Archive for Saturday, June 11, 2011

School boundary issues draw attention

June 11, 2011


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Should 15th Street continue to be the dividing line between Lawrence High and Free State High?

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When it comes to the long-standing boundary separating Free State and Lawrence high schools, members of the Lawrence school board intend to start asking questions that someday could lead to answers.

Monday night, board members are scheduled to discuss several aspects of school attendance areas. Board members do not plan on making any changes to school boundaries or attendance areas or policies, but they had decided last year to at least talk about possibilities.

“It’s a way to get a discussion started,” said Rick Doll, district superintendent.

Monday’s talk then could help lead to further discussions later this summer, when members of school board will gather for a goal-setting session. In early July, four current board members — Mary Loveland, Marlene Merrill, Rich Minder and Scott Morgan — will be leaving the board, to be replaced by Rick Ingram, Shannon Kimball, Randy Masten and Keith Diaz Moore.

Remaining on the board will be Mark Bradford, Bob Byers and Vanessa Sanburn.

The “new” board will decide whether to pursue potential changes that have been brought up by the current board, including several regarding topics to be discussed Monday night:

• The 15th Street boundary that separates the two high schools. Board members have wondered whether the line remains an appropriate way to determine enrollment at the two schools, sending students who live north of 15th Street/Bob Billings Parkway to Free State and those who reside south to Lawrence High. Minder, board president, has discussed the option of giving all students a choice of where to attend, raising the possibility of schools offering different programs.

• Feeder schools. Currently, students are sent to particular schools based on where they live. Under feeder schools, all students attending a particular elementary school, for example, would then go to a specific middle school and, from there, to a particular high school. No longer would there be “splits” as students move up on school levels.

• Boundaries for elementary schools. The number of elementary schools is shrinking — the board just closed Wakarusa Valley School, and another two or three are envisioned to be “consolidated” during the next two to three years. Such moves would prompt changes in boundaries; the question would be how those should be handled.

Monday’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. Among other items on the agenda:

• Approve an employment contract for Doll, extending his current two-year contract for another year, making it effective for 2011-13. Doll would be paid $153,011, equal to his current level.

• Consider agreeing to spend about $105,000 to buy about 200 new uniforms for the marching band at Free State, replacing uniforms that are now 14 years old.

• Approve the calendar for the 2012-13 school year.

• Receive a report on the district’s “Redesign for Student Success” program, which is making elementary schools for grades kindergarten through 5; turning junior highs into middle schools, for grades 6-8; and making high schools for grades 9 through 12.

• Approve plans for repavings at Lawrence High and Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, and several other items previously discussed and/or endorsed.


Nikki May 6 years, 10 months ago

The boundaries really should change. There are kids that live 5 blocks from LHS that are sent to FSHS and those that are 10 blocks from FSHS go to LHS. Central kids get split as do Southwest kids. I kind of like the idea of a choice, but then worry about what kind of disparities there would be. I'm interested in outcome.

pinecreek 6 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps we should have an 'independent panel' chosen to guide us through this process. Since Mary Loveland's no longer on the Board, she could be the chairperson. I hear that she has some interesting thoughts and experiences with the 15th Street Boundary.

George_Braziller 6 years, 10 months ago

Don't even put that in writing. Someone will twist the comment into a "mandate" she should have continued involvement with the school board. Thank God that woman will soon be gone.

LadyJ 6 years, 10 months ago

Careful pinecreek, you'll get one of those e-mails from her daughter.

irvan moore 6 years, 10 months ago

independent panel and loveland, that's funny

George_Braziller 6 years, 10 months ago

$525.00 for one band uniform? Send the ones you have to the dry cleaners and sew on a few missing buttons.

• Consider agreeing to spend about $105,000 to buy about 200 new uniforms for the marching band at Free State, replacing uniforms that are now 14 years old.

Duane Mellenbruch 6 years, 10 months ago

My son currently goes to the FIFTH closest elementary school to us because of a weird boundary nook. And if I am lucky enough to get him transferred to the school that is closest, my daughter still might get shipped to a school that is much farther away. I definitely have no issues with the school my sin IS attending, but the closer one would make the most sense for our family.

BigAl 6 years, 10 months ago

It absolutely needs looked at. 15th Street (Bob Billings) is fine for running through the center of town. But, once you get further out west or east, common sense should prevail. As one poster stated here, there are kids that live within a few blocks of one school but have to travel quite a distance to the other school.

And yes, 14 year old band uniforms should be replaced.

George_Braziller 6 years, 10 months ago

They closed Wakarusa Valley School to save $500,000 because the district was in such bad financial shape. Guess they do have the $105,000 lying around to spend on "important" things like band uniforms.

deec 6 years, 10 months ago

"And yes, 14 year old band uniforms should be replaced. " Why?

Clevercowgirl 6 years, 10 months ago

The High School boundaries are messed up. I live in rural Douglas County, and my older children attended LHS, which was a 30 miniute drive from our home. FSHS is a 15 minute drive from our home. I agree as you get away from the core of the city, proximity needs to be added to the criteria. Of course, my displaced Wakarusa kids aren't going to the nearest school either. Much of this is about balancing out test scores between the schools.

Clevercowgirl 6 years, 10 months ago

Oh, and how many of us are holding on to our cars for another year or two and making do? New uniforms are nice, but given the current budget cutting trend, I think that USD 497 should be holding on to their money pending further cuts. I would hate to cut essential educational service after new band uniforms were purchased. Of course, I'm biased. I would much rather see Wakarusa Valley School stay open than buy new bleachers, signs, and band uniforms. Just my opinion, ya know. I just hope the voters don't give out more money to squander.

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