Advertisement

Archive for Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Subcommittee discusses what model Lawrence school would look like: No portables

November 2, 2010

Advertisement

Lawrence’s “model” elementary school would feature consistently sized classrooms, gymnasiums, kitchens, libraries, offices, commons areas and other support spaces under a plan envisioned for the district’s future.

And such foresight would remove a collective eyesore.

“Portables — we’re not going to allow that to continue,” said Tom Waechter, chairman of a subcommittee studying the physical conditions of the district’s 15 elementary schools. “We need to address that in one way or another.”

Waechter joined nearly two dozen other volunteers Monday night for the latest in an series of subcommittee workshops, all part of the ongoing work of their combined group appointed by the Lawrence school board: the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force.

The task force’s charge: “Recommend a community vision and plan for the school district’s elementary facilities that reflect the varied community and educational values and how to best reflect those values given the restraints of current and anticipated district resources.”

Each of four subcommittees is focusing on a specific area: assess class sizes and promote other so-called “best practices”; define “neighborhood school”; determine optimal operational costs and financial efficiency; and assess physical conditions of each school.

The “conditions” subcommittee admittedly is reaching a bit beyond its responsibilities, choosing to venture into discussions about operations, efficiencies and other topics sure to come up once all committees share their reports with one another, likely in three weeks.

One example, regarding efficiency: If a school’s classrooms are 20 percent smaller than the district’s “model,” then administrators should consider limiting enrollment in those classes to a level 20 percent below the district maximum.

“That’s just common sense,” said Waechter, father of two elementary students and assistant director of design and construction management at Kansas University.

The task force’s recommendations are due to the board by February.

Comments

OnAir 4 years, 3 months ago

Suggestion: do not worry so much about how pretty everything is or how proud we might feel driving up to our beautiful school, and focus on the education going on inside. If we are going to help our kids stop judging people on appearances, we probably should start doing the same with our education system.

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 3 months ago

Pretty is not the issue. Portables are not very safe. Many of them do not have intercoms or land lines. There are issues of what happens during a fire, tornado, or lockdown. This is not an appearance issue.

sourpuss 4 years, 3 months ago

I don't understand. Lawrence has closed several elementary schools in the past ten years, yet builds portables at others. Why not move children from the crowded schools to the empty schools? Some of the buildings are still there and could be reopened. Another option is to build more schools in these high child density areas, recognizing that when these children grow up and move on that the schools will not be needed as the neighborhood ages. Seems expensive. When I attended elementary school in Lawrence, I never saw a portable classroom and never stepped into one. Lawrence -should- be embarrassed.

Upstate 4 years, 3 months ago

But the buildings are being used for other things much more important than our kids' education. For example, Centennial is the storage place for school district furniture and band equipment, a concession stand, Johnson County classes (they pay $1500 rent per year, yes, per year), and LVS administration. Better to cram a few more kids in portables or small classrooms than to forgoe these higher and better uses for school property....

Keith 4 years, 3 months ago

I think the model school for Lawrence would be all portables. That way when a neighborhood ages out of elementary school age children, they could move the portables out and have an instant park or sell the land for development.

smercer 4 years, 3 months ago

Old Desks: In a fully heated and airconditioned brick building (with brand new windows and doors installed last summer).

District Adminstration: In a spacious facility with top of the line IT.

Superintendent: In a newly remodeled office.

Children and teachers: in portables

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 3 months ago

I agree. The first thing that should be done to address our school situation is to change boundaries to fully utilize our existing buildings that are in good repair.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Let's also consider that many parents are working and some may not have the background necessary to address a students subject matter. How can USD 497 meet this substantial challenge? Let's take on this challenge. While at the same time improving academics!

Let's Support More learning = eliminating No Child Left Behind yet preparing our students for the real world of higher education which could be JCCC,4 year college or Vo-Tech.

*School hours: 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM Eliminates public school traffic from the morning rush hour. If students need dropped off a bit early perhaps lab work,art projects,wood working or exercise could be scheduled.

Exercise = power walk,swimming,cycling/elliptical or aerobics

*Exercise = energy generation ( sometime between 11-2 each day when new energy is welcome)

*Is there necessarily any need for USD 497 students to be doing class per se 5 days a week?

*IF the objective in fact is to empower the student, feed comprehension, improve testing based on learning, to be productive in addition creating a less stressful environment yet more interesting. Scheduling two whole school days to home work and exercise at school during the school week surely would be beneficial.

Thinking outside the box - Beginning at the Junior High Level

*Let's talk 3 days in class per se and two days to read, do written homework,math,science,art projects in class rooms etc etc and exercise in the gym or outdoors. Every student does exercise time no matter what.

anonyname 4 years, 3 months ago

Where to start??

Eliminating No Child Left Untested. I FULLY agree with you - but it's not something a USD497 task force can accomplish.

