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Opinion

Opinion

School athletic spending questioned

May 25, 2010

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Over the last three years, the Lawrence school board has given more emphasis to athletics than to academics. Lawrence has fallen from 88th to 98th to 102nd place in teachers’ average salary and benefits compared to other Kansas school districts.

According to figures compiled by the Kansas Department of Education, Lawrence paid its teachers an average of $50,170 this year while the statewide average was $53,041. How are we going to retain outstanding teachers and attract the best qualified teachers when we offer such low salaries when compared to other districts? Shawnee Mission schools paid their teachers an average of $66,806, and Blue Valley schools paid an average of $61,133, which ranked first and second in the state. Olathe averaged $57,805 and was in the top ten districts.

During this period, Lawrence built two redundant sport stadia for its two high schools. Shawnee Mission has two sports stadia to serve five high schools. Blue Valley has two stadia for four schools, and Olathe has two stadia for four schools. These schools have their priorities correct. A teacher and soccer coach for the past 11 years in Lawrence announced in December that he is going to teach in Blue Valley next year, and he will be paid over $8,000 more than his current salary here.

The Lawrence school board authorized spending up to $12.1 million on athletic fields in October 2008. That same month, the stock market was down over 40 percent from one year earlier. Two of the five largest investment banks in the nation were no longer in existence, and we were in our worst recession in 70 years.

Supt. Randy Weseman, at an early December 2008 school board meeting, warned about the state shorting school districts on payments and that the potential for less base state aid was there.

Yet in April 2009, one month after the stock market was down more than 50 percent from its peak in October 2007, the school board expanded the total cost of the sports fields, restroom and locker room renovations to $18,944,521. This total includes $5.4 million left over from the 2005 bond funds and earned interest; capital leases of $9,050,000 plus interest of $2,494,521 to be paid; and $2,000,000 of capital outlay funds. I have to credit the school board for creative financing without letting the public vote on whether they approved of all the fields. The 2005 bond did not specify athletic fields, but it was to go for school improvements at the secondary level.

At the March 8, 2010, school board meeting, 51 administrative recommendations were made for budget savings. The only athletic item of these 51 recommendations was about moving ninth-grade athletics to the high school. On April 27, the board decided to move the ninth-grade athletics one year before any other ninth-grade programs would be moved to the high school.

How this move of ninth-grade athletics was going to save money is questionable since the April 29 Journal-World quotes Lawrence High athletic director Ron Commons as saying, “I’m not sure how much money’s going to be available to buy any new uniforms or equipment to make that move.”

In March, the Lawrence Journal World reported that ninth-graders were playing on the Free State girls’ basketball team, and the team had one coach and three assistant coaches. How many classroom teachers have three assistants? Last month, I asked an employee of the school administration if the school board was going to cut any assistant coaches like they were cutting 20-30 teacher contracts. I was told that assistant coaches were needed for safety reasons. I find it contradictory for them to bring up safety issues when the school board cut busing, thus allowing children to cross dangerous intersections without crossing guards. Also, the board is cutting school nurses which is another health and safety issue.

Why not involve more children in physical activities by having more after-school intramural games and less competition with other districts?

It is my sincere hope that more of the public will become involved and informed about school issues such as the recent Save Our Schools campaign.

— Dave Kyner is a Lawrence resident.

Comments

Flap Doodle 3 years, 10 months ago

It appears that donjuan has joined the ranks of cool/bronze/spiderman, etc in the ranks of the disappeareded.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 10 months ago

Worth repeating: • jkealing (Jonathan Kealing) says… bronze- I've warned you privately, now I'll warn you publicly. You do not have bearded_gnome's name correct. If you don't immediately cease to attempt to out an anonymous user, your account will be banned. In addition, I will immediately ban any account I suspect to be created by you without notice, warning or further cause. This is your final warning. Jonathan Kealing Online editor

––––– How has donjuan lasted this long Jonathan?

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donjuan 3 years, 10 months ago

the late KU professor Victor Papanek would have vehemently disagreed with the duplicate stadiums and multi-million dollar expenditures for Astro-Turf. the LHS football field alone was $550,000 with only an 8 year warranty! outrageous!

