Archive for Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sending out an S.O.S.

Save Our Schools exhibit set up to help prevent New York, Cordley from closure

From left, S.O.S organizers Kristin Morland, Alee Phillips, Lora Jost and Paige Comparato.

From left, S.O.S organizers Kristin Morland, Alee Phillips, Lora Jost and Paige Comparato.

January 30, 2010


Past Event
"Save Our Schools"

A day of imagination, creation, and possibility for our neighborhood schools

  • When: Saturday, January 30, 2010, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Where: The Lawrence Percolator, In the alley behind the Lawrence Arts Center, Lawrence
  • Cost: Free
  • More on this event....

Although the walls of the Percolator gallery will be lined with art and memorabilia from the grade schools of east Lawrence, the event highlighting these artifacts of innocence is far from child’s play. Save Our Schools, intentionally abbreviated to the distress signal S.O.S., is an exhibit intended to keep Cordley and New York schools from permanently closing their doors.

“As we understand it, the school board is saying $4 million in cuts have to be made for next year,” says Alee Phillips, member of Save Our Neighborhood Schools and S.O.S co-organizer, herself with two children attending Cordley, 1837 Vt. “We’re trying to think creatively and help them think creatively so those cuts can come from somewhere other than the closure of our schools. We believe strongly that can be done.”

Through interactive and multimedia pieces, the S.O.S show and opening reception will kick off a campaign that aims to start a conversation about the endangered bond between east Lawrence and its schools. “Our mission is to draw connections between community and neighborhood and schools and learning — that’s the most important thing we want to show in this exhibit,” says Lora Jost, a regular artist at the Percolator and mother of a Cordley student. “We’re showing pictures of neighborhoods alongside school assignments. There are pictures of our bodies and our children’s bodies interconnected next to information about the history of our schools. All of these things represent the parts of the whole thing — our neighborhoods and our schools are all combined and mixed together.”

Artwork from the students of the affected schools

Artwork from the students of the affected schools

The organizers of S.O.S. firmly believe the shuttering of Cordley and New York, 936 N.Y., would not only be a loss for the families who have invested so much in these schools, but a loss for Lawrence at large.

“I think saving our schools is important because of the fragility of these older neighborhoods,” says S.O.S. co-curator Paige Comparato, with two children at Cordley. “Without a common institution where these communities and families can gather and thrive, the neighborhoods will eventually deteriorate.”

It’s a concern about the future character of Lawrence these mothers think should be shared beyond the east side.

“This show is about showing the past and the present, but also about how we’ve invested in these communities for our future,” says Kristin Morland, S.O.S. co-organizer, whose two children attend New York. “It’s not just a celebration of the past, it’s to remind people that the community is not going to be here if we don’t put the work into investing in it. It’s going to be gone. We don’t want to see it thrown away just because of a budget crisis. This community is still really vital, and we want it to stay. Let’s find other ways to make the cuts that need to made. In 2003, three eastside schools were closed. The east side has already taken a big hit in school closures. We just can’t afford any more.”

Class Dismissed

In spring 2003, the final classes exited the doors of three elementary schools with long and proud traditions within the Lawrence community. Find out more about the Centennial, East Heights and Riverside schools.

The schools that closed in 2003 were Centennial School, 2145 La.; East Heights School, 1430 Haskell Ave., now an early childhood program center; and Riverside School, 601 N. Iowa.

Perhaps an art gathering, the thinking goes among these east-side activists, can achieve the sort of impact that three minutes at a microphone in front of a school board meeting can’t convey.

Parents create Save Our Schools exhibit

Parents worried about school closures have created an exhibit of art dedicated to saving Lawrence's neighborhood schools. Enlarge video

“It’s not just an opportunity to say what these schools mean to us, it’s an opportunity for school board members, legislators, movers and shakers and people from other parts of town to come and see what this is all about,” says Dave Loewenstein, famed Lawrence muralist and the Percolator point man for S.O.S. “I think it would be a tragedy if young kids didn’t have the opportunity to go to school on the east side. That’s sort of what we’re faced with now. That’s an incredible tragedy for many reasons. It would be a loss of the wealth of knowledge and history and creativity that this part of town is known for. These places are irreplaceable, in my estimation.”

