Archive for Tuesday, March 9, 2010

School board approves plan to close budget gap without closing schools

East Heights Child Development Center would still close

The Lawrence Board of Education discussed their study of budgets ideas for the school district Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010. Superintendent Dr. Rick Doll, left,  spoke during the study session meeting.

The Lawrence Board of Education discussed their study of budgets ideas for the school district Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010. Superintendent Dr. Rick Doll, left, spoke during the study session meeting.

March 9, 2010, 7:16 p.m. Updated March 9, 2010, 8:17 p.m.

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School board cuts deficit, saves schools

The Lawrence school board proposed a plan that would cut millions from the year's budget without closing any elementary schools. Members of the community who attended Tuesday's meeting applauded the results and efforts of the board members. Enlarge video

School Board meeting updates

Contentious budget talks ended abruptly Tuesday night as Lawrence school board members approved a plan to bridge the district’s $5 million budget gap for next year without closing any elementary schools.

The 11th-hour compromise surprised a group of parents and community members who went into the meeting facing the possibility that four board members could vote to close schools.

The deal the board ended up unanimously adopting came from board President Scott Morgan, who two weeks ago proposed closing Wakarusa Valley and Sunset Hill schools for savings.

“At some point my position is irrelevant just like any other board member,” Morgan said. “It’s about what four of us would want to do, and the best is if we can find consensus with seven of us.”

Morgan said he stayed up until 4 a.m. Tuesday focusing on the new scenario and trying to read what other board members would agree to.

Compromise emerges

Just hours before, board members had made $3.2 million in school program and administrative cuts during a four-hour meeting Monday. Board members recessed their session until Tuesday night when they were supposed to discuss closing schools and increasing the student-teacher ratio.

Instead, at the start of the Tuesday’s meeting Morgan proposed the plan that would keep all elementary schools open for next school year.

“I think everybody in the community will be a little bit surprised with how this was resolved, but I think once you understand the kinds of cross-cutting pressures that the board was under, I think it makes sense,” said Chuck Epp, a member of Save Our Neighborhood Schools. “I think it is a healthy compromise for the community.”

The East Heights Early Childhood Center will close. Its pre-kindergarten programs will likely move to Kennedy School.

The board will need to decide on a boundary change between Kennedy and New York schools, but Morgan said the district will work with those neighborhoods on developing a plan. The district will also appoint a community task force to review the district’s older facilities and see what future improvements can be made.

Other savings in the plan include increasing the student-teacher ratio by one student, which saves $1.1 million. It cuts about 20 teaching jobs, but the district’s number of retiring teachers will balance most of those out.

Budget cut breakdown

Check out the list of cuts the school board will be making.

Band cut restored

The plan was not all well-received because it involves a $43,520 cut to restructure school nurses. Board member Marlene Merrill proposed an amendment to strip that cut from the plan, but it failed, 4-3.

One development from Monday’s cuts played a major part in Tuesday’s compromise. Board members had cut sixth-grade instrumental music programs to save $295,000, and a large group of high school band students and parents showed up at the Tuesday meeting to protest.

Band members played in the parking lot, and they also filled the hallway during the meeting and held up various music trophies. Parents and band members feared the sixth-grade cuts would cause a ripple effect because the teachers who were reassigned would possibly have seniority over both high school band directors, causing them to lose their jobs.

Morgan, who did not support the band cut Monday, included restoring the sixth-grade band cut as part of his compromise that ultimately passed.

“I think it does show that the board has a mind for fine arts, and certainly we see that as an important part of the education in our city,” said Terry Jacobsen, co-president of the Lawrence High School band parents organization.

After weeks of tense meetings and forums, board members were able to make at least two large groups of people happy Tuesday night, but they said the district may not be out of the woods yet. If the state’s budget picture worsens, the district could be looking at having to cut more than the $5 million gap they closed.

“What this does tonight, what we did — assuming the Legislature does remotely part of its job — we are ready to go in to next year with a balanced budget,” Morgan said.

