Archive for Tuesday, April 26, 2011

School board puts new roof at Kennedy School on hold

April 26, 2011


Kennedy School will not be getting a new roof this summer, as members of the Lawrence school board say they don’t want to influence upcoming work on a plan to consolidate elementary schools.

Board members on Monday declined to accept a $546,737 bid from American Roofing to replace the entire roof at Kennedy, 1605 Davis Road.

Instead, board members told staffers to keep a close eye on water leaks and make spot repairs as quickly as possible. Such leaks are inevitable, as teachers have been known to place 55-gallon trash cans in their rooms to serve as catch basins.

“We can deal with these things in the short term, as long as it is short term,” said Frank Harwood, the district’s chief operations officer.

Board members said they didn’t want a roof investment to influence the upcoming work of the district’s yet-to-be-appointed Central and East Lawrence Elementary School Working Group. Among the group’s tasks will be recommending how to consolidate Cordley, Kennedy and New York schools, so that only one or two schools remain within the next two to three years.

“If you maintain the status quo, then that can be interpreted as a neutral position,” said Rich Minder, board president.

Board members did agree to hire American Roofing, for $118,673, to replace the roof over the auditorium at West Junior High School, which on July 1 will become West Middle School.


lawrencedad 7 years, 1 month ago

Well as long as the kids on the west side of town are happy then I guess it's okay - UNBELIEVABLE!!

lawrencedad 7 years, 1 month ago

Didn't you get the memo? The "task force" - you know the one that "represents the community" decided there isn't enough important people at Wakarusa Valley. This BOE is a total joke

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

You'd have a point if a large number of the students didn't come from a trailer court.

Cogito_Ergo_Es 7 years ago

Don't make it sound like its a majority. A few dozen kiddos and they are thriving at Wakarusa and loving it!

youngjayhawk 7 years, 1 month ago

So sad for the Kennedy kids and staff. Once again, you don't really matter. As a taxpayer, I'm furious about this!

cowboy 7 years, 1 month ago

Absolutely an ignorant decision. You have an asset and it is your fiduciary responsibility to take care of it. Is this not demolition by neglect ?

puckstah 7 years ago

This is the pattern all over town - look at any of the older schools, they are falling apart and have absolutely been neglected. Buckets collecting water from roofs is in many many schools in town - and this is only one of the problems. Water in buildings leads to mold people....and how about those elevated CO2 levels at Kennedy??? It's all related to the same problem - not enough fresh air going through that building. Where else is this occurring? Should the Dept. of Labor go to all of our schools to hold the BOE accountable for maintenance on their buildings?

Steve Jacob 7 years, 1 month ago

I do agree for the reason on why spend the money if you will close it in a year or two. Fact is families are moving west.

lawrencedad 7 years, 1 month ago

Sounds more to me like they are banking on a bond, that doesn't stand a chance, but hoping if they make the school uninhabitable they can sway some people. Certainly glad it isn't my kids school they are gambling with, but feel terrible for the kids that are being used.

kugrad 7 years, 1 month ago

DId any of you actually watch the board meeting? They didn't want to spend 500K and then turn around and tear the building down or build on top of a new roof. They figured they should decide the future of the school first, fix the room later. I think it was a good decision. Every single one of you would be equally outraged if the building was re-roofed for half a million dollars and then shuttered or made 2-story or sold.

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

We already spent a bunch of money on Kennedy adding new entrances to accomodate all the East Heights students. Too late.

handyman 7 years, 1 month ago

"fact is families are moving west"...... I don't plan on it. And neither do many, many other families I know. Fact Is we need to be treated equally on the east side.

Steve Jacob 7 years, 1 month ago

I don't see any 300 apartment complexes being built on the east side anytime soon.

handyman 7 years, 1 month ago

So lets just shut down all the east Lawrence schools and bus the kids out west? That must be your opinion then?

