Archive for Wednesday, January 13, 2010

District wants more info before deciding closures

Reconfiguring grades a possible way to save

The price of education: Figures on Lawrence schools, salaries, cost per student.

The Lawrence school district presented how much it costs to operate each elementary school to the school board as part of a budget study session. The chart includes select figures on salaries, number of teachers and students, and the cost to educate one student at each school.

* Some schools have more veteran teachers on staff, which can cause both cost per student and teacher salary figures to go up. But if a school with veteran teachers were to close, those teachers would be moved to another school.

The price of education: Figures on Lawrence schools, salaries, cost per student. The Lawrence school district presented how much it costs to operate each elementary school to the school board as part of a budget study session. The chart includes select figures on salaries, number of teachers and students, and the cost to educate one student at each school. * Some schools have more veteran teachers on staff, which can cause both cost per student and teacher salary figures to go up. But if a school with veteran teachers were to close, those teachers would be moved to another school.

January 13, 2010


At a study session Monday, Lawrence school board members reviewed pages and pages of information about the cost of operating schools.

But they need more information. Much more.

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.

As board members move toward making a decision in the next two months or so on whether to close any elementary schools, they have many questions, said Scott Morgan, board president.

“If we move boundaries this way, what happens? If we close this school, how much do we save?” he said.

The board wants district administrators to continue compiling data.

“They want to know specifics about where we think we can make cuts and what that would save us,” Superintendent Rick Doll said.

The district knows, for example, what it costs to operate each elementary school. But it’s harder to know exactly what would be saved if a specific school were closed.

“Some of the costs go with the student to the next building and some of them don’t,” Chief Operations Officer Frank Harwood said.

The board also wants to talk about grade reconfiguration — moving sixth grade to middle school and ninth grade to high school — in terms of dollars and cents. Doll said it could save the district some money.

“It would not be our preference to do it right away, but in a budget crisis, you look at all possibilities,” he said.

Morgan said the only program that board members agreed would not be touched by the budget-cutting knife is all-day kindergarten.

“Everything else is still out there,” he said.

And that includes everything from administrative costs at both the district and school levels to athletics, activities and programming at schools.

On Jan. 25, board members will discuss reconfiguration and whether to implement it next year.


youngjayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Here are some ideas that the school board needs to seriously consider: lengthening the school day & shortening the school year, eliminating learning coaches, eliminating Wednesday collaboration, reducing and/or consolidating administrative positions. Be creative and look for ways to save money that have minimal impact on students!

thinkagain 8 years, 5 months ago

I know several families with kids at Cordley who don't live in the Cordley boundry. I would be curious to know what the enrollement of the school would be if kids from outside of that school's boundary area we're taken out of the count. (I'm not referring to any ESL students.)

Matt Needham 8 years, 5 months ago

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letsgetwise 8 years, 5 months ago

I don't agree with closing the schools, if at all possible. Surely there are avenues out there to cut out. I have no problem with adjusting 6th to Jr. Hi and 9th to High School, but how does that save money? (Only curious on that part, because I really do favor that scenario, but not at the cost of closing elementary schools.) I haven't made a decision yet on what I think, but what about a 4-day school week, eliminating buses for 1-day, and reducing utilities for 1-day? I know there are some school districts that have gone to this, any info out there?

deadanimals 8 years, 5 months ago

Maybe someone else could make more sense of the chart than I can, but, using the numbers:

New York total cost (enrollment x cost per) = $846,585. of that $846,585, $471,366 is for teachers/admin., leaving $375, 219 for what? building upkeep? support staff? landscaping? lunches?

the same numbers with Langston Hughes: $1,748,536 total; $1,148,236. staffing, leaving $600,300.for the same expenses?

conservative 8 years, 5 months ago

small schools need to be closed. Every one of them have principals and staff that costs lots of money and which can be eliminated with closings. Plus we won't be continuing to pay support teachers to drive back and forth all day between small schools instead of spending their time in a school helping kids. We should also scrap early dismissal wednesdays. They add to the length of the school year. Take a long hard look at the top heavy administrative positions in this district and cut ruthlessly.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 5 months ago

Given some of the low enrollment numbers and high staff salaries, it looks like we should have been closing and consolidating even when the state was on firmer fiscal footing.

cowboy 8 years, 5 months ago

Cut five principal positions , with salary and burden theres approximately $650,000. Have the lower student count principals take on two schools.