Papanek, Victor (1971). Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change, New York, Pantheon Books . ISBN 0-394-47036-2. Papanek, Victor & Hennessey, Jim (1973). Nomadic furniture: how to build and where to buy lightweight furniture that folds, collapses, stacks, knocks-down, inflates or can be thrown away and re-cycled, New York, Pantheon Books . ISBN 0-394-70228-X. Papanek, Victor & Hennessey, Jim (1974). Nomadic Furniture 2, New York, Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-394-70638-2. Papanek, Victor & Hennessey, Jim (1977). How things don't work, New York, Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-394-49251-X. Papanek, Victor (1983). Design for Human Scale, New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold. ISBN 0-442-27616-8. Papanek, Victor (1995). The Green Imperative: Natural Design for the Real World, New York, Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27846-6.

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donjuan 3 years, 10 months ago

As Mr. Kyner asks - we are all in this together - what is the final total for these projects that are to date still incomplete?

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swan_diver 3 years, 10 months ago

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

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independant1 3 years, 10 months ago

need some in-school intramural activities too. physical activity should be part of primary/secondary/college culture. everyday. not just for the select few in competitive sports. regardless of ability.

makes one a better person

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MyThoughts 3 years, 10 months ago

What a perceptive, intelligent, well thought out letter. Thank you, Mr. Kyner.

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svenway_park 3 years, 10 months ago

Donjuan. Read the postings of Cool, Bronze, Ariadne, rusty2, jaguar, Coltrane, Spiderman and many others and see just where incivility comes from. Oh, that's write. You wrote them.

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sherlock 3 years, 10 months ago

why is the JW forum letting you use proper names on this blog Svenway_Park? Isnt this against the rules of the JW? Again I ask do you work for the school/or the city/ JW? Jonathan isnt this against the rules to put a posters real name on here? So why is it still on the blogs? Not Good.

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svenway_park 3 years, 10 months ago

If a neighbor of the athletic fields continues to use these fields as his personal dog-poop-park, he really can't be too concerned about the health of the students or public using the same, or "off-gassing."

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svenway_park 3 years, 10 months ago

“Sven Alstrom, a Lawrence architect who owns a home south of LHS, said he didn't object to the field proposals but said the project needs to include a properly engineered drainage system.”

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donjuan 3 years, 10 months ago

in honor of the late KU professor Victor Papanek (1927 - 1999)

from his 1995 book, "The Green Imperative": p11

Lewis Mumford said, "Once-local manifestations of criminality and irrationality now threaten the whole planet, smugly disguised as sound business enterprise, technological progress (ADD- think nano coating technology and genetic engineered foods), communist efficiency, or democratic statesmanship." We are guilty or implicated by not speaking out often enough to our clients whether they are governments, private enterprise, or individuals."

think about why USD 497 is using toxic and chemically laden recycled tire composition Astro-Turf in a state known for its native grasslands?

you can smell the Astro-Turf as you alongside it on 19th street most days. that's called off-gassing!

and at what cost to future generations?

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independant1 3 years, 10 months ago

kill the programs and put the money in a lock box

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swan_diver 3 years, 10 months ago

Can a single one of you dead-heads who place spectator sports and athletics above academic achievement for our community's system of primary education tell us exactly what percentage of students in grades 9-12 are able to directly avail themselves of these criminally expensive and slavish high school football and baseball programs -- that everyone else is subsidizing, at the expense of the city, state and nation?

I thought so. A pox on your houses.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 10 months ago

What's the shortest lifespan for any of the arky-tech's identities?

Worth repeating: • jkealing (Jonathan Kealing) says… bronze- I've warned you privately, now I'll warn you publicly. You do not have bearded_gnome's name correct. If you don't immediately cease to attempt to out an anonymous user, your account will be banned. In addition, I will immediately ban any account I suspect to be created by you without notice, warning or further cause. This is your final warning. Jonathan Kealing Online editor

––––– How has donjuan lasted this long Jonathan?

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donjuan 3 years, 10 months ago

what a great idea.

Glo (anonymous) replies… Swenway sent another discussion down the toilet with his constant attacks and personal vendetta. He should be ignored, but is not. This school district consultant needs to be banned, as do others. Meaninful discussion has turned personal and is revolting. For the sake for free discussion, please enforce rules.

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sherlock 3 years, 10 months ago

Journal World: Why do you let some posters point fingers at others so that its known who they are ? I sure thought this was against the rules? It looks as tho some have more power than others when they blog? Funny me I thought this thread was School spending questioned, NOT who does what for a living in their personal lives. Also Sven-way Park do you work for the school? Sure sounds as tho! Are the rules enforced ever? They are certainly listed.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 10 months ago

What the parkster already said.

