Archive for Monday, January 11, 2010

Lawrence school board examining options for closing $4 million budget hole

Study session examines areas for possible budget cuts

Lawrence schools discussed Monday the possibility of closing schools to save money.

January 11, 2010, 4:40 p.m. Updated January 12, 2010, 12:00 a.m.


The Lawrence school board wants more information when it comes to what it can do to make up a multimillion-dollar budgetary shortfall.

The board is looking at a nearly $4 million gap in the 2010-11 school year budget if the base state aid and enrollment stay flat.

“Cutting budgets is a remarkably unpleasant role for the board,” board President Scott Morgan said. “We have to work it out.”

If the district raises the student-to-teacher ratio by one, about 21 teachers would lose their jobs and the district would save nearly $1 million.

“We’re not talking about one more person to each class,” Chief Operations Officer Frank Harwood said. “One class might not get any more and one class might get 10 more.”

At elementary schools, if the ratio goes up by one, the largest classes in the district would be at 39 students. The move would cause 30 classrooms in elementary schools around the district to go over 26 students per class.

“This isn’t just an elementary school issue,” board member Mark Bradford said.

When teacher salaries are averaged, the most expensive elementary school to run is New York. It costs just over $6,000 to educate each student. The lowest cost per student is at Langston Hughes, where it costs $3,616 to educate each student.

The board has asked for more information in regard to cost savings related to things like changing school boundaries and reconfiguration.

The group is hoping to make final budgetary decisions in March.


finance 7 years, 8 months ago

Let the caterwauling begin. How amusing it will be to see the anti-tax zealots flip sides and suddenly defend keeping a school open when previously "cut, cut, cut" was their mind-numbing mantra.

Well, there's an old saying about an ox being gored. Proof self-evident of selfishness. How about a little community-mindedness and some district-wide support (from absolutely everyone) for things that positively affect other people's children too? If I have to be more clear, I mean let's all vote for MORE school support--district-wide, state-wide, nation-wide, world-wide--heck, galaxy-wide.

GardenMomma 7 years, 8 months ago

At what number of students per class does it become detrimental to the students' educational well-being?

26 children per class? 30? 300?

How does one teacher effectively teach with a high student to teacher ratio?

kugrad 7 years, 8 months ago

GardenMomma, at grades KG-3, class sizes should be 17 to 18 students or below. The research is very clear about that, including that this level be maintained throughout that period. After 3rd grade, there isn't a clearly established level, but classes may be larger without detriment to achievment. Exactly how much larger is not clear. If you are wondering why this is, part of the reason is that older students are able be more independent, a quality that increases with each grade level (to a point). They have learned to read and can now read to learn.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

And closing public schools in Lawrence will decrease residential property values by 10%. Homeowners should not be expected to absorb this loss.

Asking parents in crowded schools to move their children into smaller classes makes dollars and sense.

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 KU Prof.

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.

==================================== Homeowners cannot absorb this loss

City and county governments cannot afford the loss of tax dollar revenue due to yet another reduction in property values

usd 497 certainly cannot afford the lost tax dollar revenue due to 10% reduction in property values

==================================== 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.

overthemoon 7 years, 8 months ago

There are a number of people in this town who could come up with that amount between them and not even feel the strain of opening their wallets. Where is that ole do good feeling among our country clubbin' elite?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

USD 497 needs a long term solution to maintain the image of USD 497. Closing schools and enlarging class size will not do that.

Here is one solution:

Teacher Salary Support

The average cost of educating our USD 497 children is averaged by overall cost divided by total number of students.

Langston Hughes is bursting at the seams so I'm told and maybe so is Deerfield ...still.

Just maybe some of those parents would not mind having their children taught at New York School? Or children from any one of the existing schools could choose New York School?

And USD 497 should put that expensive piece of property back on the market that was just purchased for $1.76 million(more than $22,000 an acre). That was not a smart buy and our existing buildings need rehab work. That money would be better spent on existing buildings.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

According to USD 497 the budget is for $5,500,000 dollars a month or $66,000,000 a year or thereabouts.