Comments

musiclife 7 years, 6 months ago

Music will not go down without a fight.

artrepinski 7 years, 6 months ago

All i can say is there better not be any music teachers or funds touched. For too long music and fine arts have been on the receiving end of cuts and no one understands that Lawrence is the place to go to school if you are talented in any form of art. Free State and LHS have the 2 top choir programs in the nation and our national competition trophy's prove that. Our artists consistently get national awards and attention. Say no to anything that touches the fine arts programs.

musiclife 7 years, 6 months ago

The main problem right now is not just the sixth grade band closing. If they are planning on cutting teachers on the basis of senority, then it will be ALL music teachers. Most of the high school and junior high teachers are considered the most recently hired, and cutting them would destroy not just the elementary program, but the junior high and high school programs as well.

artrepinski 7 years, 6 months ago

Hell No it won't. If any of these board members would attend a concert or encore or showtime they would know that nothing comes close to Lawrence in forms of music. They make all these decisions from behind there desk never knowing or even caring how much it affects us. I would march on washington to save music in Lawrence.

polkadottedzebra93 7 years, 6 months ago

see, don't make band kids angry, they'll pull out the drums.

Shannon Merritt 7 years, 6 months ago

No cuts to music unless and until they're willing to evenly spread those cuts across the athletics programs as well. I'm tired of athletics being considered an unwritten part of the core curriculum.

musiclife 7 years, 6 months ago

Like I said, we aren't going down without a hell of a fight. And I agree with nogoodreason that cuts should be more evenly spread. But at the same time everyone is getting screwed over.

mom_of_three 7 years, 6 months ago

They have already started cutting athletic budgets. Pep band didn't play at some high school basketball games because it wasn't in the budget, and c team soccer was cut at LHS. Either way, kids are going to be affected in negative ways.

gsxr600 7 years, 6 months ago

$295,000? Holy F. I had no idea it costs that much for an elective program. I was one of those kids that entered into band in 6th grade. I stuck with it through my senior year. I think it's vital to a developing human brain. With that being said, I don't see a big issue with starting in 7th grade. The learning curve would shift a little and junior high directors would need more patience, but I don't see a big deal about that. Seriously. I went through the system and don't think I would have changed any differently or been any worse if I started a year later. Also, from 6th to 7th grade, at least a third of the students dropped it.

In b4 I get bludgeoned with a sousaphone.

ohgeeze 7 years, 6 months ago

A few weeks ago the ljworld posted video of the meetings online. Anyway you can do that again? I just got home from work and would like to see it from the beginning.

alm77 7 years, 6 months ago

YAY!! Schools stay open and the 6th grade can get their band on!!

Steve Jacob 7 years, 6 months ago

So nobody is willing to make the tough decisions. Maybe in 2011 when the state takes away another $5M (or more).

And I did not know Kennedy so much extra room that it could fit the Early Childhood Center.

Julie Jacob 7 years, 6 months ago

WTF? Any parent that is in Kennedy knows there isn't enough room for this program to move over. They are going to HAVE to change the boundaries to make room for the ECP.

MIke Mallory 7 years, 6 months ago

close schools, people bitch, dont close schools, people bitch. if it saves schools. cut the music programs completely.

tomatogrower 7 years, 6 months ago

People still need to come to the rally on Tuesday, March 16 in Topeka. The kids are on spring break, so bring your students too. The details are at the following website. Let the legislators know that you expect them to do their jobs and fund our schools.

https://sites.google.com/site/adequateyearlyfunding/home/schedule-of-events

honestone 7 years, 6 months ago

mom_of_three (anonymous) says… They have already started cutting athletic budgets. Pep band didn't play at some high school basketball games because it wasn't in the budget, and c team soccer was cut at LHS. Either way, kids are going to be affected in negative ways.

WTF...Pep band didn't play??? Wow...that must devastate the education of our children. If the board wants to cut again ALL sports...not just things associated with the sports programs...need to feel the same pain as the educational programs of all the other children. Who are you MoT? Are you married to a coach or an administrator?

not_that_crazy 7 years, 6 months ago

I also didn't realize that there was enough room at Kennedy. If there is enough room, it does make sense because it is close to East Heights.
However, I also wonder if it means they are going to change the ways they deliver preschool services. Make the classrooms bigger? The Pre-K program is something that has been heavily subsidized by Lawrence Schools Foundation even though Lawrence also has Head Start. The school district is paying for some to go the Early Childhood Center when they could be attending Head Start that provides more services for families.

sinkorswim 7 years, 6 months ago

I was not able to attend or watch the board meeting this evening, so I don't know what is being talked about regarding Kennedy. I CAN say that Kennedy currently has 18 classrooms (K-6) plus Headstart. I have no clue where they would put the preschool program?!?!

cntrygrl 7 years, 6 months ago

I'm with JCStepmom. I was a Kennedy parent and there's no possible way they're going to be able to put all those programs there!! There aren't any vacant rooms and it's already fairly crowded. Unless they decide to take cordon off the lunch room.....

