Letters to the Editor

Name change

February 8, 2011

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To the editor:

The comments — printed, blogged or otherwise communicated — regarding the possibility of renaming our junior highs when they become middle schools next year have been fascinating. They provide evidence that many people do not understand the complexity of education funding in Kansas and that money spent on signs at our four middle schools will come from the capital outlay fund, which cannot be used for teacher salaries, books or instructional supplies.

The Lawrence area is rich in history, unique geographical features and tradition. Elementary and high schools have names from these sources, but our schools serving the age group in between are named for directions that were accurate in the last century. They now have limited relevancy to the schools’ locations.

If the committees studying the names for our middle schools recommend new (or altered) names, there will be a change in lettering on the signs at our middle schools. If they recommend continuing to use directions as names, there will be a change in lettering on the signs at our middle schools. They will be different schools next year and need accurate signage.

School mascots will remain the same. Uniforms will wear out and need to be replaced, but that schedule will not be accelerated. Those who serve on the naming committees are not paid for that service. Perhaps their compensation or reward is the sense of being part of the history of the school, a sensation that can be shared by survey respondents also. Go Mustangs! Go Warhawks! Go Cougars! Go Bulldogs!

Comments

Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 4 months ago

"The comments ... provide evidence that many people do not understand the complexity of education funding..."

Most people understand this, Mrs. Loveland. The complexity that you do not understand is that people find it repugnant to spend money (yes, even capital outlay) on non-essentials while, at the same time, laying off teachers and debating which school to close. It is a matter of perception. Few in the community believe that a school board that is contemplating changing school names, with disregard for the associated costs, are truly in touch with a community that is still reeling from last year's school budget cuts.

Leave the names as they are. Lawrence, on the cutting edge of education, can lead the way with Junior High Schools that have 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

Bananajoe 4 years, 4 months ago

"Lawrence, on the cutting edge of education, can lead the way with Junior High Schools that have 6th, 7th, and 8th grades"

In this case we are just following the rest of the state that already have middle schools with 6th,7th and 8th grades.

sallyone 4 years, 4 months ago

The town where I grew up had grades 1-6 in elementary school, 7-8 in middle school and 9-12 in highschool. I think that worked great.

make_a_difference 4 years, 4 months ago

Could not have said it any better!!!

And isn't capital outlay where money comes from for maintenence? If that's correct, then you are talking about spending money that is needed other places that certainly should have priority.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

Yep.

Maintenance/repair/upgrade of facilities is a much more valuable way to spend that money.

Keith 4 years, 4 months ago

Nice condescending letter that shows exactly why she needs to move on.

nascar 4 years, 4 months ago

But Mary, how much money did the district "roll over" at the end of the fiscal year that could have been spent on employee salaries? We all understand the current limits of capital outlay money. What we don't understand is why you continue to say the district is "broke" when you choose to spend money on frivolities.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

Mary Loveland and others who support this name change fiasco must realize this is reckless spending. How much will this cost? Why is it necessary?

For as long as I can remember Mary Loveland and Scott Morgan have been a fiscal problem for the school district.

This situation had been a problem long before this poll: http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/oct/how_should_school_district_pay_20_million_maintena/

In their prior terms as a BOE members year after year they would pretend school buildings need no maintenance. During these previous terms as a BOE members mostly they wanted to close schools.....that has not changed.

How does the board come up the idea that spending $20,000,000 to save $300,000 a year makes any sense? Please bear in mind any annual savings whatsoever becomes smaller as cost of operations increase annually. Not only that at $300,000 a year it will take 65 years to break even(never happen)....

Closing schools to build two new schools will create a traffic nightmare at these locations which will require MORE tax dollars from tax payers. AND it will prevent more young people from walking and biking to school.

And I must say buying 75 acres of unimproved land at $23,000 an acre leaves much to be desired. That may have been a great price for home builders who would have a nice profit margin built into the scheme BUT NOT for a public school or the parks department. Some developer wanted to unload that land because the market is sour..... maybe $3,000-$5,000 an acre would have been acceptable.

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 4 months ago

No real estate investor in their right mind would pay $23,000 an acre for a large, undeveloped tract by the County Jail.

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 4 months ago

Are you saying that the tract was purchased from Steve Glass? If so, I would think that a conflict of interest.