Eliminate Wednesday collaboration , this would add 140 hours back into teaching and cut the necessary school year by three weeks. Reduce the "inservice" staff accordingly that now aren't running seminars on Wednesday afternoons.

Eliminate spring break. I never got a spring break in school.This would add 40 hours back into teaching and cut the school year another week.

Combine Sped programs to concentrate this population a bit more so each school does not have to have a full Sped staff and the dedicated paras to support it.

There are a lot more ways to cut costs than closing schools. That's not fair to the neighborhoods or the kids.

The board and admin need to throw out the closing schools idea and get to work on some "outside the box" solutions that will truly save dollars , shorten the school year , and keep the schools in the neighborhoods.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 5 months ago

The calls to keep lagging schools open is not logical. If it were, the school board could justify builiding 10 or 20 brand new schools around town, label them an "investment," herald them as "neighborhood schools" and wait 100 years until they too become the subject of feel-good sentimentality.

anon1958 8 years, 5 months ago

End the expensive after school athletic programs and get back to us on how much that would save. It is time that the school districts get out of the entertainment business. Intramural sports are good enough for educational purposes.

ferrislives 8 years, 5 months ago

anon1958, what "expensive after school athletic programs" for elementary students are you referring to? The only programs that I know about are done through the Boys & Girls Club, and Parks and Rec. I know of none sponsored by elementary schools in Lawrence.

walkthehawk 8 years, 5 months ago

smaller schools are not necessarily "lagging" schools--in fact, quite the contrary in many cases (New York elementary, by all data I've seen, is doing a spectacular job with a small but at-risk population.)

All this table shows is that it costs less, per pupil, to run an elementary school with 500+ students than to run a neighborhood school with 100-250 students...and that principals make more money for more education/more time in the district, just like any other certified staff. Not exactly earth-shattering news; the challenge is what to do with this information, and to look deeper (ie, at long-term impacts) before making cuts that will have an impact on the children of this city for many years into the future.

headdoctor 8 years, 5 months ago

I suppose if they can figure out how to move the money around by selling any of the closed schools it might make a difference in the short term. I am not convinced that the board would do the right thing with the closed schools. Closing schools will not even knock a dent in the short fall by the time they move teachers around to keep the student to teacher ratio at a good level.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 5 months ago

mommaeffortx2- I'm with you! Education is the ONLY way out of poverty and should be the last to be considered for financial cuts!

Tricky Gnosis 8 years, 5 months ago

Holy Toledo. School principals make extremely good money. I don't want to hear this mess about impoverished civil servants barely scraping by ever again. The principal of Kennedy earns three times as much as most Americans.

I can think of a way to cut well over $100,000 from the budget with no layoffs and no reduction in services -- cut those salaries by 10%. They'd still be far above the median worker.

avoice 8 years, 5 months ago

Notice that, in many cases, the highest-paid principals preside over the schools with the lowest enrollments. Attribute this directly to salary based on seniority or level of education or some other "unionized" criteria, vs. basing the salary on the required amount of work. Less students should equal less salary for the administrator(s).

kugrad 8 years, 5 months ago

A fairer and more accurate way to figure the cost per pupil of a building would be to take the the total cost of all teachers in the district and average it (including all certified staff paid on the salary scale). Then simply take the number of staff at a building times the average. Then do the same thing for classified. It is totally misleading to figure the cost based on the current staff because the buildings with low SES students tend to have veteran staffs. If these buildings were closed, then those staff members would still be employed, but just raising the cost per pupil at another building. It should also be noted that the cost per pupil would go down if more students attended at those buildings. The buildings with high costs per pupil tend to have a lot of room for more students. Remember, the DISTRICT CHOSE to make the boundaries so that those schools had fewer students. They built new schools when those schools were not full. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking this is just about something as simple as cost-per-pupil, but anyone who believes that does not understand the complexities of the issues surrounding school closure. The cost per pupil can be reduced by redistricting. Closing schools won't save nearly what some believe because those veteran staffs will still be employed.

workinghard 8 years, 5 months ago

When kids are bused from Kennedy school to Langston Hughs for half of the day, which school gets to claim him or do both schools claim him?

gr 8 years, 5 months ago

I didn't see anyone addressing deadanimal's point. That was the first thing I checked for.

