Archive for Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lawrence school district mulls bleachers for athletic fields at high schools

October 27, 2010


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.


graymane 3 years, 5 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.


bd 3 years, 5 months ago

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

This town sucks!


rivercitymom 3 years, 5 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!


Jeremy DeBoard 3 years, 5 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.


tanaumaga 3 years, 5 months ago

five hundred seats for soccer? HA!


Danimal 3 years, 5 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.


jmm35 3 years, 5 months ago


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...


Kontum1972 3 years, 5 months ago

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


HedleyLamarrr 3 years, 5 months ago

While other communities scale back in these tough times Lawrence charges ahead with frivolous expenditures. Go Lawrence!


ralphralph 3 years, 5 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.


jackson5 3 years, 5 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.


tanaumaga 3 years, 5 months ago

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


TopJayhawk 3 years, 5 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.


FormerTiger 3 years, 5 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.


sad_lawrencian 3 years, 5 months ago

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


GardenMomma 3 years, 5 months ago

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


Andrea Hoag 3 years, 5 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!


mom_of_three 3 years, 5 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.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 5 months ago

What exactly was the budget for this fiasco?


devobrun 3 years, 5 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.


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