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svenway_park 3 years, 10 months ago

Have a popsicle, donjuan. It is a cool and fruity treat on such a hot day.

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biggunz 3 years, 10 months ago

So what was the reason for not building one nice facility for both schools?? Anyone???

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honestone 3 years, 10 months ago

A well thought out, reasoned letter. Isn't it sad that NONE of the school board members give a damn about the education of our children so these well crafte words will fall on deaf ears. ...and the different pot of money issue will come up when they close a school because it needed "capital improvement"

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Machiavelli_mania 3 years, 10 months ago

FYI, my children won 't get here to high school. I will move away before that happens. Reason, so they can play ball if they want to, so i don't have to come across blinded-by-sports people like jayhawklawrence who barely hold a thought in their head other than what is best for sports in the short run.

If you are such a KU fan, why don't you appeal to KU to share THEIR field? Of course, that won't work. JU has gotten pretty blasted selfish these days. Which means I won't be sending my children to KU, unless they heart is set on it. No worries, I have time to indoctrinate them to some other college,... like Standford or GWashington or even the science-laden U of Wisc. KU is not longer good at scholastics, for they are merely blinded-by-sports.

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Machiavelli_mania 3 years, 10 months ago

Jayhawklawrence.

"I do not like" is costing us dearly, isn't it?

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Machiavelli_mania 3 years, 10 months ago

There were those people that warned that this stadium was unnecessary and waaaay too expensive. But they got massively ridiculed without compunction on this board. And they were indeed the voice of reason.

It is a pattern for Lawrence: RIDICULE THE VOICE OF REASON

The last laugh belongs to the these people. They KNEW!! And the stadium fans didn't.

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jayhawklawrence 3 years, 10 months ago

I like the new fields. They are beautiful, practical and the kids love them.

I did not like havng to go to Haskell to watch a game. The kids needed their own fields.

Too many people are looking for something evil in all of this and it just isn't there. They waited a long time, too long, to get these improvements.

We should just be proud that we have two of the greatest high schools in the state of Kansas, I think the greatest. We also have the best kids.

We will get through these tough times and then we can focus on other areas.

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donjuan 3 years, 10 months ago

Excellent letter from a PHD no less.

Who you gonna listen to now Lawrence?

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 10 months ago

since LHS built the sports field facing Lousiana, sorta, there are NO sidewalks. Didn't the school district plan for those OR is this another case of the city commission pandering to the district and using the money from sales tax for walks for the district while neglecting other parts of town in front of private properties. It is no wonder Lawrence is so crappy looking. If a place looks crappy in the Winter, it will in the Spring and Summer. The proof is here. Just drive any street. Some have been overlaid but no curbing replaced. Next winter the same problem all over again.

Apparently not one city commissoner understands how water drains, ice melts, snow melts.

donjuan, yes it is a former custodian, as I recall the history of the person in charge of facilites. That said, it doesn't speak well. In the old days, custodians had pride in their buildings and even took the extra step to paint something once in a while.

The district is like many others and Lawrence USD 497 is continuing the educational experiment funded by 2 TWO ill conceived bond issues.

Watch for the next one.

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donjuan 3 years, 10 months ago

This School Board & Administration spent nearly $20 million and left out the restrooms and the pressbox? Who do they have running these projects, a former custodian?

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donjuan 3 years, 10 months ago

Enough is enough!

The current board president and those sitting members that have continued to support the mismangement of our financial resources should be removed from their positions. None of them should ever be supported for public office of any kind after this demonstration of lies & deception to the citizens of Lawrence.

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blue73harley 3 years, 10 months ago

Very good, well written and well researched article. The school board should be ashamed.

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parrotuya 3 years, 10 months ago

I don't question the spending on athletics at all. Consider it a piggy bank. There is $18 million buried under the football field at LHS. Just put some shovels into the hands of the students, parents and fans and tell them to start digging! $18 million should be enough for several new teachers and maybe some athletic uniforms, too. Throw in a raise for the illustrious school board as well! That way, we can keep our kids safe by not having to knock on doors to raise money for uniforms!

DOWn, baby, DOWn! & Spill, baby, Spill!

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

Anyone impressed with LHS bleachers yet? What a disaster!

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

Both high schools had practice fields already.

