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Archive for Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Emotion runs high at school forum

March 2, 2010

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Leaders, community discuss school budget fixes

Education leaders and concerned community members discussed the state of Lawrence schools' budget Monday night at the third of four forums. Enlarge video

Near the end of the Lawrence school board’s budget hearing Monday night at Central Junior High, an audience member yelled out.

She asked everyone who didn’t want board members to close schools to stand up. Nearly all of the 120 people in the auditorium came to their feet.

“We are the voice of Lawrence,” a man shouted.

Board members faced many questions and impassioned speeches from parents — including members of Save Our Neighborhood Schools and Wakarusa Valley School parents — urging them not to close schools as the district seeks to cut $5 million before next school year, mostly due to the state budget crisis.

Several speakers said closing schools would harm neighborhoods, and they said board members should cut administrative costs and even certain school programs until the economy turns around.

“While I feel like all of these extras are very, very important, they are things that, frankly, I went to a small-town school, and we didn’t have,” said Karen Ledom, a Wakarusa Valley parent.

School board members have received a list of about $3 million in administrative and program cuts, such as librarians, guidance counselors and nurses. They have also heard that the district could save about $1 million and cut about 20 teaching jobs each time it raised the student-teacher ratio by one student, which would create larger elementary class sizes and fewer courses for junior high and high school classes.

Closing schools

The district could save between $400,000 to $600,000 for every elementary school it closes. Board President Scott Morgan last week mentioned a scenario that included closing Sunset Hill next year, and temporarily closing Wakarusa Valley until the district grew to the south in future years.

“My concern is we’re making permanent changes to solve a temporary problem,” said Robert Parsons, a Wakarusa Valley parent and Kansas University civil engineering professor.

A majority of board members have said they were willing to at least consider closing schools for savings, but they also said the board shouldn’t talk about specific schools at this point.

Board member Rich Minder wants to find a way for savings without closing neighborhood elementary schools. He received the loudest applause from the audience during the forum. He said an expert told him that smaller class sizes are only important for children from low-income families when they are in earlier elementary grades.

“Can we give a little so that one group doesn’t have to make undue sacrifices?” he said.

In one exchange, board member Mark Bradford asked audience members to hold their applause during the forum because it took time away from speakers. In response, several members of the crowd clapped again.

Bradford said he worried that if the district severely cut other services to keep all schools open that it could affect academic performance.

“I caution that that’s really what we want to do,” he said. “That’s what I’m hearing, but I caution us on that decision.”

Finding the right balance

Board member Mary Loveland mentioned the district should have a commission look at the district’s elementary school space.

Marlene Merrill said the board’s cuts would likely be a balance of several options. She is uncomfortable with cutting too deeply into positions such as guidance counselors and nurses.

“To me those are health and safety issues and an integral part of education,” she said.

But several audience members said board members should take school closings off the table for now and cut spending in other areas.

“When you close a school, you are sending 100 to 200 kids to be the new kid in school,” said Nancy Hamilton, a Hillcrest parent.

The final budget forum is at 7:30 p.m. today at the West Junior High School auditorium, 2700 Harvard Road. Board members have said they would like to reach more specific decisions about cuts by the end of the month.

Comments

Bud Stagg 4 years, 1 month ago

Consumer1, I have heard it said by other supers that Lawrence has one of the leanest administrations in the state, they are used as an example of how to do it.

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fly_on_wall 4 years, 1 month ago

Name calling, has anyone reread this thread. I believe at all usd.497 schools there is a bully policy in place. Please feel free to reread what you wrote and correct yourself into a behavior expected of a grownup. Everyone has a opinion that's great reality check is we have to work together. It should not be all one way. Maybe it would be a good idea not to deeply offend people you will have to work with to create a consensus. With that said, please stop using the anonymity of a computer to say what you won't say in public. How can the S.O.N.S group as well as the P.T.O groups from other schools include you in the public conversation if you are unwilling to expose your view. I was at the forums for Central and South West. NO One Advocated for closing of Sunflower. One person didn't want there kid to go there but there was no cries to close it down. Demanding reasonable planning with our children's lives and our lives is an acceptable demand on the school board. If you believe there is a plan and time to implement please share because I have not heard one. Fundamentally I think everything gets held up with the question of 9th graders move or not.

