Archive for Monday, February 8, 2010

School-closing talk turns to junior highs

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 8, 2010


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.

School board searching for alternatives

The Lawrence School Board is trying to find ways to cut nearly $5 million from the budget. The board does not want to close schools or lay off teachers, but says there are no easy choices left. Enlarge video

On the street

Should the Lawrence School Board close one junior high or several elementary schools?

Several elementary schools. … I feel if you close the middle school, you will have too many children in one building.

More responses

General fund cuts

As Lawrence school district leaders try to find $4 million to $5 million in budget cuts before next school year because of the state’s fiscal crisis, they will be looking at general fund spending, meaning operating costs for employee salaries, supplies and utilities.

State law requires districts to keep two separate pots of money — one for operating expenses and another for capital expenses to fund buildings, equipment and furniture.

Frank Harwood, the district’s chief operations officer, said the options for facilities and maintenance cuts under consideration must come from the general fund. For example, it would cover supplies such as toilet paper or salaries for employees.

Harwood said if the district sold any real estate it owned, including school buildings, it could only use the money for its capital budget instead of funding general operations.

Nancy Hamilton says Lawrence school leaders are looking at closing the wrong type of school amid a $4 million to $5 million budget deficit because of the state budget crisis and higher insurance costs.

Board members have heard that it would save an average of $531,000 to close one elementary school.

Hamilton says the district should explore operating three junior high schools instead of four.

“Frankly, I’m not in favor of closing any school. I think that’s a terrible idea,” said Hamilton, whose daughter is a Hillcrest School first-grader. “But if you’re going to close them, close them where they do the least damage to the community.”

Hamilton said the plan makes sense because board members are considering reconfiguring schools — like moving ninth-graders from the four junior high schools up to the two high schools. The district has also discussed moving sixth-graders from elementary up with the seventh- and eighth-graders.

Hamilton said state testing data shows that Kansas districts that keep sixth-graders in an elementary school setting perform better academically.

She envisions Lawrence and Free State high schools accommodating four grades — nine through 12 — and three schools for only seventh- and eighth-graders. She says board members would have to cut less elsewhere instead of having to close multiple elementary schools to cover the same amount.

A list of cuts presented last week, which omitted cutting teachers or closing schools, covers only $2.5 million — about half the amount needed.

Frank Harwood, the district’s chief operations officer, on Friday said an example of closing Southwest Junior High School — which costs $4.2 million a year to run — would save the district about $957,000 in costs for administrators, classified staff and operating the building. Additional savings would come from the teaching positions the district wouldn’t need after shifting the students to other schools.

“It’s the kind of suggestion that we definitely should price out and see what kinds of savings we should have,” board President Scott Morgan said.

But Morgan said there are several other factors to consider. First, at least four board members need to express interest in moving ninth-graders to the high schools. Board members will discuss school reconfiguration at their board meeting at 7 p.m. today at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

Morgan said he is not in favor of moving ninth-graders up next year. He wants administrators to have enough time to plan the shift.

But Hamilton said the move makes sense economically and academically and that neighborhood school advocates worry about the effect of closing schools, especially in east Lawrence.

“If they are going to close east-side neighborhood schools, they are going to balance the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable students,” she said.


OutlawJHawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Move West Jr High kids out by reconfiguring High Schools and Junior Highs. Make West a large grade school. Close Hillcrest, Pickney, Sunset. Move kids to West Side Grade School. First problem solved. Build another large grade school on the East side and close New York, Kennedy, and Woodlawn next year. Move kids to the new state-of-the-art East Side Grade School. Next problem solved. Maybe I should be on the school board. I may last only one term, but sure could fix this budget problem...

WilburM 8 years, 3 months ago

Just as easy as that, eh? Let's trash a whole bunch of effective neighborhood schools for some imagined "efficiency."

Always nice to know how many experts are out there, just waiting to run the system even if they don't want to take the actual step of running for office.

jhawk926 8 years, 3 months ago

Here is one of the latest things coming from the state.... Supposedly legislatures are saying that they are not hearing from the public that we want funding increased for public schools, hence not having to cut activities, schools, etc.

