Archive for Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lawrence school district mulls bleachers for athletic fields at high schools

October 27, 2010

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The Lawrence school district still needs to buy a bunch of bleachers for its athletics fields at Free State and Lawrence high schools.

Oh, and the new LHS baseball field finally will get shields to help prevent diamond-illuminating light from spilling onto Louisiana Street and into nearby homes.

Such is the latest game plan for moving forward on more than $15 million in upgrades to the district’s athletics venues, now more than two years after construction began.

“We’re thrilled to hear that the reflector hoods will be placed on the baseball lights,” said Jeanne Klein, a leader of the Centennial Neighborhood Association, which has taken the district to court over issues related to expansions of athletics fields in the neighborhood. “The glare is astounding.”

The neighborhood continues to keep close tabs on the district’s progress at LHS and the former open area south and west of Centennial, now the Lawrence Virtual School.

“There’s a lot of unfinished work,” Klein said. “Lots of unfinished work.”

Frank Harwood, the district’s chief operations officer, said that as recently as June the district had 144 items on its list of things to do to complete planned athletics upgrades.

Now the list is down to 15.

“We are still at or below budget,” Harwood said.

Bleachers represent the next phase of capital investment.

The district needs to install 500-seat bleachers for soccer and 300-seat bleachers for baseball, both at Lawrence High. Estimated cost is $60,000 for aluminum bleachers.

Last year, the district entertained the possibility of installing more permanent bleachers — using the same materials and style as those at the football stadiums at both high schools — for baseball and soccer at Lawrence High. That plan would have cost $478,000.

Nobody is sure yet what form bleachers will take at the two sites, but board members plan to discuss options in November. More seating also is needed for baseball and soccer at Free State, Harwood said, and board members will see an outline for addressing all seating needs at both schools.

“Come up with a plan, so we know where we’re headed,” said Bob Byers, a board member.

Comments

devobrun 4 years, 8 months ago

I am associated with a local private school.

We pay for our stuff. Or we don't have stuff.

The public school board can pass an action, the budget is to be payed by a variety of government taxes. I pay for them. You pay for them. You can't say no. Or we are arrested. The sheriff can pull a gun on us if we don't pay. We can go to jail.

At my school, you can say no.

I love my school because people are free. They don't even have to believe in God. They do have to be respectful. It's called civility. Its pretty simple really.

When government requires people to engage in behavior they don't want, it is oppression. It causes tea-party movements.

It causes right-wing protests.

Listen to the people and learn.

ralphralph 4 years, 8 months ago

I am associated with a local private school.

... Bite me!

anonyname 4 years, 8 months ago

I'll start by saying I think that, with the budget as it is, this is the wrong time to be spending money on athletic amenities.

Having said that, I find your logic quite interesting. You don't use the public schools, so you shouldn't pay for them. Should a person who doesn't drive be able to opt out of the portion of taxes that pay for roads and bridges? Perhaps a person who's never had a fire could opt out of taxes that pay for the fire department.

Some things are done for the common good. I'm not flying in an airplane today, but I know that my taxes help fund air traffic control so it's less likely a 737 will crash on my house. I'm perfectly well today, but I know that my taxes help fund health care for the needy so it's less likely my family will get sick.

At your school you can say no. They can also say no to you. Can't pay? No private school for you. Discipline problem? They don't want you; no private school for you. Not performing academically? They don't want you bringing down their test scores or hurting their image; no private school for you. Private schools can do that, and it happens pretty regularly.

The public school board can pass actions. The public school board was elected by...the public. Don't like their actions? Run for office. A democracy runs that way.

As to government requiring people to engage in behavior they don't want: government requires people not to break into homes. If a person wants to break into your home, should they be allowed to? Government requires people not to commit assault or battery. If a person wants to beat you up, should they be allowed to? It may be what that person wants to do, regardless of the government's intrusive actions telling them not to. (Note I am NOT implying I want to or would do either of these, simply providing hypotheticals for the purpose of argument.) You probably find these arguments ridiculous; I hope you do. It is no more ridiculous for the government to protect yourself and your family than for the government to provide an education for the common good.

Again, I agree the bleachers are a bad idea at the moment. I'm addressing your overall attempts at logic.

ralphralph 4 years, 8 months ago

I really think "Bite Me" covered all this.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

What exactly was the budget for this fiasco?

mom_of_three 4 years, 8 months ago

The glare is astounding for the lights on the baseball fields? You mean for the three months out of the year that they play baseball? Talk about a waste of money.