While this will be a celebration of the schools and communities of east Lawrence, with everything from poetry readings to portraits of playing children, the festivities and their organizers will be driven by an underlying urgency.

“If your neighbor’s house is on fire, do you watch it burn? No. Well, we’re not going to watch this burn,” Loewenstein says. “We’re going to go in there, and even if it requires some risk, we’re going to save it.”


Cody Ochs 8 years, 4 months ago

How much money could USD 497 save by dumping proprietary software (Windows, OSX, Microsoft Office, Outlook) and going with free alternatives (such as Linux, Open Office, etc.)?

More food for thought from the BBC: Keeping schools in Russia's provinces afloat "These children in the Pskov region of north-west Russia are lucky to be at school. The school was set to be closed by the authorities but their parents battled to keep it open - and won. "

Jessica Hull 8 years, 4 months ago

Looks great ladies! Thanks for all your hard work! We will see you today.

Kookamooka 8 years, 4 months ago

These people on the front line of this battle deserve medals for bravery. I'm proud that there are still people in Lawrence willing to fight for the cause. Education is crucial. Neighborhood schools nuture the mind, spirit and community. Megamentaries, like those in DeSoto and TX are appalling. Save our schools.

quimby 8 years, 4 months ago

Such an important issue, and I couldn't agree w/ you more about how important it is to keep these schools open - bravo for organizing this effort!

seriouscat 8 years, 4 months ago

Best of luck to the organizers in making a difference! I sincerely hope these schools can keep their doors open for many more years.

BigPrune 8 years, 4 months ago

didn't we go through this school closure business like 5 years ago?

Why don't the schools ever have enough money? What's the freaking deal? They take take take then they want more more more. No amount is ever enough. So sick of it all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

This isn't about the schools asking for more money, Prune. This is because the state has decreased the amount of money available, (due largely to tax breaks given to those who didn't really need them, and who didn't come through with the jobs that were supposedly going to follow) violating the state constitution in the process.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 4 months ago

Big Prune - school districts will never have enough money, they will always find a way to spend it and still say they need more.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

We live in a state which has a legislature controlled by a legislators whose stated philosophy is that government should always be underfunded, so it is, especially the schools.

So, yes, the schools will always be asking for more money, which is exactly how people like you want it, commuter.

unklemonkey 8 years, 4 months ago

This is ridiculous. According to the USD497 statistics, New York elementary houses 142 students. They have a graduating class of 13 students this year. However, the district is still funding New York with $1,288,845 this year.

The solution seems pretty clear to me. Close New York. Move the students to their respective schools. The kids will love it wherever they go.

honestone 8 years, 4 months ago

honestone (Anonymous) says…

One-eye…What have you got against the Cordley neighborhood? Did they hurt you somehow? Why would you suggest closing a school that has just recently had a lot of hvac, ada and other infastructure work done? Why would you suggest closing a school that has a fantastic program for children at risk? Why would you consider closing the last elementry school in that area? Why would you further destroy the neighborhood by suggesting the flophouse be placed there? You obviously don't live anywhere near there.

four11 8 years, 4 months ago

Yo- oneeye-- I hope by your comments you will take the time to educate yourself with real facts before you start spouting out this---

--I know that as a one car family we walk to New York School--my husband takes our 1 car and drives to work--we have no other choice but to walk...and there are many families like that at our school and Cordley who are in the same position. --Also- if they sell Cordley--it will not help this current budget crisis--in fact the money will go into the Capitol Outlay fund--not the general operations fund--- we are prohibited by law to use money from one fund to put towards another. You know if you are going to take the time to read this article and take the time to make ill informed comments-- take the time to find out ALL the facts. Go to a school board meeting if you are so interested in making comments!

