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Archive for Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Budget talks don’t feel so good

Closing schools, cutting programs both painful

School nurse Dianne Thomas checks the temperature of Woodlawn kindergartner Paizley Helm on Thursday. Thomas splits nursing duties between Woodlawn and Deerfield schools. Cuts to classified staff including nurses and counselors are among the options the school board is considering to save money.

School nurse Dianne Thomas checks the temperature of Woodlawn kindergartner Paizley Helm on Thursday. Thomas splits nursing duties between Woodlawn and Deerfield schools. Cuts to classified staff including nurses and counselors are among the options the school board is considering to save money.

February 16, 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.

Elementary closings focus of School Board forum

Discussions about possible elementary school closings in Lawrence continued Monday at a school budget forum. Enlarge video

On the street

What do you think of a plan to reduce the number of nurses in Lawrence schools?

I know that the budget situation is dire. I would hope they could do what they can without closing neighborhood schools.

More responses

A group of parents who don’t want the Lawrence school board to close any elementary schools because of a $5 million budget deficit came out in force again at a public forum at Southwest Junior High School on Monday night.

And one parent said the discussion about budget cuts was framed incorrectly because talk of closing schools came up so early.

“We’re coming up with ideas. I think more of the community could be coming up with ideas if they were feeling equally pinched,” said Josh Davis, a New York School parent.

The school board is considering several options to slash the district’s budget before next school year because of the state’s budget crisis and an increase in health insurance costs.

Scott Morgan, the board president, said he originally mentioned closing schools to illustrate “everything was on the table” when he found out how deep the cuts would have to go.

“People reacted strongly. It’s not necessarily what I wanted them to do, but it’s what I wanted them to know,” Morgan said.

Board members have received a list of administrative, classified staff and program cuts that total about $3 million, including cuts to school nurses, guidance counselors and librarians. They have also discussed increasing the student-teacher ratio, which saves roughly $1 million at each increase of one student. It would cut about 20 teaching positions at each increase as well.

Administrators have said closing an elementary school would save between $400,000 to $600,000 each.

A group, Save Our Neighborhood Schools, has said the district — without closing schools — has budget options to save $5 million through accounting efficiencies and other changes, such as reducing the number of administrators at the high schools.

Most of the speakers at the forum in west Lawrence urged the board not to close schools, saying it would affect neighborhoods, particularly in east Lawrence.

A few others voiced concerns that a higher student-teacher ratio would make classes even more crowded at the larger elementary schools, such as Sunflower School in west Lawrence. One parent urged the board to keep in mind how the private sector would operate in tough times.

In response, Nancy Hamilton, a Hillcrest School parent opposed closing any elementary schools, said, “Our kids aren’t widgets.”

Jill Fincher, a Sunflower parent and site council member, said she wanted the crowd to think about what services could be cut if no schools were closed.

“I understand that by not closing schools we’re talking about buildings without libraries, without nurses, without counselors, with fewer teachers, and I don’t know that that’s a picture that I’m comfortable with either,” she said.

Monday’s public forum was the second of four; the next ones are 7 p.m. March 1 at Central Junior High and 7:30 p.m. March 2 at West Junior High.

Board members are expected to brief city and county commissioners about their budget situation during a joint meeting at 5 p.m. today at City Hall.

Comments

kummerow 4 years, 10 months ago

Save Our Neighborhood Schools has posted their budget options on their website at:

http://www.saveourneighborhoodschools.com/budget-outline/

multiagelearner 4 years, 10 months ago

I like the SONS budget item....increase student fees by $20 per student. Students on free/reduced lunches have that fee waived. So let other parents and students finance our schools. They already take all my child's transporation fees and divide them out to the schools. Let those that can pay for those that can't.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 10 months ago

Republicans love to talk about budget cuts. They are happier than pigs in sh** in these tough times when budgets are slashed. Budget cuts are their raisons d' etre.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 10 months ago

Why not raise the student/teacher ration only at those schools that are not already dealing with over-inflated class sizes?

Duh.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 10 months ago

Hydra, the school board is a policy body, not an administrative or management team. Your suggestion would create inappropriate and damaging micromanaging by committee, dramatically politicize the day-to-day operations of schools, and otherwise damage the district.

4getabouit 4 years, 10 months ago

FYI fact check....Check the state statutes......The position of superintendent and several other administrative positions (special education administration for example) are required by law. I don't have an opinion, just offering facts.