I started music in 4th grade. I personally believe that starting in 6th grade is almost too late, but I'm not about to complain. I'm just ecstatic that the 6th graders still get their program.

And one principal for $92,896? Are you kidding me?????? For that amount of money I could sit behind a desk, refuse to return phone calls and talk to parents like they're all morons. At least that's what we get from ours....

cntrygrl 7 years, 6 months ago

I'm with JCStepmom. I was a Kennedy parent and there's no possible way they're going to be able to put all those programs there!! There aren't any vacant rooms and it's already fairly crowded. Unless they decide to take cordon off the lunch room.....

I started music in 4th grade. I personally believe that starting in 6th grade is almost too late, but I'm not about to complain. I'm just ecstatic that the 6th graders still get their program.

And one principal for $92,896? Are you kidding me?????? For that amount of money I could sit behind a desk, refuse to return phone calls and talk to parents like they're all morons. At least that's what we get from ours....

WilburM 7 years, 6 months ago

In large part, this decision was made because SONS laid out possible alternatives, and did it in a coherent and non-confrontational (but persistent) way. Twelve hours ago, there were a lot of folks making comments who were eager to predict that the board would plow ahead and close schools. They didn't, in large part because a lot of individuals in the community spoke up clearly and effectively -- and the board (with a unanimous vote) listened. I hope now that the board will put together a inclusive group that will take a long-term look at Lawrence education policies and spending, and prepare the way for productive deliberation for each year to come. This shouldn't be seen as an end in itself, but the beginning of a series of conversations about providing the best possible education for Lawrence children within our means.

Terry Jacobsen 7 years, 6 months ago

lionbacker said: close schools, people bitch, dont close schools, people bitch. if it saves schools. cut the music programs completely.

Wonder how you would feel if they cut sports completely?

cntrygrl 7 years, 6 months ago

Honestone -

She's not married to either.

Also, there's no reason to get rude. She's just stating the cuts that were made.

Kookamooka 7 years, 6 months ago

Well Done! I'm so proud to be a Lawrencian. Good choices. They weren't easy and they won't be easy in the future but a Community Task Force is a great way to achieve the goal of improving communication.

Vanessa Sanborn. Wow. She's just great!!!

alm77 7 years, 6 months ago

cntry, you totally cracked me up! I am so blessed that my kids go to a school with a fantastic principal. I guess not everyone has that. :)

tomatogrower 7 years, 6 months ago

puckstah (anonymous) says… Holy cow! Morgan has seen the light!

Maybe it was the SoundOff question the other day about what can be done to recall School Board members.

whats_going_on 7 years, 6 months ago

I feel a little bad for the people who are getting cut, although a lot more would have been if they had closed schools.

It didn't say anything about the people in the admin building...are they still reaping benefits from the work they don't do?

Hop2It 7 years, 6 months ago

Maybe there will be a boundary change regarding Kennedy. This will also help use some of the other space in the district.
I also wonder if the increase in student/teacher ratio will be across the board.

heath 7 years, 6 months ago

cntrygrl - First $92,896 is not the principals salary. That's the total cost associated with that position (e.g. salary, payroll taxes, health insurance, retirement). Second, if you think all a principal does is sit behind a desk, not return phone calls, and talk to parents like their morons, then you have not idea what a principal really does. They make large salaries because they work long and hard hours. If the principal at your child(ren)'s school talks to parents like they morons, it's probably because they expect the world to revolve around their child(ren) and have their every demand met.

LloydDobbler 7 years, 6 months ago

Speaking as someone with a child at Sunflower, where the ratio is already at 25:1, if we lose one teacher or if there is any other noticeable change in our already lacking resources, the Board can count on a full scale revolt. Mark it down...if we end up paying the price for the East side to keep schools that probably should be consolidated, it's going to get ugly.

multiagelearner 7 years, 6 months ago

Kookamooka: Well Done! I'm so proud to be a Lawrencian. Good choices. They weren't easy and they won't be easy in the future but a Community Task Force is a great way to achieve the goal of improving communication.

Vanessa Sanborn. Wow. She's just great!!!

I will agree that Vanessa Sanborn is amazing. She managed to eliminate the teaching jobs of excellent teachers. She has increased student class size in schools which will impact school/student achievement, and she will bankrupt the contigency fund within two years. So, yes-WOW!