This whole deal came from the Chamber by way of Bonnie Lowe who introduced PLAY. My best guess is that some out there believe this $50 millon PLAY project will help sell houses. Still hoping to ignite yet another "boom town economy" in spite of the fact that this mentality took down our national economy.

As we know Lawrence citizens were very cool to the idea of PLAY : http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/may/should_city_spend_20_million_or_more_play_project/

Knowing that citizens were not willing to support such reckless spending how in the world could the powers that be disguise PLAY and get around the taxpayers? How many times have we taxpayers heard " it's all for the children". Next thing WE know PLAY has become a USD 497 project as Tom Bracciano noted and he should know.

Then there comes a way to skirt taxpayer approval on a $20 million project. Why in the world would taxpayer approval be avoided?

The $50 million PLAY project will be completed with a $25 million field house. Why does Lawrence need this?

Meanwhile the Parks department is spending millions on the Clinton Lake Regional Park project. More tax dollars going to athletics.

How will taxpayers ever get their money back on THESE investments?

Then city hall says there is no money to rehab city sidewalks to make them safe for walking. Hmmmmmmmm.

City Hall says there is no money to improve and provide legitimate maintenance to our very busy library. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

How much will this new athletic endeavor ADD to the USA 497 operations budget???? It did cost $50,000 to instruct someone how to maintain bogus turf... if my memory serves me well.

Still a very big question in my mind: Why in the world would taxpayer approval be avoided? Who's idea was this?

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anon1958 3 years, 10 months ago

Well this is a community (Lawrence) where a significant number of people did not want to open a second high school purely because they feared for their precious football tradition. This kind of nonsense is exactly why the sport fanatic mentality in this town, is ironically held by true losers. Lawrence is so full of sport facility apologists it is a wonder the place does not spontaneously explode.

The people that argue for traditional sports funding because it is supposedly integral to teaching students about competition appear to me to be so dense that they must also surely be members of the Tea Party.

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grimpeur 3 years, 10 months ago

"The 2005 bond did not specify athletic fields, but it was to go for school improvements at the secondary level."

Holla.

September 28, 2004 The bond likely will include money to improve the junior high schools and the science labs at Lawrence High School, and likely will be about $40 million.

Several board members said athletic needs were important but didn't seem to be as big of a priority as educational needs at this time.

"It's not that athletic facilities are bad -- they're good," said board member Rich Minder. "I just don't see a football field making us more efficient."

October 10, 2004 While ideas and opinions have been tossed around for a new bond referendum, details of what will be included haven't been nailed down. But it has been said the bond issue could be from $40 million to $45 million.

October 18, 2004 Based on the current $53.6 million proposed bond plan, about $3.6 million would be spent at LHS to renovate science rooms, locker rooms and add a new entrance onto the gym. Of the $3.6 million, about $810,000 would go toward renovating science rooms.

February, 10, 2005 The group presented information prepared by the school district that estimates the $63 million in improvements would increase the district's property tax rate by 2.25 mills from 46.72 mills to 48.97 mills.

Not one of these stories, nor any others between Sept. 04 and March 05, states the need for athletic field improvements. Not one. In fact, indications are to the contrary, as Minder notes above.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 10 months ago

It appears jack-o's crusade de jure has been identified.

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JackRipper 3 years, 10 months ago

"Are you kidding me? when i donate money to a church or school it goes where i or we want it to go, a lot of people donate all the time for a specific cause"

We aren't talking about buying cupcakes for the after party dance, this is a capital project. You can do whatever you want at church, this is a taxpayer paid for school district that has no requirements to beholden to anyone who feels they want a tribute you themselves. Sorry but buy your own land and build it, oh wait, already did that and unfortunately we all have to look at that.

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JackRipper 3 years, 10 months ago

And got tif funds to do that too!

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alfie 3 years, 10 months ago

As far as the donation, it's too bad that the donor wouldn't allow the funds to have been used for both schools. Perhaps the donor shares some of the blame for the situation.

Are you kidding me? when i donate money to a church or school it goes where i or we want it to go, a lot of people donate all the time for a specific cause

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citizenkane 3 years, 10 months ago

One final note-

I'm beginning to think that the full-time bloggers who keep insisting that our concerns are invalid because there are two pots of money must be school board members.

WE GET IT! There are two pots of money, one for salaries, light bulbs and field trips, the other for replacing roofs and improving school buildings that the board would like to dump like a 5 year old Wal-Mart so they can build a super center.

