Archive for Monday, January 17, 2011

First Bell: Still seeking new names for middle schools; Kennedy (formerly Southeast Elementary) School celebrating 50 years; district budgets targeted for cuts

January 17, 2011


A majority of the Lawrence school board voted last week to pursue new names* for what next year will be the Lawrence school district’s four middle schools — Central, South, Southwest and West — and intend to appoint committees a week from now, with committee members to recommend what the new names should be.

(* The schools’ “new” names could remain the “same” names, of course, if committee members recommend that they like things just the way they are. But one thing’s for sure: The names will include “middle school” instead of “junior high school.”)

Anyway, here are a few suggestions for the schools’ names as recommended by helpful readers and others — and all I can say for now is thanks, and keep the ideas coming, as we here at First Bell will be sharing input and offering insights all week and beyond:

• Clark Coan suggests options for two of the schools: Oregon Trail Middle School for South, because “the Oregon Trail went right through the SJHS/Broken Arrow property”; and Meadowlark Middle School for Southwest, as Meadowlark is the state bird and the school is adjacent to Sunflower, the elementary school named after the state flower.

• Gene Wallace, an online commenter who goes by pendragons, offers a different take on directional names and leans on landmarks and road signs for guidance: Mount Oread Middle School (for West, 2700 Harvard), Inverness Middle School (for Southwest, at 2511 Inverness Drive), Louisiana Middle School (for South, at 2734 La.), and Mass. Street Middle School (for Central, 1400 Mass.)

• Another online commenter, Did_I_say_that, suggests a take on the names that would be a change only as of July 1, the first day the four schools are scheduled to be middle schools: “Since Lawrence is on the cutting edge of education, let’s just leave them as they are: South Junior High, Southwest Junior High, West Junior High, and Central Junior High. Let the rest of the state catch up to Lawrence and reconfigure their schools so that 6th, 7th, and 8th grade schools are junior high schools.”

Superintendent Rick Doll plans to gather potential committee candidates from school principals, then forward nominees to board members for consideration and approval. To comply with board policy, board members must appoint the committees this month, and that means during their next meeting: 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

Again, keep those ideas coming.


Speaking of school names...

Southeast Elementary School opened 50 years ago this month, and that’s cause for celebration at 1605 Davis Road.

Students, faculty, staff and friends will be taking part in a weeklong “bash” at the school formerly known as Southeast, said Sarah Ward, PTO secretary at what is now Kennedy School. Kennedy educates preschoolers through sixth-graders.

Turns out the Lawrence school board, back in April 1961, voted unanimously to rename the school in honor of Opal Jayne Kennedy, who retired in 1961 after 50 years — that’s right, 50 years — of teaching and leading the education of children in Lawrence and Douglas County.

Kennedy’s PTO is sponsoring a sock hop and trivia event, to be conducted from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the school. Michael Wilson is donating his services as deejay, and staffers and parent volunteers will be baking cakes to create an “edible quilt,” said Crystal Harris, a reading specialist at Kennedy.

Avery Mulally, a Kennedy fifth-grader, came up with the winning design for the school’s 50th anniversary T-shirts.

Friday evening, students will be encouraged to wear ’50s attire to the event, and the public is invited to participate in the sock hop, answer trivia questions and help recall a half century of memories.

All while making new ones.

“This event is an open invitation to anyone in the community,” Harris said. “We encourage all former and current students and their families, along with current or retired staff of USD 497 to come enjoy our celebration.”


Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed budget could cost the Lawrence school district anywhere from $1.2 million to $1.5 million this school year, and administrators already are looking for places to absorb the pain.

“So far we have a little bit of information from a lot of places,” said Frank Harwood, the district’s chief operations officer. “This is our best estimate.”

Likely methods for handling the cuts, Harwood said, for a budget that runs through June 30:

• Cut the district’s “non-wage” accounts, simply by not depositing the last 25 percent they have been scheduled to receive. That would mean less money for buying paper, pens, light bulbs for projectors and other materials; and cutting planned training sessions and resources for teachers and other licensed personnel.