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George Lippencott 4 years, 1 month ago

windex (anonymous) says... Tomatogrower: And where were the people who want to close schools? Why didn't they come to support their board's decision?

Rright on!! We have a budget shortfall. It will continue. We need to do something. At this point nothing is on the table. SOS is trying to avoid school closings even being on the table. When the school board puts something out there IMHO we will see more divergent views - some are already starting to surface. Who wants to stand up in front of a bunch of rude and disrespectful people and disagree with them. I feel sorry for the poor board.

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Kontum1972 4 years, 1 month ago

lets see if u close schools around residental areas that would mean a deep drop in property taxes?

am i right or wrong ?

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consumer1 4 years, 1 month ago

I am in love with Hydra!!! The 5 ton gorilla is USD 497 administration. Cut the fat from the top down. Quit trying to get people on your side by threatening to close schools, cutting teachers and programs. LOP off the big ugly head at 497!!! HOld them accountable

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honestone 4 years, 1 month ago

gr3sam (anonymous) says...

Sadly, the $1.9M gorilla in the room is Cordley: the cost of a new boiler and ADA approval. How canit be argued, in this economy and with so many schools close by, that these expenditures would be prudent? XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX This is where the argument of the new high school sports arenas comes in. The items you mention could have easily been remedied while all of the other ADA work was being done at Cordley. Playing fields versus schools = where is our school board really looking. Capital expenditure money is capital expenditure money

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headdoctor 4 years, 1 month ago

paulette2 (anonymous) says... Most of the citizens have about had it with this school board. support SONS and get this School Board to listen to us. NOW.


What do you mean us? Is that like we? There is no us or we here unless you have a frog in your pocket. You don't have any kids in the local schools. You are just about the same as your partner in debauchery. Unlike him you may live here but you pay very little taxes out of your own pocket that would go for school support. When you have kids in school. When you start paying property tax on your property and income taxes from a steady job, then you can whine all you want. Until then I don't see that you have anymore standing on this issue than you did in the legal actions to stop the sports fields.

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Godot 4 years, 1 month ago

f'n teabaggers. How dare they speak out against government?

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Hydra 4 years, 1 month ago

Let's compromise, Lets close 1 school and then move the administraors into it and sell the admin building.

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Hop2It 4 years, 1 month ago

windex (anonymous) says... "Nobody "wants" to close schools, and nobody wants to endure the wrath of the rude, angry, shrill SOS crowd. "

I am Lawrence, too. However, I choose to express my opinions to the school board in letters and appropriate conversations. The end does not justify the means. Or, as I try to teach my children, you do not get what you want by yelling the loudest.

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jumpin_catfish 4 years, 1 month ago

Hey merrill more revenue sources = my money that I work for everyday. For once let's cut and cut and cut some more and downsize than talk about more revenue sources.

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cheeseburger 4 years, 1 month ago

Hey Jonathan - I didn't think Sven Erik Alstrom was allowed on this forum any longer. Hasn't he violated enough rules along the way to be barred?

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commuter 4 years, 1 month ago

I need to explain what I mean by board members answering a question too much. The first lady asked one question, it took about 15 minutes or longer for board members to answer the question. She asked another question, it took another 5 minutes or so to answer, then she asked another question and it took another 5 minutes or so to answer the question.

As for Minder pandering, his comment that he needs to build better communication with other board members to get them to see his way. So Minder is the only one who is allowed to have an opinion of what is best for the whole district??

It is nice to see there is another side to the story.

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dickvandyke 4 years, 1 month ago

So are these people saying anything different or just the same whine repeated 120 times?

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gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 1 month ago

"In one exchange, board member Mark Bradford asked audience members to hold their applause during the forum because it took time away from speakers. In response, several members of the crowd clapped again."

What a bunch of whiners. Seriously. However, this comment brings out the lolz because it is, no doubt, from a leftist:

"TheSychophant (anonymous) says... Commuter, in my book, there's no such animal as "too far" when it comes to democracy. Perhaps you'd be happier living in China. "

Hyperbole much? How about this, if you are unhappy with the school system and the health care system then why don't YOU move to Canaduh. Take Richard. See how that works?