Tyson Travis 8 years, 4 months ago

As a Cordley alum from 50+ years ago, I'm just curious where the students who currently attend there are supposed to go if it closes; Centennial was closed, where's the nearest elementary for them to attend? Although NY has few graduating students, where are they supposed to go? Lawrence should have neighborhood schools where students can bike or walk to attend without extensive bussing or need for parents to gas up the car and transport them. (I walked to Cordley daily from 23rd and La. for a year.) By the way, Cordley is WEST of Mass, is it still an East Lawrence school? I went to the 90th anniversary Cordley celebration in 2006 and it seemed pretty viable and dynamic to me, the school was in decent [but not perfect] repair, I realize I'm no longer a Lawrence taxpayer but hate to lose this historic infrastructure to the McMansions out farther west. Ty Travis, Pine Bluff AR, Cordley alum 1950-57

kugrad 8 years, 4 months ago

oneye, your comments are always ill-informed, negative, and anti-public education. However, this time you have crossed the line. In your dogmatic frenzy to find something to say, you insult the parents who are working hard to save something they believe in. You ask how many would be willing to work hard for something they care about. What the heck do you think they are doing? You ask irrelevant questions whose implications speak volumes about your lack of character and sound judgment. Why would it matter if these women were single moms (something you put in quotations as if there were great implicatons to being single) FYI they are not You stupidly suggest that bake sales and the like could keep a school open! That says a lot about your knowledge of this situation. Rather than understanding the historically proven fact that businesses choose to locate in communities with excellent schools, such as Lawrence, you spew hollow rhetoric claiming the expense of public schools keep businesses away. Ludicrous. By the way, I happen to know 2 of these families, both walk to school. I don't know the other 2, but I see one of them out walking a lot in the neighborhood, so I'm going to guess they walk too. You are totally uninformed and/or misinformed about this issue and have written a host of ridiculous diatribes here, all with a heavy dose of disdain for anyone who would try to stand up for their neighborhood school and our school district in general. Do us all a favor and post about some issue about which you are actually informed.

sherlock 8 years, 4 months ago

does anyone have information on what outside organizations pay per use of the various schools in Lawrence? There seems to be an influx of other towns around sports that play ball in gyms or use of the fields? How much do they pay for sat. games that donot include the students of the school they are playing in? How much does the church that meets weekly at South Jr. high pay on Sunday and has for quite a long time? Would seem that somewhat expensive when : the bldg. has to be heated for non school projects, plus school employees have to be present to unlock and lock the doors, someone has to clean up following these activities, etc. All expense against the school system. So do they pay their way or is it just another freeloading that we as tax payers are paying out?

KSManimal 8 years, 4 months ago

I've heard a lot lately from people wanting to save their neighborhood schools. The problem is you're too late. Our school district must find a minimum of $4 million in cuts. Not $4 thousand, not $400 thousand, but $4 million. That's nearly 100 teacher's salaries, and close to the entire district administration's salaries. Our district is at the mercy of the legislature, and they have few choices. I'm sure you all mean well, but let me ask you a few questions.

Where were you in 1992 when courts began ruling on school finance litigations? Where were you in 2004 when the legislature, rather than complying with the court's ruling to increase education funding, instead approved a bill allowing accelerated appeal of the ruling? Where were you in March 2004 when then attorney general Phill Kline appealed the court's ruling that schools were underfunded? Where were you in May of 2004 when the legislature adjourned without complying with the court's order? Where were you a week later when Judge Bullock issued an order to stop school funding entirely? Where were you when, given an April 2005 deadline from the Supreme Court, the deadline came and went with no funding solution from the legislature? Where were you in 2006 when the legislature produced a three-year, $466 million funding plan but failed to enact any source of revenue to pay for it? Where were you in 2008 when Kansas faced a $140 million budget shortfall, and predicted a $1 billion shortfall for 2009? Where were you throughout 2009 as a series of budget cuts took over $300 million from education funding, and required Lawrence Public Schools to carve over $5 million from it's budget? Where were you when, month after month, the legislature failed to actually pay school districts the money they had promised?