Here's the big problem. The school district will be spending $1.25 million dollars pet year for the next ten years to pay back the loan it took to build these facilities it couldn't afford. Prior to this, it cost the district $85,000 per year in rental fees to play football. So what the brain trust decided to do was spend $1.25 million dollars, money that could be used for capital improvements every year, to save $85,000+ (I realize there were rental fees for softball and soccer, but how much of a difference could that make?) out of the operating budget.

The Board might find it hard to believe, but members of the public do know how to read a spreadsheet. To sum up- the capital fund is not being properly managed. In fact, some would argue that it is deliberately being manipulated to create a false sense of urgent need to have another bond. Good luck with that!

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JackRipper 3 years, 10 months ago

"Glo (anonymous) replies… Baseball players still drive to the baseball field. Guess the walk is too far!!?? Guess the car wreck (truck wreck ) will be closer."

LOL, yep, that's US American sports for you Glo. I wondered long ago how much sense it made to move the facilities the ku football players use to work out to the opposite side of campus from where they live and guessed correctly that indeed, our top athletes do in fact drive to work out. Yep, nothing wrong with all the curious ways US America seems confused what it is we really are striving for in this country. As the pugy get pugier on subsidized corn syrup, trying to maintain their suv habits on subsidized corn alcohol or subsidized military forces around the world, and subsidized government clean up of the massive disaster in the gulf, US Americans such as will with maps and their precious bodily fluids sit on their large back ends to support team building to maintain our way of life.

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JackRipper 3 years, 10 months ago

I've noticed it appears there are advertisers on the drapes on the fence right off of Louisiana, think it is the soccer field. Assuming they have to pay for that right where does that money go? Since we again use public facilities for private gain is there any accounting for the money from that advertising?

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citizenkane 3 years, 10 months ago

Oh and one more thing- could you stop blaming the neighbors for your empty-headed support of poor leadership and incomptent management.

Before you put forth another useless idea, why don't you do the math?

At $450 per day, which is the fee that is being charged by the district to rent the football stadium at Lawrence High School, how many days would you have to rent the field to pay off the principal ($10,000,000) on the loan the district took, without public approval, to finance this half baked idea? The answer is 22,222.222 days or 63 years.

Why don't you turn your attention instead to the real source of the problem, the misguided fools who are managing this debacle.

One of them reported that the project was coming in well under budget. Turns out, that's not true. Is he a liar, incompetent, a fool, or all of the above? You decide.

The same administrative genius said in a LJW sound off that the fields would cost $35 per month to maintain. Is he a liar, incompetent, a fool, or all of the above? You decide.

The same budget-conscious pillar of excellence claimed in public presentations that the state of the art, energy efficient lighting systems that were being installed would allow the school district to qualify for funds that would help to subsidize the building costs without realizing that those improvements didn't even qualify for the grants. Is he a liar, incompetent, a fool, or all of the above? You decide.

Oh, and now that all of these facts are finally being discovered, this person's boss continues to rely on his complete lack of sense and track record of incompetence. So is the superintendent liar, incompetent, a fool, or all of the above? You decide.

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JackRipper 3 years, 10 months ago

"The board accepted a donation. Yes, they probably knew that it would cost them more money than not taking it. But if they hadn't, would just as many people be lamenting the missed opportunity to use private money to improve facilities. As far as the donation, it's too bad that the donor wouldn't allow the funds to have been used for both schools. Perhaps the donor shares some of the blame for the situation."

Too bad? Since when does a public institution have to accept a donation on the terms of the donor? Any donation, period, should have been to the project as designed originally to help finance it. I said long ago that PLAY should have raised this money as it is obviously out there to build their own facilities that they are obsessed about but cleverly they went underground and pulled the strings. We should at least expect a certain amount of responsibility from the school board to premise donations to being for the entire town wide project but anymore in Lawrence ethical standards are in short supply. Sure people can run for office but now that the banking/development community has decided to play who would have a chance who is against this? Again, the great thing about building consumers instead of citizens is it is a lot easier for business to get their way when all they have to do is market their candidates like their products and the unthinking masses will go with it.

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swan_diver 3 years, 10 months ago

Jack. You're right down the pipe. The administrators of the USD are little besides shills for corporate America, personally profiting from the corruption and degradation of our children's lives. Get these kids suited up for combat, on some glorious foreign battlefield, right? Report on it from the press box.