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PennyBrite 4 years, 1 month ago

I went to the Feb 15 forum (second of the four "forums") at Southwest Junior High. The majority of the people who signed up to speak represented New York School. Yes, they have just as much right to voice their opinion as anyone else but since there's a limited amount of time (was the cut off time 8:30? I believe it was) there were just a handful of others allowed to speak. I didn't attend any of the other forums but I hope the same people aren't arriving early to all four forums and signing in so they monopolize the time. Face it -- none of the options for cutting anything is a GOOD option. It's going to come down to picking the ones which are the least "poor" of all choices. I'm in favor of selling off the admin building and using that money for a start. That may be easier said than done -- you can't sell if you don't have a buyer.

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paulette2 4 years, 1 month ago

Most of the citizens have about had it with this school board.

BLIZZARD LESSON?

a single snow flake is a very tiny and delicate thing, but look what they can do when they all get together!

support SONS and get this School Board to listen to us. NOW.

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windex 4 years, 1 month ago

Tomatogrower: And where were the people who want to close schools? Why didn't they come to support their board's decision?

Nobody "wants" to close schools, and nobody wants to endure the wrath of the rude, angry, shrill SOS crowd.

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windex 4 years, 1 month ago

No one is "for" closing schools. But the alternatives (yeah, yeah, I've read the SOS proposal and am frankly alarmed by the shortsightedness of most of their recommendations) aren't going to be very palatable either. Get ready for lower student achievement, higher student drop-out rates and greater teacher turnover. But that's OK because then we'll just blame already-overworked state employees and exhausted volunteer school board members for their "incompetence" and hold them accountable for failing our kids. Hello?

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tomatogrower 4 years, 1 month ago

Moderate (George Lippencott) says... This must be Lawrence! If I understand it correctly we have a population of about 100K. About 200 people go to a meeting and proclaim themselves Lawrence

And where were the people who want to close schools? Why didn't they come to support their board's decision?

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tomatogrower 4 years, 1 month ago

commuter "Rich Minder was pandering to the group about the other board members not following him."

Guess what, commuter, these are elected officials who represent the people. They are suppose to "pander" to the people. That's who elected them. The quicker we remind all elected officials of that fact the better we will be. I hope those who want to close schools aren't running next election, because they won't be reelected.

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mk9992 4 years, 1 month ago

Ku Grad and Guess again, This is not the time or place to talk about teabagging. You should be ashamed of yourselves!

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kugrad 4 years, 1 month ago

Alfred, it is unfair of you to suggest that NY parents are the dominant speaking group at these meetings, especially since you happen to be wrong about that. I've seen more Wakarusa, Cordley, Pinckney, and Hillcrest parents than NY parents at these meetings.

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Alfred_W 4 years, 1 month ago

If you'd like to be heard at the forum, I advise arriving very early to get on the signup sheet ahead of the merry band of New York School parents...

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firebird27 4 years, 1 month ago

I am unsure how state law will limit what I am about to say. However, the dilemma is that no one wants to close down schools and there insufficient funds to cover their costs.

Solution - Pass a one-year (renewable) surtax that will raise sufficient funds to cover school closing costs.

People who say "Don't close our schools!" And some of them then say (considering the present budget cuts): "Don't raise my taxes." Those two arguments are incompatible with one another when other budget reduction issues have been implemented. Of course, there are other ways to reduce the school budgets, such as: 1) eliminate all athletic teams in the high schools and junior high schools; and 2) eliminate any funding for music trips (choir and band). I am sure that some other people will have budget-reducing suggestions, but if certain segments of the populace are unwilling to make some sacrifices, then the school board must implement options that balance the budget.

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George Lippencott 4 years, 1 month ago

This must be Lawrence! If I understand it correctly we have a population of about 100K. About 200 people go to a meeting and proclaim themselves Lawrence. Be nice if we could wait until the board puts forward an actual proposal before we threaten them and foreclose options that may just be attractive when the alternatives and their impacts surface. Majority rule and all that!

