Letters to the Editor

Viable options

February 20, 2010


To the editor:

Just when you think you are too tired to fight anymore, someone says something that lights the fire again. For me it was the quote from Scott Morgan, board of education president, in Sunday’s Journal-World. Mr. Morgan stated “We know what the community doesn’t want us to do, which is everything that’s on our list.”

Really? Out of all of the letters to the editor, the marches, petitions, the school board meetings flooded with community members voicing not only their concerns, but offering real, viable solutions, this is what he thinks? The board has been presented, both individually and as a group, with suggestions that span the entire range of budget categories from which to cut. And these aren’t just vague, emotional recommendations. These are well-researched, fact-based recommendations, submitted by people in the Lawrence community who have professional experience in the area of budget management.

I have attended multiple school board meetings and forums on this topic, and we have been told that “everything is on the table.” I thought the district and the board were looking at all options, which include many recommended cuts that are actually strongly supported by members of the community. Does this mean the only items left on the board’s current list for consideration are those the majority of the community has already spoken out against? If so I would like to know when the other options were removed from consideration. I must have missed that meeting.


Brent Garner 8 years, 3 months ago

Of course we can't reduce administrative costs! (Please note sarcasm.) Why, that would be unthinkable! No, lets do what every other corporate leader would do and fire the people who actually make the company/district work! Heaven forbid that the people at the top should be let go or see their salaries reduced!!!

KU_cynic 8 years, 3 months ago

People tell me that Scott Morgan is a nice man. People tell me Scott Morgan is a good neighbor. People tell me that Scott Morgan still has wider political ambitions, despite the setback of failing to win election to the state senate a couple years ago.

But when I observe Scott Morgan's disdainful gestures, body language, language and demeanor when dealing with well-intentioned parents sincerely trying to preserve their neighborhood schools, well, all I see is a man who is politically tone-deaf, someone who just doesn't understand who he is supposed to be serving on the school board. He can't even fake that he's listening.

He can run for public office against the devil himself on the other side of the ticket, but he'll never, ever get my vote again.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

Voters need to remember who votes against the best public education at all levels of our city/county government and of course the USD 497 BOE.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 3 months ago

Funny how that website solicits donations but doesn't list who is involved in the "SONS" organization. One would think that if that organization is proud of its work and wants money, it would list the people involved in the various committees.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

Top USD 497 Admin Officials

Chief Officers - 2 - $278,047

Coordinator - 1 - $76,808

Director, Assistant - 3 - $276,461

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

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

Specialist - 6 - $494,209 / $150,908 paid from Federal Funds

Superintendent - 1 - $174,706 / Required by Statute

Supervisor - 1 - $96,521

Total Pay Tax Dollars = $2,660,789

George Lippencott 8 years, 3 months ago

Oh, well!! I have suggested that the issue is not about neighborhood schools. If we close a small school, the sizes of the remaining would still be less than some of our larger schools. I reach that conclusion by looking at boundary lines. No one has challenged me on this aspect.

Studies I have seen on property tax loss are IMHO not consistent with the situation here in Lawrence. As above, the impact would not be great (except for those at the closed school) and I opine that property values will decline very little if at all - given they are already declining by many reckonings (except our county Treasurer.)

No, I do not want to close schools but I think that decision should come from a valid assessment of need and not in response to political pressure by a relatively small group, who put their own interests above the interests of all the children in our system.

puckstah 8 years, 3 months ago

It certainly is appearing more and more like there's an agenda at work here - the question is, WHOSE AGENDA IS IT? Dr. Doll's or part of the SB?? Only 4 of the current SB members hired Doll. It certainly doesn't seem to be the community's agenda, and according to the usd497 school board web page the SB claims that "We represent you." Who is YOU? Come on Doll and SB leadership, put your big boy pants on!

friendlyjhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Scott Morgan and Sarah Palin................what a ticket!

George Lippencott 8 years, 3 months ago

Did_I_say_that (anonymous) says...

Are you making this an east west issue. As I have said before, we have no kids at Sunflower or anywhere else.

Once again , I am not making myself clear. Doesn't matter what small school you close, the remaining would still be smaller than some of our larger schools. Just look at the maps and you can figure it out - if you care to do so.