BTW, folks I know who have seen the new stadiums are impressed.

But it doesn't matter. some people are never gonna like them.

Mari Aubuchon 4 years, 8 months ago

If it doesn't benefit you and yours, it must be a waste of money, right?

Speaking as someone who will never benefits from any of these expenditures, I vote for the light shields over the bleachers.

Andrea Hoag 4 years, 8 months ago

I read this with incredulity.

While I'm sorry for any inconvenience the lights are causing people, the mere mention of spending money on frivolous things like this given the state of the school board's budget is absolutely LUDICROUS.

My children are involved in every sport except soccer, yet I am completely AGAINST spending money on anything that is not directly involved in IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION in this town.

Let's look at this rationally, folks. The level of desperation is such that teachers are having to dig into their (nearly flat) pockets to purchase much-needed classroom supplies themselves!

Subject areas and class offerings are either being cut or in peril of same!

As it stands now, one can scarely expect to raise a family on a teacher's salary in Lawrence, so forgive me if a discussion of lights and bleachers is completely appalling to me.

Spend money on education. Not fripperies!

GardenMomma 4 years, 8 months ago

I find it hard to believe that the dual stadium project is still under budget.

sad_lawrencian 4 years, 8 months ago

Are the drama, band, fine arts or music facilities in each high school receiving $15 million in upgrades as well?

Shardwurm 4 years, 8 months ago

I hope not.

Those areas are a waste of money and should not be funded beyond 8th grade.

None of those areas provide critical life-skills to the modern children.

You want your child to appreciate art? Pay for it yourself.

Shelley Bock 4 years, 8 months ago

First, band and arts have received assistance over the years and probably will in the future.. Each endeavor has needs and in differing degrees. If you criticize athletic expenditures which I believe necessary, will I be free to condemn your wishes?

Each activity has a place in the public school enivronment. Students who participate in athletics perform better in school and graduate. I'm not certain whether this is because the better students go out for sports or if sports makes them better students by making performance and comportment demands.

Athletics ultimately provided for one of my children to receive her undergrad costs reduced by 1/2 and her masters for a TA position. Now, she works directly in that sport.

Other daughter was successful on the pitch and court, as well. It has given her such confidence that she spoke in Spanish as she taught a high school class in Spain today. As I watched her, I knew that her "TOTAL" Lawrence education was the reason that an extremely shy youngster could work and live at ease in foreign country.

I won't ever begrudge any project that the School Board promotes, whether that be athletics, music, thespian events and, especially, education. It is a total and complete person I want graduating from the Lawrence School District. Athletics had been ignored for decades. In the future there will be assistance given for your concerns. I will be supportive of all.

anonyname 4 years, 8 months ago

Critical life skills? OK...would these qualify?

academic performance: "Children exposed to a multi-year programme of music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers, according to a study published in the journal Psychology of Music." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090316075843.htm

"The National Educational Longitudinal Study, directed by the United States Department of Education, has reported that music participants received more academic honors and awards than non-music students, and that the percentage of music participants receiving As and Bs was higher than the percentage of nonparticipants receiving those grades. These findings are supported by a study performed over a ten-year period by Dr. James Catterall. Catterall found that regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students got higher marks on standardized tests, such as the SATs and reading proficiency exams, compared to those with no music involvement." http://www.parentguidenews.com/Catalog/Education/InspireYourChildtoSucceed

decreased use of dangerous substances: "The advantages of music education extend beyond the academic arena. Students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest current and lifetime use of dangerous substances, including alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs, according to the Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report. Students who participated in arts programs in selected New York City elementary and middle schools show significant increases in self-esteem and thinking skills, reports the National Arts Education Research Center of New York University. And based on a study done by McGill University, self-esteem, pattern recognition, musical skill and mental representation scores improved significantly for students receiving piano instruction." http://www.parentguidenews.com/Catalog/Education/InspireYourChildtoSucceed

self-esteem: An Auburn University study found that at-risk children who participated in an arts program that included music showed significant increases in self-concept according to the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale [(1992). Project ARISE: Meeting the needs of disadvantaged students through the art. Auburn University]. http://dorothybrownmusic.com/docs/Music_and_Emotional_Development.pdf

These sound like "critical life-skills (for) modern children" to me. Note that these are not my opinions, nor opinions of researchers: everything above comes from detailed and rigorous research studies that account for socio-economic status and other possible factors. Feel free to read more research at http://www.allegrorainbow.com/media/pdfs/ChildrenandMusicResearch.pdf.

hail2oldku 4 years, 8 months ago

Psssst, it's called sarcasm. Don't get your panties in a bunch.

anonyname 4 years, 8 months ago

From some users, it certainly would be sarcasm, and well done. If you look at past comments from Shardwurm, you'd find this one consistent with hundreds of others, and thus meant as stated. Granted, it's likely a waste of my time to bother providing Shardwurm with research completely contradicting his/her point, but perhaps someone else will learn something from seeing it.

