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Archive for Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Without cutting teachers, closing schools, school district only half-way to closing budget deficit

Cuts to fine arts, sports, administration, other areas only add up to $2.5 million

The Central Junior High boys’ eighth-grade basketball team boards a bus Wednesday to travel for an away game. Lawrence school officials are looking for ways to further trim the district’s budget, perhaps by eliminating or cutting costs in various after-school music, fine arts and athletics programs, among other possibilities.

The Central Junior High boys’ eighth-grade basketball team boards a bus Wednesday to travel for an away game. Lawrence school officials are looking for ways to further trim the district’s budget, perhaps by eliminating or cutting costs in various after-school music, fine arts and athletics programs, among other possibilities.

February 3, 2010

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School closings on the line in Lawrence

With a $4 million budget deficit growing to $5 million, the likelihood of school closings seems to be increasing.

Lawrence school board budget study session

Kathy Johnson, division director of finance, goes over the 2008-09 cuts that were made for the 2009-10 school year.

The painful list of Lawrence school budget cut options — from dropping support staff to after-school music programs and athletic coaches — will only get board members halfway to covering a $5 million deficit.

“It was clear that as devastating as those cuts would be and as bad as they are, they still don’t add up (to $5 million). That’s the depth of the hole,” board president Scott Morgan said.

During a Tuesday study session, administrators presented board members with a list of potential cuts to programs and budgets. But even if board members approve all of those cuts, they total about $2.5 million.

That scenario would not include other options that would cut teaching positions and courses, such as increasing the student-teacher ratio, changing school boundaries or even closing elementary schools.

After the district already cut $2.5 million last year, the state budget crisis has decreased base state aid per pupil for the next school year, creating a $4 million deficit for Lawrence public schools. Also, a $1 million increase in employee health insurance costs will likely add to the district’s deficit.

Morgan said board members likely will have to look at increasing class sizes and other options.

“I don’t know how we get around doing something with facilities,” he said.

Rich Minder, the board’s vice president, said board members need to continue to gather information in coming weeks before they make a decision about cuts.

“It’s pretty clear there’s a variety of ways we can come up with $4 million or $5 million. We need to see what varieties we can come up with and what ideas the board members and community members can come up with,” Minder said.

Board members have scheduled four public forums. The first one is 7 p.m. Tuesday at the South Junior High School auditorium, 2734 La.

Possible budget cuts

The total cost of cutting all these options adds up to about $2.5 million, only halfway to the district’s expected $5 million deficit for next school year.

  • Cuts to district and school administration, plus clerical aides and secretaries: $661,900.
  • Eliminating elementary enrichment classes: $122,580.
  • A 10 percent reduction of general fund expenses on facilities and maintenance: $80,000.
  • Cutting back on fine arts events: $11,291.
  • Reductions in elementary guidance counselor positions and work days for secondary ones: $282,724.
  • Three less full-time learning coach positions and cutting extra days: $179,270.
  • A 25-percent cut to professional development: $75,000.
  • Reorganizing library media operations: $228,609.
  • Reducing full-time nurses from 12 to seven positions: $222,369.
  • Eliminating general fund spending on high school prevention specialists: $36,445.
  • Special education cuts, including cutting back on materials and programs and reducing staff hours: $204,693.
  • Not filling certain “supplemental” positions or programs to cut costs in after-school music, fine arts and athletics: $195,522.
  • Stop absorbing administrative costs to assist the Lawrence Virtual School: $223,970.

Comments

xeniahawk 4 years, 1 month ago

Seems like our bureaucratic heavy administration laden system is imploding yet they continue to trot out bond issues and the masses keep voting them in without any accountability. Didn't this band of bureaucrats just find enough money to build two brand new football stadiums and redo the astroturf at Free State baseball stadium????? Seems like there is plenty of money to go around but when the state starts tightening down, then the talk turns to laying off teachers, closing down schools and eliminating bus service, yet we have the millions for new sports facilities. Maybe, just a thought, we could eliminate all of the administrators at McDonald Drive that make more than the governor of Kansas in annual salary. We could then easily find the money since no one is holding them accountable anyway!!! While we are at it, let's get a whole new school board that has more sense and has the courage to stand up to these mealy mouthed administrators who double talk their way into justifying their own jobs without any care for the children of our district.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Our paid for school buildings are worth millions upon millions upon millions of tax dollars.

It is more apparent than ever that school districts are needing additional sources of funding. Teachers deserve salary increases and decent health insurance. Our legislature is not a reliable source although by law it is a state responsibility.

Neighborhood schools are good for Lawrence. No Lawrence neighborhood wants to be without an elementary school within the neighborhood. Lawrence has spoken out on this issue numerous times.

There are families that which cannot afford two cars or bus transportation. Therefore walking and/or bicycling become the modes of choice.

Two revenue sources are available. The online state wide sales tax dedicated to public schools only is a reasonable source.

A local source to help fund USD 497 medical insurance, salaries, and perhaps school fees. This could become available as a dedicated City of Lawrence USD 497 user fee: http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2003/mar/teacher_salaries/

Of course these mechanisms will only be supplemental.

All USD 497 schools benefit. Perhaps experienced USD 497 teachers will stop fleeing to Blue Valley as well.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

East Lawrence is growing by way of new families moving into east Lawrence and/or current families having children. Retaining and maintaining existing assets such as schools has been considered fiscally responsible for at least two hundred years…. down right frugal if you will.