Sadly I think tonight's meeting will end up achieving nothing other than saving band and orchestra and giving Mr. Morgan a break from the hate mails and nasty comments toward him.
Kennedy doesn't have the room for this proposition so now all those Kennedy parents better get loud and angry and then they will come up with a proposition to keep their school intact.
Mr. Morgan said it best when he stated that you can't have 5 schools that house 50% of the students in the district and 10 that house the other 50%.

Vanessa Sanburn should look beyond her own family, student, and neighborhood school. There is a community responsiblitiy that she agreed to when she joined the board. If you want to sit at the adult table, you must act like one. Students will pay for Sanburn's, "like" lack of understanding!

multiagelearner 7 years, 6 months ago

Lloyddobbler: you are going to be paying the price at Sunflower. They have already increased the ratio by one, and Morgan says it will most likely have to be increased by 2! The squeaky wheel gets the oil and Morgan oiled the SONS tonight!

Hop2It 7 years, 6 months ago

multiagelearner (anonymous) says… "Mr. Morgan said it best when he stated that you can't have 5 schools that house 50% of the students in the district and 10 that house the other 50%."

Perfect quote!

LloydDobbler 7 years, 6 months ago

As I said, then it's on. We won't stand by and pay the price for selfish squeaky wheels anymore. Our ratio has been up to 9 students higher than some of the other elementary schools and if it goes up, we will become the squeaky wheels and those of you in SONS will wish you have been more even handed in your approach. Most of us were supportive or at least silent...that changes if ratios go up 1 student more in Sunflower. SONS...we expect you to be supportive of our efforts to maintain ratios in west side schools at their current state.

alm77 7 years, 6 months ago

You're just mad 'cause you didn't organize. :p

Seriously, I think SONS set a great precedent. If you're right, do what you can. Go for it!! Personally, I transfer my kids from the west-side to a neighborhood school on the east side partially because of the full schools over here. I know that's not a plausible option for everyone, but maybe more parents should consider it.

Kat Christian 7 years, 6 months ago

Well done SONS!! See what a community can do when they pull together. That was a great financial plan you came up with and I see the District took some of your advice. However, Not agreeing that the kids from East Heights attend Kennedy. There are so many kids there as it is and I think quality of educating those kids is suffering, not to mention they have a high rate of behavioral problems in that school. I thought New York school had a low enrollment and had room to house the kids from East Heights. I'm confused. Just hope the District makes a good choice to where to send them next year.

lori 7 years, 6 months ago

Thank you, school board!

LloydDobber, et al; yes, we in the east side do not want to see your schools have a disproportionately higher student to teacher ratio. That's been unfair for years. I myself would love to see some redistricting, to reduce classroom sizes in some of the very overcrowded classrooms, and have some of the underutilitzed schools with room increase their student population. Classroom sizes were going to increase, it was just a matter of how it was done. If schools closed, where do you think those kids would have gone? There would have been redistricting, and all remaining schools would have had an increase in student body and classroom size, including on the west side.

SONS does not just represent the east side; you have neighborhood schools in the west side, do you not?

LloydDobbler 7 years, 6 months ago

alm77 - If more parents did move to the east side, the ratios wouldn't stay low very long, now would they. The point is that we should be seeking to achieve equity across the district, not cater to any one neighborhood or special interest group. I want to support your child's right to a good education...as long as you support mine.

mom_of_three 7 years, 6 months ago

thank you country girl. yes, I was just stating that some cuts have already been made. and those made were noticeable. Cuts to athletics or to fine arts will affect kids - the same kids, the at risk kids, the not so great in school kids, the kids with nothing else to go to school for. The same kids. its not you vs us. Figure out a solution. At least that is what some parents were trying to do. you are all So busy arguing about east side and west side, and its really about the kids. But what you should be worried about is that the school board does not have a long range plan past this year. No plan whatsoever. So if the funding continues to be cut, what are they going to do? NO plans. stop fussing about 25 to 26 kids ratios, arts vs sports, whose school is better than the others, , and worry about what they are going to do without a plan.

Stephen Roberts 7 years, 6 months ago

Year 1 down, what is going to happen to the 2011-2012 budget, does the SONS group have another at least 5 million in savings???

We will see what will happen with people start seeing the class size increase and the services and responses from the administration decrease.

Stephen Roberts 7 years, 6 months ago

Year 1 down, what is going to happen to the 2011-2012 budget, does the SONS group have another at least 5 million in savings???