If you are in favor of raising funding for schools write to your representative and also make a carbon copy and send to the governor. Hopefully we can flood the capitol with letters supporting more funding for our schools.

crissamber 8 years, 3 months ago

When you think about it, you need to put the maturity level into consideration. With moving 9th graders to the high schools, are they going to be able to handle the open lunches, what about how easy it is to skip school once you’re in high school, at least Lawrence high doesn’t go out searching for missing children like most junior highs do. Given sophomores, juniors, and seniors tend to skip, but 9th graders, their maturity level isn’t nearly the same as the high school students. Now, if they plan to get rid of junior highs, wouldn’t South Junior high be the best thought, even though they just built the new school, but the thought of getting rid of Central, think of all the kids that are packed into that school and now have to get a ride even farther to their new junior highs.

not_that_crazy 8 years, 3 months ago

I bet several downtown businesses would be very pleased if they closed Central or stopped early release Wednesdays.

What are the numbers for the other Junior HIghs? Closing SWJH would be dumb since it is sttached to Sunflower....oh is a plot to create a mega westside elementary school.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 3 months ago

Topeka High has open lunch, but the freshmen are not allowed to leave. Personally, I think open lunches are a potential problem. It is unclear whether the schools may be responsible for what happens when a child leaves school for a period of time. In any event, since the legislature seems determined to move this manufactured, slow-motion crisis along for at least the next few years, people need to have some serious discussions about all the possible alternatives. This years's cuts are twice as severe as last year, and each year will get worse. The key? Watch the August primaries. If the "I stand for lower taxes and smaller government" candidates win primaries, this will most likely continue for an indefinite period of time.

headdoctor 8 years, 3 months ago

WilburM (Anonymous) says… Just as easy as that, eh? Let's trash a whole bunch of effective neighborhood schools for some imagined “efficiency.” Always nice to know how many experts are out there, just waiting to run the system even if they don't want to take the actual step of running for office.

I don't know about you and I can't say that I am pleased with the current school board but I am thinking based on some of the various comments about school budget issues I am very glad some of these people aren't running for school board.

We have several potential problems that is going to keep the schools yapping year after year that they need more money. I just wished they would look a little farther down the road and perform what needs to be done in the long run instead of trying to figure out the best way to band aid the problems as they pop up. Especially since some of these school building have had a ton of money put into them for upgrades in the last several years. And yes, I understand there is a difference between money that must be used for buildings and the money that must be used for operating expenses, and that the two cannot be combined.

We already have elementary schools that are close to or over crowded. I don't see anyway to just close two or three of them without crowding the existing ones. Those portable class rooms aren't cheap to rent and maintain. What we don't need is to close up a building and then turn right around and have to build a new one or two. There is no way to avoid population shifts that occur.

The only quick fix would be for the locals to put their money where their mouth is and or get the legislators off their butt. Personally, I think many of the options that have been floated all need to be done. Unfortunately, I think we are going to need to trim some fat off of the Administration. Close some of the elementary schools and move the high schools to a four year program along with a major over haul of the districts boundary lines. Hopefully this would take care of a lot of the problem and avoid the need to build more schools in the immediate future. We have no way of knowing if tax revenues are going to snap back or keep going down.

daschie88 8 years, 3 months ago

I went to a 4-year high school. I turned out just fine.

Hop2It 8 years, 3 months ago

Closed lunch for 9th graders. That was easy.
Once again, starting next year we will be the ONLY district in the entire state of Kansas that does not have 4-year high high schools.

rivercitymom 8 years, 3 months ago

I can appreciate where Nancy Hamilton is coming from, but I think closing a junior high would just create yet another monster. Kids at that age in particular need to have opportunities to participate and cutting back on the opportunities (by cramming more kids into the schools -- there will still only be one select chorale group, one student council, etc., etc) would be detrimental.

avoice 8 years, 3 months ago

Rivercitymom: Without 9th graders in the middle school, there would actually be more, not less, opportunities for 7th and 8th graders to participate in activities.

ivalueamerica 8 years, 3 months ago

Lets build a giant warehouse and close every single neighborhood school in Lawrence and have all children of all grades in this giant warehouse and then we only need 1 lunch staff, 1 library, ......

really, some people do not have a clue what is needed for a QUALITY education as opposed to a cookie cutter education.

headdoctor 8 years, 3 months ago

There hasn't been enough population shift to justify closing Central or any of the Junior High Schools. Besides, you are talking about closing a school that has had a ton of money put into it the last few years and you would be adding costs to the operation budget in the form of increased busing costs since the distance to the nearest school would drastically increase for a lot of students.