Take the first one. 272*4539= 1,234,608. 713250+97150= 810,400.

1,234,608-810,400 = 424,208. 424,208 / 810,400 = 52%

It's kind of glaring that 52% of teacher+principle salaries go for something else.

Should it be important to ask what the costs are that exceed over half the teaching before deciding what schools to close or what not?

I mean, isn't the purpose to educate the kids? That requires teachers. A teacher could teach a kid in a one room shack. Something better than a shack would be nice. Is spending 52% of that acceptable?

Rather than cutting teachers, why not look at and question the "extra" expenses. (I sense someone wants to build a new school)

four11 8 years, 5 months ago

gr and deadanimals are both make excellent points!

LJWorld-- Could you please do some investigative reporting and find out what administrative salaries are at MCDonald Drive? Other costs/programs? Virtual school? Please?

I find the case that is being made for closing schools to be a little to convenient. Redistricting seems to make more sense than closing schools and then later on building another new school away from everyone's neighborhood....

808Drive 8 years, 5 months ago

With all due respect, most of you are rather clueless! You are working off of your personal experiences as former students. You really have no idea how schools operate or what goes on behind the scenes. That goes for our school board members as well. They especially have no idea how secondary schools operate! I do agree with one comment...get rid of the sports already! There is no Kansas law that requires ANY athletic activity...why do we fork out so much money for it! Funny too how the ESDC can't seem to put a dollar figure on how much money we DO spend on it! (check out their document mentioned below). Do you think that the paper, pencils, textbooks, staples, markers, construction paper, dry eraser markers, thumb tacks, paper clips, supplemental materials, technology equipment and all the other stuff just falls from the sky? Yes, I agree in the 'good 'ole days' a one room school house with the slate board worked out fine. If I thought for one moment that my students could handle that I would get rid of all that fancy me a ton of preparation and hours of work from home. Our children today aren't wired for that sort of instruction. We have to keep their minds and bodies involved almost constantly in order to keep them on task. I'm not a teacher, I'm a performer. Don't get me wrong...I absolutely love my job!! By the way go to the districts website and you can see more figures than you care to:

gr 8 years, 5 months ago

"Do you think that the paper, pencils, textbooks, staples, markers, construction paper, dry eraser markers, thumb tacks, paper clips, supplemental materials, technology equipment and all the other stuff just falls from the sky?"

But, one would not think it costs 52% of what it costs to teach the kids, would they?

Maybe you can explain the budget reduction option link for us. Is Administration, Schools the teachers? If not, where are they. Otherwise, the following assumes it is.

Teaching gifted kids are nice, but a third of the regular teaching?

Why are there so many paras, learning coaches, guiding coaches. You're right, when I went to school, there weren't any of those.

Supplemental Assignments? A Third of the teachers if I got that right? Preaching to the choir, but how does that help the kids learn reading, writing, and arithmetic?

Elementary Art? Again, when I went to school, the teacher of the classroom said, ok, it's art time.

Elementary Band? Didn't know if it's just for one grade, or the orchestra portion. But, why need this in addition to the music teachers? And, 600K for music teachers? Music teachers do pretty good making $52,000 a year! Sorry, music teachers, but should someone who teaches in just one area make the same as someone who teaches multiple subjects? While music may be important, referring back to my point, is it THAT important? I'm not talking about doing away with it, just questioning if the amount is right compared to teachers.

Transportation? It'd be interesting if this was $2 Million to just get the kids to and from school. I'm questioning if it's for the "extra" transportation.

I think there's several, 'well it's not that much', things that add up.

imamomma 8 years, 5 months ago

Its nice to see the principals salaries and teacher and per pupil info, but what about the district office? How much do the secretaries to the secretaries make? How much do the learning coaches make? How much do the people make over there that could be cut, like possible people who do not even work with the "student population" in any way. WHY, do they always want to cut those who are working hard day in and day out to teach the children. Maybe we should all see how much the people at the service center/district office make.

What other options are on the table about cuts? Would the service center/district office have to come up with ways to help save money, is anyone willing to give up there comfortable non-instructional job to save a teacher, a para educator, a custodian, a nurse? Any takers?

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