Nikki May 4 years, 4 months ago

Capital outlay can fix leaky roofs at schools, do that. There are several schools with buckets and trash cans collecting water. There are so many things that can be fixed or replaced at the schools. Capital outlay or not, there are more things to fix than names. We "get" it.

puckstah 4 years, 4 months ago

Oh so true - the leaky roofs that have been leaky for years and years!!!!!!! The district is going to find itself in some deeper trouble like that of Kennedy with problems such as this.....leaky roofs=water in buildings=MOLD!

situveux1 4 years, 4 months ago

What a very elitist attitude Mary. You complain about what we're doing simply because you are stupid an uninformed. That certainly seems to be the mantra of the school spending advocates.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

Local politicians may be living in an illusion as they must believe the reckless inflated real estate market is about to return any day. I would NOT hold my breath.

There are 8-9 million homes on the market so I would call that a buyers market. There are people with plenty of money walking away from homes because they are losing money daily. There are bargains on the market to be had.....somewhere.

Should You Pay Your Mortgage? Learning To Walk: Fear, Shame And Your Underwater Mortgage
By Ryan Grim, Arthur Delaney and Lucia Graves

Nearly 1 in every 4 U.S. homeowners with mortgages owe more on their home than it's worth.

Once a month, those 10.8 million are faced with a question that cuts to the core of the American Dream. - Should I pay my mortgage? http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27421.htm

For all anyone knows those reckless inflated home values may never return. Which is to say closing schools in neighborhoods is reckless because of the negative impact on property values. How much more can homeowners withstand?

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 4 months ago

If schools are closed, the adjacent property values will dip even further. Can the City/County afford this? A 10% dip in taxes on those properties?

Steve Bradt 4 years, 4 months ago

I have two serious issues with this. The first is that pretty much every supporting School Board member I have spoken to views the need to change signage to "Middle School" as a necessity based on a fundamental philosophical difference in the educational structure of a Middle School vs. a Junior High. I do not accept this as a need but rather as a want.

Second, the capital outlay funds are still money. Every time something frivolous gets paid for out of capital outlay we are told that it's ok because these aren't the funds that pay for teachers. Don't we have other more pressing needs for these funds. Are there no maintenance backlogs or capital improvement projects that need addressed in the schools. This side of the school funding seems to get viewed like so many view the receipt of federal funding for local projects - as free money. It's not free money it all comes out of the tax funds at one level or another and it ought to be spent thoughtfully. And to those who say that this is an insignificant amount of money to get worked up about, it is small but it represents a mind set that opposes the best interests of our schools.

Cue the fiddles, cue the fire.

grimpeur 4 years, 4 months ago

Capital outlay funds? Like the ones that were used to build the stadiums that somehow appeared on the funding measure between 2005 and 2008?

I wonder if those funds might have been better spent on school maintenance. You know, the maintenance that should have been perfectly predictable while money was being spent on half-baked monuments that remain poorly thought-out and, therefore, incomplete.

Do the schools need maintenance? When do you think it should have been evident that such maintenance would be needed? Where was the school board during the recession? Are you about to ask us for more money to fix schools that could have benefited from the money spent on stadium-related monuments to oneself?

GMom05 4 years, 4 months ago

"Which is to say closing schools in neighborhoods is reckless because of the negative impact on property values. How much more can homeowners withstand?"

Exactly. Not to take anything away from Cordley or Pinckney who are also on the chopping block, because every school has real and percieved value, but Wakarusa Valley is smack dab in the middle of the Urban Growth Area as outlined by the Douglas County Economic Development board in the Horizon 2020 Comprehensive Land Use Plan. This is the direction the city and county commissioners, economic developers, and real estate agents all see the growth of Lawrence headed. Why do certain members of the school board refuse to accept that? Talk about negative impact on property values. If you close schools in these areas, you stunt the growth of Lawrence. Is that their aim? Would you buy a house in rural Lawrence if you knew your 7 year old would be on the bus more than an hour each way? Leave the schools open. Why have we heard no other suggestions? Is this all they've got?

Jeanne Cunningham 4 years, 4 months ago

The ULTIMATE irony is the mention that those who serve on the committees are NOT paid. Another piece of evidence that those whose server on the committees MAY not be in touch with the realities of those who just can NOT serve because they would NOT be paid for that time and/or if they "skip" work to serve unpaid on the committees, their children may have an unemployed parent sometime thereafter.

I believe that MORE decisions ought NOT to be made by committees, nor even by the school board, but by the voters. I might not get what I want, I might get what I want even less than now, but at least I'd have had my chance to be heard.