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7texdude 4 years, 1 month ago

I admire the passion and the fight and the interest in our school system. However, you are blind if you do not see that this will the be the first of several cuts to education in 2010 and 2011. Our tax revenues are down this year and there will be more cuts to the state budget later this year. Everyone is yelling at the school board, but they have an impossible job right now. They have to cut $5 million out of the budget and will have to cut it even more next year. It doesn't matter what you cut now, the cuts will be even more painful in the future.

Wake up. You can save the schools now, but they will have to be closed next year or in 2012 at the latest. You can march and pray and chant and whatever, but it will do you no good. These schools will be shut down now or later.

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spiderd 4 years, 1 month ago

Seagull (and all), We ARE marching at Topeka! Come one come all! The march is March 16th. Come to South Park this Saturday March 6th at 1:00 pm to get organized, set up a ride, get information, etc...

See you there.

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Alfred_W 4 years, 1 month ago

remember_username wrote: "The other day I raised a question about saving money by dropping AP classes at the high school level and it was suggested that this would place Kansas students at a disadvantage. I'm not sure I agree with that. Usually those students taking AP classes are doing so with the intent to attend university, so AP classes provide a savings to the student and parent by reducing the number of classes they must take at the university level. Eliminating AP classes only provides a minimal financial disadvantage to those who will be attending college. If remedial material or extra curricular subjects are dropped in deference to AP courses all students will be disadvantaged. Rather than provide AP courses in high school why not let those who qualify for the AP material to finish up the high school curriculum and graduate early. Let them then take university level classes at the university."

I respectfully disagree.

While it is true that most students who take AP courses intend to further their education at a college or university, they are taking those classes to be better prepared for a challenging college curriculum, not to save money. They also enroll in AP courses in order to explore particular subjects in greater depth and breadth. In addition, when applying to for college admission, graduates of Lawrence's high schools are competing against a nationwide pool of students. To assert that dropping these courses would not place our students at a disadvantage against the rest of the nation's high school graduates is hopelessly naive or dishonestly self-serving.

And while there are numerous AP classes offered, not all kids who take AP classes will do so in all subjects. Some will be focused on math or one of the sciences, while others may concentrate on English or history. So the prospect of whisking significant numbers of students out the door early is somewhere between minimal and vanishing. Even if a large enough number of kids were in a position to finish early, it's unfair to ask highly motivated and academically successful students to pass up traditions such as senior formal, spring sports, commencement exercises, and a wide variety of other activities in the interest of saving the district a few dollars.

Finally, elimination of AP courses would most likely have a detrimental impact on the overall reputation of the Lawrence school system, which in turn becomes a drag on property values - which only makes an untenable funding situation even worse. Let's try for something a bit more realistic.

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fly_on_wall 4 years, 1 month ago

Maybe that would be a middle ground to work to. For example: close West Jr High save about 1 million dollars now, Fix that school up to be a combined elementary school rename it Sunny Hills or Suncrest, whatever, with room for the Ell program and pre-K program. Then if there is need for the fourth junior high at a later date expand off the sunset lot. I like an idea of where to go before starting to go there. This solution would have all the children be new kids at a new school at the same time. The focus on education at all levels. What would be hard is the extra transition for seventh and eighth graders. To many transitions is not good for children, but if this was a plan we moved to we could limit the damage by stop enrollment to that school and a year faze out. Which given that as a choice would mean a stop gap measure for now.

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seagull 4 years, 1 month ago

So, why are we beating each other up, neighbor against neighbor, Lawrence resident against Lawrence resident? Why aren't we marching on the Legislature asking them to generate more revenue? The Tea Party people have no problem engaging in demonstrations and sit ins. In this state, and others, administrators have become the unwitting pawns of those who would prefer to kill public education all together. Administrators have become the instruments of cutting as fast and as far as they can. How clever is that? Our brilliant legislators can insist there is fat to be cut and can mandate that the rest of us do their dirty work. And school administrators and board members seem to have accepted the challenge. Who wants to be a bad administrator? How good a budget cutter can I be? We use the word "accountability" to make their work sound legitimate.

The reality is that unless more revenue is generated some schools will have to close in Lawrence. Those schools should not all come from the city core. Developers who have been so successful in determining where new schools are built will not have much to attract people to Lawrence with if the city core dies. So, even they, who have been so instrumental in creating the current problem, stand to lose if the school closing choice is not made wisely.