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JackRipper 3 years, 10 months ago

Oh yawn, once again the same old tired bull

"If you don't like the fact that there is money for athletic fields and press boxes, talk to your legislators. The money spent for the fields could not be used for academic purposes. It could not be used for salaries, transportation or books. Only the money that comes from the state is allowed to be used for these expenses."

Yes but we have schools that came to the board saying there are at least $2million in repairs needed at their schools and some say even at LHS! And after paying for a new jr high all we got was a high dollar garage and prison grounds for the kids to play on with the watchful eye of the camera keeping an eye on them, suppose to get them use to the future? Enough of the stupid, can't use the money for this argument, we are all clear on that, it is a bogus comment! There are repairs that the money could go to and during tough times if we can rationalize building a fancy press box because they have one like a spoiled child we sure as hell should be able to rationalize using the money on repairing grade schools!

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JackRipper 3 years, 10 months ago

Sports falls right in line with what schools are suppose to do today, build good little consumers, how long did it take to finally say enough is enough with the Coke and fast foods in the schools! Who cares about creating citizens, no money in that, they may start questioning our illegal involvement around the world. They may start asking questions like why we shouldn't provide health care for people who make it possible to eat cheap. We don't want citizens in this country we want consumers. US Americans want maps for South Africa and the Iraq! Mom, I'm sure you and your blessed ones were watching this live http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNx...

Now sports, with all its high dollar marketing games so kids fall into the trap that a certain pair of slave made shoes is best and shoot even endorsed by universities thanks to generous payments of money that come from people paying for slave made shoes that make enormous amounts of money to flood our culture with nonstop advertising and marketing to keep up consuming! Team sports do all of that, you don't see a single yookle come on pushing for fencing, skateboarding, biking, or hell even just walking to school so the ruse of it being for the children is a load of astroturf!

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areyousure 3 years, 10 months ago

If you don't like the fact that there is money for athletic fields and press boxes, talk to your legislators. The money spent for the fields could not be used for academic purposes. It could not be used for salaries, transportation or books. Only the money that comes from the state is allowed to be used for these expenses. The intent is that school districts across the state will have the same percentage of money to spend. More prosperous districts with larger property tax bases are not able to spend a proportional larger amount on their programs. If you think that Blue Valley can spend more money currently, what would you think they could do if all monies were allocated as the district wanted.

The board accepted a donation. Yes, they probably knew that it would cost them more money than not taking it. But if they hadn't, would just as many people be lamenting the missed opportunity to use private money to improve facilities. As far as the donation, it's too bad that the donor wouldn't allow the funds to have been used for both schools. Perhaps the donor shares some of the blame for the situation.

You don't like how the board is doing things? Guess what - you can run yourself. There is an election in about a year for three of the seats. Pay a $10 filing fee, buy some yard signs and go for it. It would be nice to see enough candidates to need a run-off vote. And will more than 10% take the trouble to vote? And will more than 15 people show up at a candidate forum? There is always plenty of people who want to say what elected officials should be doing. Not that many who will take the time or trouble to back up their opinions.

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citizenkane 3 years, 10 months ago

are the only thing that matters. Thus, you use the kids as human shields. Nice role modeling behavior.

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JackRipper 3 years, 10 months ago

"Intramural games? those wouldn't satisfy most student athletes, as the level of competition would be gone. "

Who cares, in the big picture the level of competition between educating US Americans verses everyone else who comes here to get an education in the fields we should be concerned about is already gone! Sounds like you would have been comfortable going to the coliseum in Roman days as the empire slipped away. Athletics are not the purposes of schools or universities!

"While you are correct that the Olathe, Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley share stadiums, I believe each school also has their own practice fields. LHS didn't even have those, unless you count the fields at Holcom and YSI, which I don't believe you can."

Why shouldn't you count those, sports are like clubs and should not be something you mandate the schools to provide as is apparent resources are dwindling away and empty fields of astroturf should not be the indicator of a good school! The skateboarders have to use a public facility, why isn't the school district rushing out to buy them a park?

"you know, one way to make money back on the stadiums is to rent those fields to tournaments. Oh, but wait, the neighbors didn't want that. Never mind."

Oh yes, I remember, as long as it isn't in your backyard all is fair game. Something tells me you'd be on here raising holy heck if your neighbors started a skatepark and had bands playing. I love your sense of a good neighbor and how people who have lived in a neighborhood for years are chided as being stupid because of course they should have anticipated the major inferiority complex that would hit Lawrence as the jealously drooled over having what one of the richest counties in the country has! Got to love that spirit of cooperation sports build in people, as long as you are on your side otherwise, stomp those people in the ground, aye!