We will see what will happen with people start seeing the class size increase and the services and responses from the administration decrease.

Stephen Roberts 7 years, 6 months ago

Year 1 down, what is going to happen to the 2011-2012 budget, does the SONS group have another at least 5 million in savings???

We will see what will happen with people start seeing the class size increase and the services and responses from the administration decrease.

texburgh 7 years, 6 months ago

Don't forget one little fact: State aid to schools was cut 9.5% for this school year. Most of that cut (about 7.1% of it) was filled back up with federal stimulus funds. Those federal funds go away after 2011. That means, if the legislature doesn't stop handing out corporate tax cuts and refuses to raise any other taxes, schools will get the rest of their cut just before the start of the 2012 school year. Think these debates are bad this year? Wait until then.

Now that you have won at the school board, it's time to take the war to the legislature.

LloydDobbler 7 years, 6 months ago

Teacher pay cuts don't make a lot of sense. We will start losing good teachers to other districts. I think any position that is not tied directly to student services should get a hard look. In other words, any jobs that don't involve teaching students or providing special services for students (counseling, etc.), should be reviewed and cut if feasible.

alm77 7 years, 6 months ago

Alright, Lloyd, you organize and I'll sign your petition, go to your march and write the board members. That's what I did for SONS. Redrawing the lines does make sense, especially if we have more room on the east side. Not to mention that more balanced classroom sizes would probably help prevent future closures. I do think that makes sense for everyone.

LloydDobbler 7 years, 6 months ago

alm77 - Deal! In the grand scheme, I hope tax revenues turn around so that we don't have to continue to make painful decisions about schools. We should be efficient and effective even in good times, but this current situation is pathetic. Best wishes!

Stephen Roberts 7 years, 6 months ago

Maybe now the SONS group can start warming up to the Old West Lawrence group, so that they can move their boundary EAST. This will be a fun thing to watch.

The district has to move boundaries, then they move 9th graders up and 6th graders up. This will show a huge increase in the number of seats available at the elementary level and then they will decide to close schools. We have to much capacity as it is right now but next year it is will increase. So SONS group, get ready to continue to work on this problem for the next couple of years. Have fun.

honestone 7 years, 6 months ago

cntrygrl (anonymous) says… Honestone - She's not married to either. Also, there's no reason to get rude. She's just stating the cuts that were made.

I wasn't rude...just stating the facts. BTW...how do you know whom she is married to.

The plan is to build a mega school on the east side. That is why they have been trying to close the east side schools for years. Within the next 3 years you will see the board float another bond issue. That is the answer to the "so many kids in Kennedy"

The "sacred cow" of USD 497 and Lawrence in general is the sports program and you have not seen the same level of cuts in the sports programs that have been visited upon the rest of the school community . The music programs need to be tightened, the administration needs to be tightened, the capital outlay must be tightened AND the sports programs need to be cut too.

"They have already started cutting athletic budgets. Pep band didn't play at some high school basketball games because it wasn't in the budget, and c team soccer was cut at LHS. Either way, kids are going to be affected in negative ways."...are you serious...just don't pretend you are cutting the sports programs...hell we just built you stadiums for HS teams

The Board did OK this time BUT this isn't over. Just don't pretend you are affecting those programs.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 6 months ago

"People still need to come to the rally on Tuesday, March 16 in Topeka. " === Good idea. The community made it through this round, but watch the August primaries. If the tax cutters/smaller government candidates win, next year's potential cuts will be, perhaps, twice as severe, with more to come in the year after. Even if the Legislature can be convinced we are at a tipping point and cutting cannot continue, it may take years to undo the damage. Get involved. If you really want to see 90+% of the government get smaller year-after-year, there are politicians more than willing to help out.

guess_again 7 years, 6 months ago

I am pleased that everyone seems pleased.

So I am sorry I must rain (well, drizzle perhaps) a little bit on this parade.

To the degree this issue was solved using one-time money (reserves and and the materials fund) for the next year, the budget by definition is not balanced for subsequent years.

So in my mind, their budget is $400-$700 thousand out of kilter of a balanced budget for next year, depending on which numbers you utilize. Now I have no particular problem with utilizing these balances for these purposes, but all must recognize that this can not be done on an ongoing basis.

So I want to caution everyone, while all are congratulating ourselves, that further reductions will need to be made in the future, very probably twelve months from now. And this will occur despite any sales tax increases in Topeka this year, which will do nothing but protect the district against cuts beyond the $5 million they are talking about for the current year. And this would be for a totally flat budget, with no allowances for health insurance increases, teacher step raises, or restorations of any of this years "temporary" cuts, etc. And that has never happened.

