Archive for Monday, February 28, 2011

Lawrence school board sets formal process to consider closing Wakarusa Valley School with discussion on March 14, public hearing on March 28

February 28, 2011


Plans to close Wakarusa Valley School will be up for discussion in two weeks and then up for formal public comment March 28, members of the Lawrence school board decided Monday night.

On a 5-2 vote, the board set a formal process for considering a recommendation from the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force to close Wakarusa Valley, 1104 E. 1000 Road, southeast of Clinton Lake.

And while board members Bob Byers and Marlene Merrill sought to slow closure proceedings, the rest of the board decided that at least laying the groundwork for making a decision as soon as possible would be the best approach.

“People need to be on notice that this is a possibility,” said Scott Morgan, a board member and co-chairman of the task force. “If we end up closing this or any school, the earlier we do it the better.”

Merrill, for her part, said she still had issues that she’d like to consider more carefully. Among them: whether Wakarusa Valley or some other school should close.

Task force members had considered three schools — Cordley, Pinckney and Wakarusa Valley — as candidates for closure next year, before settling on Wakarusa Valley. They also recommended consolidating six schools into either four or three schools within three to five years.

The board also should propose a bond issue that would address needs in elementary schools, the task force recommended.

The board plans to discuss the recommendations March 14, then conduct a formal public hearing March 28. If approved as proposed, Wakarusa Valley would close at the end of this school year.

In other action Monday, board members:

• Formalized acceptance of an earlier $529,546 donation from an anonymous donor toward construction of a $1.05 million project for concessions and restrooms at Free State High School.

• Hired B.A. Green Construction, for $34,359, to remodel a room at Lawrence High School for architecture, newspaper and small-engine classes.


GardenMomma 7 years ago

No discussion of where the other $2.7 million will be cut? If they are going to close any other schools as well, we need to know.

What happens if a bond issue to consolidate those six schools doesn't pass? How many schools will close then?

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

The school task force suggestions are NOT a mandate. In reality I believe many on the task force had serious misgivings about closing schools. In fact it appeared to me that the task force leadership forced the issued. How? By presenting the matter as the Task Force MUST do A or B otherwise the Task Force exercise would be failing the mission.

Not only that among 12 suggestions from the Task Force was to use our existing schools to the fullest extent before building new schools anywhere. This does not fit into the closing of Wakrausa school.

Any parents that sought permission to attend a school other than one assigned closest to home COULD lose that privilege through the process.

The LJW should have printed the 12 suggestions the Task Force presented to the school board.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

For the record Mary Loveland and Scott Morgan have been on a close our neighborhood schools binge since 2003. It was for this reason neither were re-elected the next round. They did not give up and got re-elected later as we see. Voters have short memories.

As for where money could be found? I say offer to the parents an opportunity to think about transporting their children to school and/or use the T where possible. Public school students do utilize the T as we speak. The school bus contract cost $4-4.5 million to USD 497. 75% of $4 million is about $2.8 million. 75% of $4.5 million = $3,375,000.

Keeping teachers on the payroll and keeping our schools open makes idea seem like it is worth pursuing.

The point has been made that USD 497 will retiring bond debt this year and that new bond debt would NOT require increasing taxes.

I say why should USD 497 take on new bond debt because we can? How is this saving anybody money? It is nonsense.

The task force suggested use our existing schools to the fullest extent before building new schools anywhere. This is important. Yes I have these suggestions in my hand.

GardenMomma 7 years ago

I thought they have already cut bus services. I thought that federal funds not school district money pay for any bus services outside the 2.5 mile limit and that's why no bus service for students inside that limit.

Business_Guy 7 years ago

Morgan and Loveland have been kissing the feet of this administration since taking office, Have they questioned the size and salaries of the admininstration? Have they questioned the massive building that the administration is housed in? Have they questioned why lawrence, with two high schools, has four middle schools? Did they stop and evaluate the future before building two new football complexes?Their only answer to the budget problem has been closing elementary schools and custting elementary teachers. Here's a fact: the USD497 internal mail person makes $45,000 per year. Not a lot of money, but it's about the same salary as an elementary teacher with 20 years of experience.

The school board and the administration have created an atmosphere where they and the administration they so support are better than the rank and file teachers; the backbone of education! The administration is fat and the school board is made up of self-serving buffoons! This whole scenario reminds me of General Motors!

Business_Guy 7 years ago

I commend you for your efforts. Unfortunately, you are battling, as they say, city hall.

This administration has their sights set on making this school district large buildings, large classrooms with fewer teachers. The administration will continue to grow and become a larger percentage of the overall budget; sucking the life blood out of our edcuational system.

The board will contiunue to nod their heads while the administration turns this system into a fat, sluggish school district that doesn't understand the teachers and small school intimacy are why we live in Lawrence!

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

We'll see....

