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Archive for Monday, April 25, 2011

First Bell: School board to mull more budget cuts; LHS engineers build success in Vegas; Hilltop Hustle to run Saturday on campus

April 25, 2011

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A few education-oriented items from around the area and elsewhere:

Members of the Lawrence school board will have a chance tonight to mull anticipated budget cuts for the coming school year.

Administrators already have advised board members to anticipate a loss of $3 million in base state aid for the coming year. Administrators have recommended using reserve funds to help make ends meet, and other initiatives — including expansion of bulk purchases, reclaiming the Adult Diploma Completion Program, and not filling one teaching position at each of the high schools that had been expected to be added for the coming year — are in the works.

Board members already have decided to close Wakarusa Valley School, a move expected to save nearly $500,000.

Among additional options up for discussion during tonight’s meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive:

• Cut $21,000 to high schools for “site activities.”

• Cut $57,975 by eliminating four half-time positions of attendance secretaries at middle schools.

Those are among the top-priority cuts recommended by administrators.

In all, the district has identified nearly $1 million in potential additional cuts. Among them is a “redesign” the system for providing school nurses in schools, noting that an average nurse costs the district $55,046 while a health office assistant costs $22,353.

Others potential cuts include elimination of coaching positions for cheerleading in middle schools, assistant coaches at high schools, and coaches for bowling, golf, swimming/diving and gymnastics.

Increasing the pay-to-play fee for sports and activities by $25 would be expected to generate about $50,000.

Also listed: Eliminate a position in administration, which would be expected to save $80,000; and eliminate two middle school guidance counselors, which would save $135,996.

Boosting the district’s staffing ratio by 0.25 would be expected to eliminate five jobs, for an estimated savings of $250,000.

•••

Lawrence High School seniors Collin Belcher, Darrin Sorem, Emily Davidson, Ross Johnson, Steve Cowser, Stephen Bell and Matt Zabel celebrate their sixth-place finish during the national Construction Challenge, conducted March 21-25 in Las Vegas. Charlie Lauts, industrial Arts teacher, led the team on the trip.

Lawrence High School seniors Collin Belcher, Darrin Sorem, Emily Davidson, Ross Johnson, Steve Cowser, Stephen Bell and Matt Zabel celebrate their sixth-place finish during the national Construction Challenge, conducted March 21-25 in Las Vegas. Charlie Lauts, industrial Arts teacher, led the team on the trip.

Emily Davidson, center in blue hat, and other members of the Lawrence High School team compete in a task as part of the national Construction Challenge, conducted March 21-25 in Las Vegas. The competition focused on tasks related to transportation and water infrastructure.

Emily Davidson, center in blue hat, and other members of the Lawrence High School team compete in a task as part of the national Construction Challenge, conducted March 21-25 in Las Vegas. The competition focused on tasks related to transportation and water infrastructure.

Seven Lawrence High School seniors recently enjoyed VIP treatment in Las Vegas, thanks to skills learned and built up through their classroom work.

Collin Belcher, Stephen Bell, Steve Cowser, Emily Davidson, Ross Johnson, Darrin Sorem and Matt Zabel traveled to Vegas for the national Construction Challenge, where they won sixth place the contest that gives students real-world experience in the construction industry.

The competition included using a set of drawings to build a small-scale vehicle, then use it to transport materials to a job site — over a mountain, across a bridge and down a rural road — and construct a building, all in a matter of minutes.

The challenge drew 24 teams, which had qualified from nine regional competitions. The Lawrence High team had qualified after competing in Enid, Okla., and was sponsored in Vegas by Gradall Industries.

The trip to nationals was the second for an LHS team. Two years ago, construction-minded Lions finished 12th.

Johnson said he and his colleagues learned plenty about teamwork while picking up critical-thinking skills and other things they’ll be able to use throughout their careers.

Sorem, who plans to study engineering at Kansas University, described the trip as an “experience of a lifetime.”

Students on the team took engineering, architecture and computer-aided drafting classes from Charlie Lauts, industrial arts teacher at Lawrence High, who led the students on the trip.

•••

The Families in Need Fund at Hilltop Child Development Center is the beneficiary for the Hilltop Hustle 5K Run/Walk and 1K Family Fun Run, set for 8 a.m. Saturday beginning at the center, 1605 Irving Hill Road.

The certified 5K course — described by organizers as “moderately hilly” — runs on and around the Kansas University campus. It passes Allen Fieldhouse, makes its way to Jayhawk Boulevard and to a turnaround at the Kansas Union, then back toward residence halls on Daisy Hill for a downhill finish along Irving Hill Road.

Registration for the 12h annual event is $25 for the 5K, and $5 per person or $10 per family for the 1K. More information about the race is available online.

Hilltop has been serving the child care needs of the KU community since 1972.

— The First Bell mailbox is always open. Please feel free to send me any feedback or ideas, at mfagan@ljworld.com.

Comments

EJ Mulligan 3 years, 9 months ago

How about not expanding all-day kindergarten and saving that $200k?

The beginning of the most rational (and big $) savings starts with this comment: "Also listed: Eliminate a position in administration, which would be expected to save $80,000"

Let's have some more of that, please.

Synjyn Smythe 3 years, 9 months ago

"Administrators already have advised board members to anticipate a loss of $3 million in base state aid for the coming year." -- This was done in Jan., if anyone paid attention to the taskforce meetings.

"Board members already have decided to close Wakarusa Valley School, a move expected to save nearly $500,000." -- A total lie. Actual savings around $357,000, which amounts to nothing with all-day kindergarten now being added to 2 schools.

If there were anyone in admin. and school board who seriously believed any of these numbers, Cordley and Pinckney would be closing to save $2.92M. With between $11-14M in contingency funding sitting in district accounts, it's time for this ruse to stop!!!!

lily 3 years, 9 months ago

Middle schools seem to be taking a big hit. I would leave guidance counselors alone. These kids need all the help they can get. Administration is mentioned only once. How many administrators do we need to tell how to cut budgets? School nurses, guidance counselors, the hands on folks are getting cut. They need to check other avenues.

Mr_Spinmama 3 years, 9 months ago

Speaking of lots and lots of administration. If you wanna get upset, look here: http://www.usd497.org/contact/documents/10.11.ESDCServices.pdf

I don't think folks who work in school administration bad people. Nor do I think that, if we had the money, that these position might not be a value-added of some kind.

But if you are to cut $3M, I'd go to McDonald Dr. first. Those positions often are the most obliquely related to student performance and satisfaction. Or put another way, I think our kids are better off with school nurses and swim-team coaches in the schools than a wellness coordinator at the administration center.

Organizations with 11,000 students, 1650 employees and multiple real estate holdings don't run themselves. I get that. But I would sure appreciate a PUBLIC review of the cost-benefit of these positions before we turn, instinctually it seems, to school-centered services.

If these folks have a master and coherent plan, I wish they'd share it. It all looks ad hoc and and the expensive of citizens who don't live in the newer parts of west Lawrence.

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