All this said, the school board and superintendent seem to have done a singularly bad job of involving Lawrence citizens in these decisions. This is a university town. Folks are used to participating in governance. Get with the program Rick Doll.

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Adrienne Sanders 4 years, 1 month ago

AP classes actually provide a decent education. When I was in high school the AP classes were the only ones where I could actually learn, b/c there weren't a bunch of idiots goofing off and taking all the teacher's attention, or people who held things up b/c they didn't understand. This was in a well-reputed district in a neighboring county.

Also, if you don't go to a state school, they're not likely to accept your AP credits. Mine counted for nothing as far as credit. But I probably wouldn't have gotten in to one of the top liberal arts schools in the nation if I hadn't been in AP classes.

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Clickker 4 years, 1 month ago

"I think we should close one of the junior high schools and move 9th grade to the high schools instead of closing 2-3 elementary schools which in many cases define a neighborhood."

DING DING DING DING.....we have a winner!

But they have to "study" it, so it will come down the line. Not now. Probably not next year.

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StirrrThePot 4 years, 1 month ago

I think we should close one of the junior high schools and move 9th grade to the high schools instead of closing 2-3 elementary schools which in many cases define a neighborhood.

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Brian Hall 4 years, 1 month ago

WilburM: Thank you for pointing that out. It has always baffled me as to why the Board thought closing Centennial was a good idea back in 2003. Centennial was a newer school in a nice neighborhood with ample room to grow, if needed, that is now wasted with sports fields and tennis courts.

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fly_on_wall 4 years, 1 month ago

I would like everyone to remember how this education system works. Taxes are collected then dispersed by pupil to the school districts. If the school district fails to attract parents to give them there students there is no money given out. If parents do not feel they are represented by the school district they could not send there kids to public school creating a larger financial crisis. More kids, more money, more programs the key revenue is kids. So what am I saying. Stop bickering like it is me or you in the fight because the reality is we are all in this together. I think we need to focus on the mission of education. I will not send my child to school to be a warm body that provides jobs for other. I demand an education. Not healthcare, Not counselling, Not opportunities, nor state funded childcare. I demand that she be given the tools to become a quality citizen by educating her.

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kugrad 4 years, 1 month ago

I don't make the same argument as the tea-baggers because they are only a very very small group that gets media attention as opposed to an actual large group that is politically active around the country. The teabaggers are claiming everyone agrees with them without any numbers to support that, the very proposition I am denying.

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Bud Stagg 4 years, 1 month ago

Shut down the AP classes? So you can have a school half a block from your house? So you can dumb down the rest of lawrence so you can have a school closer to your house? NO

If SOS has identified $5.5 mil of cuts, then we should do those AND close schools. Why should I pay higher taxes so that some of you can have schools closer to your house?

My children live 1 mile from their elementary school and they both make excellent grades and are socially well adjusted.

If you live East of Iowa, in most cases you could close down your school and still have one closer to you that our school was.

Why do the SOS people feel they are so priviledged to have something different than the rest of Lawrence?

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guess_again 4 years, 1 month ago

kugrad (anonymous) says... New York Lilly: It is quite easy to claim that people agree with you, but this is a democratic republic - the squeaky wheel SHOULD get the grease, especially if the number of vocal people consitently far outweighs the voices on another side of the issue.


Careful kugrad. You make the exact same argument as the tea-baggers. And that is part of the reason we are where we are.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago

Be bold and close down the admin building instead of closing educational buildings. We need schools for education. USD 497 can live without their Taj Majal to transact buisness.

The admin building is the building to close.

Administrative Services Expenditures http://www.saveourneighborhoodschools.com/documents/

Close down the admin building, reduce the numbers at Administrative Services Expenditures and move the admin into an existing USD 497 structure such as the current virtual school location. Sell the admin building,apply those funds to the cost of the new sports facilities and the admin building goes back on the property tax list all of which is a plus for WE USD 497 taxpayers.

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guess_again 4 years, 1 month ago

avoice: Yes, you stated it correctly, except I think you forgot a "not" in there. Yes the supreme's will not order taxes. And they will be mindful of the impact of any orders they make.