2002 8 years, 3 months ago

Ninth graders should be in high school and the high schools should either require the current administration to deal with it of get new people to do it.

d_prowess 8 years, 3 months ago

So if we need to cut $4-5 million, how will closing one junior high at a savings of about $1 million be that big of a help? In all the other articles, I haven't seen any numbers that would then add up to the additional $3-4 million that would be needed.
I am glad to have ideas coming out though. I don't think anyone actively wants to shut down the grade schools, but the money has to come from somewhere. For the longest time I felt like the Save the Schools folks were not suggesting anything and just trying to protect their neighborhood school for selfish reasons. However, I was glad to see that change from the articles this weekend when some alternatives were offered, but I don't know if any $ amounts have been put to their ideas yet. This hole is a big one so small things aren't enough...

headdoctor 8 years, 3 months ago

PFC (Anonymous) says… Exactly. And speaking of not having a clue, I wonder why some of the anti-education, anti-everything-but-themselves usual suspects haven’t shown up here yet?

They haven't finished their morning coffee gathering and yelling at people to get off their lawn. Seriously they are probably off wringing their hands over the fact they might actually have to end up scooping their sidewalk again.

d_prowess 8 years, 3 months ago

Perhaps the LJW could help a bit and create a comprehensive list of all of the suggested cuts on the table and how much the savings could be. Right now, there have been quite a few articles that have had ideas with numbers attached, but nothing all in a single place. It would be interesting to see that complete list so people could see how things do or don't yet add up to the amount needed to cut.

Hop2It 8 years, 3 months ago

We have "neighborhood" elementary schools. Are we going to place that criteria on the Jr. Highs also? Going to be hard to draw a three-legged boundaries that make sense.

I think that not_that_crazy was joking above, but it is true that SWJH is not only newer, but is attached to Sunflower Elementary. I guess it already is a neighborhood education center.

Even if don't you believe that they should have been built, it doesn't make sense to close down new, more efficient buildings. Why did the district decide to remodel/rebuild South JH? (Serious question)

3crookedhearts 8 years, 3 months ago

The real problem is that the residents of our fair state are content with having a legislature that is funding your state's system at 1999 levels. Don't blame the school board or the administration or the teachers or the students. This is all our state legislature's fault or our fault for voting them in. Hugs.

honestone 8 years, 3 months ago

Easy... 9th and 10th in the current LHS. Closed campus so no open lunch. 11th and 12th to FSHS. Open campus 9th graders protected from 12th graders No open lunch issue

johnboy83 8 years, 3 months ago

How about some of the big wigs have pay cuts instead of closing schools. I'd rather have our higher paid school board employees to cut their budgets down, instead of having our kids not getting the education they need.

openyourmind 8 years, 3 months ago

perhaps if city commissioners would stop granting tif's and tax exemptions and actually receive tax money from the new sprawling developments that cost the city millions to maintain and not allowing developers to get additional profits from special tax districts, lawrence could fund their education system properly. everyone is talking about what schools to close like they have accepted the idea of closing schools. how about not spending millions on athletic fields or asking KU to step up and support the local education system so schools are not closed. maybe we can all take a lesson from the recent adam sandler movie "bedtime stories" to get a grip on what is important for our society to prosper.

headdoctor 8 years, 3 months ago

PFC (Anonymous) says… The SOS people are working on a list of cuts that would avoid closing any schools. What has hindered them, however, if the lack of transparency in the budget.

Yup, and it has been pretty much that way for some time. I am not even sure the board has had a clear picture provided from Administration. Works better for special agenda's if the board remains clueless. Perhaps not, but it seems there have been several occasions where the board made a choice that was ignorant and what they offered for a reason didn't clear things up any better based on what information they let the public see.