BadLlama 4 years, 10 months ago

I think we should count ourselves fortunate to not have the same problems that KCK public schools have...what a mess.

http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/1750731.html

Maybe I am looking in all the wrong places, but I have not seen any stories regarding the state of education outside of Lawrence in the LJW. I think it would help to open up the eyes of the public by running a series of stories on how the current and proposed budget cuts are affecting different districts in the area (Topeka, Eudora, DeSoto, Perry, Santa Fe Trail, Ottawa, Baldwin, etc). I think it would be beneficial to see how Lawrence is faring compared to bigger, smaller, and equal sized districts. This is a problem that is facing every single district in the state, and I think too many people are unaware of how big the situation is.

not_that_crazy 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes...yes.. fire everyone in charge. Blame someone else. This is a great, great simplification, but they do all the other "required stuff" so that teachers can actually teach.
Is is not just as simple as getting rid of management. Or nurses. Or social workers.....

kugrad 4 years, 10 months ago

one-eye, No one in Lawrence cares what someone from Eudora thinks about our schools. Your taxes go to the state, not Lawrence schools, so you have no more say here than in Hutchinson, Dodge City, or any other town you don't live in, which is to say NONE. Besides, your last post is just a bunch of disconnected nonsense. It is stream of conciousness (using the term liberally - note the irony there) ramble lacking coherency. Do us all a huge favor and let us citizens who actually live in Lawrence and actually pay property taxes decide what is best. Go deal with your own school district.

Please also do us the favor of not posting, yet again, the falsehood that you pay taxes for the Lawrence schools. Your mil levy, assuming you even pay property taxes, goes to Eudora schools, not ours here in Lawrence.

middlemgmt 4 years, 10 months ago

I have 2 children and I would be willing to pay additional fees to stop cuts. The question is, are enough parents willing and or able to pay additional fees?

Liberty275 4 years, 10 months ago

I vote for pay cuts across the board in the school system.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 10 months ago

not_that_crazy wrote "Yes…yes.. fire everyone in charge. Blame someone else. This is a great, great simplification, but they do all the other “required stuff” so that teachers can actually teach. Is is not just as simple as getting rid of management. Or nurses. Or social workers….."

Finally, someone writes something that is not that crazy.

Hop2It 4 years, 10 months ago

Thinking_Out_Loud (Anonymous) says… "not_that_crazy wrote “Yes…yes.. fire everyone in charge. Blame someone else. This is a great, great simplification, but they do all the other “required stuff” so that teachers can actually teach. It is not just as simple as getting rid of management. Or nurses. Or social workers…..”

Finally, someone writes something that is not that crazy."

Agreed.
I have had bad supervisors/managers. But, I have also learned that it is pretty hard job to be in charge. I am very good at my profession, but (anonymously) admit to be a mediocre manager. Just as there is a lot to running a company that I don't understand, there a lot running a school district day-to day that teachers aren't trained to do.

The solution isn't easy in Lawrence (or anywhere in the state), and it is definitely much more complicated than looking at a budget sheet and proclaiming myself an education expert.

not_that_crazy 4 years, 10 months ago

Hydra (Anonymous) says… "Who said anything about putting trachers in charge? aren't pricipals supposed to be administrators?"

It seemed clear to me...but district administrators do a lot things that principals don't do and it is not efficient for them to do. Pretty simple analogy.

The good principals at the big and small schools in Lawrence are not behind their desks. They know the children by name and greet them at the door. They as well provide building leadership teacher supervision that I cannot even comprehend. As a parent, I don't want the principals stuck behind desks doing building budgets, figuring out their own curriculum (then arguing about it at meetings) and other things that an expert could be doing for the entire district.

multiagelearner 4 years, 10 months ago

"Okay, call every employee to a meeting, all of them and ask if they are willing to take a 10percent pay cut as well as cut" Seriously? Will Dillons, Hyvee, Checkers, Target and Walmart take 10% off their bills? Reduce their taxes? This is how they support their families, or is everyone in Lawrence giving up 10%?

I don't think Mrs. Kobler will like the SONS idea to cut all of her learning coaches and then get rid of her position, ouch!

notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

"A few others voiced concerns that a higher student-teacher ratio would make classes even more crowded at the larger elementary schools, such as Sunflower School in west Lawrence. One parent urged the board to keep in mind how the private sector would operate in tough times."

Um - that's exactly how the private sector operates in tough times: Cut payroll and find a way to get the work done anyway.

Frank Hays 4 years, 10 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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