"No one is going to be happy with the decisions the school board makes, especially when they hate athletics. "

There is a darn good chance I'm more athletic then you are. Team sports tend to be something people do up to a certain age. The athletic endeavors I do are for a lifetime. Which should we encourage in this country if you claiming sports are good for the health of students?

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swan_diver 3 years, 10 months ago

Yeah Mom. Would you care to expand on the dirty little secret that only a relative handful of students are able to avail themselves of these competitive sporting extravaganzas -- while each and every child desperately needs a good education, for themselves, the region, and the nation?

School board members and administrators love to embellish their sporting programs, much like colleges and universities -- for their own twisted egos. It's a vulgarity and it's a form of unadulterated corruption. These people are destroying our culture, and America itself, with their criminally wasteful extravagance -- all pursued at the expense of educating our children.

An excellent letter to the editor. Thanks for calling out these disgraceful charlatans at the USD -- who know no shame.

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citizenkane 3 years, 10 months ago

Finally, a very thorough summary of the cowardly leadership, poor decision-making, and incompetent management that has taken place with these projects.

Mom of three, you consistently use this red-herring argument that LHS needed practice facilities. Okay, so why didn't the school district build practice facilities and one shared competition venue? Because they are afraid of you.

The big ticket items on these projects- astro turf for two sets of facilities, lights on all venues whether they're used primarily for practice or for games, and the excavation and construction costs for two stadiums could have been cut by more than half if the school district had listened to the majority of community members instead of pandering to the self-absorbed demands of parents. You have used the empty, emotionally manipulative tactic of pretending that safety and "the good of the kids"

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alfie 3 years, 10 months ago

You or we should be grateful to Fritzel or Katzfey and the others for the donations to the sports facility; people that care

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JackRipper 3 years, 10 months ago

This letter is the most intelligent commentary of our screwed up school district I've seen. Bravo!

"While you give numbers about the average teacher salary in those districts, what is the average earnings of a citizen of those counties? That could make a difference in determining how much a district can pay a teacher. "

Mom, your fanatical obsession with sports is more the problem then the so called people who hate them. All these points were brought up before they plowed ahead and you were right on board waving your little flags shouting rock chalk rock chalk rock chalk, teary eyed obsessed. Now let me ask you since you seem to picked up on a question I posed long ago how we could possibly afford to keep up the sports arms race with one of the wealthiest counties in the entire country that you seem to think is relevant now in regards to teacher's pay.

I almost wonder if the anonymous Fritzel donation wasn't intended to do just what it is doing, creating the insane belief we need to spend more on sports after the spending orgy we were just on! This letter was brilliant but an other point of question is how the heck did USD497 which can't seem to figure out how to come up with enough money to run the schools managed to come in under budget on the school buildings at a time commodities prices were going through the roof. Anyone remember bleachers being stolen to melt down the metal? I'd really like to know why the JW doesn't have real investigative reporters who do more then just get people stirred up and instead start serious investigations of this school district and all the ol boy networks that seem to fund what started out a public attempt to increase sports facilities as PLAY which fell off the map and started pulling strings in the dark. Where is the reporting to shine light on all this?

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Ricky_Vaughn 3 years, 10 months ago

The man's right...these education budget cuts have to stop somewhere...

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Ralph Reed 3 years, 10 months ago

@Clickker, re: your 0847.

You start out with one major fallacy, "that teachers work only nine months of the year." Teachers work 12 months of the year, just like you do. What you don't see is what they're doing when your kids aren't in school. Teachers must attend classes on their own dime to maintain their teaching certificates. The district doesn't pay for that, nor do the school. K-12 teachers get a sabbatical like a university prof so they can go off and study or finish a degree. K-12 teachers put in a 12 to 14 hour day - you only see them when your kids are in school (where you've sent them to be babysat because you don't want to deal with their problems). K-12 teachers spend at least half the summer prepping for the next year. The list goes on and on.

You also pick up on the stated average teacher salary in Lawrence, the latest KSDE report I can find quotes about $48,500. You have to keep in mind that that number is not starting salary, but rather a salary figure including longevity (20 years +-) and advanced degrees (paid for on the teacher's dime). Few teachers stay in Lawrence that long.