Where were you when you could have made a difference?

OK, got that off my chest. Maybe you CAN make a difference - but pleading with our local BOE, with all your nice displays, isn't the way to do it.

You need to focus your efforts in TOPEKA. Tell me this - how may legislators have you invited to your display? Have you invited the Governor? Heads of the taxation and ways & means committees? Anyone?

Those are the people who can solve this problem, not our local BOE or district administration.

Get busy.

Kat Christian 8 years, 4 months ago

I would hate to see Cordley close. My boy attends this school and is getting a wonderful education there not to mention the security of going through the years with schoolmates since he started in Kindergarten. The teachers are great, their philosophy is awesome, just can't say enough good things about this school. Although I don't know how this art show will help other than to get the message out there, but I don't know if anyone else other than the parents of the kids who live in our neighborhood really care if this school closes. These mothers have good intentions and I wish them the best. It would be a tragedy for sure if Cordley closes and it would be fair to say closing these neighborhood schools will deminish the neighborhood itself. Well I'm willing to do my part to keep it open.

Nikki May 8 years, 4 months ago

Ok, I kinda get New York (I don't want to see it closed, but they are VERY low enrollment). But, why Cordley? Is Cordley paranoid or is this really a likely option? Cordley has more kids than Broken Arrow, Pinckney, Sunset, Wakarusa Valley, and Woodlawn.

LadyJ 8 years, 4 months ago

All schools are out Monday for Professional Development during which teachers will attend meetings at Freestate. What is professional development, why did school have to be canceled for it, and how much is it going to end up costing us? Is it my imagination or does wilbur remind anyone of hawkperched?

7texdude 8 years, 4 months ago

These are nice people doing good work, but the bottom line is where is the $4 million? I agree that closing schools is a bad option, but what other choice do we have? I'm against the closure of any school, but how do we pay for them? We can point fingers at people, politicians or corporations, but it doesn't change the fact that we have to cut $4 million off the school budget.

No one wants raise taxes, but no one wants to stop tax cuts on businesses. In the meantime, people complain and nothing gets done. At least these ladies are trying to do something. I applaud them and wish them luck.

LadyJ 8 years, 4 months ago

Wait a minute, wilbur lives in Eudora? Why does he even think he should have any input? I would not even think of telling people in Eudora how their schools should be run or what to do with them. Why don't we run a shuttle bus to Eudora twice a day and send the homeless people to Eudora so they can camp in his neighborhood every night if he knows so much.

mom_of_three 8 years, 4 months ago

Wilbur, I know one of the parents pictured, and I would not consider her or her husband a helicopter parent.
You are a big blowhard, who know nothing about the women pictured.
Cordley took a lot of kids from Centennial when it closed. How much further will you ship Centennial neighborhood kids away - Broken Arrow, Prairie Park, Kennedy?
SO many generalizations about parents. Too bad you don't have a clue.

onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

The University of North Carolina State save ONE MILLION DOLLARS in utility bills over the Holiday break by shutting down the buildings lights and turning thr thermometers to 50 in less than ONE MONTH!

I wonder if USD497 has looked into cost savings like this? KU/Haskell and the city should definately be doing this!

LadyJ 8 years, 4 months ago

"You are a big blowhard" couldn't agree more. Boy wilbur, you really have some issues. Did you go off your medication? What I said was, if I did not live in Eudora, even though I own property, I would leave it to the people that live there. They are the ones that will be personally affected. Closing Cordley could result in families moving away, resulting in the student ghetto extending to 19th street if not 23rd street. As a "resident" of Lawrence, I do not want to see that happen. There are many lovely homes in that area, what is wrong with them wanting to preserve their neighborhood? And I think you are calling the wrong group of people "elitists"

LadyJ 8 years, 4 months ago

onceajhawkalwaysajhawk__ thank you for a constructive comment. Hope they look into it.

