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Letters to the Editor

One district

February 23, 2010

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To the editor:

It is unfortunate that the whole school budget cuts issue has lost focus. This is not about one school or building or a community being lost. It is about how to make these cuts while minimizing the loss in education for all K-12 students. A building does not educate, nor does a building make a community. Teachers and parents educate, and a community is made by having a common interest. We may not agree on the means necessary to make the cuts, but I would hope that we are all interested in educating all children.

With this said, here are some points to think about: First, this is not a one-year issue. The dollars that fund education come from taxes: property, sales and income tax revenues. All these are down, and this will likely be the case for a few years. Second, the ninth-graders are scheduled to move to the high schools in the 2011-12 school year; the same is true of the sixth-graders moving to the junior highs. What does this leave in the elementary schools? Open classrooms! Efficiently utilizing school space does equate to dollars saved. Third, cutting teachers, textbooks and extracurricular activities hurts the education all students receive, as these are the things that educate, not a building.

Let’s come together as one community! This issue, cutting $5 million from education, impacts all of our children. Lawrence is a great community; let’s work to keep it that way for everyone!

Comments

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

Ms Julie Kelemen,

The money has been found by a group of brilliant parents that will provide long term savings for the district without closing one school building.

Save Our Neighborhood Schools has identified cost savings of over $5.5 million. There are many ways to bridge the budget gap and these are just a few suggestions. We hope the board considers cost savings that protect students, teachers, schools and neighborhoods. http://www.saveourneighborhoodschools.com/

Here is another source that looks as though it could use some trimming: 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 = $96,521

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

There are a lot of “directors” positions in this equation. Chief Officers?

commuter 4 years, 10 months ago

Did I say that - closing the larger schools school is silly. It is like getting a lobotomy for a headache. The next time you have a headache, call me and I will give you a lobotomy, free of charge as long as you sign a waiver.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

Our Lawrence delegation will back neighborhood schools and have always stood by publc education. Have never agreed with the budget cuts handed down by the majority.

Topeka has been cutting dollars from local cookie jars however the question is where are those dollars? How are they being spent?

Just because legislators spend less on public education and are sending less back to the communities I cannot identify any dollar savings in regard to spending. It seems although less is being spent on some services the actual cost of government does not shrink.

spiderd 4 years, 10 months ago

Let's just be one community.

Hmmm... that is so nice. Why am I 99.9% sure you don't have children at one of these schools? Why am I so sure you don't live in these neighborhoods?

Calling for community while waiting for others to bare the brunt of our budget issue so you don't have to is just sick.

jafs 4 years, 10 months ago

Wow, spider.

I have no children in public school - is it sick that I have to subsidize this budget?

headdoctor 4 years, 10 months ago

merrill (anonymous) says... Ms Julie Kelemen, The money has been found by a group of brilliant parents that will provide long term savings for the district without closing one school building. Save Our Neighborhood Schools has identified cost savings of over $5.5 million. There are many ways to bridge the budget gap and these are just a few suggestions. We hope the board considers cost savings that protect students, teachers, schools and neighborhoods. http://www.saveourneighborhoodschools...


NO MERRILL, THE MONEY HAS NOT BEEN FOUND. Only a small part of the Save our Neighborhood schools list is even practical. What they are suggesting is band aid the immediate problem and create an absolute crisis in the next couple of years if not sooner. The local board cannot afford to be stupid enough to take action assuming that Legislators are all of a sudden going to gain intelligence and do the right thing.

Where was all this concern about losing schools when it comes to promoting East Lawrence as good place for families to move to? Where was all the concern when every time someone wanted to do something in East Lawrence that might help the situation get shot down by the preservationist groups? The situation surrounding New York Grade School is not new. It has been on the radar for years. All I have ever seen is people running their mouth, standing around with theirs hands out waiting for their share of block grants, complaining how there wasn't enough or spent on the right issues. Neighborhood groups can be a wonderful thing but they need to do more than whine and have feel good, share a group hug gathering or picnics.

orbiter 4 years, 10 months ago

"Neighborhood groups can be a wonderful thing but they need to do more than whine and have feel good, share a group hug gathering or picnics. "

--um, SOS did put out an alternate budget plan along with mobilizing parents, holding a march, raising money, etc.. Is this what you call whining and having picnics?

You must be quite the dynamo if this to you is all BS. I'd love to hear about all your important work. You sound like quite a champion of your cause.

headdoctor 4 years, 10 months ago

PFC (anonymous) says... "Only a small part of the Save our Neighborhood schools list is even practical." Tell us then headdoctor exactly what is and is not practical and why.


We cannot assume that the Legislators are going to do anything now or in the future to help the cause. Taking 1.8 million from current and next years set aside funds is only a temporary fix. When that money is needed where is it going to come from? The virtual schools should shoulder some cost but do they seriously think that they can guarantee they can milk out 1.1 million from there considering the economical status of who the virtual schools help. Many would just quit. With that attitude you might as well tell all the students who can't handle regular school bye, bye. The 1.1 million and the cooperative fund raising of $200k is just guesses. Throwing out numbers just to save a couple of schools for one more year with pipe dream numbers doesn't fly in the end when the bills have to be paid. I am also not to sure robing another $200k or so from the Capital Outlay fund is totally above board.

