Archive for Thursday, March 11, 2010

Good compromise

It was a difficult process, but Lawrence school board members ended up with a good budget compromise for next year.

March 11, 2010

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The community drumbeat against making hasty decisions to close any local elementary schools next year apparently has been heard by Lawrence school board members.

The tentative plan unanimously approved by board members Tuesday night is a reasonable mix of cuts to administration and other district expenses. The cuts will have the greatest impact on elementary schools in east Lawrence, but they will be felt by every school in the district. It’s not a happy plan for Lawrence schools, but it’s probably the best school board members could do for this year.

Closing East Heights School and moving its early childhood programs, probably to Kennedy School, accounts for only $350,000 of the $5 million in cuts, but it might have the most noticeable impact on the district. Boundaries probably will have to be redrawn for Kennedy and New York schools to accommodate the shift, but that still is preferable to closing either school.

Maintaining the high quality of early childhood programs, which currently serve 130 students at East Heights, should be a top consideration. Every piece of recent research confirms that the preparation these students receive before entering kindergarten will make a critical difference throughout their school years.

The cuts aren’t pleasant. Raising the student-teacher ratio by one student and various other cuts to support staff will put more pressure on teachers. Some student activities will be eliminated, and the price of school lunches will go up.

One bright spot — also an indication that board members were listening to district patrons — was Tuesday’s reversal of Monday’s decision to eliminate sixth-grade band. The move would have affected many students and is a perfect example of a change that makes no sense in light of the district’s exploration of moving ninth-graders to the high schools and sixth-graders to the junior highs/middle schools in the fall of 2011. The district would be eliminating band for sixth-graders only to have the program restored a year later if those students are moved to middle schools.

The best part of the compromise plan approved Tuesday is that it gives the district a little more time to consider how to use its buildings and resources to best serve district students. The involvement of local groups and individuals in addressing the district’s current budget challenges is a strong indication of the community’s interest in our public schools. The school board already has indicated it will appoint a community task force to look at facilities. People appointed to the task force will have to go beyond advocating for their own children or school and look at the interests of the district as a whole.

It’s unlikely that the financial picture for local schools will improve next year. In fact, depending on the action of state legislators, it may be much worse. The major questions facing school board members in recent months — the big-dollar matters — are not going away. They will have to be dealt with, and it is hoped the school superintendent, teachers and principals will take an active role in discussing various alternatives to resolve those issues. The challenges aren’t over, but board members should be congratulated for wisely giving the community more time to consider the best way for the district to use its resources.

Comments

anon1958 5 years, 3 months ago

Made_in_China (Paul R. Getto) says…

"Since only 'basic instruction' is required by law, music, activities, counselors, librarians, social workers, academic assistance and part of the administration are at risk."

Kansas is basically a third world nation, your risks are many and profound. Your child's education is not a risk, it has been compromised. Some third world nations have better infant mortality rates than Kansas. The roads pose a risk to your car's suspension and wallet, and a hazard to your personal safety.

Anyone want to geuss if there are more or less than 40,000 DNA samples of arrested felons awaiting processing at the KBI? Here is a hint, the figure was nearly 40,000 back in December and growing every previous month for at least a year. A risk to your property and safety, brought to you by nincompoops in the legislature who know nothing about purse strings but everything about hamstringing the required functions of a modern government.

I hope you losers are enjoying your right wing republican utopian state of low government. The smart people are saving the money they are not paying in taxes (allegedly) to flee from Kansas with their families. Based on the idiots that are elected to state government in this state I think the case can be made that most people with any measure of brains have already escaped Kansas.

grammaddy 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm so glad that no schools will be closed. East heights is more of a child care and it's students are from all over, not just East Heights area.

Tricky Gnosis 5 years, 3 months ago

It's not really a matter at this point of "do you believe in smaller government"? The issue is a shrinking pot of money. As America becomes less prosperous, and as the cost of servicing debt increases, there's simply less money in America to do things with.

Watch for the Federal government to continue to do everything in its power to off-load programs onto the state.

The state then has only bad choices in front of it: raise taxes, which will suppress recovery and job growth, cut social services, or violate federal law by not funding Medicaid.

The best choices our legislators have is to start revoking the various tax breaks that have been awarded by the state to various interest groups, but that won't, by itself, be enough to make up for the money that is literally vanishing.

George Lippencott 5 years, 3 months ago

I agree that the board dealt very thoughtfully with our school finance situation. However, how did the author of the editorial know that the board would not have reached a similar balanced result without all the ranting from a portion of the community? I cannot help but wonder just what percentage of the community was represented in the somewhat harsh specific recommendations from the SOS movement.

George Lippencott 5 years, 3 months ago

Afternoon.

I used ranting consciously to reflect my distaste (opinion) with the woman who stood up and proclaimed that Lawrence had spoken when only 200 or so people were in attendance.

My use of the word harsh relates to suggestions to fire most of our administrators. Not sure that was actually the intent but the way it was proposed as an offset IMHO suggested such an approach.

Now, in fairness I am sure the majority of our citizens (and the majority of those supporting SOS) did not want to close schools and were reasonably content to allow the process to proceed having expressed that concern. IMHO, there was a subset of individuals who for some reason became quite animated over the possibility that schools might be closed and may have forgotten that any solution needed to be fair to as many of our kids as it could.

IMHO, it is unfortunate that a small number of misguided people can reflect negatively on a group.

George Lippencott 5 years, 3 months ago

Did_I_say_that (anonymous) says…

I believe that everything you wrote above is opinion as was what I wrote. I see no reason to continue this dialogue as we do not agree and you will not change my opinion, at least not with the approach you chose to use.

George Lippencott 5 years, 3 months ago

Did_I_say_that (anonymous) says…

Really, as far as I am concerned my opinion won - a responsible compromise position was achieved that did not penalize any of the kids inappropriately. Sounds to me )opinion) like we have been talking past each other. I am clearly on record as not wanting to close schools if we did not have to do so.

As far as the SONS opinion, I apologize if I misunderstood it. IMHO, however, the verbal discourse that accompanied it was much more focused on larger cuts in administration and more significant increases in student teacher ratio then I felt had been justified.

Now, please tell me what specifically I portrayed as fact as opposed to opinion?

George Lippencott 5 years, 3 months ago

Did_I_say_that (anonymous) says…

Thank you for your opinion!

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