*East Lawrence is not a dying farm community. Instead it is a growing neighborhood community. Home to restored and new housing.

*East Lawrence is an attractive neighborhood. The residents CHOOSE the east side for a variety of reasons:

  • East,and Old west Lawrence are the choice neighborhoods for restoring old beautiful homes.

*Eastern Lawrence is about old growth trees,character of housing, easy walking or biking to most destinations like downtwn KU and our public schools.

  • East Lawrence has Weavers, Browns Shoe Fit,Dillons, downtown hardware store,D&D tire shop,Liberty Hall,City Library,Senior Service Center, used goods such as the antique mall/Fun and Games,Bay Leaf,Kring's, Waxman Candle,Foot Print,Mass Street Music, a Cottins Hardware,Chiropractor on 23rd, very nice parks and the new hike and bike trail These are but a few of the wonderful attractions to East Lawrence.

  • East Lawrence is not dying and is home to many many many college graduates and “common” laborers aka diversity.

  • Eastern Lawrence received many thumbs up by urban consultant Placemakers for our:

  • Home designs
  • layout of neighborhood streets
  • proximity to neighborhood schools
  • sidewalks - a walkable neighborhood community
  • proximity to downtown

Closing schools is wasteful thinking. Let’s work this out sensibly.

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Truami 4 years, 2 months ago

I hear some of the head guys for a lot of the banks that caused so much financial situation have 9 - 10 million each. 2.5 million just doesn't seem like that much to me if I just received a 10 million dollar bonus for messing up.

I think the school children of Lawrence should each write a letter to a CEO and ask them for the 2.5 - 5 million dollars to save thousands of children's education rather then reward failure.

That's just my opinion though.

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sickofdummies 4 years, 2 months ago

I've been reading all of this, and finally have to comment.

1st- DID makes a very valid argument. Take it to the board. I bet you'd have a lot of support. But...we're still dealing with a board who has probably already made up their minds, and is just going through the motions.

2nd- For everyone who thinks that shifting boundaries, closing schools, and enlarging class size is the answer.--This will lead to the destruction of our education system. If you dont think all 3 go hand in hand, you're wrong. You cant have one without the others. I have a child who is in a class of 31 this year. The teacher is excellent, and doing, I'm sure, all she can. However, when you have that many bodies in a classroom, there are a lot of negative effects. It takes the class twice as long to line up for lunch, get on coats, settle in for a Math lesson, etc, etc. What does this mean? Half the amount of time left for actual instruction. So, here I find myself reteaching my child (who has always excelled in school) everything that she should have learned during the day, but couldn't grasp because, lets face it, a teacher can't possibly address all the needs of that many kids in the amount of time given her to do it. So, essentially, I'm homeschooling. But, I only have a short time to do it, because she spends 7 1/2 hours a day at school, where she should be learning.

I've contemplated homeschooling or enrolling in the virtual school if the class sizes are increased across the board. What will be the point? 7 hours of babysitting, but turning out children with no education? What will it do to budget numbers if the enrollment drops significantly?

Also, I have not mentioned that with class sizes of 30+, in rooms that were designed for closer to 20, keeping our children healthy is a major challenge. These kids are right on top of each other, and when one gets a virus, they all get a virus. One day this year, out of 61 kids in that grade, we had over 20 out sick. There has been a major situation with all viruses, lice, etc. Our kids are not receiving a proper education, and are constantly sick. So, it's actually becoming a detriment to send them to school. I cant imagine what will happen when all classes, all grades of all schools increases to not only this level, but to 35-40 per class.

And last thing...the thought of cutting custodians is a travesty. These people work their tails off to keep our schools clean for the kids. I cant even imagine what it would look like after a day with no custodian, let alone a week, a year? Our children will be living 7 hours a day in filth, their health will be effected, education, etc. Are we trying to create the atmosphere of a 3rd world country in our schools? Why dont we just cut lunches while we're at it?

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BadLlama 4 years, 2 months ago

multiagelearner:

And how do you propose the Lawrence School District attract those highly-qualified teachers when there is no incentive to work here? There is only so much the individual can do--there has to be opportunities and resources available in order to be successful. This is like any other job--the best workers are attracted to the work environment, benefits, and pay. At this point, there is nothing attractive to the Lawrence Public Schools to those highly sought after teachers. I am certified highly qualified, and I've been teaching four years. If I had the opportunity, I would definitely go to a school district that offered a multitude of staff resources and support, great benefits, a competitive salary, and great facilities over a district that has absolutely nothing to offer me except crowded classrooms and a community that thinks I should work for peanuts and be happy about having a job. Saying the district should get rid of new teachers and learning coaches is ignorant of the situation and the way schools work. Would you take a job in a place that you would be overworked, underpaid, and heavily criticized by community members and parents? No, you wouldn't. Just because we are teachers does not mean that we do not have standards, no mortgages or bills to pay, or families to support. Teachers know when they get their certificate that they aren't going to ever be rich, and most just want to educate kids in a field that they care about. However, that doesn't mean we don't deserve a quality work environment with fair pay.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

The district has been reducing payroll for several years by "encouraged" retirement. Where's the money? Those teachers seem to flock toward Blue Valley where they make yet more money than they were in USD 497.

Closing New York school will not save $5 million a year. No where close.