Mari Aubuchon 4 years, 8 months ago

Actually, the arts are important in overall brain development. For instance, art education is particularly helpful in literacy and critical thinking; music education aids in analytical and math skills. The arts are excellent ways of teaching children to go beyond the lower levels of thinking. If you want the next generation to be innovative and creative in solving problems, we need children who learn to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate.

Of course, I believe that the arts have intrinsic value to individual lives and our culture in general. If this were not the case, they would not be among the earliest evidence of our humanity itself.

FormerTiger 4 years, 8 months ago

How many millions of basic maintenance and updates to elementary schools have been pushed aside for years only so we can spend 15 million on too many athletic fields.....appalling.

TopJayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Typical. Two fancy stadiums for two H.S. Light shields for the whiney,,,,,,,,what a waste of money. Pull your curtains. The Lawrence whiney are alive and well I see.

tanaumaga 4 years, 8 months ago

a sports complex for both schools would have been nice. time machine, activate......

jackson5 4 years, 8 months ago

Let me get this straight: The district claims they have "leftover" money from the last bond issue and that it can only be spent on High School facilities. Hence, plenty of funds for bleachers and press boxes.

Yet, district employees have been assigned the task of creating lists of high school construction projects to accomodate 9th graders and update facilities. The high school facilities committees have been meeting frequently since school started and the list is not short.

When the next bond retires in a year, property taxes go DOWN. I have no intention of supporting any new bonds that raise property taxes if it includes construction funds for high schools. The district had $20 million to spend on high schools and chose to spend it on non-academic facilities. This is the same district that did so poorly in test scores that the state is sending in visitors to observe next week.

I appreciate that my children are playing sports on nice fields. However, I liked it better when our town was the leader in education. Right now, we are the Sunflower League Champs in debt and property taxes.

ralphralph 4 years, 8 months ago

When you put a ballfield in the middle of a residential neighborhood, you put shields on the lights. That is common sense, and complaining that they have failed to do it is not "whining" but is accountability. Why weren't shields part of the specs when the lights were installed? Wouldn't it have been more economical to bid them as part of the lighting system, and have them installed when you had the lighting guys and all their trucks and equipment there already? ... and you wonder where all the money goes.

The glare of incompetence is astounding.

mom_of_three 4 years, 8 months ago

No, we put a ball field close to a high school. Did people think that there would never be ball fields next to a high school?
Residents didn't complain about the lights on the old football practice field. Oh, thats right, no one could use it, because of the bad shape it was in.

I love the new fields. Trade me houses and I will live next to them. I love the sound of high school football and baseball. Kind of miss the noise I use to get from Haskell.

Kontum1972 4 years, 8 months ago

bring your own chairs......they are more comfortable

jmm35 4 years, 8 months ago

Light reflectors...wow...

Room darkening shades - $8.99 at Wal-Mart.

I mean, how often do the lights bother you? There is maybe 1 football game a week, if that, and last time I checked, most baseball games are played in the afternoon in high school. Do you expect anyone that drives past your house to have reflectors on their headlights. Obviously you are a cat person...

Danimal 4 years, 8 months ago

I think we could've all agreed that the district needed some new facilities, but I don't think any reasonable person can assert that we needed two Cadillac facilities. Heck, the 5A high school I went to didn't even have its own facilities, we shared different facilities with the city and a local college. They are nice facilities, but I guarantee this will end up costing way more than it needed to over the course of its life. I don't know exactly who talked the school board into this but I'm sure they made out like bandits.

Shelley Bock 4 years, 8 months ago

tanaumaga, I agree, that's way to little. There needs to be more.