My fear is that several of the circumstances mentioned in my list could easily combine to produce a set of circumstances where the local school board would be required to make -additional- cuts in the millions of dollars during the next two years. I do not like it one bit. I hate it. But the way I see it, it is more likely than not.

For that reason, I believe one-year accounting tricks (using balances, or counting two-years of revenue in a single year) to reach the new budget target needed by the board are foolhardy. And I believe those who label this situation as "temporary" to be either speaking without knowledge, or disingenuous.

By the way, I live very close to one of the schools which could close.

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penguin 4 years, 1 month ago

I cannot believe someone even suggested dropping AP classes at the high school level. The drop in the class nets you one teacher per subject at best in savings. More often then not, the teacher will have one or two AP classes and 3 or 4 other classes that are not AP.

The only class I had in high school that even remotely prepared me for what college would be like is those few AP courses my high school offered. However, the need to dumb down the curriculum for 2014, the year when all children will be proficient, will probably lead to their demise anyways.

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WilburM 4 years, 1 month ago

And while Cordley has proven an excellent school, the Board closed Centennial, which was in MUCH better physical shape. So now we are reaping the results of that poorly considered school closure.

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dickvandyke 4 years, 1 month ago

it's no coincidence that the biggest whiners in Lawrence are at it again. everything in this town does not revolve around the area east of Iowa.

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edjayhawk 4 years, 1 month ago

So let me get this right: My property taxes continue to go up while the school district has to make massive cuts and close schools.

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gr3sam 4 years, 1 month ago

Sadly, the $1.9M gorilla in the room is Cordley: the cost of a new boiler and ADA approval. How canit be argued, in this economy and with so many schools close by, that these expenditures would be prudent?

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kugrad 4 years, 1 month ago

Burke, Your wrote: "So many of the SOS arguments are irrational at best. "

 I don't know which meetings YOU are watching, but I've watched them all and 1) speakers rarely identify themselves as being members of SOS,although some do, and 2) the arguments of those representing SOS are clear and logical.

 Since you say they are irrational, please post some arguments made by SONS and explain how they are "irrational at best." You can find their positions posted at their website; these are the same positions presented at meeting after meeting. I look forward to your detailed response.
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dickvandyke 4 years, 1 month ago

what these people are really saying is "save my property value". no thanks.

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kugrad 4 years, 1 month ago

New York Lilly It is quite easy to claim that people agree with you, but this is a democratic republic - the squeaky wheel SHOULD get the grease, especially if the number of vocal people consitently far outweighs the voices on another side of the issue. There is NO evidence that anywhere near equal numbers, let alone a majority, of community members support closing schools. There is abundant evidence that a probable majority are opposed to school closings. It is only fair to base decisions on PUBLIC input, not assumptions about private thoughts. So, while I applaud you for expressing your opinion and participating in the democratic process, I don't feel you should extend your claim by anecdote and pretend there has been any public evidence of widespread support for school closings.

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avoice 4 years, 1 month ago

guess_again, you make some very, very good points. While this recession economy may be temporary (as in non-permanent), its impact definitely will not end in the next year or two. In point #5, however, there is absolutely no doubt that Kansas Supreme Court judges would "order new taxation." It's not within their power to do so. They can only rule whether or not the Legislature must take action, but they cannot dictate what that action should be.

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nlf78 4 years, 1 month ago

sweetiepie (anonymous) says... I really liked what Governor Parkinson said about the state budget problem, and I think that applies here, as well:

"One of the mistakes that people can make when facing a difficult budget situation is to act too quickly and not thoroughly examine all their options"

The school board won't move 9th graders to the high schools without extensive research, but they would close elementary schools down without equivalent research.


I agree with this 100%. If they aren't comfortable enough to rearrange the Junior/High schools, how can they make an informed decision about the elementary schools? At least the Junior/High school scenario is proven in other districts throughout the state and the country. Make that move FIRST, then talk about closing schools.

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guess_again 4 years, 1 month ago

Whenever I see the people arguing "we’re making permanent changes to solve a temporary problem," they lose lots of credibility with me. And it reinforces to me the non-reality of a number of well-intended suggestions found on the Save Schools web pages.

1) Did anyone notice state revenues for Februrary? Kansas is not even collecting enough money to support its current budget which requires the 5 million cut.