Spending $15-$25 million on a larger building will not save taxpayers money. But it will create a ton of traffic congestion. Low income families cannot afford two or three cars..... the primary breadwinner must get to work.

It's time to take a hard look at the expansive admin center - put it on the market. Buying that large chunk of real estate was not a smart move in the first place.

"Rich Minder, the board’s vice president, said board members need to continue to gather information in coming weeks before they make a decision about cuts.

“It’s pretty clear there’s a variety of ways we can come up with $4 million or $5 million. We need to see what varieties we can come up with and what ideas the board members and community members can come up with,” Minder said.

Board members have scheduled four public forums. The first one is 7 p.m. Tuesday at the South Junior High School auditorium, 2734 La."

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commuter 4 years, 2 months ago

Paul - I think you are confused but I will play along. Your confusion is between expense reporting and cash flow. There can be a timimg difference bewteen the two if you use the accrual method of accounting or cash method of accounting. I am guessing the district has to use the accrual method.

Contingency funds - if the district uses money to pay payroll because the state is late, when they get the money from the state, do they put it back in the contigency fund?? If so, wouldn't they still have the same amount of contingency fund if nothing else happened?? This is just a timing differnce.

More important question does the district have a line of credit with a bank??

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multiagelearner 4 years, 2 months ago

Cut all the learning coaches. This was a job, that up until two years ago it took two people to complete. If they are pink slipping all the first and second year teachers who needs the learning coaches. This was supposed to be a mentoring program. No new teachers to mentor so cut them all. I think you can save New York just be getting cutting the learning coaches. If the district hired highly qualified teachers they would be fine without them.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

“It’s pretty clear there’s a variety of ways we can come up with $4 million or $5 million. We need to see what varieties we can come up with and what ideas the board members and community members can come up with,” Rich Minder said.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

How many millions did the sports facilities cost?

Grass is not the only expense. Maintenance/repair of all new new items plus the tax increase for construction. Plus staffing.

Sell the paid for admin building for several million and apply to the sports facilities debt. Then move admin into the virtual school building = smart economics.

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imamomma 4 years, 2 months ago

Special education cuts, including cutting back on materials and programs and reducing staff hours: $204,693. All I can say is ridiculous.....how about the Super take a cut...maybe to what a 20 year vet teacher makes.........live on that...

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imamomma 4 years, 2 months ago

I think it would be nice if the rich alumns from KU would "donate" the millions and hundreds of thousands of dollars to the schools (K-12)....just a thought....

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cheeseburger 4 years, 2 months ago

merrill says. . . . How is closing New York School going to save $5,000,000?

How is selling the district administration building going to save $5,000,000 year after year?

merrill says. . . .The buildings in question are paid for.

So is the district administration building.

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BadLlama 4 years, 2 months ago

Thinking_Out_Loud: Schools are still required to make AYP, increase test scores every year, stay accredited, and be surrogate parents to kids. You are aware of the standardized testing nonsense that is still going on, correct? No Child Left Untested forces schools to make passing grades and increase (not maintain!) test scores every year or they lose funding. How does that mean teachers are doing less with less? There is still the expectation that schools must meet (and eventually exceed) all these goals or else face the consequences. Less state funding equals fewer resources for teachers, larger class sizes, less individual student attention which means lower test scores and more school districts fighting to stay accredited.

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barrypenders 4 years, 2 months ago

Larrytown needs more retirement compounds. Discrimination laws for same person like yourself 'Carnal Knowledge', retirement compounds and Posercare for D&C's should solve the need for more schools for the children.

Stimulus, PAD Logic, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless us all

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KSManimal 4 years, 2 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…

"The sports facilities will add to the cost of operations of USD 497."

Maintaining grass on athletic fields cost $40,000/year. Renting Haskell and busing teams cost $80,000/year.

Looks to me like the new facilities SAVES $120,000/year.

But, for some folks it sure is fun to bitch about the cost of the new athletic facilities..... Beats thinking about real problems and solutions, I guess.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

First of all a school district cannot be run like a private business. The variables attached to a school district are far beyond what any private business encounters.

Secondly Mr Getto brings about interesting points worth considering. If the legislature continues its' slash and burn policy Kansas economic growth will continue to take serious hits thus higher taxes to keep the state running.

As I see it continued tax cuts to the school districts will force more of the load onto individual school districts which I believe is an underlying motivation after attending many Topeka hearings over the years.
Thus : http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2003/mar/teacher_salaries/

How is closing New York School going to save $5,000,000?

With so so many elected officials from way smaller school districts they have no idea what managing a much larger school districts entails.

If Lawrence will continue to grow where will they place the children?

How will closing on or two schools then building one much larger school for millions upon millions ($20 million) save USD 497 taxpayers money?

The buildings in question are paid for.

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Flap Doodle 4 years, 2 months ago

Too bad Lawrence couldn't score some major Porkulus bucks like these folks did. “ATLANTA -- Channel 2 Action News has learned that nearly 200 DeKalb County school employees will be boarding flights to Los Angeles this week to attend an education conference that will cost taxpayers nearly $400,000. The money isn’t coming from local tax dollars but from federal dollars that came to the county as part of the Obama Administration’s 2009 stimulus package. Stimulus money from Washington is often discussed in terms of “shovel ready” constructions projects that are supposed to create jobs for unemployed Americans. But the DeKalb County School System has decided to use stimulus money to attend a 4-day conference sponsored by America’s Choice, which a schools spokesman calls “a great thing.”” http://www.wsbtv.com/news/22463983/detail.html

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barrypenders 4 years, 2 months ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says…

Keep cutting education funding and parents with children will move to states that do fund education. Let that happen long enough and the whole state will slowly die. You can't have a vibrant economy if the entire population is only retirees.