Cammie Braden 8 years, 3 months ago

Rather than closing a Junior High or Elementary Schools, why not:

  1. Move 9th graders to the high schools where there is space for the additional students
  2. Move 6th graders to the junior highs
  3. Move all the early childhood programs and preschools back to the elementary schools and close East Heights

Wouldn't this keep most Lawrence students in their community schools AND save money?

Just an idea. There is no easy solution. And, I'm sure, many will post their objections.

Unfortunately, Kansas is in a “no win” situation. Small rural school districts have even tighter budget cuts.

I try to do my part: talk with my legislators about why I want them to support funding for public education (even those that already support it, need information to convince other legislators) and I spend my money locally rather than on-line or in another state (not that I have much to spend: I work in education).

inquire 8 years, 3 months ago

I got it! Follow me on this one... Close ALL schools for one year. Then take all those little brats and put them ALL to work. Sure, there's child labor laws. But do those really get enforced? Not in my day... Okay, so now we have all these kids making money instead of costing money. That's right, they're paying into the state income tax coffers and giving us a huge surplus relative to what we originally expect. Meanwhile, the schools stay closed and all the teachers work to do some sort "re-structuring" so no one raises a stink about them not doing work. It's tough re-structuring a business (perhaps they could apply for TARP funds?) Now, with the extra taxes the kids helped generate in one year, they get to go to school the next year. It'll be like a 1 year in school, 1 year at work program. Brilliant!! Sure, it will take 30-ish years to get a high school education but with the life expectancy so long now, is that really so bad? Who's with me!?

Ken Lassman 8 years, 3 months ago

Tap, tap, tap--attention students!

Time to get back on topic--now that you have all gotten off on the school closing tangent, it's time to get back to saving money on the school operating expenses. Before you can even put school closing/shuffling on the table, you need to prove that the problems with cutting administrative costs outweighs the problems with shutting down/shuffling schools around.

So far nobody's proven that, so aren't we getting the cart before the horse with all the school closing talk? The school district has shown us what they are considering cutting and only come up with about half of the expenses to get to the 5 million goal, as distasteful as it is. Time to cut deeper ON ADMINISTRATIVE OVERHEAD to get all the way, then see if that scenario looks worse than closing schools. If it does, only then should we even entertain the possibility of closing schools, whether they be elementary, junior high, or otherwise. Those topics should not be addressed during a fiscal crisis--the worst time of all, due to the fact it'll take too long to do it if you do it right, and why would we want to do it wrong?

BadLlama 8 years, 3 months ago

Putting grades 9 & 10 in a different building than 11 & 12 is not a good idea. There would be all sorts of eligibility hassles for activities and athletics, limited classes for students who excel or students who fall behind (a 12th grader who needs to be in sophomore math, or a 9th grader who should be in calculus, for example), more limited extracurricular opportunities for these kids, not to mention the kids would never grow up. I've heard a lot of arguments about 9th graders shouldn't be exposed to those big, bad seniors, when in reality many of those seniors are positive influences on underclassmen. I teach in a 9-12 high school, and I rely heavily on student leadership. I've found my student leaders (who are almost always juniors and seniors) influence the underclassmen in positive ways, given the right outlet. Kids have to be proud of their school and be proud of what they are doing, and having all four grades together really creates a community and a sense of unity for kids. I think this is a great idea for USD 497, however, it needs to be carefully thought and planned out! Olathe is going to this set-up next year and they took years to plan and alter facilities to handle the incoming students.

sherlock 8 years, 3 months ago

Do any of you really think that the district would ever be happy with what they get for operating? I dont. No matter how much you give them this year, next year they would be crying the same song, we need more, more and more. Its like pouring sand into a rathole! More money, they spend more, look at how much more they spent each year since say 2006? Give them the 4 million and next year they will need 5 Mil. and so it goes, up up and away! Yes of course we know the expenditure goes up with salary increases-did they hire more teachers and adm. or just pay them more? The census goes down for students, yet they spend more?

my5kids 8 years, 3 months ago

It's amazing how Lawrence always seems to look for short term answers instead of long term planning.. Let's take a look at how much money was spent to build baseball, softball and football facilities at each high school instead of building a multi use City Wide complex. During the summer, they could have charged fees to hold tournaments and generate funds. Look at what Desoto did. Some of the other talk has been that if they do move the 9th graders to the high schools, they will eliminate sports all together at the Jr. High level (other than intramural sports). So, if kids are not playing sports competitively until the 9th grade, how are those million dollar complexes really going to benefit LHS or FSHS kids? It is a well known fact that Lawrence is way behind the eight ball when it comes to sports programs for kids in general. Many of us parents have to take our kids to KC or Topeka to get them into a program that teaches them the skills necessary to play sports at the high school level. Try and find a strong competitive basketball program for girls in this town?