Please drive to Topeka to protest and show support. But do not be confused. Even at the most optimistic levels of support from the legislature this year, the Lawrence School Board will be facing unpleasant funding problems a year from now. The only question will be the magnitude.

guess_again 7 years, 6 months ago

I agree with Mr. Getto's observations. What happens in the August primaries really will be revealing. I can assure you the leadership coming out of the executive branch for education will diminish significantly. I wished I could be more optimistic.

JohnDa 7 years, 6 months ago

Great decision. Now hopefully we can come up with a plan that will more evenly distribute students across the district.

@Lloyd: The district was going to raise the ratio by 1 whether they closed schools or not. I can assure you that most of the parents in the SONS group would like to help reduce overcrowding in your school. If you look at the numbers provided by the district, it was clear that you don't reduce overcrowding by closing schools. In fact, crowding in west side schools could have gotten much worse if particular schools were closed.

GardenMomma 7 years, 6 months ago

WRITE YOUR LEGISLATURE!

Tell them to fund public schools to current levels, not 1990's levels. Tell them to stop short-changing our children. Tell them to get off their duffs and remember that uneducated children today will be the ones who will be their doctors, bankers, caregivers, etc. of tomorrow.

WRITE YOUR LEGISLATURE!

funkdog1 7 years, 6 months ago

@ LloydDobbler: I'm a west side parent as well, and I have to tell you, that after looking over all the scenarios the district proposed for closing schools, we were going to have class sizes raised on this side of town closings or no closings. Had Sunset Hill or Hillcrest school closed, your class sizes would have been HIGHER than the 25:1 ratio. Quail Run as we speak has two sections of the 4th grade with 31 students. This is not east Lawrence's fault, though it seems as though the information being leaked by the district for months was pitting east against west by design.

Trust me, keeping the status quo is is a very good thing.

cowsense 7 years, 6 months ago

I think it is amazing how the powers that be sidetracked EVERYONE into battling to save the band, smaller neighborhood schools, and athletics, and walked away from the table with HUGE salaries intact. Get real, we just had a MACSHACK bailout happen here in Lawrence. Programs cut, compromised, janitors not getting help, school lunch prices increased, so we can keep our administrators paid to the tune of 175K, 135K, and so on. And the amazing thing is this community is happy this morning. Wake up!

thelonious 7 years, 6 months ago

The first part of the word extracurricular is, well, extra. Classroom instruction should always be the first priority, so neighborhood schools & teachers & the core curriculum should come first and be the last area affected by cuts.

So losing programs is unfortunate, but better than gutting the infrastructure (buildings & teachers). As for the classroom size issue, anyone who wants smaller class sizes needs to go to Topeka and ask the legislature to raise revenue (i.e. increase taxes) to pay for this. I wonder if the loudest complainers about class sizes (LloydDobbler) are also the same anti-tax conservatives who voted in the anti-tax legislature that created this mess in the first place.

Also, before you blame the entire situation on the recession, it has been well-documented that if the legislature in KS had not gone on a decades long tax-givaway binge, there would have been plenty of reserves to weather the storm of this recession.

Bottom line - you can't be anti-tax and expect nice, lush, small class-sized schools at the same time.

Hats off to the USD 497 board - I think they found the best solution that they could at this time. Let's hope they don't have to find any more cuts and that the legislature finally does its job and finds the revenue to adequately fund public education. Sound public education is in all citizens' interest.

cntrygrl 7 years, 6 months ago

Honestone -

" I wasn't rude...just stating the facts. BTW...how do you know whom she is married to."

Um...Because I know her personally. And yes, you were being quite rude!

Heath -

I'm fully aware that "most" principals work very hard. I do not expect the world to revolve around my children. However, I am an educated, professional adult, and I expect to be treated as such. I believe that if I call someone once or twice a year and leave a voice mail, that I should at least be able to expect a return call.

walkthehawk 7 years, 6 months ago

well done, school board. thanks for trying to hard to listen to and honor community concerns--we know it wasn't easy. and thanks for laying the groundwork for an ongoing community conversation about facilities and goals--it will be hard work, but it's so much better to make these decisions in a careful, collaborative way than as a shotgun approach to an ongoing problem.

and brava, too, to Save our Neighborhood Schools. whether you agree with them or not, the creativity and tenacity they demonstrated is part of what makes Lawrence great.