Don't worry. Illegal Residents will replace the people that leave. What do you have against old folk?

Stimulus, Keep Options In Play, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless you

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

The sports facilities will add to the cost of operations of USD 497. Yes I know that capital outlay funds cannot be applied to our other situation.

How are USD 497 taxpayers free of any tax dollar liability on the construction of the sports facilities? Some bond money went into that project. I did not read anywhere that taxpayers were free of responsibility. How so?

BUT the large expansive admin building could be sold to help pay off the sports improvement debt. Then that building could go back on our personal property tax list again.

The admin could move into the virtual school building. Become a part of the community.

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avoice 4 years, 2 months ago

"Keep cutting education funding and parents with children will move to states that do fund education." I'd like to see the list of states that are not currently having the same fiery discussions that are happening here. As many have tried to point out, this is not a Kansas crisis. This is a U.S. crisis. I almost wish I could say it's a global crisis. Unfortunately for US, most other countries are going to come out of this much better off than US and much sooner.

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Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 2 months ago

BadLlama wrote "'Do more with less' has been a common piece of advice from non-educators. If things keep at the rate they are now, it will be 'do more with absolutely nothing.'"

I don't believe that's the case. We have reached the point where we expect the educators to do less with less. Anyone who expects more is delusional.

avoice wrote "...Until there is some disclosure about the administrative positions and the salaries...." Easy enough. This information is public record. Go to the district offices and ask for it.

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avoice 4 years, 2 months ago

"Cutting teacher and other employee pay (but still expect that they do everything not just exactly like before but better - I guess this is because educator morale can never be compromised.)": Yes, this is not only a reasonable expectation, but a common one in recessionary times. What you describe is exactly what is happening in every manufacturing, retail and service business in this country right now; less people doing more work for the same (or less pay). And productivity is waaay up! Some of us working class people wonder why it's okay for this to happen to the majority of Americans, but teachers and others in the education system should be exempt from having to work harder for less pay.

"Dumping enrichment classes - that's right, let's just take away those things that provide extra challenge our brightest and best students.": The "classes" offered to the "brightest and best" students are not the same as the "college track" of years past. These classes do little or nothing to properly prepare these "exceptional" kids for their college years. I'd actually agree with you on this point if the "enrichment" was not such a tremendous failure and a joke.

"Eliminate learning coaches - the people that help new teachers hone their craft - make the transition from student teacher to effective professional teacher.": What??? Teachers don't come out of 4-year college with adequate skills to enter the classroom? In my field, my first employers expected me to be able to do a credible job based on the fact that I'd earned a degree. Teachers spend an entire year working in a classroom setting as part of their degree requirement. That is far more of an internship than most professionals get before hitting the ground running.

"layoff custodians - make sure our schools are dirtier, less well-maintained and get the added bonus of higher unemployment in our community.": I do agree that of all people, the ones at the bottom of the totem should not be the first to go. However, in this case we're supposedly trying to preserve that which is crucial to education. Period. So, there are lots of folks around (teachers, administrators, even students) who are quite capable of doing at least 50% of the light cleaning necessary. Teaching kids to clean up after themselves is an extremely useful life skill, and one that, sadly, less and less people in U.S. society seem to be capable of handling without the assistance of hired help.

"Fire 15% of central office personnel (of course, no suggestion as to who to cut or what to cut - this typical idiotic suggestion is based on the preconceived notion that there must be waste, not that there actually is waste).": Until there is some disclosure about the administrative positions and the salaries, your point is equal in idiocy and preconception to those who state that they believe there is waste in administration. It's easy enough to prove who is right here. Transparency reigns.

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Kelly Anderson 4 years, 2 months ago

The sports facilities have nothing to do with the budget. Those were private donations and various other means set aside specifically for the sports facilities.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

How does USD 497 know the district will be $4 million short?

How much will the new extravagant sports facilities add to the cost of operations? How is that being accounted for? Why did the board approve that spending in a time of economic stress?

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SpeedRacer 4 years, 2 months ago

I do hope that the District will not make the mistake of cutting athletic, art and music programs. The quality of the Lawrence school system is important as a draw to Lawrence and for the retention of residents in a generally high cost town. The losses would hurt more than just the school district, but also the city.

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Kontum1972 4 years, 2 months ago

ok you lawrence multi-millionaires..cough it up.

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KSManimal 4 years, 2 months ago

momof2many (Anonymous) says…

"I suspect the reason they haven't been able to do this has to do with LEA and their contracts. But surely LEA has a heart large enough to see that cutting off body parts isn't good for anybody when a few small scratches would work the best for all."

Beginning this year, teacher's agreed to absorb the increased cost of health insurance. This means that individuals could choose between a 35% increase in premium, or a tenfold increase in deductible/copay/out-of-pocket expenses.

A 35% increase in premium is $350/month more for a family; which is $4,200 per year. That's about 9% of an average teacher's salary. So....many teachers took a 9% cut this year.

A tenfold increase in deductible, etc., means $250/$750 individual/family becomes $2,500/$7,500. For those teachers who actually USE their insurance for ongoing needs....that amounts to the equivalent of a 17% decrease in compensation.