Jeremy DeBoard 4 years, 8 months ago

In other news, our district's middle schools will not be offering french and german next year - only spanish. Funding for bleachers has to come from somewhere, people.

hail2oldku 4 years, 8 months ago

That would be because German and French have only been offered at the 9th grade level. Since 9th graders are now going to be at the high schools there would be no reason to offer it at the middle schools

Jeremy DeBoard 4 years, 8 months ago

"...have only been offered at the 9th grade level" for the last couple of years. "Since 9th graders are now going to be at the high schools there would be no reason to offer it at the middle schools" Because offering them again to 7th and, or at the least, 8th graders wouldn't free up any funding.

hail2oldku 4 years, 8 months ago

My last kid left jr high last year. My first kid went through jr high 14 years ago. I had two others in between. NONE of them had an option besides intro to foreign languages - as eighth graders - and Spanish in the second semester of their eigth grade year. MOST of the kids (and all of mine) didn't take anything more than the intro class in eighth and then took one of the three as a ninth grader. There is no "last couple of years" about it. What you are asking for is an expanded offering, good luck with that in this funding climate.

Shelley Bock 4 years, 8 months ago

If you want to get into the language wars, the question is why languages aren't being taught in the primary schools where students would be able to learn quicker.

I sat through a 6th grade class in a Spanish school today in a town you have never heard of listening to students practice their English at a level far better than most Americans do in a foreign language in high school. The Spanish government even hires Americans as instructors. (Not me, I was only there observing.)

Spain sees the business and economical need for such studies. Why can't we? Teach it in the primary grades. If there aren't enough teachers, find 'em or make 'em.

The world is "flat" and we're watching other countries pass us by as we tread water,

Shelley Bock 4 years, 8 months ago

If you want to get into the language wars, the question is why languages aren't being taught in the primary schools where students would be able to learn quicker.

I sat through a 6th grade class in a Spanish school today in a town you have never heard of listening to students practice their English at a level far better than most Americans do in a foreign language in high school. The Spanish government even hires Americans as instructors. (Not me, I was only there observing.)

Spain sees the business and economical need for such studies. Why can't we? Teach it in the primary grades. If there aren't enough teachers, find 'em or make 'em.

The world is "flat" and we're watching other countries pass us by as we tread water,

Shelley Bock 4 years, 8 months ago

Sorry about that duplication. Connection confusion from afar.

rivercitymom 4 years, 8 months ago

Everyone is always drawing comparisons between Lawrence and JoCo, too. There are two football facilities for the FIVE Shawnee Mission high schools, I'm pretty sure that is (still) the case.

When I drive by one of these new Lawrence stadiums I get furious at the waste! At the same time, our HS teachers are being told to cut down on copying and they are buying supplies out of their own pockets (I'm referring to art supplies, for advanced art classes -- and parents pay an extra $50 fee for most HS art classes.) Riciculous! We've learned nothing from the Romans!

mom_of_three 4 years, 8 months ago

But those same Shawnee mission high schools have their own football practice fields. LHS didn't even have that. Shawnee mIssion schools have some facilities at their own schools, too. They don't live at the district fields...

rivercitymom 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm not begrudging anyone a practice field. Just sayin' two mammoth stadiums are not necessary for our two high schools. Even if our school district were rolling in cash, I'd be irritated at the wasteful arrogance. What's especially harmful about this whole debacle is that it has polarized the "anti public schools" crowd even more, so now when we need more money to retain teachers and actually TEACH our kids, no one is going to pony up -- they will point to our lavish sports facilities and say "why should we help when all the school district does with taxpayer money is build stadiums that sit empty the majority of the time?"

Shelley Bock 4 years, 8 months ago

rivercitymom...there are 5 soccer fields for the Shawnee Mission District. Three at the District Soccer Complex across from Oak Park Mall and the two football fields which are painted for soccer. Free State and LHS have played on all five. The Olathe District has 4 schools and 4 competitive fields.

The soccer fields remain in use constantly. Youth teams practice when not being used by the schools. I believe that the Lawrence Adult Soccer League uses the fields on the weekends.

Not only used by the schools, but the community as well.

bd 4 years, 8 months ago

Look what topeka did, they have a very nice complex!

This town sucks!

graymane 4 years, 8 months ago

I worked for usd#497 for the last three years as a paraeducator helping guide and teach our less fortunate kids and help them learn some basic life skills so they could survive in this 21st century world. I was layed off due to the 4.5 million dollar budget cut. It makes me feel good however that I can take in a good football game in my abundant spare time at a $2.5 million stadium. That would be two $2.5 million stadiums. My bad.

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