Are we spending money in the right areas? I would rather keep neighborhood schools open than have state of the art athletic facilities. How many of those athletes are going to be athletes for the rest of their lives? We are all students for life.

funkdog1 8 years, 3 months ago

sherlock: do you really think that schools' expenses don't go up every year like everything else does? How many years should they stay at the same budget? 2? 5? 10? Get a grip.

Shardwurm 8 years, 3 months ago

As always, labor is the highest expense in any organization. Cut teachers and consolidate classrooms. It worked 30 years ago and it will work today.

Some of the very teachers who disagree with that statement were educated in classrooms of 30+ students. It's not that big a deal.

More money does not equal better education.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 3 months ago

I hope Merrill shows up soon to spam this thread.

beaujackson 8 years, 3 months ago

What we REALLY need is a super sports complex, i.e., a combo Arrowhead & Royals stadiums and the national tennis center.

And a 200,000 seat soccer stadium - and don't forget the bullfighting ring, complete with sky boxes. See big Lew for financing ideas.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

Kansas legislators have been on a no taxes binge except for their pork barrel projects.... just like Washington D.C. = dumb economics

Education is not one of their pet projects.

Closing schools is a short term solution for here and now = not the answer for growing communities. Lawrence is not a dead oil boom town.

Closing down schools to build new schools will cost millions upon millions upon millions of tax dollars = reckless spending of tax dollars. Where's the money?

Knowing this tells us Kansas and Lawrence needs to be developing and legislating new funding sources dedicated strictly to public education. Something that will provide a positive fiscal impact to all of our schools.

Our paid for school buildings are worth millions upon millions upon millions of tax dollar savings. Best to make use of existing resources = fiscally responsible

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.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

How do we solve this problem for the long term?

Some revenue sources could be made available:

*online state wide sales tax dedicated to public schools only is a reasonable source.

  • legislators could authorize USD 497 the privilege of an online sales tax dedicated to academic salaries,medical insurance and school fees ONLY thank you.

  • local source to help fund USD 497 could become available dedicated to academics ONLY by way of a City of Lawrence USD 497 user fee. Voters seem interested.

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.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 3 months ago

Hurrah! Merrill has spammed. Only took an hour.

What if Lawrence closed a couple schools and then stuck the excess kids on some of the empty T buses. That would solve the school and the transport problem.

rivercitymom 8 years, 3 months ago

Pilgrim2 - I was thinking about those "never to be co-mingled funds" earlier today. By law, school districts are not supposed to mingle those funds. Also by law, the legislature is required to fund public schools. Since the legislature is breaking the law on THEIR end, maybe USD 497 should just go ahead and put all those pots of money to use and solve this debacle!

I still say they need to look at administration. LOTS could be cut there and our kids would never know the difference. How many asst. superintendents and assistant principals do we need?

headdoctor 8 years, 3 months ago

PFC (Anonymous) says… Glad to see that you guys have finally showed up.

There not all here yet. The real whiners and the ones that I have mine so screw everyone else hasn't shown up yet. I think we are also still missing a few of West Lawrence gets everything and East Lawrence as usual gets nothing crowd.

headdoctor 8 years, 3 months ago

gl0ck0wn3r (Anonymous) says… Hurrah! Merrill has spammed. Only took an hour. What if Lawrence closed a couple schools and then stuck the excess kids on some of the empty T buses. That would solve the school and the transport problem.