Basically, in the last round of contracts, teachers could gamble on either a 9% or a 17% cut in pay, depending on how much insurance they might use.

If you ask me, it's someone else's turn this time around.

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KSManimal 4 years, 2 months ago

gr3sam (Anonymous) says…

"How about this: according to the District's 2009-2010 budget, there are $5.191M in Unencumbered Funds, and another $6.55M in Contingency Reserve Unencumbered Cash."

Recall that the budget is published in the summer, and that well into this academic year the legislature/governor cut funding back to 2006 levels. That forced USD 497 to cut $3 million from the budget MID YEAR. The impact of $3 million mid year is about like cutting $6 million over the entire year...as far as impact on things.

Plus, the legislature habitually pays school districts late....up to a month late....consistently, for the past four months or more. It takes USD 497 about $5 million to make payroll for one month. That contingency fund can allow the district to actually pay employees....once....if/when the legislature fails to deliver the $ as legislated.

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gccs14r 4 years, 2 months ago

Keep cutting education funding and parents with children will move to states that do fund education. Let that happen long enough and the whole state will slowly die. You can't have a vibrant economy if the entire population is only retirees.

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Richard Payton 4 years, 2 months ago

Get rid of Big Mac and we would solve the funding shortfall! Sell the real estate to earn cash. More ideas posted at a later date.

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maudeandcecil 4 years, 2 months ago

When you have a chance, go back and look closely at the data that was presented Tuesday night. (If it is not posted yet, it should be soon at www.usd497.org.) There most assuredly is potential cost savings totaling more than 2.5 million. I assume the district will eventually present the data in clear cleaned up format; as it stands now it is challenging to decipher - to say the least, but can be done.

Based on Dr. Doll’s public comments, program directors are or already have prioritized cuts and the Board will work through them from the most palatable to the least. I hope that they will seriously weigh all options and turn over ever stone before closing schools. I’m extremely concerned that Scott Morgan is too eager to jump to facilities before he has all the information in front of him. I’m equally, if not more concerned that he has all the information in front of him and it is being treating as proprietary information. If I am wrong, Scott's comments in the paper today seem premature. Certainly there was not enough presented Tuesday for him to come to the conclusion that facilities need to close. I mean a good hour of the district's approximately 2.5 hour presentation was on topics that had NO cost savings potential at all. Seriously, why did they spend so much energy outlining a lottery system for redistricting that was not even coupled with a costs savings component? Was it meant to panic community members into supporting closing schools? Or is that all they have? If so, we need some fresh eyes to examine the budget. For goodness sake, in a community like Lawrence, there is a wealth intellectual capital that should not be wasted, nor dismissed during this crisis. Let us see the complete data set so that our problem solving attempts can be informed attempts.

I understand that no matter what cuts are made, they will harm education. As a parent, I stand ready to offset that harm to my children’s and other children’s education in anyway that I can. Regardless of my new found distrust toward district administrators and board members, I will do this. But let me qualify, that if I continue to perceive that the Board and/or district has been less than transparent or that a good faith effort was not put into creating options other than closing my child's school- I will not forget and will be very cautious when in two years they float a new bond issue. I can not be the only one thinking this way.

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BadLlama 4 years, 2 months ago

In case you are unaware, this is a state-wide problem. 3700 teaching jobs were cut at the end of last year to make up for FY 2009-1010 budget shortfall (THANK YOU LEGISLATURE), and even more are expected next year. Hiawatha is looking at a massive cut of 25-30 teachers; Wichita 200-250. At the beginning of this school year, base state aid per pupil (BSAPP) was $4,218. It is now $4,012. So all those budgets that were balanced at the beginning of the year are no longer balanced. If revenue does not increase through a sales tax increase or a cigarette tax, the BSAPP could be $3776 or LOWER. Ladies and gentlemen, that is back to 1997 lows. I work in a school district close to Lawrence, and if state aid is not cut further, we will be looking at a cut of roughly $500,000. If state aid is cut again (and if the republicans veto every single revenue increasing measure put before them it will), we will have to cut $1.5 million. We are a MUCH smaller district than Lawrence, but it's the exact same problem. We cut 30 positions last year, and who knows how many positions we will lose this year. We delayed textbook and technology purchases, but we can't do that forever.

"Do more with less" has been a common piece of advice from non-educators. If things keep at the rate they are now, it will be "do more with absolutely nothing."

Any corporation or company that had 3700 jobs lost in one year would garner national attention and people would cry out for a solution. Why is it that when this happens to the education system, nothing is done? Legislators don't care about education--that is plainly obvious by their lack of solutions to the problem. This makes me absolutely sick. Why is no one angry about this?? These are people and organizations that are trying to help your kids! Trying to give your kid every opportunity to succeed! Get mad! If we don't fix it NOW, it's only going to get worse in the future.

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Jimo 4 years, 2 months ago

I suppose legislators could finally take on the hard fight and fundamentally, radically transform the entire public education system.

That would, of course, require Republicans to give up on their dream of perpetual tax cuts and Democrats to sever their codependency on teachers unions. All would have to come together to chop off bureaucracy and administration and instead embrace a system focused on parents, children, and teachers. Let the teachers form whatever schools they want (that meet high state standards) and let the parents choose where their children and state money (extra money for 'high needs' students) will go.