2) New revenues? The Governor proposed a 1 cent sales tax just to keep things on an even keel for next year. The chances for that? Low, in my view. Maybe something smaller. But again, that is only for status quo. (i.e. 5 million cut). If state estimates continue to be off, that 5 million number is going up.

3) Federal assistance? The significant federal appropriation given on an emergency basis to the states to help fill the hole in K-12 is only around for another year. Then the state will either have to replace those monies with new taxes, or Congress (which will be going through an election cycle characterized by a fight about the level of federal deficits) will have to appropriate billions of dollars for K-12 once again. I personally don't understand how a new federal rescue could happen in that environment.

4) State economic growth? Yes, it will slowly happen, but the magnitude of growth necessary to close the current gap, sans federal assistance, will take a decade at least

5) State judicial action? It is one thing for a court to intervene in a healthy economy. I am doubtful that the judges, under any legal theory, would order new taxation which might be perceived by many as bringing the state's economic growth to a grinding halt.


Yes, the school board could do accounting tricks and spend balances down but that is denying budget reality. Likewise, it is specious for SOS suggestion lists to contain two years worth of cuts or revenues and include the sum as a change in a one-year budget. The school board, which did not create this situation, must reduce the budget....on an ongoing annual basis, by 5 million dollars. To do otherwise is just making the budget hole larger for next years budget process.

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sweetiepie 4 years, 1 month ago

I really liked what Governor Parkinson said about the state budget problem, and I think that applies here, as well:

"One of the mistakes that people can make when facing a difficult budget situation is to act too quickly and not thoroughly examine all their options"

The school board won't move 9th graders to the high schools without extensive research, but they would close elementary schools down without equivalent research.

It looks to me like the district can deal with the shortfall without closing schools--most parents would be willing to have one or two more children in the classroom and willing to make some sacrifices in services to keep their neighborhood schools open. The SONS proposals are not perfect, but there are some suggestions there that, combined with adjustments by the Board, are very workable.

But once the schools are closed, they are closed. Then the neighborhoods around the schools will empty out of families with children. Those families will move to far west and southeast areas, where we will have to build, yes, new schools. I don't think it's that difficult to understand this progression.

And notice that I said "we will have to build." Locals who are convinced that the schools we have are "un-needed" and not "optimized" don't seem to be able to look down the road to the real expenses that will result from closing these schools. We force people out of neighborhoods and then have to pay for having done so. There is no free lunch, people. Keeping the schools we have open is a lot more economical than closing some and building some more.

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WilburM 4 years, 1 month ago

Why not defer any school closing for one year -- the savings are not that great anyway -- and have a medium-sized, representative group, with board, SOS, experts, other community members -- examine the entire budget and the possibility of closing schools, and report back in a timely way (say in October) so that the future of Lawrence Education could be discussed in a somewhat less emotional way. Between some accounting devices and some real cuts, the schools could get by for a year.

In the end, there may be a school or two closed. But with the move to a middle school/high school set up, it could be that some new configuration will make sense. Right now, we may well make a decision that we'll regret and that will produce a lot of bitterness that might be avoided.

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fairplay 4 years, 1 month ago

anon1958 (anonymous) says...

Kansas is so screwed, anyone with the means should just move away.

To where? Michigan? California? Nevada? Arizona? Massachusetts?
No, no....we need to not teach our children to run from challenges and adversity. We must be strong and teach them about sacrifices in lean times and moderation during times of prosperity.

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lawpublib 4 years, 1 month ago

They do charge tuition.......student fees.

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dickvandyke 4 years, 1 month ago

close the schools that are small and inefficient. Why wreck the entire school disctrict to make 120 people happy?

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anon1958 4 years, 1 month ago

Kansas is so screwed, anyone with the means should just move away.

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notjustyoureverydayaveragetrol 4 years, 1 month ago

close the un-needed schools there are far too many.

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remember_username 4 years, 1 month ago

The other day I raised a question about saving money by dropping AP classes at the high school level and it was suggested that this would place Kansas students at a disadvantage. I'm not sure I agree with that. Usually those students taking AP classes are doing so with the intent to attend university, so AP classes provide a savings to the student and parent by reducing the number of classes they must take at the university level. Eliminating AP classes only provides a minimal financial disadvantage to those who will be attending college. If remedial material or extra curricular subjects are dropped in deference to AP courses all students will be disadvantaged. Rather than provide AP courses in high school why not let those who qualify for the AP material to finish up the high school curriculum and graduate early. Let them then take university level classes at the university.

