Archive for Thursday, January 28, 2010

No rush

Reconfiguring Lawrence schools seems like a good idea, but we need to take time to do it right.

January 28, 2010


In the current budget crisis, it’s only right for school districts to look at the financial impact of any decision they make.

However, the possibility of saving a few dollars shouldn’t always be the deciding factor.

Last August, the Lawrence school board decided to more closely examine the possibility of moving district ninth-graders to the high schools and sixth-graders to junior highs/middle schools. Their plan, was to look at the pros and cons of the move independent of any budget constraints. “It was never intended to be discussed together,” Supt. Rick Doll said Tuesday.

Unfortunately, the pressures of reduced state funding have put budget considerations front and center in almost every school discussion. The possibility of saving even a modest amount of money by reconfiguring the schools was enough to make some board members think about speeding up the process. Instead of taking a year to look at the change and aim for implementation in fall of 2011, some board members wanted to look at making the change in fall 2010.

Doll says the district may be able to gain some efficiencies by better balancing class sizes and moving classes like sixth-grade band to the middle schools. However, he added, “That’s not the main point. The point is to do what’s best for kids.”

A couple of factors argue for taking a year to make this transition. First, district teachers and staff need time to prepare for the move especially for sixth-graders. A new middle school model should involve a re-evaluation of how classes are organized. For instance, one sixth-grade teacher quoted in Sunday’s Journal-World noted that middle schools usually put students in teams and pair them with core teachers who know them individually. That makes sense, but it’s a different approach.

Speeding up the shift also may have minimal impact on the district budget. The savings from reconfiguring the schools are expected to be relatively modest and might be largely offset this year by the costs of actually implementing the change.

Lawrence is the last school in the state not to have four-year high schools, and Doll said he thinks “there is some momentum in the community” to make the change. It’s good for the school board to be seriously looking at this shift, but it’s important to get it right. Rushing the implementation of the plan in hopes of saving a little money is false economy.


weeslicket 4 years, 2 months ago

moving 9th graders, finally, into their high schools is an easy call. the board should realize that moving these high school kids into their high schools, is less of a "disruption" than school closures.
don't all consolidations take "preparation" and "organization"?

dr. doll can begin providing leadership any time, now.
otherwise we run the risk of having more of scott morgan's brand of kinder, gentler leadership.


oneeye_wilbur 4 years, 2 months ago

Just pondering as do our local officials, how the parents can be so smart, how the school board members are so smart, and our other governing officials can be so smart, when they went to schools unlike what we have now.

Someone on this site speaks of Darwin. Well, Darwin rules in this petty game of school operations.

If the high school and junior high kids dont' have it by the time they go to those classes, then the educational process needs to start retraining some parents. Therein lies the problem in Lawrence and across the nation. Boot camp for parents 48 years and younger, Next year it will be 49 for the age cutoff. It will always be the same group of parents who have coddled the children and made them believe that they shall not go without.

When the next financial collapse comes and some unemployment, then these 48 something parents will begin to wake up and realize that education is quite simple. You either got it or you don't. Some can learn, some cannot, some do not want to.

The school board in Lawrence wants to be known for being progressive, then take the lead and make some bold moves and that doesn't mean more expensive facilities. It means having guts to cut out fluff , lots of it. Time to close schools, you either know now and if not, you won't further down the road taking your time.

Let's see some guts from the Superintendent and the school board. The parents are a bunch of whiners.


Hop2It 4 years, 2 months ago

Starting next school year, EVERY district in the state except Lawrence will have 4 year high schools. It is not about short-term gains, it is about the polices and curriculum designed in the best interests of the students to help them succeed in school and beyond.


oneeye_wilbur 4 years, 2 months ago

Take time to do it right? Really, and how would that be accomplished? If time to do it right were the issue, the last bond election would have been done to make things right.

Don't count on this board doing it right. It will take some board members with guts, no outside interests , but good judgement and guts.


macon47 4 years, 2 months ago

since the parents got thier fancy stadiums to prance around in, why dont they pony up the extra money needed to fund the schools.?????

i dont mind supporting education but it has become a bit expensive perhaps folks will think a bit more about birthing all them babies if they have to pay for their own follies


WilburM 4 years, 2 months ago

Take your time, anticipate as many consequences as possible, get the teachers/parents on board, and don't get blinded by short-term financial gains. Maybe actually use some imagination (multiple grade classes? one principal for two small schools?) that would allow a little experimentation, rather than one size fits all.

Oh, and get the state to change, either permanently or temporarily, the inability to move $$ between facilities and programs.


Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago


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.


commuter 4 years, 2 months ago

So in order to meet budget, lets close one or two schools, move boundaries, then the year after next- move 6th & 9th graders. Oh no, now our elementary schools are underutilized, let's close so more schools. Does this make sense? NO.

The board needs to look at all of these together.


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