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gccs14r 4 years, 2 months ago

Did anyone notice that the district's health insurance premium is going up by a million dollars per year? Why is no one screaming about that? Maybe the district should take a page from the private sector and self-insure, at least until we get a national healthcare system.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 2 months ago

good idea about charging employers for advertisement. I see it at other school venues, such as Topeka Seaman. Could generate money for various programs.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 2 months ago

Have they looked at making the school day longer, and cutting the days at the end of the year, which would save money. Many schools are incorporating that proposal now, and for the next year.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 2 months ago

Yes, those kids paid for their basketball shoes. In fact, every kid who plays sports pays for their shoes, braces, some of their sweats, and another $50 for the sport on top of it. The kids have matching shoes because the coaches usually work with a store or a vendor for a good price.

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Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 2 months ago

Look, finding out what positions a school has, how much each person gets paid...none of that is rocket science. Under state law, the district is required to provide that information when it is requested. If you want to know how many administrative positions exist and what their salaries are...go ask for it. They'll give it to you.

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TheBigW 4 years, 2 months ago

Just start selling naming rights to the two new fancy football fields and sell the advertising space on the fences around the field too, Mcdee's, taco bell & nike will pay big bucks. LOL works for collage and pro sports, why not it's for the kids.

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KSManimal 4 years, 2 months ago

"No, it's the result of well over 20 years of reckless increases in spending on the part of schools."

Shardwurm - when was the last time you actually studied a school district's budget? Never? You have no clue. What you call "reckless increases in spending" are really "unfunded mandates". State and Federal governments have piled on legal requirements year after year...No Child Left Behind, for example, and then left the money behind.

"Do you really think if we raised state taxes, say, 3 percent in Kansas and gave every single dollar raised to education that it would really improve things?"

Yes, Shardwurm, I DO. And unlike YOU, I have data to back up what I say:

http://www.kasb.org/legis/EducationFundingJune2009.pdf

"Do you think paying every teacher $175,000 a year (a year = less than 8 months by the way) will make them better teachers?"

No, Shardwurm, I don't. What $175,000/year WOULD do is attract and retain a lot more people into the profession. That way, districts would have many teachers to choose from and could select the best ones to hire and keep. As it stands, there is a national shortage of teachers....and basically anyone with a license will get a job.

I don't know why that concept is so hard for people to understand - unless they just hate schools and hate teachers and will say anything to denegrate both.

Does paying a coach several million $ per year make them a better coach? No. What that salary does is attract and retain the best coach. Same goes for business CEO's. Funny how the same people who justify million dollar bonuses for CEO's shoot down the same concept when applied to teachers. Must spend too much time listening to Glen Beck.

As to your "less than 8 months" comment....that's just too damn ignorant to bother trying to explain it to you. You obviously are the kind of person who won't let facts interfere with your mindset.

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gr3sam 4 years, 2 months ago

How about this: according to the District's 2009-2010 budget, there are $5.191M in Unencumbered Funds, and another $6.55M in Contingency Reserve Unencumbered Cash. These monies can be spent for whatever purpose designated by the fund the money is in. The actual fund is funded by the General Fund or Local Option Budget, and can be transferred back to these originating funds within the same fiscal year. The following year, the Board does not have to transfer any more monies over to those Unencumbered Cash Funds until it is spent down or until it is actually needed. This money, a total of $11.741M, is needed now. Surely all this money hasn't been spent since July 1. Why not effectuate a transfer now to cover the present shortfall? Or, how about this: these same budget documents show that a substantial number of items appear as “miscellaneous” and “other” expenses. If one reviews the entire 2009 - 2010 budget and tallies all the “miscellaneous” and “other” expenses listed therein, the total savings to the District by reallocation of this alone is $3,687,143. All of this cannot have been depleted since July 1. In these tough budgetary times, it would seem that if a cost cannot be articulated and justified specifically, rather than as “other” or “miscellaneous” expenses, it should not be eliminated entirely! Save our schools!!!

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swan_diver 4 years, 2 months ago

Again -- how many exurban school sites does the USD own, purchased years ago — to help line the pockets of the the developers who have owned and operated Douglas County for decades, by using tax-payer dollars to subsidize suburban growth? Sell them all. Exurbia is dead, ahead of Peak Oil, and the wars and occupations necessary to stave off it's economic effects upon the American economy and culture. Invest in the existing community.

Sell them. Cut administration costs by 30%!! Problem solved.

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1029 4 years, 2 months ago

Great picture. I hope those kids had to pay for their own basketball shoes. It sure does look nice for everyone to have matching red shoes, but that would be an unnecessary waste of funds if those were provided as part of the uniform.

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momof2many 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm not understanding why they aren't looking at cutting salaries rather than positions and programs. From the district's own information "3. What % Salary Reduction is needed, across the board, to offset the 4 million short-fall? 6.15%"

I realize a 6.15% cut in paras and support staff salaries might be harsh, so cut them less and the higher staff salaries a little more. It would still be under 10% and even in these times, most of us (making more than $50,000 could handle that kind of a cut.) I suspect the reason they haven't been able to do this has to do with LEA and their contracts. But surely LEA has a heart large enough to see that cutting off body parts isn't good for anybody when a few small scratches would work the best for all.