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burke 4 years, 1 month ago

You are the "organized" voice of the squeaky wheel. You are "the voice" in the same way other single-issue political movements claim to represent the people. Examples: The Tea Party comes to mind and the Moral Majority once claimed to be the voice.

I've watched the school board meetings. So many of the SOS arguments are irrational at best.

Be responsible. Close schools if necessary.

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NewYorkLilly 4 years, 1 month ago

Those attending the forum do not speak for the majority of Lawrence citizens- they are just the most vocal right now. Many of us believe that the current number of elementary schools is not cost efficient and should have been decreased years ago. It is now time. The parents should be focusing on making any transitions as positive as possible for their children. The students will follow the lead of the adults.

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Boston_Corbett 4 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like going to the forum would be like reading some of these threads..... the Merrills of the world hogged all the time and others got disgusted.

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edjayhawk 4 years, 1 month ago

Maybe its time to start charging tuition?

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Bob Forer 4 years, 1 month ago

commuter wrote: "The board went out of their way to answer the questions that were asked, too far out their way in my opinion."

Commuter, in my book, there's no such animal as "too far" when it comes to democracy. Perhaps you'd be happier living in China.

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Steve Bunch 4 years, 1 month ago

Busing would allow optimization of existing school buildings and also bring socioeconomic integration, which for the most part does not occur in neighborhoods.

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Chris Ogle 4 years, 1 month ago

If we are not in a depression..... I hope to never see one.

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dragonfly0221 4 years, 1 month ago

What if cut the early dismissal on Wednesdays, cutting down the length of the school year? Then stop starting school in August when it is the hottest part of the summer, and there for our energy bills are higher. So we may have to go into June a little but it really isn't that hot in June. I would rather see programs cut then schools closed.

*SAVE OUR NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS*

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macon47 4 years, 1 month ago

just charge each of the 100,000 reisdents of lawrence another 50 bucks each, that should do it

make it 100 bucks each, and give all of the mcdonalds staff a raise

end of problem

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago

Save Our Neighborhood Schools has identified cost savings of over $5.5 million. There are many ways to bridge the budget gap and these are just a few suggestions. We hope the board considers cost savings that protect students, teachers, schools and neighborhoods. http://www.saveourneighborhoodschools.com/

Administrative Services Expenditures http://www.saveourneighborhoodschools.com/

Close down the admin building, reduce the numbers at Administrative Services Expenditures and move the admin into an existing USD 497 structure such as the current virtual school location. Sell the admin building,apply those funds to the cost of the new sports facilities and the admin building goes back on the property tax list all of which is a plus for WE USD 497 taxpayers.

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grammaddy 4 years, 1 month ago

Save Our Neighborhood Schools!!!

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago

State and local officials need to be looking for new revenue sources. The state legislators have no desire to fund public education.

My guess is too many at the state level want to move to more expensive charter schools if they appear to be "private industry". They like giving away tax dollars to private industry.

Larger elementary schools will not save money. May as well make excellent use of existing resources which prevents spending millions upon millions upon millions of OUR tax dollars.

Local developers want to create new unwanted neighborhoods that cost taxpayers too much money I say let them build new schools,fire departments,rec centers etc etc with their money and bill it all to the new neighborhoods. Lawrence,Kansas taxpayers simply cannot afford new neighborhoods!

With increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.

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commuter 4 years, 1 month ago

I attended last nights public forum and here are my observations.

Scott Morgan said the forum will last until 8:30 pm. Whe n it was that time a few people wer mad at him for not allowing more people to speak.

There were alot of the same people who have spoken at the board meetings.

The board went out of their way to answer the questions that were asked, too far out their way in my opinion. There was one general question asked and it took at least 20 minutes to get answers from each of the board members.

Rich Minder was pandering to the group about the other board members not following him.

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kusp8 4 years, 1 month ago

All you need is one big bake sale....oh, wait, nevermind.

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