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 4 months ago

The members of the "elite" committee that "direct" the Task Force, are treating the public and the Task Force at large, to a large dose of false information, and a propaganda blitz reminiscent of the Politburo. They are trying to convince us that we need to close "inefficient" schools, based on an ill-conceived and unsubstantiated model , in which curriculum, demographics, test scores, and literacy rates are not a factor. How can you close and consolidate schools, without looking at the demographics of the school populations that you are creating. And how can you do this without an in depth look at the staffing of each school, and whether it is equipped to meet the needs of the newly created school population? How can the public deem them credible, when they tell us to disregard growth corridors, class size (30 kids to one teacher), provide simplistic cost per pupil analysis, and continue to be secretive about their finances. The point of a having a school system is the educate, and enrich our children to become all that they can be. The antithesis of this ideal is making reckless, engineered decisions, which are based on a predetermined outcome, and not the best interest of our children.

irvan moore 4 years, 4 months ago

from the way Mrs. Loveland writes about us i can certainly see why she places no value on our opinions. it's way past time for her to go, she's done enough damage to our school system.

hail2oldku 4 years, 4 months ago

Mary Loveland writes "The comments — printed, blogged or otherwise communicated — regarding the possibility of renaming our junior highs when they become middle schools next year have been fascinating. They provide evidence that many people do not understand the complexity of education funding in Kansas and that money spent on signs at our four middle schools will come from the capital outlay fund, which cannot be used for teacher salaries, books or instructional supplies."

If you have truly read the comments, blogs, etc. Mrs. Loveland, you would also realize that many people DO understand that the funds come from capital outlay and cannot be used for teachers, books, instructional materials. You also would UNDERSTAND that those people see a better use for those capital outlay funds.

Forget the malarky about all the historical prospectives for naming the schools Mary. If that was really the case, why wasn't the precedent set on the original naming of Southwest Jr. High? It's time to be truthful with the public, and with yourself. This is all just a self-serving, "legacy building", all about me item from the board members that are FINALLY retiring.

KU_cynic 4 years, 4 months ago

"... money spent on signs at our four middle schools will come from the capital outlay fund, which cannot be used for teacher salaries, books or instructional supplies."

Loveland appears incapable of thinking outside the tightly confined box that she and other USD 497 leaders have constructed for themselves.

The "separate pots of money" explanation may have some validity, but it is symptomatic of what is wrong with education funding in Kansas. In this recession and slowdown in revenues, school districts should be allowed (perhaps required) to divert money from the "capital pot" to the "operations pot", with the state providing some subsidies to property-poor districts who haven't been able to fund big capital pots out of extra property tax levies.

Instead, Kansas ed leaders --especially those in Lawrence -- are letting this funding structure operate as a straight jacket against sound decision-making, wasting money from one pot of money while wringing their hands over shortfalls in others.

honestone 4 years, 4 months ago

Different color money is the buzzword at USD 497. When they come to the public for the upcoming bond issue for their new mega school I think most will remember how the school board has foolishly spent our money. Nice job mary

Danielle Brunin 4 years, 4 months ago

Wow, what a condescending snob! How does this woman keep getting elected?

Jeremy DeBoard 4 years, 4 months ago

It's my understanding that no one ran against her. With only her name for the position, it would only take one vote for her to get in.

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 4 months ago

Thanks goodness we have 10 candidates this time. Who is for keeping our existing schools open?

Danielle Brunin 4 years, 4 months ago

Ah, that makes sense. I'd run against her, but alas, I'm only a lowly worker bee. I couldn't possibly understand the complexities of funding education in Kansas...

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 4 months ago

Like any of them do. Well, maybe Morgan does, but that's not neccesarily a good thing.

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 4 months ago

At this point, we all need to know philosophy and agendas of all the School Board candidates. It is obviously critical that we elect candidates that represent the desires of the community, and the best interest of our children.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence has had a reputation of good public schools. It seems over the years it has become more influenced by the "local real estate minded business leaders" instead of by educators. Which is why there is all of this turmoil about closing schools and building others so I speculate.

New schools make new housing projects worth more money. Although that should not be the business of a school board again so I speculate.

Lawrence taxpayers might want to consider getting the most from our existing resources aka our neighborhood schools.

If real estate developers want new public schools in the new neighborhoods that they create they should provide land and build the schools with their money then bill out accordingly to each new resident.

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 4 months ago

Obviously, not all members of the School Board are pushing towards the new school scenario, but the majority are. That's why it is imperative that we know what the candidates agendas are. I know that Shannon Kimball is aligned with those who think that larger class sizes don't negatively affect our kid's education. She is for building mega schools. Welcome to Overland Park.