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Ken Lassman 4 years, 2 months ago

texburgh, Your points, tho a bit on the sarcastic side, are well taken. Part of the problem, though, is that the district only gives out information about what THEY considered cuttable, and gives the public nothing about what else that they considered and rejected. I'm not saying that they necessarily give out every single position salary with job description for the public to micro-manage, but they are a long way from proving to the public that the administrative salaries are more important to take off the than keeping a neighborhood school going.

Would there be consequences in cutting administrative overhead? Of course, and I'm not naive enough to think that these would only result in savings and no negative impacts on the way the district runs. But when you're looking at balancing a budget that doesn't have enough money to go around, I have yet to see that the negative impacts of cutting some administrative expenses is going to be greater than closing a neighborhood school in the more established parts of Lawrence.

To me the choice is kinda like the difference between taking off someone's clothes three blocks away from their home and having them have to run home naked, or leaving their clothes on but cutting off one of their feet. Which choice would you pick?

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Kat Christian 4 years, 2 months ago

Yep, Secretaries/clerical staff is always the first to go. How about cutting some of the executive positions or cutting those salaries instead of creating another unemployed person who barely make enough to live on in the first place. How about freezing executive salaries. Let them learn how to live on a Secretary's salary to save the school. That would be a real sacrifice. Fine let the kids suffer so they can afford their new cars, vacations, eating out and such. Some of this just doesn't make sense.

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Hop2It 4 years, 2 months ago

This is not going be solved by little changes and little cuts. Something big is going to have to give (or be taken.)

Have we seen numbers and cause/effect for redrawing boundary lines?

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ForThePeople 4 years, 2 months ago

Oops, my last post was meant to be on "did I say that's" blog. Don't know how it ended up here.

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ForThePeople 4 years, 2 months ago

Here here! Perhaps you should take this suggesstion to the upcoming public forums. If there are enough people standing behind this idea, surely the board will have to take it into consideration. The Lawrence taxpayers are speaking loud and clearly that we are tired of supporting admin waste at the expense of our kids education. The sane choice is to start at the top, eliminating and combining positions that do not effect the kids or those that do the actual work!

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Godot 4 years, 2 months ago

There is no more money. Anywhere. Face it.

Social Security will be cash-flow negative this year.

http://finance.yahoo.com/focus-retirement/article/108747/next-in-line-for-a-bailout-social-security?mod=fidelity-readytoretire

Pennsylvania considers Chapter 9 bankruptcy and asset sales http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aRLYN3..REz4

State of Arizona to close state parks (after selling off State Capitol building) due to budget woes. http://www.heartland.org/full/26893/Arizona_Budget_Woes_Compel_Park_Closures.html

New York City is budget cuts draw protests: http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/33812/new-york-new-york-big-city-of-budget-cuts/

Greece is near bankruptcy, and is taking the EU with it: http://www.newser.com/article/d9dldi603/debt-worries-plague-europe-as-greek-customs-tax-officials-strike-over-austerity-program.html

It is not just Kansas, it is not just schools, it is everything.

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been_there 4 years, 2 months ago

High school diploma completion program for those who did not graduate with their class housed in a store at The Malls on 19th and Louisiana funded by the state and the school district. If they didn't graduate on time, go back to high school or get a GED.

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Paul R Getto 4 years, 2 months ago

"Run the schools like a business instead of like a public assistance program." === Which business? Enron, Wall Street firms; Westar? Can schools pick their raw product quality (children) like businesses do and reject the hard to teach? If nothing else, to follow the business model, leaders would need substantial raises and many more supervisors and administrators would have to be hired to match the span of control issues found in business school standards. Be careful what you ask for.

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del888 4 years, 2 months ago

Maybe instead of looking for ways to cut the budget, we should look into ways to 'make' money. Run the schools like a business instead of like a public assistance program.

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Chris Ogle 4 years, 2 months ago

"Special education cuts, including cutting back on materials and programs and reducing staff hours: $204,693."


Not this one...... Please!!!

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texburgh 4 years, 2 months ago

The brilliance here is astounding. As usual on the LJW, ignorance rules.

You all suggest: Cutting teacher and other employee pay (but still expect that they do everything not just exactly like before but better - I guess this is because educator morale can never be compromised.) Dumping enrichment classes - that's right, let's just take away those things that provide extra challenge our brightest and best students. And this includes the bonus moronic idea that cutting classes doesn't mean cutting teachers. How else does it save money? Eliminate learning coaches - the people that help new teachers hone their craft - make the transition from student teacher to effective professional teacher. layoff custodians - make sure our schools are dirtier, less well-maintained and get the added bonus of higher unemployment in our community. Fire 15% of central office personnel (of course, no suggestion as to who to cut or what to cut - this typical idiotic suggestion is based on the preconceived notion that there must be waste, not that there actually is waste).

Of course, I'm sure these suggestions - all of which fundamentally result in higher unemployment in Lawrence and, for those not fired, less income to be spent in our local businesses - must be thrilling ideas for those businesspersons who actually like to sell things.

Yes, these are brilliant ideas for our community and economy. The kinds of ideas that can only be thought up by a bunch of Fox-addicted fools who will routinely vote against their own economic self-interest.

"Darwin bless us all?" We are now clearly experiencing de-evolution - the return to the apes.

$10 billion in corporate tax cuts from 1995 to 2009. That's the problem here. Our legislature does not have a spending problem - they have a Koch addiction.

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Shardwurm 4 years, 2 months ago

"It's the result of well over a decade of reckless, short-sighted tax cuts and tax exemptions handed out by the legislature."