LadyJ 8 years, 4 months ago

I have a meter that I can plug into an outlet and then plug in an appliance or electrical device. I can then determine how much electricity it uses in a month. I now unplug just about everything when it is not in use (vampire energy) and which ones are real electricity hogs. Maybe each school could do an energy audit (no you don't need to hire someone) and find ways to cut electricity.

kugrad 8 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

workinghard 8 years, 4 months ago

Guess wilbur can dish it out but can't take it.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 4 months ago

As a parent of children whose school was closed in the last school closings, I empathize with the parents and their pleas about their school is nice. The district has a $4,000,000.00 gap to fill in the budget next year. Please feel free to open up your checkbook and give the district some more of your money.

workinghard 8 years, 4 months ago

Clearly you didn't understand my post but keep saying everybody else doesn't understand. I did not say anything about the issue at all. But since you dragged me into it, if your so unhappy about it, why don't you sell your Lawrence property?

KSManimal 8 years, 4 months ago

Wilbur.... Oh, where to start....

First, you talk of money buying "mostly fluff" in education. One question for you on that: Have you personally reviewed the school district's budget? I'm guessing not. You might try that (it's called "doing your homework") prior to spouting off. You have no clue.

Second, you say that the amount of state taxes paid doesn't come back in terms of per pupil funding for education. Well DUH! The state does provide many other things, you know: prisons, law enforcement, judicial systems, highways, wildlife & parks, KDHE, KBI, etc., etc.,... If it were up to me, I wouldn't require your types to pay any taxes.....and then prohibit you from driving on any tax-funded roads, or buying any goods and services delivered on tax-funded roads, or using the protection of law enforcement, courts, etc., etc.,....see how well you fare without all the things our taxes provide for you.

Third, nice try blaming professional development on the teacher's union. Again, it seems the dog ate your homework. Professional development is required by state statute - school districts MUST have a professional development program, and the union has nothing to do with it.

You're shooting blanks three for three. What else ya got?

cherry1 8 years, 4 months ago

As someone who teaches in a Lawrence school, I need to weigh in on the idea of shutting electricity off and dropping heat to 50 degrees over the month of December. While it is true that those measures may save money, you have to realize that many teachers work over the holiday break, not because we want to but because we have to in order to be prepared for the coming semester. If the building is inaccessible over our winter break, I would not be able to the job I love as well as I am able to do it now.

This is a difficult time in Lawrence; I hope we can all come together and try to find the least invasive measures possible to serve students while saving money.

spiderd 8 years, 4 months ago

Wow not_holroyd, Wilbur sure hates a lot of things. I can't think of anything he likes. Oh wait, yeah I can... attention. Even if its only from the anonymous internet community. Sad.

Count me in as a taxpayer willing to fund public education. Count me in as a taxpayer willing to support Lawrence history. Count me in as someone working on finding solutions. Count me in as someone not fooled into thinking the school closings are solely budget driven. The administration and some of the board are using the current budget as a vehicle to drive their agenda. Count me in as someone who thinks that's wrong.

KSManimal 8 years, 4 months ago

"using the current budget as a vehicle to drive their agenda."

And that follows all the way to Topeka, where the anti-tax, anti-school knuckleheads are loving every minute of this manufactured crisis.

Kat Christian 8 years, 4 months ago

Last week there was a meeting at Cordley and what I got out of it there was no intention of closing any school at present. They did talk about the shortfall budget. 3M short this year but that can be remedied by taking 2M from the contingent fund leaving only 1M short. Next year is what we really need to worry about. But why can teachers take a week furlough from pay like some businesses have done. Work w/o pay. I know this is a lot to ask for, but perhaps parents who don't work can help out on that week to ease the load for the teachers so they won't feel pressured. That could be a savings for this year anyway. Perhaps next year if it works out we can do this again. Just a thought!!

workinghard 8 years, 4 months ago

"no intention of closing any school at present" What I got out of it was they are not saying it is their intention just yet, today, but could be announced next week. In other words it could very well be their intention, they're just not ready to announce it.

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