Zachary Stoltenberg 7 years, 1 month ago

SRJ is right, hell, the developer who wanted to build a 6 unit complex on Connecticut was shown the door. Thank your commissioners and councils for the East Lawrence decline.

mawils 7 years, 1 month ago

so if families are moving west then what are those of us who live on the east side? Garbage? I bet if kids on the west side went to a school with a leaky roof it'd get fixed no matter what.

Steve Jacob 7 years, 1 month ago

Because that school has 500 kids and for sure would be open in two years.

mawils 7 years, 1 month ago

So the 300+ students at Kennedy are not important? Sure seems like the school board is all about shutting down or consolidating on the east side. East Heights closed last year so pre-k moved to Kennedy making students have to switch from Kennedy to New York and now there's talk of closing more schools on the East side. Why don't we close or consolidate schools on the West side and stop taking from kids on the East sides education? Oh that's right....The East side doesn't matter because everyone is moving West.

Steve Jacob 7 years, 1 month ago

I have been over consolidate the smaller schools, and they are on the east side.

lawrencedad 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm not sure how cheaply built, over priced apartments for KU students has anything to do with the established neighborhoods of east Lawrence?

mawils 7 years, 1 month ago

Exactly, let's cater to the higher class and the college students and forget about all the lower and middle class people. Because the ones who mean or amount anything all live on the West side. Forget about the history of the schools on the East side. I for one went to Kennedy and now have 2 kids there. I walk through this building think back to when the school board cared about the students learning and not how much more one side of town makes than the other.Instead of having enough school space that classrooms weren't over crowded to the point where it's hard for kids to learn. If the school board keeps closing more and more schools on the East side I will for one refuse to send my kids to a school on the west side. Why you ask? One reason is those who are on the East side can't afford the fancier clothes, shoes, backpacks, school supplies etc. this will make it to where the East side students get made fun of and bullied. Causing them to get depressed and make them hate school to the point they don't want to go. Which means more than likely an increase in drop outs.

homechanger 7 years, 1 month ago

Leaky roof means the district is exposing kids to mold. Where water goes indoors mold follows. MOLD! poor eastside kids being exposed to moldy classrooms.

mawils 7 years, 1 month ago

so if the kids that go to Kennedy get sick from being exposed to mold is the school board going to pay for the medical bills? No us as parents will be stuck paying the medical bills when it's not our fault the kids get sick from exposure to mold. Is the health of children on the East side not as important as those on the west?

mawils 7 years, 1 month ago

Also isn't it distracting the students having to listen to water dripping into buckets or trash cans? I know if I were trying to study and had to listen to drip drip drip I'd have a hell of a time concentrating.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

How can future plans be impacted by maintaining USD 497 taxpayer owned property....... properly?

Who would want to buy property knowing the property has been a case of neglect? And the damage potentially caused by internal moisture?

Which leads to: How should the school district pay for a $16.5 million maintenance backlog in elementary schools?

Is this how years of backlog maintenance is created?

Yes I did view the USD 497 BOE meeting. And I was stunned by the decision.

Christine Pennewell Davis 7 years, 1 month ago

Maybe the board office building should have a few holes drilled in it and then be told sorry lets wait and see what the future holds before we fix it, put a 55 gallon trash can in there that will do.

Christine Pennewell Davis 7 years, 1 month ago

FYI the roof has needed repairs for years been leaking since my youngest started kind. and she in 5th this year.

LadyJ 7 years, 1 month ago

Just tells you how long they have been planning this.

EJ Mulligan 7 years, 1 month ago

I started banging the drum yesterday about trimming administrative costs at district headquarters, starting with the one position they are proposing:

Let's start at the top with scaling back the administrators and the costs they incur, and we'd have so much more money to actually fix the problems that affect our STUDENTS. Seems the current Board and school district have forgotten the reason for schools in the first place: the students and their well-being.

We still never have gotten a good answer to the question, WHY are we consolidating? Show the public your master plan. Be transparent!