No, it's the result of well over 20 years of reckless increases in spending on the part of schools. The Education Industry in this country has sold us all a bill of goods about what it takes to educate a child. Knowing that every parent is a sucker for their child, they've taken advantage of that to add so much waste to the budget that they're going broke.

Do you really think if we raised state taxes, say, 3 percent in Kansas and gave every single dollar raised to education that it would really improve things? Do you think paying every teacher $175,000 a year (a year = less than 8 months by the way) will make them better teachers?

If so then you really have drank the Kool Aid. What this report really shows is that what is spent on athletics and other activities is only a fraction of the budget of a school district. Labor is what is killing the system financially...and there is room for cuts there even if no one wants to admit it.

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IBike100 4 years, 2 months ago

I do not see any administration cuts on that list. I want to see published a list of every single administrative position. This district has more "directors of.." than any I've ever seen. Just visit the administration office to see how many positions there are there. It is like a miniature city. You need to start at the top before you cut schools, teachers, and busing! The things that touch the kids directly should be the very LAST to go. Start at the top.

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Robert Rauktis 4 years, 2 months ago

So what does a "learning coach" do ? Coax 20 sit ups from the frontal lobe?

When I went to school, the "auditorium" and "cafeteria" were called "the gym."

I think we need more lap tops and less enterprising teachers, that is a quick fix which should appeal to the soccer moms.

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barrypenders 4 years, 2 months ago

Is this issue isolated to Lawrence Kansas? Is there an 'Air' about stuff around here, that just doesn't seem correct? Or work? Is all involved doing everything that can possibly be done to 'Beg' for more money? Is 'Begging' going to fix the economic 'Free Market', 'Atmosphere' around here? What's 'Manufactured' around here? Can something else be 'Manufactured'? Who in the 'Flying Fu--' is responsible for the issue?

Stimulus, Universe Endless, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless us all

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ibroke 4 years, 2 months ago

they could layoff all the custodians and have the children clean up after themselves

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Paul R Getto 4 years, 2 months ago

This manufactured crisis is brought to you by your legislature. Don't slam the 497 board. Talk to your representative and senator. Lawrence can 'tighten up' but the entire system is dangerously close to serious, long-term damage that will hurt all Kansans for years to come.

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FreshAirFanatic 4 years, 2 months ago

elementary enrichment classes...

learning coach positions...

high school prevention specialists...

Yea...no waste here.

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barrypenders 4 years, 2 months ago

  1. Increase T bus fair to make up the difference.

  2. Use the left over money from City Landscape account.

  3. Have a 'Candle Light' sit in to raise cash.

  4. Tax churches for extra cash flow.

  5. Eliminate filling pot holes to save cash.

Stimulus, The Children, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless us all

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oneeye_wilbur 4 years, 2 months ago

Will that achieve the desired amount? And what for the following years and thereafter? There needs to be permanent cuts in funding. Learn to do with less. The kids don't care if the desk has been refinished. I saw the district haul a truckload of furniture for scrap to 1th and Haskell. Not only were several employees hauling it at what cost, the amount possible in $$ for scrap metal was minimal.

Why isn't furniture being refurbished in shop classes or by the school custodians? Time for major overhaul. Quit worrying about other districts and what they have or have not. Make Lawrence a leader in mean and lean.

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KU_cynic 4 years, 2 months ago

Two modest proposals:

  1. Cut central administration personnel by 15%, not the 5% discussed by the board. One out of every seven central administration positions simply has to go.

  2. Cut every employee's pay -- top to bottom -- by 3%. Anyone making over $60K, make that 5%.

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Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 2 months ago

Yes, it can be accomplished without cutting classroom teachers or closing schools! The School Board needs to understand that the Administrators are protecting their own jobs at the expense of children and education. The upper level Administrators are no longer in this "for the children." Here is a tough approach that is in the best interest of the children: http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/did_i...

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oneeye_wilbur 4 years, 2 months ago

":suitable provisions for the finance of public schools" but where does it say LUXURIOUS financing for schools. get over it, there is no more money, not now and it is not coming..

you use your personal money to sue the legislature , or just replace them with lackeys who will continue to spend into oblivion.

how come schools worked with less years ago and turned out MBA, PHDs, doctors, lawyers, hard working stay at home moms, and families lived on one salary because the mother was not out gadding about in a new SUV and working to pay baby sitters, you want kids, someone needs to stay at home, either mom or dad, they days of free are over

This talk of budget cuts for the next year doesnt even address the following years. What then? How come no one is thinking about those coming years? And when the dollar becomes more devalued, then the cuts will be just bigger in dollars(worthless ones at that)

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KSManimal 4 years, 2 months ago

This budget "crisis" isn't a result of our current recession. It's the result of well over a decade of reckless, short-sighted tax cuts and tax exemptions handed out by the legislature. Even when budget forecasts showed Kansas' numbers going negative.....they continued to cut taxes. Doing so for years has shorted the treasury about ten billion dollars.

The constitutions say's "the legislature shall make suitable provisions for the finance of public schools". It doesn't say "only if that doesn't interfere with tax cuts above all else". It doesn't say "unless our tax-cut mentality thinks it would be better to not only cut several hundred million from schools, but to also repeatedly fail to even pay the money we've promised in a timely fashion."

Why aren't MORE people suing the legislature over this mess?

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