I know you were attempting to lip off in your very own glockesk way but actually you might not be to far off. If the school board hadn't of dropped the bomb on the parents and the T and had brought the T in to the discussion instead of just throwing them under their own buses it could have helped ridership considerably. Instead the school board just suggested the parents look to the T for busing help when any one of those fools could have looked at the bus schedule and realized the T as it was could be an option. The school board just passed the buck and verbal abuse on to the T instead of taking it themselves for their own ignorant approach and decision.

headdoctor 8 years, 3 months ago

Sorry, meant to say couldn't be an option.

mom_of_three 8 years, 3 months ago

"state of the art athletic facilities" - yeah show me where those are.

LHS has a very basic athletic facility that was built, don't know about free state. The money came from a different pot, and couldn't be used for anything else, or so we have been told (over and over and over and over and over).
BUT I know the LHS band enjoyed the nightly band practices on the lighted football field; a big change from the previous years, using a grass area next to the tennis courts, with cars' headlights used to illuminate the field.

BadLlama 8 years, 3 months ago

Can we all make an effort to stop talking about the stadiums? For crying out loud--it's paid for with different money. It's over and done with, let's DROP IT. All the pissing and moaning in the world isn't going to make the sports fields go away. That money couldn't be used for anything else.

This isn't an issue of USD 497 being irresponsible and being in the hole because of foolish spending--it's an issue of having promises made, budgets balanced according to those promises, and then having those promises broken. It's an issue of having schools (potentially) funded at levels from the 1990's. Do you think the school board would be so ignorant as to not have a balanced budget? The state has changed the amount of money it's paying schools mid-year. That once-balanced budget is no longer balanced. If you don't like what's happening, contact your legislator. They are ignoring the pleas of educators--maybe they'll listen to concerned parents and taxpayers.

headdoctor 8 years, 3 months ago

BadLlama (Anonymous) says… Can we all make an effort to stop talking about the stadiums? For crying out loud—it's paid for with different money. It's over and done with, let's drop it. All the pissing and moaning in the world isn't going to make the sports fields go away. That money couldn't be used for anything else.

It is pretty obvious that there are a lot of people pissing and moaning but don't have a real clue how the tax and budget system works rendering most of their thoughts and comments moot.

Steve Jacob 8 years, 3 months ago

You people are in denial. The cuts are going to hurt big time. What's the best opinion? It's not going to get any better with Brownback, you know he will not raise taxes.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

Property owners in the areas of closed public schools will lose 10% of property value by this decision according to Kirk McClure. Property owners cannot afford, the city cannot afford to lose the property tax dollars and USD 497 cannot afford the loss.

  Who is Kirk McClure?

  Education Ph. D., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley,
  Department of City and Regional Planning, 1985.
  Concentrations in Housing Economics and Public Finance.

  Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
  Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 1978.
  Specialization in Housing Policy Analysis.

  Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas,
  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1974.
  Special Major in Urban Studies.

  Bachelor of Architecture, Graduated With Distinction
  University of Kansas,
  School of Architecture and Urban Design, 1973.

  center for urban policy and the environment
  december 2003

  What determines the price of real estate? Location. Location.
  Location. This cliché is a good starting point for a discussion of
  property values and public choices, for it leads to the question
  why property values vary in different locations.

  Most property owners know from experience that similar
  properties in different neighborhoods can command vastly dif-
  ferent prices. But many may not realize that public choices can
  have large effects on property values. Public choices about capi-
  tal investments, public services, and taxation affect property val-
  ues because their impacts vary in different places.

  A new highway interchange, for example, generally increases the value of
  nearby property because it increases its accessibility.

  Conversely, a decision to close a school or a neighborhood police
  station may decrease the value of property in the neighbor-

  In public policy debates, moreover, decision makers
  often lack information about how their choices will affect
  property value.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 3 months ago

Didn't school consolidation work in Bashor - Linwood??

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

Comparing Bashor-Linwood to USD 497 is comparing apples to hot peppers.

honestone 8 years, 3 months ago

BadLlama (Anonymous) says…

Can we all make an effort to stop talking about the stadiums? For crying out loud—it's paid for with different money. It's over and done with, let's drop it. All the pissing and moaning in the world isn't going to make the sports fields go away. That money couldn't be used for anything else. are wrong. Capital money is capital money and can be used for capital improvements on/in any the stadiums or a roof. The "different color money' line is accurate but as the moms and dads drive their children to their new school they won't care what color money it is. They will just remember that this million dollar stadium is sitting under the snow and their neighborhhod school has been closed. Wait for the next bond is coming.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 3 months ago

Merrill since when did I say consolidate 497 with anyone?? Look at all of the smaller districts???

budget_talkin 8 years, 3 months ago

I am concerned about neighborhood schools.