You are correct when you say that there's an over abundance of applicants for USD 497. Students coming out of KU try to get a job here, because they like the environment. Many of them have also already started families - perhaps their spouse has not finished college yet. There are all sorts of reasons.

Your comment about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett needs to be directed at the state, not at USD 497. Contact your State BOE rep for that one.

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KawHawk 3 years, 10 months ago

$500,000 for a PRESS BOX ? For an announcer to sit in a few days of the year ? What, you can't just mark off a section of the bleachers ?

This school board is so WRONG, WRONG, WRONG !

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Michael Rowland 3 years, 10 months ago

Are kids going to school to play games or to learn?

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Clickker 3 years, 10 months ago

Wow--the average salary for a teacher is around $50k? For working 9 months of the year, that aint bad. In fact, if the teachers unions didnt limit supply, ( you know that Bill Gates or Warren Buffett would have to go to a college in Kansas for an extra 2 years, at least, just to be able to get a degree to teach Business at West Jr. high). In fact one reason for the relatively low salaries in Lawrence is the supply of young applicants was greater in lawrence, as many KU grads sought to stay in the town after graduation. Not as many wanted to teach in Gardner as wanted to teach and hang out in Lawrence. Whether the stadiums needed to be built is debateable. At least one did, but both schools needed practice facilities. LHS was one major car wreck away from a catastrope as kids had to drive 7 miles away on country roads just to get to practice every day. Of course, athletics are the most transparent 'luxury' that everyone looks at. And Teachers salaries are the most transparent 'necessity' that everyone looks at, but I would suggest there is huge waste elsewhere, and these two things are simply not out of line.

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puddleglum 3 years, 10 months ago

500K on a press box?

even though I am a pretty person, I don't need to have a press box for everyone to see me.

I guess nobody really cares about education anymore. go team.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 10 months ago

"What happens when Haskell decided it was no longer going to rent a space to the High Schools?"

When did Haskell ever even hint at such an intention? Haskell is chronically underfunded by the Feds, and they needed the high school money to maintain their field. Think was a showplace that stadium could have become with just a fraction of the $million that were thrown at these new stadiums, with plenty of money left over to build practice fields at LHS and elsewhere.

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jbiegs 3 years, 10 months ago

no grammaddy there probably isn't, but there might be.

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grammaddy 3 years, 10 months ago

I don't hate athletics but I do think we should worry MORE about whether there is enough money for books and desks. I guess my priorities are different. And explain to me why we need an elevator? Are there a lot of handicapped sports announcers?

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mom_of_three 3 years, 10 months ago

While you are correct that the Olathe, Shawnee MIssion and Blue Valley share stadiums, I believe each school also has their own practice fields. LHS didn't even have those, unless you count the fields at Holcom and YSI, which I don't believe you can. Intramural games? those wouldn't satisfy most student athletes, as the level of competition would be gone.
While you give numbers about the average teacher salary in those districts, what is the average earnings of a citizen of those counties? That could make a difference in determining how much a district can pay a teacher.

LHS needs a press box, so the announcer can see and call the game, so the radio announcer can see and call the game, and so the track announcer can see and call the game. Anyone who has a field, pretty much as a press box.
Not sure about other sports, but the basketball assistant coaches also coach jv and c team, and one person can't be in two spots at once.
No, the school board probably didn't make a wise decision in building the stadiums when they did, but they were long overdue. What happens when Haskell decided it was no longer going to rent a space to the High Schools?
No one is going to be happy with the decisions the school board makes, especially when they hate athletics.
you know, one way to make money back on the stadiums is to rent those fields to tournaments. Oh, but wait, the neighbors didn't want that. Never mind.

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Kookamooka 3 years, 10 months ago

Here Here! Well put. Kevin Yoder and his band of merry education slashers at the State are encouraging even more education cuts in the next fiscal year. In order to stop them in their tracks, the only weapon the districts in Kansas have at their disposal is cutting boys football and boys basketball. If every district joined together and cut one of those sports, there would be substantial savings. But I have a strong suspicion that no testosterone pumping male legislator would deny someones son the opportunity to get that basketball scholarship to Duke. Pressure from the big Universities would settle Yoder and his gang down.

USD497 should really consider ways to reduce their athletic funding. A press box? Really? When LHS stadium doesn't have adequate bathrooms? So much of our press is posting stories from their Iphones. Why an entire box?

AND trim those Human Resource jobs that are a complete waste of human resource.

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