 paid from local funds

Division Directors X 9 = $988,797 / $74,367 paid from Food Service funds

Specialist –X 6 = $ 494,209 / $150,908 paid from Federal Funds

Superintendent X 1 = $174,706 / Required by Statute

Supervisor X 1 = $ 96,521

Total Pay in USD 497 tax Dollars = $2,660,789

songbird 8 years, 1 month ago

Merrill just listed 26 positions. I do not understand how that could not be reduced by at least ONE to save the principal position at Wakarusa Valley. Each school should have an onsite principal, especially a remote rural school. Not to mention that elimination of just a few more administrators would save several teaching jobs. How can we best be heard? Email the school board? Cuts need to be made furthest from the kids FIRST, however, that is not the approach of this administration.

usaschools 8 years, 1 month ago

Why is the only school reporting things that are potentially negative? Why no article about the many teachers who have recently won awards at their schools or at the follies? What about all the high test scores that Lawrence kids have been getting on state tests recently? What about the great things our teachers do all the time? All we ever hear is the negative things, so it is no wonder people think all schools are doing poorly.

Clickker 8 years, 1 month ago

Cant really cut athletics.

Maybe they could consolidate some sports, but that will lessen the opportunities for many students.

fanaddict 8 years, 1 month ago

The article about Follies was in yesterday's paper, another $30,000 raised! (My guess is no one pays attention to the positive things that are posted because 90% of people who post on here just like to complain instead of actually acting on something)

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

It's time to prepare for the move. Mostly it will require hook ups for computers such as Broadband etc etc etc.

There are approximately 30 rooms in the virtual school building.

The gymnasium can be the BOE meeting room complete with channel 25 video components. This gym has the space.

The building is mostly ready for use. Can live without new flooring. Just polish up existing tiles.

Richard Payton 8 years, 1 month ago

This district needs Lew Perkins to raise some endowment funds.

somedude20 8 years, 1 month ago

^ or we could use Anthony Perkins as an administrator. "Come here, mother wants to have a word with you"

Shardwurm 8 years, 1 month ago

Education is bloated. It has been for years. At all levels.

We've been sold a bill of goods about every aspect of the system. You don't need as many of anything that we have. Don't need as many teachers. Don't need as many administrators. Don't need as many support staff.

It's a scam and you are paying for it. People who scream the most about paying teachers more are - and I know this is a surprise - mostly teachers. Don't tell me paying them more will make them better. It won't. Don't tell me we have to retain the good teachers. We will. They don't have a chance in hell in the private sector where they would be required to produce. When is the last time you met a successful businessperson who said: "I taught for 5 years but they didn't pay me I started my own business and I'm a millionaire."?'s too good a gig to leave - plenty of time off, plenty of power, and no accountability to your customers - the parents and students.

Eliminate tenure and the union. Make teaching a real profession instead of calling it one. Reward the good teachers and get rid of the bad ones. Then you will have better education. But as long as you're paying every teacher the same way and making it impossible to eliminate poor performers you're wasting time.

A last thought - I'm tired of hearing people talk about teachers as though they're gods. They're not. In fact, there are a large number of them who are bad at what they do. Just like any organization. And if you've had children in the system recently you know that putting our schools and teachers on pedestals is in many cases laughable. So why don't we stop fooling ourselves and start cleaning house? Cut 50 percent of the staff in every school and go from there.

windex 8 years, 1 month ago

Shard, what are your qualifications for making such an assessment? Do tell.

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