Prolificreader 7 years, 6 months ago

It's interesting to see who hasn't shown up in the comments this morning. Those who have spent the last couple of weeks lambasting the school board and screaming that they were going to "sucker" us and close schools anyway. Perhaps those people are off eating crow?

Tara Painter 7 years, 6 months ago

Thanks alot for not thinking of the headstart program. Kenndy is the only school with a headstart class there. Doing this removes it from the school, and with a class at East Hights removing that one too. Bad choice. Support Headstart.

headdoctor 7 years, 6 months ago

Thanks to all the people who stood up for what they believe regardless of their stance and took the time to learn more and participate. I hope that the citizens of the district who did, stay involved in the future and continue to come up with ideas as well as get more people involved. The district figured out a way to dodge the bullet this time but as a few posters have warned, this situation is not over. The next year is just around the corner and there is no guarantee that the cross hairs will not be back on school closings again. The Kansas Legislature is not on our side nor is the economy.

KSManimal 7 years, 6 months ago

texburgh (anonymous) says… "Don't forget one little fact: State aid to schools was cut 9.5% for this school year. Most of that cut (about 7.1% of it) was filled back up with federal stimulus funds. Those federal funds go away after 2011. That means, if the legislature doesn't stop handing out corporate tax cuts and refuses to raise any other taxes, schools will get the rest of their cut just before the start of the 2012 school year. Think these debates are bad this year? Wait until then.

Now that you have won at the school board, it's time to take the war to the legislature."

Well said. One other fact to remember: Once the stimulus dollars are gone, there will be no carrot/stick to prevent the legislature from cutting further than 2006 levels.

mom_of_three 7 years, 6 months ago

I was just stating a fact that athletic budgets are being cut, and those are the cuts that are immediately visible. I can only attest to the ones I have seen. I am sure that there will be and are more. the football fields came out of a different budget (some general building whatmacallit fund) and not related to the athletic budgets which directly affect the kids. But we have been over that before.

Shouldn't matter who I am married to to merely state my opinion. And yes, it does come off a little rude. And not that its any of your business, (cause if you read these blogs, you kind of know who works where), the only connection I have to the district is that I live in this school district.

Thank you countrygirl - my hero.

plantlover_61 7 years, 6 months ago

Budget cuts hurt everyone but should we go so far as to hurt the children of Lawrence. Is it not possible to make cuts to the board members stipend, or instead of consolidating teachers or closing schools cut the administrative staff wages. I know that no one wants to lose money but should our children pay for the problems that the government has forced on the schools.

Let’s take a look at one of the programs that bring our children together. Music is a way to even out the playing field for our children. When they are part of the band, orchestra, or choir the children come together for the music. Music crosses the boundaries of race, sex, and religious affiliations. The kids are not looking with their eyes but listening with their hearts! What a powerful way to teach our children to love thy neighbors! Please do not hurt our children with budget cuts my vote is to raise our taxes in hopes of building a better future for our children. What is more important the all mighty dollar or our children’s future!

  “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
    A quote taken from Plato

James Findley 7 years, 6 months ago

They best not cut anything. If our city can find enough money to help subsidize the building of that monstrosity up on the hill then they damn sure better find a way to keep our schools running at their peak. I mean really how screwed up are our priorities when we can find enough money to give to a bunch of rich aholes but we can't find enough money to invest in our futures. AND EXCUSE ME but the Oread Inn is not all our futures and certainly isn't our city's future! Its KU's future and those people that already have enough future's. This is just sad and wrong!!! Maybe we should have the Fritzels and the Comptons subsidize our schools.

lindseydoyle 7 years, 6 months ago

These politicians are starting to sense that their constituency is not going to be just USD employees as usual. People need to follow through and vote next time.

avhjmlk 7 years, 6 months ago

FYI @ plantlover_61

The board members do not receive a stpiend. They are, by law, unpaid, a.k.a volunteers. I suppose it's possible that when they do their scheduled school lunch visits (they go to each of the schools every year for lunch with students), they might get that meal for free, but that's pretty much it.

KSManimal 7 years, 6 months ago

KUKRU (anonymous) says… "They best not cut anything. If our city can find enough money to help subsidize the building of that monstrosity up on the hill then they damn sure better find a way to keep our schools running at their peak."

KUKRU - you need to do your homework. The city does not fund public schools. In fact, even if the city wanted to...they can't. State laws are very specific as to sources and amounts of funding for public schools.

