Archive for Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Middle school timing uncertain

The Lawrence school board is debating whether to reconfigure the grade system in its schools. There are pros and cons of each option and the board is divided.

January 26, 2010


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Do you support the Lawrence school district plan to move ninth-graders to high school, and sixth-graders to middle school?

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Lawrence school board members are sure they want to continue moving toward a middle school reconfiguration and a four-year high school, but the timeline on when to make the move is something they couldn’t agree on.

“To me it has to be part of our discussion that we move as rapidly as possible to making that happen before we start, or along with, making some of these other significant decisions ... about education in our district,” board member Mark Bradford said.

Other members, including President Scott Morgan and Vice President Rich Minder, weren’t convinced reconfiguration needed to be completed and implemented by the fall.

“I’m not there at all,” Morgan said. He noted the transition wouldn’t be as simple for sixth-graders as it would be for those in ninth grade. “It’s not simply moving from one facility to another. It’s moving kids from one program to another. I want to do it right.”

Chief academic officer Kim Bodensteiner said there is room at all levels for more kids. Some of the benefits to reconfiguring the schools include parameters for state standards, programs and requirements, which are all set up for a 9-12 high school system, and curriculum alignment. However, the flip side includes fewer opportunities for music and athletics, more traffic at the high schools and the possibility of open lunch for ninth-graders.

“Everything in our state is set up around the idea of a four-year, 9-through-12 high school,” Bodensteiner said.

The board decided to move ahead with the potential of reconfiguring the schools but asked the district administration to provide more information on the specifics of what it would take to implement the change next fall compared with a later date, though still in the near future.

While the district recommended taking one year to plan the new system, some board members think a quick move might help close the district’s budgetary gap and prevent other drastic measures.

“I do not want to be in a situation where I’m moving kids around three, four times,” board member Bob Byers said. “Let’s realize that reconfiguration and our budget are somewhat intertwined. “

The board will have a budgetary study session at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.


kummerow 8 years, 3 months ago

I am disappointed that there is absolutely no mention of the amount of people attending this board meeting--a board meeting on a KU-MU game night for that matter. Not only was the room filled to capacity with community members, but the overflow room was packed.

The board meeting began with public comment that lasted for about an hour. Every single comment to the board prior to discussing reconfiguration were pleas to the board to consider not closing schools. They were thoughtful and impassioned comments that not only expressed their commitment to saving our neighborhood schools, but presented research that small neighborhood schools are better for children and proposed possible ideas of how to save money during this temporary budget crisis.

Over half of the tweets from you ( during the time of the board meeting were regarding public comment. I think that they deserved at least some mention in your article.

Nikki May 8 years, 3 months ago

My oldest is going to be in 7th grade next year. She has had this whole year for her teachers to reminder her and her class that they will be in jr. high. Then they have all summer to prepare mentally. I am not against the change, but I sure am against the change being forced through this fast. It's not fair to the kids going into 6th.

kugrad 8 years, 3 months ago

H-care moocher, The answer to your question is that reconfiguration is essentially revenue neutral. If anything, it is expected to save a few thousand dollars. It is not expected to cost money, but to break even or save a bit.

middlemgmt 8 years, 3 months ago

I'm sure this change will happen. The big question is if they are changing the boundries at all????

anon1958 8 years, 3 months ago

I am very skeptical that this change will be revenue neutral or save money. I also think this is a very unfortunate change for the 7th and 9th graders. Even though the rest of the state uses a more popular model, having observed the results of a model that was new to me for both of my sons, I am persuaded that the current system is superior to what the rest of the state is doing.

Jonathan Kealing 8 years, 3 months ago


But we did tweet about all of them. And what they said, almost every one of them. Different stories are told different ways. We've written numerous newspaper stories and done many TV packages about school consolidation, today we chose to write about school re-alignment. We'll come back to school consolidation and the budget, but we can't do everything every day. Tell your friends to follow our Education account on Twitter. And feel free to use it as examples of what people are suggesting.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor

kummerow 8 years, 3 months ago


I fully understand that the article was about reconfiguration--it was a good article. I just feel that everyone should know that, reconfiguration aside, this was not a run of the mill board meeting.

I think that you all did an excellent job on tweeting on all of the comments, but you only have 139 followers, whereas, the LJWorld reaches a significantly larger audience than that. I feel that the public comments merited some mention.

Take_a_letter_Maria 8 years, 3 months ago

9th graders should be at the high school. Now whether that should be a 9-12 school or re-aligning the two high schools so you have 9-10 at one and 11-12 at the other, that is a debate that I wouldn't mind having. There are too many 9th graders that treat 9th grade as being Jr. High and then they find themselves screwed when they realize that - this year counts towards high school, college prep, college admission, etc. This should be revenue neutral at worst simply because you will be able to combine those high school level courses being taught at 6 different schools and bring them into two buildings instead. Not to mention the elimination of bussing kids from the jr high to the hs for classes not offered at the jh building. I'd love to go on, but not enough space is alotted here to "discuss" everything that is wrong with the current set up.

braverthanu 8 years, 3 months ago

Congrats to Rich Minder...he now holds the record for saying the word "um". Good God would he please stop!