Nevertheless 4 years, 4 months ago

There is no logical reason to change the names of our schools, nor their designations from "Junior High School" to "Middle School." In fact, because of the correct decision to move ninth graders (high school freshmen) into the high schools, the name "Junior High School" actually makes more sense now than in previous years. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders will now truly be in a "junior" high school, with no overlap. Forget "middle." Save the money and move on.

ignati5 4 years, 4 months ago

The woman in insufferable. Her cynical and condescending attitude towards the parent, voter and taxpayer is displayed here once again. The message is: We have two pots of money , one for capital improvements, which is almost unlimited, the other for education itself, where we reserve the right to cut you to the quick. LIke it or lump it, sucker."

Jeremy DeBoard 4 years, 4 months ago

From what Google can tell me of the "difference between Middle Schools and Junior Highs" leads me to believe a change in names would be a waste of money and false. Our intermediate education buildings definitely lean towards Junior High Schools way more than being Middle Schools.

kjh 4 years, 4 months ago

It is the ultimate disappointment that the upcoming school board elections will not occur in time to prevent the permanent damage some current members are hell bent on doing.

GMom05 4 years, 4 months ago

True. We must find a way to reverse the decision after they are out of office and before school starts in the fall. They're only mothballing, right? All new candidates must be grilled accordingly. We are paying attention now and we will not let this happen again. We must know the candidates well this time around. The city is fed up. That's why you see so many candidates for this election. No one is willing to leave it to chance. Now, what can we do about our superintendent?

Amy Bartle 4 years, 4 months ago

Ms. Loveland, I hope you take the time to read the comments to your letter. I do understand there are two funds for education expenses, and I think it is reckless to spend any money on signage when the funds can be used for more important things, such as maintenance. I disagree with you about the relevance of the current school names. The names are fine the way they are. I think it is very irresponsible to spend money and resources to change the names of the schools. At least one current junior high principal has publicly said that he has surveyed his school staff and parents and they do not want to change the name. The names of the schools have no bearing as to whether my children receive a good education. Listen to the voters for once this time, please!

fuel_for_the_fire 4 years, 4 months ago

Dear Elected School Board Members,

I submit for your consideration the following excerpt from an opinion piece by Dr. Yoder of The University of Akron.

"The principles of a sound education, regardless of whose principles they are, can be incorporated in a middle school or a junior high, or any other configuration. It is important that programs be more important than names and that commitment be made to programs rather than to the psychological ploy of a name."

Yoder, W.H., (1982). Middle school versus junior high misses the point. Educational Leadership, 40(2), 50.

Or, if you prefer, "What's in a name?" Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1)

beaujackson 4 years, 4 months ago

Is it possible that taxpayers FINALLY realize that M. Loveland & S. Morgan are extremely generous - with OUR money?

Unfortunately, $40,000,000.00 too late.

jackson5 4 years, 4 months ago

So generous with our money that the administration is proposing issuing $105MILLION in debt in the next five years. Check out page two which they call BASELINE FACTS: http://www.usd497.org/ElementaryTaskForce/documents/Jan32011TaskForceAgenda.pdf

When the district debt is paid off in 5 years, I am ready for the mills to go down!! Let's do some necessary repairs and modest remodeling and give property owners and small businesses a break.

sallyone 4 years, 4 months ago

The town where I grew up had grades 1-6 in elementary school, 7-8 in middle school and 9-12 in highschool. I think that worked great.

GMom05 4 years, 4 months ago

I attended a 7-8 Jr. High myself and a 9-12 High School. When I discussed this with admin I was told it was not desirable because it didn't give them enough time to get to know the kids. I have a child that's been through the Jr. High level in Lawrence and that comment is meaningless. She has different teachers every year, even every semester and none of them know her any better than if she'd just started last month. Jr. High is an unpleasant stepping stone to high school. It does not need to be a long drawn out process. Get in, get out, and get on with it! Who would ever want to prolong Jr. High?? Don't even get me started on what I don't think my 6th grader needs to be exposed to by the 8th graders...

pace 4 years, 4 months ago

What you don't understand is there is no practical reason to even change the names from Jr High. While it may further, in your imagination, the ideological shift in demographics, the shift will be made without the fanciful branding. If finances were better I would be thrilled to see Central's name changed to Liberty, but it just isn't worth the money at this time. The tone of your letter was condescending,

storm 4 years, 4 months ago

Does one devour ketchup or catsup? Does one attend the Wakarusa Festival although it’s no longer held at its original location? Ms Loveland, when you dial a phone number, do you actually touch-tone?

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