"Is there necessarily any need for USD 497 students to be doing class per se 5 days a week?" Well, only if we want them to learn. I'm not in favor of packing kids in classrooms and drilling them all day - which I realize you're not proposing - but one reason other developed nations have much better public education systems than ours is that their students spend significantly more time with their teachers.

Junior high students given two days a week to do as they want. Have you been to a middle school lately, or even been around a middle schooler? The vast majority of them are not going to be very productive with unstructured time.

More exercise, I fully agree with. The idea that eliminating a large amount of classroom time "surely would be beneficial"? Laughable.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

AGAIN let's consider that many parents are working and some may not have the background necessary to address a students subject matter.

*Yes the the teaching staff would still be at school 5 days a week. No doubt they could find plenty to do. Grading papers,preparing for tests/lab experiments etc etc and help students with homework.

Let's talk 3 days in class per se and two days to read, do written homework,math,science,art projects in class rooms etc etc and exercise in the gym or outdoors.

  • Perhaps this new concept could ease number of after hours at home for instructors. Not only would they be doing themselves some benefit but also be there for students who have questions and/or need assistance with homework. It would seem that two days available for assisting students,if necessary, plus scheduled exercise time would be equally as beneficial as "class time per se".

*The school library would be open as well for research.

*This suggested new scheduling would be exposing students to the college and/or Vo-Tech daily routine.

*Could it save revenue? Who knows? Could it maximize academics? Why not...

*Why not declare Tuesday and Thursday as days for study and exercise? Both of which are good for the brain cells. This concept could represent productive academics.

Change is sometimes difficult but maybe the time has come.

Jacks_Smirking_Revenge 4 years, 3 months ago

Merrill, this is one of the first times that actually agree with most if not all of what you said here. Hey LJW, could we get this guy his own column, so the wall of words would be in one place?

I think there are lots of people that are spinning around shrieking "no" to messing with the start/stop timing of school or the number of classes. That is just too free thinking for this day and age.

While technology is 21st century, work ethic is more like late 19th or early 20th century. By the way we live, school should start promptly at 8:00 and end at 5:00, or later. This is M-F with occasional Saturdays. And if you don't get at least a B, then you're out of school and must look for a new school to attend.

tl;dr: Good idea, won't work b/c society thinks change = bad.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 3 months ago

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

anonyname 4 years, 3 months ago

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

anonyname 4 years, 3 months ago

"This suggested new scheduling would be exposing students to the college and/or Vo-Tech daily routine." Yeah, first graders will do a great job of getting to class on time and keeping themselves on task.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 3 months ago

Awesome, my posts got removed... apparently, Merrill is allowed to spam the forums endlessly, but if someone else behaves in a similar manner their posts get removed. Nice.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 3 months ago

Merrill spammed:

"AGAIN let's consider that many parents are working and some may not have the background necessary to address a students subject matter.

*Yes the the teaching staff would still be at school 5 days a week. No doubt they could find plenty to do. Grading papers,preparing for tests/lab experiments etc etc and help students with homework.

Let's talk 3 days in class per se and two days to read, do written homework,math,science,art projects in class rooms etc etc and exercise in the gym or outdoors.

  • Perhaps this new concept could ease number of after hours at home for instructors. Not only would they be doing themselves some benefit but also be there for students who have questions and/or need assistance with homework. It would seem that two days available for assisting students,if necessary, plus scheduled exercise time would be equally as beneficial as "class time per se".

*The school library would be open as well for research.

*This suggested new scheduling would be exposing students to the college and/or Vo-Tech daily routine.

*Could it save revenue? Who knows? Could it maximize academics? Why not...

*Why not declare Tuesday and Thursday as days for study and exercise? Both of which are good for the brain cells. This concept could represent productive academics.

Change is sometimes difficult but maybe the time has come."


I disagree with some of this.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

USD 497 needs to spend tax dollars more wisely and stop ignoring existing resources.

How should the school district pay for a $16.5 million maintenance backlog in elementary schools? http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/oct/how_should_school_district_pay_20_million_maintena/ ======================= School Priorities By By Susan Rischer - Lawrence October 22, 2009 http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/oct/22/school-priorities/#c1027186

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 3 months ago

Basically, a double-wide that is parked by the school, with sidewalk and electricity added, and viola! This is a portable classroom, kind of like an educational porta-potty.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

This talk about portables may well be leading to talk about more new buildings. However we have East Heights and Centennial buildings plus New York school.

We can only hope this is not one of groups that will bring yet again a giant school building that will require more driving than ever for more parents = not environmentally or fiscally responsible.

Builders and the Chamber very likely want USD 497 to spend more big government tax dollars for a school building on the recent $22,000 an acre unimproved land.

I say keep an eye on our wallets and try to guide this community into the idea of making better use of USD 497 existing resources. If USD 497 had not spent 20 million on the athletic fiasco the issue of portables could have been settled. How? New construction on existing school properites/land the portables currently occupy.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 3 months ago

Says the guy who home schools his kid...

Sue McDaniel 4 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, those unfinished football stadiums were REALLY important to a select few......

Commenting has been disabled for this item.