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Letters to the Editor

School cuts

January 10, 2010

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To the editor:

The Lawrence public schools are currently facing serious budget cuts. These budgetary pressures have led to increased discussion of school closings. Once again, much of the discussion seems to focus on closing neighborhood elementary schools in the east side of Lawrence.

Since the east side schools are generally older and smaller, some believe they are “inefficient.” However, efficiency must not only focus on cost-per-student, but also on the quality of education. Here the data definitively show that small neighborhood schools contribute better to student learning, reduce the achievement gap between poor and affluent students and reduce truancy and drop-out rates. In short, small neighborhood schools are more efficient vehicles for education.

From day one, Superintendent Rick Doll has been clear in his desire to do what is “best for kids.” In this case, it is clear that it is best for kids to keep our neighborhood elementary schools open and find other means to weather this temporary budget crisis. We encourage community members to contact school board members to voice your opinions. Upcoming school board meetings are scheduled on Jan. 11 and 25 at 7 p.m. at 110 McDonald Drive.

Comments

anon1958 4 years, 11 months ago

The entire board needs to be voted out next election for failing to maintain the bus routes while wasting a huge amount of money on after school sporting events to entertain the public.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 11 months ago

What makes you think the "budget crisis" is "temporary". This may be the new norm.

youngjayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

The board should look at ways to cut expenses that do not single out individual groups before closing schools. For example: lengthen the school day & shorten the school year, cut learning coaches, reduce administrative staff, etc. Only then, should smaller, inefficient schools be considered for closure.

mom_of_three 4 years, 11 months ago

Winfield school district lengthened their day by 15 minutes so they could get out of school a week or so earlier, thereby saving money on energy and salaries. But they have fewer elementary schools, and do not have different start schedules.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

School closure is a very important issue; the maintenance of neighborhood schools is crucial to the preservation and revitalization of neighborhoods.

Families will not locate in nor invest in neighborhoods without schools in close proximity for their children. Without families, the chances that a neighborhood will maintain its value are low.

Research in the Journal of Urban Economics (one of the nation’s top academic journals) finds that when neighborhood schools are closed, property values drop by about 10 percent.

Kirk McClure

======================================

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- hood.

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

============================================= Can we taxpayers afford to lose 10% more on property value? I cannot

Can USD 497 afford to lose any tax dollar revenue? NO

http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/oct/how_should_school_district_pay_20_million_maintena/

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/oct/22/school-priorities/#c1027186

Can the city and county afford to lose tax dollar revenues? No.

Why then do they hand out tax incentives that fail?

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 11 months ago

Polling must have revealed that using the term "neighborhood" five times in a LTE would produce the desired knee-jerk emotional reaction that tax-and-spenders like Mr. Tunge seek.

Sentimentality aside, using Mr. Tunge's logic, the city should double, triple or even quadruple the number of "neighborhood schools" in Lawrence. Imagine the influx of quality we would experience. And it's not as if the city and state are compelled to confront a protracted budget crisis with discipline and cost-cutting, right? It's all about spending as much money as the teachers unions say is necessary. Even if that's fiscally irresponsible.

KSManimal 4 years, 11 months ago

"It's all about spending as much money as the teachers unions say is necessary. Even if that's fiscally irresponsible."

For starters, it's not about spending what the teacher's union say's is necessary. It's about spending what the legislature's own cost studies say is necessary (which is, btw, about a billion dollars more than is currently being spent....).

That being said, why is it that when the American Medical Association tells us how to keep healthy; people listen. After all, doctors know about how to keep healthy. When the Bar Association talks about legal stuff; people listen. After all, lawyers are the professionals who know about the law. Yet, when the National Education Association (comprised of over 3 million teachers) says what's best for educating students....many people say "oh, don't listen to them. Their just a bunch of teachers".

Is it because teachers collectively negotiate their contracts? Contracts that pay them, typically, one half to one tenth the amount doctors and lawyers earn? Maybe if the starting salary for teachers was $100,000; they wouldn't feel the need to bargain salary.

Maybe if teachers could set their own fees, as doctors and lawyers do, in a way that earned them six figures (none of which are "1", "2", and perhaps not even "3"...); maybe then teachers would be afforded the professional respect they deserve.

notajayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

KSManimal (Anonymous) says…

"For starters, it's not about spending what the teacher's union say's is necessary. It's about spending what the legislature's own cost studies say is necessary"

Did those cost studies - and the ensuing court decision - happen to include athletic fields, performing arts buildings, etc?

"That being said, why is it that when the American Medical Association tells us how to keep healthy; people listen."

Maybe because not everyone does? If I remember correctly, the AMA doesn't represent the majority of doctors any more. They, as well as the ABA and the NEA, are a political action committee, nothing more, nothing less. And I don't know what kind of teachers you had, but mine taught us to question everything, not blindly accept what we're told on faith just because of the letters following the byline.

"Maybe if the starting salary for teachers was $100,000; they wouldn't feel the need to bargain salary. ... Maybe if teachers could set their own fees, as doctors and lawyers do, in a way that earned them six figures; maybe then teachers would be afforded the professional respect they deserve."

Um - when did we start requiring doctoral degrees for teachers? And when teachers daily make life-or-death decisions, or when the quality of the teacher might be the deciding factor in whether a person keeps their freedom or is locked in a cell for 20 years, then maybe they'll be up there with physicians and attorneys.

volunteer 4 years, 11 months ago

During the online question-answer session with Dr. Doll on this website I asked what Administrative cuts the district has made. The superintendent was not responsive. He did say that he would be giving that information to Board members in the coming months.

Topeka's school district saved 700 grand this school year by combining some central office Administrative positions and eliminating others. When will Dr. Doll step up to the plate with similar recommendations?

KSManimal 4 years, 11 months ago

"Um - when did we start requiring doctoral degrees for teachers?"

Teachers must complete about eight credit hours every five years to renew their license. Over a 40 year career, that's about the same number of hours as a doctoral degree.

"And when teachers daily make life-or-death decisions,"

Every day: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1403677/

"or when the quality of the teacher might be the deciding factor in whether a person keeps their freedom or is locked in a cell for 20 years,"

Every day: http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/12-1994/pris.html

"then maybe they'll be up there with physicians and attorneys."

Who taught those physicians and attorneys to read and write? No one gets into medical or law school without a good undergrad schooling; and no one gets a good undergrad schooling without K-12 schooling.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 11 months ago

Does anyone else think it is hilarious that Merrill posted this in one of his cut-and-pastes:

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

Yet he has consistently argued against highway construct and, in particular, finishing the SLT. I'm sure this latest example of hypocrisy from Merrill doesn't trouble him given his intellectual (using the word very loosely) dishonesty and disregard for ideological consistency.

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