I am also concerned about those who deny the magnitude of the current situation facing the Lawrence school board by characterizing it as a "temporary" or "short-term" situation. I think anyone with an understanding of the state budget, especially as it regards public education, can not honestly characterize this situation as either temporary or short-term.

headdoctor 8 years, 3 months ago

commuter (Anonymous) says… Merrill since when did I say consolidate 497 with anyone?? Look at all of the smaller districts???

I wouldn't concern myself to much with Merrill. He has already posted the same cut and paste on several threads and probably forgot which one he was on.

He is just another one that wants things as he sees it and expects everyone else to pick up the tab for it. There are several in East Lawrence who always want something. Then when someone comes along that wants to do a project these people cry fowl. They start whining about maintaining the neighborhood as it is and concerned that it is fragile and might be damaged. The same crap happened years ago when the landlords moved in an pumped many dollars in to areas that were very blighted. The people were pissed because many of those properties were turned into rentals. What they couldn't see was the value put into their property from that action. Areas that you couldn't hardly get insurance on were now insurable.

If they want to save the schools perhaps they should get off their butts and figure out a way to pay for them. At the very least get a group together and start promoting East Lawrence to try to get young families to move into the area to populate the schools. Regeneration of older areas is not impossible but it sure is if you have a bunch of whiners complaining every time someone wants to do something.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 3 months ago

Headdoctor - great posts. The people who want to keep their small schools have not made an offer to pay a lot more to keep their school. They want to keep their school at the expense of the rest of the kids. A vocal minority are once again hurting the majority.

kappyblu 8 years, 3 months ago

SWJH was part of that vote not long ago to expand it! Why close a school that you just expanded? Ugh!

I don't want them to close any school if at all possible. It just seems like a no-win situation no matter what.

BadLlama 8 years, 3 months ago


No, I'm not wrong. Just because people are ignorant of how school finance works does not make me wrong. They are closing schools because they want to cut teacher positions and operating costs. Capitol outlay cannot pay teacher salaries, and it can not pay any operating costs--not even the utilities it takes to run that school. Even if they hadn't built the stadiums, it still wouldn't keep any schools open. If you don't like the way school finance works, then write your legislator. I'm all for looking at alternatives to closing a school, but I hear very few viable solutions--only complaining about stadiums. It's time to stop trying to place blame and start working together to save these schools.

headdoctor 8 years, 3 months ago

oneeye_wilbur (Anonymous) says… Headdoctor Eat Lawrence would have families and new homes but the Histerical society and the perservationists won;'t let anything be torn down, thus you have an undesirable neighborhood and the city puts no money into it either, just uses it to “get” money.

That is a very good example of what my post above was getting at. Personally I wouldn't have so much of a problem with preservationists or Historical Society if they flew on their own dime but they want everyone else to pay for their habit and in the mean time tell everyone else what they can do with their property. If they want to restore a given house they need to start their own investment group or talk someone into buying it that is interested in restoration. The old neighborhoods are at a point to where the only way a house gets fixed up is if the owner works on it a little at a time or if it is destroyed. Quite honestly I am surprised that there haven't been more junk houses torched by an alleged accident just to get around the current preservation circumstances. The other option is turn Habitat for Humanity loose. They have the free work force to put the effort in where it would be economically prohibitive under normal conditions with an individual owner and the City seems to let them slide by a lot of the preservation rules that others have to operate by.

That is also the stupidity of downtown. The same people who want to proclaim downtown as the center of business, etc, and add to its appeal to shoppers were also the same people that didn't want downtown to expand and encroach into the old neighborhoods. They were to childish to realize that they can't have it both ways.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 3 months ago

Richard copypasta: "A new highway interchange, for example, generally increases the value of nearby property because it increases its accessibility."

Richard! You finally agree that the SLT should be built! Good to see you change your mind on this. I knew you'd finally see the logic.

Frank Hays 8 years, 3 months 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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