And for gosh sakes, fix the roof on Kennedy.

supportourstudents 7 years, 1 month ago

Kennedy staff, please report those leaks as soon as possible, so that they can be taken care of in "short order." Does "short order" include one teacher at Kennedy who was catching leaks in trash cans for nearly five months because the source of the leak "couldn't be found?" Good job being neutral, Mr. Minder! It meant so much to the Kennedy community at last year's on-site school board meeting when you admitted to grossly neglecting your position as school board representative because you had been "busy." It's so comforting to know that Kennedy has supporters like you fighting for its best interests. With friends like these...

Cogito_Ergo_Es 7 years ago

Well, Mary Loveland didn't make even ONE site council meeting at Wakarusa Valley this year. Talk about your gross negligence at least you got an admittance of guilt and he didn't vote to close your school too! As someone said, see how long they've been planning this...?

homechanger 7 years, 1 month ago

If your child attends Kennedy school and has developed any kind of health problems it is probably due to enormous amounts of mold in their learning environment. I'll bet the roof over dolls desk does not leak. Nor does he inhale moldy air while he goes about his important daily business

Carol Bowen 7 years, 1 month ago

Causing students and faculty to put up with substandard facilities so that they can politic is unconscionable. Too late for a neutral position. I'm voting NO on the next bond issue.

Robert Rauktis 7 years ago

Attach it the word "football"and it will be well funded!

Richard Heckler 7 years ago


Dave_Trabert (Dave Trabert) says…

FYI, USD 497 spending per-pupil only increased by 14.1% over the last five years, going from $10,101 to $11,529 according to data collected from the KSDE web site.

Spending by fund is available at and can be downloaded, separated into the various cost centers and divided by the number of full time equivalent students to arrive at per-pupil costs.

We (Kansas Policy Institute) did that and posted the breakdown for all districts on if you want to save yourself the trouble.

Here’s how the major categories changed over the last five years for USD 497:

Instruction +25.6% Student / Staff support -6.6% Administration +2.4% Trans., Food Svc, Maint. +3.0% Capital and Debt +11.3%

USD 497 has some of the smallest cost increases in the state (and yes, spending on student and staff support did decline).

Part of the reason that spending hasn’t grown much is that their carryover cash balances (not counting capital and bond payment funds) increased by $23.1 million – from $5.3 million to $28.4 million. (Where is this $28.4 million?)

Most of the increase represents state and local tax dollars that weren’t spent. Some of that money can be immediately transferred and used in any manner; some can be accessed by putting less into the fund than needed and spending down part of the balance (according to KSDE).

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

In late February or early March taxpayers watched the USD 497 BOE approve yet more spending on the high dollar sports project.

Nearly $1,000,000 more was allocated for new bleachers and more new construction at Free State. The bleachers came in close to $500,000.

The USD 497 BOE will approve nearly $500,000 for new bleachers yet blow off necessary maintenance of USD 497 taxpayer owned property. What's up with this?

When I asked where did the one million dollars come from,after the fact, the BOE informed me that my request was off topic. That the BOE would get back to me...... that has yet to take place.

Carol Bowen 7 years ago

The USD 497 school board has never been known for open discussion and input.

George_Braziller 7 years ago

Replacing a leaking roof on an existing school might "influence" plans for consolidating schools? If basic maintenance on an existing building is being put off it sounds like there is already a plan in place to not only consolidate schools, but consolidate them into a new facility. Leaking roofs will eventually end up with an argument to demolish the building because it's "too expensive" to repair.

Can we say "demolition by neglect"?

puckstah 7 years ago

During the TF discussions, the repeated argument for not including Broken Arrow as a possibility for closure was because tax money had recently been spent on it.

Yep, small school, no space to add onto it, no interior classroom walls to speak of, and even fewer windows....but keep it open because it has a newer mechanical system!

Cogito_Ergo_Es 7 years ago

Puckstah is correct. If you spend money on it now, you can't vote to close/consolidate it later and they WANT that! If they can come up with $500,000 for a new roof, perhaps they could have come up with $500,000 to keep Wakarusa opened. I know, I know, different bucket...

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