I am not advocating closing schools - i AM ADVOCATING A LESS POLITIZED PROCESS.

puckstah 8 years, 3 months ago

According to the district's own documents, only one of the elementary schools in town meets it's lowest capacity number - Langston Hughes. And according to that same document, it appears that the district thinks it can handle more kids.....the numbers are being skewed intentionally....

notajayhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

mom44 8 years, 3 months ago

Ugh! If I read another "Let's just cut FATCAT administration," argument without any details to back it up, I am going to loose it.

I wonder if it would be possible to have a public meeting whereby all of these administrators on the list of recommended cuts that are highlighted by SOS could have the opportunity to defend their positions, and parents could get a better understanding of the elusive "They".....

jafs 8 years, 3 months ago


merill posted some statistics showing about $3million for administrative costs. I have seen the figure of about $8million.

Both of those sound high to me.

Also, if the adminstrators are not administering well, they should be held accountable, much as many of us would like for the CEO's of various corporations to be treated similarly.

I remember when I was in college, an administrator held a meeting in which he said "What would you do to fix this?" to a room full of students. At first, I thought this was kind of cool, but over time I realized:

  1. He was paid to do that job - students weren't.
  2. He had access to much more information than we did.
  3. He was acknowledging he couldn't fix it.

Perhaps that means he wasn't doing his job adequately.

jafs 8 years, 3 months ago

Also, on the SONS website, they identify about $5million in savings from re-allocating funds, making minor cuts in administrative costs, and raising student fees a little bit.

These ideas should be seriously considered before closing any schools.

LadyJ 8 years, 3 months ago

Well, we'll find out Monday night, but I wanted to point something out. On next year's calendar, school once again starts on Aug 11th. The last day before Christmas break is Dec. 17th and they return on Jan.3 and school gets out for the year on May 25th, a Wednesday. How about having Christmas break start the 22nd and school end on the 27th then you could start the school year a week later and save seven days of very hot weather.

George Lippencott 8 years, 3 months ago

Did_I_say_that (anonymous) says...

Ok, I am an idiot!

Of course the issues made by SOS and their fellow travelers have little more than emotion. The fact that you can list a bunch of administrators and their salary does not in the least make them excess. That is an opinion - so far unsupported by anything but a list of money spent

The argument about neighborhood schools is a red herring avoiding the large school small school issue. Why do some kids get to go to large schools and others get to go to smaller schools that SOS argues are better for them. Once again, if we close a small school the remaining small schools will still be smaller than our larger schools - they will still most definitely be neighborhood schools!!!!

I am not arguing for closing schools but I am arguing for facts. You were unable to tell me who in the administrative staff are responding to federal and state mandates. That leads me to presume you have no data that shows that any of them are excess

The burden is not on me - it is on you and SOS to provide facts as to what you are advocating!!!

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 2 months ago

"Did_I_say_that (anonymous) says...

@ gl0ck0wn3r - SONS is a group of laymen with little experience in this. They are simply trying to protect the interest of children; that is, they are a group of moms and dads going up against an established Administration and School Board."

Fantastic, but if you are really a grass roots organization of parents then it shouldn't be a problem to post who is serving on the various suborganizations. This is particularly true because the organization is asking for donations.

George Lippencott 8 years, 2 months ago

Did_I_say_that (anonymous) says...

Your right that switching back and forth can cause confusion.

I agree that small schools are better in many ways and I have said so repeatedly

I agree in part that closing schools does not save money immediately but does save some (less than operating costs) over the longer haul. WE are in this, unfortunately, for the longer haul

I agree that there may be some room in the administrative services area to save money but not a mass removal of administrators, nurses and librarians that some have proposed.

I reject the "neighborhood schools" argument - it is in the eyes of the beholder.

I do not want to close schools. I would prefer to build a lot more schools so we can close the ones you suggested and move the kids to those new smaller schools - I just do not know how to finance it.

We have to find the money. If we can rationally find it without closing schools - great. If not we close schools, the ones that cost the most per student.

Maybe it is time to plan for a new large elementary school to replace our antiquated smaller schools and make our district more consistent when it comes to class and school size.

Calling people names is very unbecoming – signifies someone of limited intelligence and way to much emotion. If you do not like what I write – fine – just give up on my stupidity rather than putting words in my mouth.!

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