Sue McDaniel 8 years, 3 months ago

I was always 100% behind the 9-10 and 11-12 idea but it just won't even be considered. I thought the meeting last night was a mere formality, still never said what everyone thinks. Reconfiguation = close schools is the way to save money doing it.......

Clickker 8 years, 3 months ago

I like the comment from the Lady who moved here from Illinois where her kids went to a 5000 student HS. that spent $10k/kid. She said she NEVER saw football fields as nice as we have here.......uh....EVER BEEN TO TEXAS?? Every school in the state has nicer sports facilities than we have here. Nice try.

alm77 8 years, 3 months ago

Question: In the video, one school board member expresses his concern for kids who are having classes in "portables". What school(s) are doing that?

Lori Nation 8 years, 3 months ago

They need to decide before school ends this year. I would love to have my soon to be 6th grader in middle school that way I am not having her wait for her elementary to start at almost 9 oclock. (which is hard on parents who work from 8-5)

Katherine Greene 8 years, 3 months ago

How do you get the the Education account on twitter? Could you please post a link? Thanks,

Lindsey Slater 8 years, 3 months ago

kat66044 -- I tweet from an account called LJW6NewsEduNews. You can access it at I tweet live from school board meetings and study sessions and add things going on in education daily.

alm77 -- There are a few schools that use portables. The ones that stick out in my mind immediately are Hillcrest and Sunset Hill. Those actually might be the only two -- don't quote me on that. I'm just trying to jog my memory of each school.

Lindsey Slater K-12 Education Reporter

SayWhat 8 years, 3 months ago

If what he says is true, I agree with Kummero.. I didn't go to the meeting and I don't tweet. But if "every single" comment for an hour were pleas to the board about keeping schools open, then that is real news and should have been in the story. Sometimes I forget how small our local media outlets are.

lily 8 years, 3 months ago

Do it right or not at all. In doing it right that means also do it timely. Make the decision, a timeline and do it. Prepare the children emotionally as one parent said. They can do it if prepared at home and school. I am in agreement with a 4 year high school but it will be at least 1-2 years late for my kid by the time it happens.

musiclife 8 years, 3 months ago

They are being stupid. You can't just suddenly decide to move the kids up NEXT fall. It would be so chaotic. They should at least spend some time planning it rather than saying that doing it faster would fix budget problems. Let me tell you something...budget problems aren't fixed that quickly. Oh yes let's just rush into this. I'm not at all opposed to the ideas of the ninth graders being moved up to the high schools, in fact I think that it's a relevant idea, but you can't just rush into. The schools and students need time to prepare. You can't just spring this up on everyone. The boards idea of just pulling kids up as fast as possible is absolutely ridiculous. They should also take into consideration that high school enrollment has already been I said, if they did it next fall, it would be unnecessarily chaotic.

kugrad 8 years, 3 months ago

There are more portables around. Quail Run had a couple, haven't been there in awhile, so I'm not sure if they are still there. New York has Music and Art in portables, there are a couple at Deerfield as well. Other than the ones Lindsey mentioned above, those are the only ones I can think of. I don't get to the high schools or jr. highs, so I can't speak to those.

Clickker 8 years, 3 months ago

......."but you can't just rush into. The schools and students need time to prepare."....

Oh please. Kids are flexible and will go wherever they are told they will be going next year. I'm not saying do it next ear for sure, but it should be an option. The kids dont need time to prepare, the teachers, buildings, coaches etc probably do, but if this were a business, and they said "get it done for next year" there would be a plan within a few days, it would be decided on, and implemented. From what I saw, the lady had it pretty wel outlined. Just pull the trigger already.

Nikki May 8 years, 3 months ago

I disagree. Kids are resilient, and eventually they would be fine. But that preteen age is so emotional anyway. Mine that's going into 7th next year has been freaking out since the first day of 6th grade. "Last year at this school, last first day of Prairie Park, last whatever". She's always been sensitive and I know that my son would be a different story, he would just go where you dropped him off if his friends would be there. But, there are so many types of children and I think they should get the courtesy of that preparation year.

supercowbellninja 8 years, 3 months ago

I gotta agree with Kummerow on this one - LJW missed the boat if there was that level of interest and attendance for this meeting. I realize there are many different ways to tell a story, but why not just set up a video camera and post an hour-plus video of the unedited public comments to this story? Sure, not many people would watch the full thing but sure as heck would serve a greater service to those truly invested in this story who attended the meeting vs. tweets that condense and strip the comments to 140 characters.

Bonus question - why should anyone really follow LJW6NewsEduNews on Twitter? The account was dormant for five straight days leading up this deluge of tweeting.

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