November 30, 2009

FROM: Dale M. Dennis, Deputy Commissioner of Education

SUBEJCT: Base State Aid Per Pupil Comparison

We have been requested to provide a computer printout (SF0015) which compares the computed general fund budget based on a base state aid per pupil (BSAPP) of: $4,400 (same as 2008-09); $4,218 (amount upon which USD budgets were adopted for 2009-10 school year); and $4,012 (BSAPP following allotments).

As of a November 2009 PDF file: The state will be providing somewhere between $68,893,880($4400 per student),$66,556,666($4218 per student) or $63,910,759($4,012 per student).

$4400 per student is what the state should be furnishing.

USD 497 has $7,000,000 in at least on of the their "stash" contingency funds. In reality using the low number number $63,910,759 USD 497 may only need to pull approximately $2.1 million from their contingency fund of $7 million to cover the school year. According to numbers contained in the PDF file down loaded from the state.

As I see it in reality there is no need to shut down any school this year. The problem is a temporary situation. AND the courts may well order the state to cover the court ordered per pupil amount which I believe is $4400 = $68,893,880.

The State of Kansas also has a rather large set of contingency funds it could pull from if ordered to do so by the courts.

Stephen Roberts 7 years, 8 months ago

Merrill- Since you sing Kirk's praises, can you tell me where has he worked besides KU?? Where has his knowledge been put to use in the real world setting??

It is easy to sit up at KU and tell everyone that you know something and talk about theory but it is a lot harder to put that theory into practice.

I would think that if he was so great, why wouldn't he work in the private sector and make more money??

Kookamooka 7 years, 8 months ago

It seems in bad form for the administration to cut teachers but not examine their own "fat". USD497 is unbelievably top heavy with Instructional coaches/mentors and administrators. They could trim the top tomorrow and not effect student success. The teachers wouldn't have as much "support" but at least they might have jobs.

Stephen Roberts 7 years, 8 months ago

Merrill- Parents have always had the option of transferring their students to New York. Do you honestly think that just because New York may close that parents are going to all of sudden decide to transfer their kids there???

Boston_Corbett 7 years, 8 months ago

Listening to Merrill trying to explain school budgets reminds me of that architect friend of Marion and his understanding of school budgets. Or for that matter, Marion's understanding of any governmental budget.

All are pathetically lacking and obviously self-centered.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

USD 497 is receiving more than $6,000 per student by way of Topeka.

Where is the money going?

Boston_Corbett 7 years, 8 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…USD 497 is receiving more than $6,000 per student by way of Topeka. Where is the money going?

Ha Ha. Merrill sounding like Toe and his bretheren

four11 7 years, 8 months ago

One cannot ask a small neighborhood to make the biggest sacrifice because of poor planning to begin with!!!! SHARE THIS BURDEN!


Hop2It 7 years, 8 months ago

"One cannot ask a small neighborhood to make the biggest sacrifice because of poor planning to begin with!!!! share this burden!"

Or should not ask the whole district to sacrifice for the sake of one small neighborhood. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

salad 7 years, 8 months ago

Kookamooka (Anonymous) says… "It seems in bad form for the administration to cut teachers but not examine their own “fat”. USD497 is unbelievably top heavy with Instructional coaches/mentors and administrators. They could trim the top tomorrow and not effect student success. "

Kookamooka, I'll see your "cut the admin. fat" and raise you a "push the whole head-shed into a black hole." As has been said many times: if the entire head-shed disappeared tomorrow, not one student in the district would ever know. In fact, it would probably be weeks before any of the teachers noticed. They'd probably start getting suspicious about why things seemed to be running so much smoother....

Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

USD 497 could be receiving:

  • $68,893,880

  • $66,556,666



If one of the first two scenarios materializes when dividing the first two scenarios by 10,668.9 USD 497 students the district is receiving more than $6000 per student. So it appears. The last scenario will produce $5990.38 per student( $9.62 short of $6000).

Laurie L Folsom 7 years, 8 months ago

Merril is somewhat correct. While the state is providing $4,012 in BASE aid per pupil, MANY students are in programs that are funded BEYOND base state aid. So if a student needs special services or if they are involved in career development that state provides additional money. Not sure that the final number is $6,000 per pupil though.

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