I ask the bus funding question last night as to where this money comes from. My question was off topic so the answer will likely come today.

On another note:

Feb 14 nearly $500,000 was approved for new bleachers Feb 21 $516,019 tax dollars were approved for the new project at Free State That is a bit more than $1 million in the last two meetings alone. Where is this money coming from?

All of the older elementary schools need maintenance according to the LJW in October of 2007. "How should the school district pay for a $16.5 million maintenance backlog in elementary schools?"

Why does the new sports project appear to take priority?

If the district finances were as sweet as a bowl of cherries perhaps this might not be an issue. Considering the district finances have NOT been sweet as a bowl of cherries since 2003 at least...... I question the spending on this project from day one. $20 million for new sports facilities when our buildings need OVER DUE maintenance.... excuse me!

Which make this thinking valid:

By Susan Rischer - Lawrence

October 22, 2009

To the editor:

Let me get this right. The Lawrence school district approved funds for two sports stadiums to be built ($400,000 each) and yet Superintendent Rick Doll discusses teachers not having items they need (Journal-World, page 1A, Oct. 19)? What’s wrong with this picture?

I assumed children went to school to be educated, not to play sports in luxurious facilities. After reading Chuck Woodling’s description of the Free State facilities in his Oct. 20 column, I was disappointed. I understand some of the funds for Free State came from a private donor. Fine. But to me it seems like it’s a matter of “keeping up the with Joneses” and perpetuating a misconception of what is really important in life.

I know sports are important to a lot of kids. Playing a sport does benefit our youths in several ways. Realistically, how many kids are going to play sports professionally? Or even in college? Yet every child needs a solid education. To my way of thinking, the priorities are turned around. It’s quite unsettling.

Business_Guy 7 years ago

Nice comment!I agree, close it down and buy a NEW administrative office! While you're at it, hire a new deputy superintendant and buy land for a fourth high school!

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Following the gathering of information, the Task Force refined many recommendations, goals and thoughts down to 12 basic criteria or goals that we used in reaching consensus and which we believe should be used going forward .

The district should : • Fully utilize elementary school locations before constructing new schools at new locations, • Plan for a capacity of approximately 300 to 500 students at all elementary schools, • Plan for equity in terms of learning environments across the district, • Plan for all‐day kindergarten at all schools in the future, • Eliminate all portables at elementary schools, • Plan for flexibility to accommodate changes to programs in the future, • Plan for investment to address aging facilities, • Deploy services in a differentiated manner such that all schools receive the services and programs they need, • Strive to create and maintain schools that embody such a community that every school is a community school, • Ensure that as many children as possible are able to walk or bike to school if they choose to do so, • Incorporate best practices that research suggests have a greater impact on student achievement than school and class size, • Plan to provide minimum 720 square foot classrooms for grades 1‐5 and 900 square foot classrooms for Kindergarten in existing schools.

Doesnt_smell_right 7 years ago

Wakarusa won't be enough, will I lose my school too? Read the the documents they are public! If the school board could not make the decision why are board members on the task force? Or should I say steering the task force to meet their personal objective. 1) NA 2) Consolidating Kennedy & NY: Total alleged savings (op. & staff) $255K + COPL $835 w/o mold + 835K Total = $1.091M 3) Consolidating HC & SH: Total alleged savings (op. & staff) $326K

  • COPL @ HC + 445K
  • COPL @ SH + 600K $1.372M 4) Closing only Cordley: Total alleged savings (op. & staff) $466K
  • COPL @ Cordley + 1.45M (w/o elevator) $1.916M 5) Closing only Pinckney: Total alleged savings (op. & staff) $698K
  • COPL @ Pinckney + 360K $1.096M 6) Closing only Wakarusa: Total alleged savings (op. & staff) $487K
  • COPL @ Waky + 10K (w/o lagoon) $497K 7) Closing only Kennedy: Total alleged savings (op. & staff) $534K
  • COPL @ Kennedy + 535K (w/o mold) $1.069M 8) Closing Cordley & Pinckney: Total alleged savings (op. & staff) $1.123M
  • COPL @ Cordley + 1.450M (w/o elevator)
  • COPL @ Pinckney + 360K $2.933M 9) Closing Cordley & Wakarusa: Total alleged savings (op. & staff) $953K
  • COPL @ Cordley + 1.450M (w/o elevator)
  • COPL @ Wakarusa + 10K $2.413M 10 Closing Pinckney & Wakarusa: Total alleged savings (op. & staff) $1.192M
  • COPL @ Pinckney + 360K
  • COPL @ Waky + 10K $1.562M All correspondence from the task force are available.

GardenMomma 7 years ago

What the heck does "+ COPL" mean?

wow365 7 years ago

Thank yo doesn't smell....why cant the LJW publish this stuff? What does COPL mean?

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