Robert Kidder 7 years, 6 months ago

An open letter of recognition and gratitude has been sent to all Board members from the Wakarusa Valley Budget Committee. It can be viewed here: http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dilig...

Tony Kisner 7 years, 6 months ago

Could have stopped servicing any debt. If the bond holders want to come and take a school or football field (or two) away so be it.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 6 months ago

When I heard they were going to cut the music programs and how some of our most extraordinary music teachers might have to leave Lawrence I felt like something terrible was about to happen. I felt a deep personal loss about to take place.

Being very familiar with these programs and teachers and having traveled quite a bit throughout the United States, there is no doubt in my mind that what we have here in Lawrence is extraordinary. We are blessed and we were about to give that blessing away.

You cannot create the kind of music education and tradition we have in Lawrence without years of dedication, love and talent and the quality of kids and teachers we have. We don't realize the value of these programs to our community.

With all the negative distractions that our kids have to face in their lives, we need these high quality music programs as a platform to teach our kids a better quality of life and to teach the values and discipline that can stay with them throughout their lives.

As Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, "If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music."

Christine Anderson 7 years, 6 months ago

I think a very nice young man named Heath did a good job of defending principals! (smile)

My 4th grade son just came home and told me "the teachers said that because of budget cuts, we have to have school next week instead of having spring break". ROFLOL

supportourstudents 7 years, 6 months ago

As someone closely affiliated with Kennedy, I take great offense with the statement that Kennedy has many discipline problems. Like any other school, Kennedy faces many issues. These issues may look different than other schools because each school has its own unique population with their own unique needs. Everyone needs to be aware that the staff at Kennedy are some of the most hardworking, dedicated people you will ever meet. They are committed to the success of the students in the school in spite of any challenges they may face. The staff and parents at Kennedy would have been just as vocal in their support had they been given the opportunity. Kennedy was never mentioned in regard to major changes until LAST NIGHT! I am not saying that I disagree with the school board's decision. They did the best they could with what they had to work with. However, if they go through with the proposed changes, they need to take a long, hard look at the particular needs of Kennedy, East Heights and the surrounding community and make sure that they are creating a plan that will best meet the needs of the community. I ask everyone involved to make the students the main priority and consider how these changes will affect their lives. Will the children of this community be affected positively by the changes being proposed? Or will some of the district's most vulnerable population be sacrificed for monetary concerns?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

In addition to the wars,high dollar medical insurance,repub financial scandals and credit cards sending the nation into bankruptcy it is my very strong belief that the Kansas legislative controlling majority silently adopted this philosophy as their guideline for Kansas economics:

Beware: TABOR Is Coming

After devastating government services in Colorado, the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" threatens to spread.

BY MICHAEL REBNE http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

Tara Painter 7 years, 6 months ago

Do any of you know that Kenndy is the ONLY shcool that has a Headstart class if you folllow though with this the class will go as well as the one at East Heights. Making them have to make some major changes. My oldest son is also starting Kenndy in the fall and the choice they made is a very bad one. There was nothing said what so ever about Kenndy having any changes and yet there doing it. How do we trust the school board if they don't tell us ALL the choices they might make.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Taxpayers in Lawrence, Kansas will pay $209.9 million for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

67,135 People with Health Care for One Year OR

4,973 Public Safety Officers for One year OR

4,572 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR

34,118 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR

37,825 Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550 OR

2,522 Affordable Housing Units OR

121,048 Children with Health Care for One Year OR

34,739 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR

4,515 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR

216,117 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year

shersher 7 years, 6 months ago

Kennedy folks are not late to the party! These specific changes are new and were never discussed before! School boundaries and closings were but not spliting the k-2 and 3-5 or 6 and famlies up! You can not take advatage of a school with economical disavatages and take from the students that need the school the most. The school has the same issues that all school has but what makes it unique is that it serves the most students in Lawrence with disadvantages. I went to that school as a child and it was a the main support of my childhood education. My children have gone there for the past several years. And this change is not what is best for the children. Spliting up siblings, kids walking almost 2 miles more, more strain on parent with children in different schools means less time for invovlement to support our school and childrens' education. Why can't the Kennedy families stay instead of being split up or the East Heights kids go to New York were there is room? It sounds like more money will be spent on transitioning the older grades out of Kennedy. Apparently this decision is not what is best for children or the state or the city will cause more expences, hardships, and disavantages and less quality of education.

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