My point was that over 3 million dollars of the Neighborhood brainstorm is not a valid or provable option in the scheme of things for the overall district. What happens the year after when we are another 5.5 million dollars short for that budget, only then we are short 8.5 million or more because we already smoked the money. It isn't just about this year. There needs to be some thought about the future situations.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 10 months ago

"headdoctor (anonymous) says...NO MERRILL, THE MONEY HAS NOT BEEN FOUND. Only a small part of the Save our Neighborhood schools list is even practical."

FTW. Although it's not like Merrill will be reading it. He's spammed this same thing - including accusations of fraud - in other threads.

Here's an idea that I haven't heard floated. I'm not entirely familiar with what it would require to do this, but why not split the district into two districts along a north-south route. LHS could serve as the HS for one and FSHS could serve as the high school for another. It would have to happen sooner or later as the city grows, so why not now? The advantage is - according to Merrill - that East Lawrence is growing at an astronomical rate and thus the new Eastern Lawrence school district wouldn't be burdened with supporting the shrinking - according to Merrill - population of Western Lawrence.

headdoctor 4 years, 10 months ago

orbiter (anonymous) says... "Neighborhood groups can be a wonderful thing but they need to do more than whine and have feel good, share a group hug gathering or picnics. " --um, SOS did put out an alternate budget plan along with mobilizing parents, holding a march, raising money, etc.. Is this what you call whining and having picnics? You must be quite the dynamo if this to you is all BS. I'd love to hear about all your important work. You sound like quite a champion of your cause.


The SOS did put out a wonderful effort. Just several years and a lot of money short. When the last round of school closings occurred, do you think ones like New York were not in their cross hairs then too. BTW, SOS isn't exactly just a neighborhood association.

This isn't BS to me. Personally I could care less. I have watched the ELA morph back and forth depending on what group was in control. The last time I paid any attention the Solidarity group was about the only people active in it as far as the officers. What is amusing is some look down on them but for a while they we more active in trying to get something done than some previous incarnations of the ELA. Some years back the ELA managed to run off most of the members that could have actually helped. It was taken over with people of preservationist and tree huger mentality. Oh well, a little late now.

As to what I have done. I use to participate. I have even ran for public office a couple of times but it is obvious the voters prefer what they keep getting instead of someone who might exhibit a little ability to think and have some common sense.

kugrad 4 years, 10 months ago

Just a point of information: Moving the 9th to high school is a done deal. Count on it. Moving 6th grades is far from a done deal. No real concensus has been reached.

headdoctor 4 years, 10 months ago

kugrad (anonymous) says... Just a point of information: Moving the 9th to high school is a done deal. Count on it. Moving 6th grades is far from a done deal. No real concensus has been reached.


Moving the 9th grade to high school should have been a no brainer for the board and I really do not think it was going to take all the prep they were deciding they needed. If they are going to switch the high schools to 4 year then the only obvious option is to move the 6th on to the middle schools which might take a little more advanced planning. That would open up a lot of room at the grade school level and still give the kids some transition time to switch from elementary school mentality to a higher level. I don't believe that any move is really going to save any money now but may avoid another vote on a building school bond anytime soon. Any savings will probably be swallowed up buy busing fees, etc, because of the increased distance to the schools. Several 9th graders who do not qualify for busing now will qualify to get to the high school especially if they don't change the boundary lines much.

headdoctor 4 years, 10 months ago

PFC (anonymous) says... Moving 6th graders is not the only option. Some other school districts in Kansas have K-6, 7-8 middle school and 9-12 HS. There are different options, and if the board did not already have its mind made up, they would ask for an in-depth analysis of each option. But they won’t.


Very correct. The only real reason to move the 6th grade to the junior high buildings is to make room at the grade schools for the students from closed schools so we don't have to turn around and build more buildings soon. Since Lawrence still seems to be growing and population shifts occur from older neighbor hoods to newer the move makes more sense for the future.

commuter 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes my comment was sacastic. Closing a larger school really does not make sense. If the district is really serious about saving money peel back the raises given to ALL people who work for the district, including teachers, in 2009. Think about this, if you worked for the district as a support staff and they reduced your salary and made you pay more school fees, how would you feel?? If they only did this in an effort to keep smaller schools open, how would you feel?? If you are ok with this, please feel free to send money to the district NOW. The problem is that the support staff will get harmed in this process and the teachers will not. The largest group will be saved and the rest will take the hit.

mr_right_wing 4 years, 10 months ago

Online education is a boom for most colleges/universities. Why not start earlier than that? Push 'virtual schools' close and sell half the buildings and reduce the workforce by half. USD 497 is a sinking ship, some desperate actions need to be taken. Maybe the days of having a 'school building' are becoming outdated..?

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

Calling all those who care about all children's education. There is a rally scheduled for March 16. If you really care. make arrangements to take off work and bring your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews to Topeka. It's spring break for most schools, so they don't have to miss. The bigger the rally, the better. The squeaky wheel gets the attention, so come and squeak. See info at this link.

https://sites.google.com/site/adequateyearlyfunding/home/schedule-of-events

songbird 4 years, 10 months ago

Please keep in mind that closing ANY Lawrence School will have ramifications for all schools. Try absorbing 300 central Lawrence students into surrounding schools. How about 200 kids from the southern edge of town? If east side schools close, will there be a shift westward to push our west side schools beyond capacity? If this happens, new boundaries are sure to be drawn, we know class sizes will increase regardless if the method is increasing student/teacher ratio or closing schools. I think we DO need to come together as a community to prevent the closing of any neighborhood school. Increasing the student/teacher ratio will share the burden among all schools. Keep in mind East and Central Lawrence, at one time, supported all of the bond issues that built the "untouchable schools".

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