• Stop hiring for open positions. “We’ll see how many we can get away without filling,” Harwood said.

• Dip into contingency funds to make ends meet. The district has $6 million set aside for handling unexpected costs and other expenses, a total that continues to dwindle as the state imposes more cuts.

In all, the state already has cut more than $7 million from district budgets over the past three years. Next year, Harwood said, another $4 million could be added to that total.

— The First Bell e-mailbox is always open:


jmadison 7 years, 3 months ago

The Wichita school district posts its expenditures on line to further transparency in government. Could the Lawrence school district do likewise?

hail2oldku 7 years, 3 months ago

Actually, Did_I_Say_That's suggestion is already behind the times. There are several school districts in the state already that use Junior High in their names even though the are 6/7/8 or just 7/8 and in some case 5/6/7/8.

Even at the newest school, Southwest (yes South's building is newer) there is a lot of tradition & pride associated with the names. No the directional school naming is not the most creative, but changing them at this point really doesn't do anything but run up the costs associated with change in school structure.

KS 7 years, 3 months ago

This is a waste of time and money. Leave the names alone.

Amy Albright 7 years, 3 months ago

I couldn't agree more. How many thousands of dollars will it cost to replace all of these signs, letterhead and everything else? Don't we need to use this money to pay a teacher or fix a roof somewhere?

Also, the kids I know don't want their school names to change.

Kash_Encarri 7 years, 3 months ago

Why would they wear fifties attire if the school opened in the sixties?

Also, West is celebrating it's 50 year anniversary this year in case you didn't know.

To hail's point above, Baldwin Jr. High is one "local" middle school that goes with a JH moniker. Since many of you would probably point out that it's just Baldwin, the Olathe middle schools which recently went through the same grade transitions the Lawrence schools are going through now still use Jr. High according to the listings available online.

Sheila Hooper White 7 years, 3 months ago

Just leave the names!!! Why spend the money on changing everything? They are making more cuts to the budget and now our school board wants to change the names......why?

jayhwkfan 7 years, 3 months ago

Leave the names alone. Why is this even being considered with the budget cuts? "Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed budget could cost the Lawrence school district anywhere from $1.2 million to $1.5 million this school year, and administrators already are looking for places to absorb the pain." Will the public get to actually vote on this or will the school board just decide to change them if they get name suggestions that they like?

Stuart Evans 7 years, 3 months ago

why don't we sell the naming rights to huge corporations. 'Alltel Middle School', 'Nike Jr. High', etc.

oldvet 7 years, 3 months ago

Great idea!!! And that could make up the shortfall in funding...

Bladerunner 7 years, 3 months ago

Worst idea ever but if you are gonna do it, make some money on it like Areunormal suggests above. Sell to the highest bidder! Flamingo Club Middle School! Free State Brewery High! LaPetite Academy Middle School! WalMart High! (Team mascot....The WalMart shopper!)

Steve Jacob 7 years, 3 months ago

Hey, I am sure all Flamingo Club "employees" went to middle school, and if not for the fine beer at Free State there would be a few less students at the school.

livinginlawrence 7 years, 3 months ago

Bladerunner, you've made my day with your name suggestions. I managed to laugh pretty hard. Thanks.

spiderd 7 years, 3 months ago

Happy Birthday Kennedy! This very day happens to mark a birthday of the site at New York Elementary. Happy 141st birthday NY!

Marcy McGuffie 7 years, 3 months ago

I have to agree with the others, who say leave the names alone! The costs associated with names changes are too expensive.

Liberty275 7 years, 3 months ago

The George W. Bush 911 Memorial Middle School

LOL. That would send the loons on the left into a major cardiac incident.

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

So the proposed budget is going to cost the schools over $1 million this year.

That's how Brownback is fulfilling his promise to protect education funding.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.