Archive for Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lawrence school board open to discussing Lawrence High-Free State boundary change

Members of the Lawrence school board discussed boundary changes for Lawrence High and Free State at Monday night's meeting at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

Members of the Lawrence school board discussed boundary changes for Lawrence High and Free State at Monday night's meeting at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

June 14, 2011


The boundary that divides Free State and Lawrence high schools may not be going anywhere anytime soon, but officials who decide such matters are at least willing to discuss alternatives.

Monday night, several members of the Lawrence school board — including two of the three who will remain in office in July — indicated that they’d be willing to entertain options for adjusting or replacing the schools’ lone dividing line, one that has stood for all 14 years since Free State opened northwest of Sixth Street and Folks Road.

The line, which runs along 15th Street and Bob Billings Parkway, sends those who live north to Free State and those who reside to the south to Lawrence High.

“Boundaries are not permanent,” said Bob Byers, a board member who has two years remaining on his term. “We need to quit behaving like they are and move forward.”

The issue came up nearly a year ago, as members of the current board indicated that they wanted to discuss the effectiveness of current boundaries at all grade levels. Of particular note was talk regarding the high schools, where Lawrence High has more students overall, a higher percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced lunches, and more minority students.

Back then, board members didn’t assert whether the current boundary line was ineffective — only that they wanted to get the discussion going. That official conversation started Monday night.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the evening’s enlightening opinions and observations came from board members whose terms end in less than a month:

• Scott Morgan urged incoming members to have a plan in mind before embarking on a plan to change boundaries — any boundaries. “This is an incredible time-sucker,” he said. “Right next to closing schools, it is the thing that lights people up.” Morgan also cautioned against the effects of potential “unintended consequences”; allowing students to choose a high school based upon its academic offerings, for example, could allow students to “go shopping” for a school based on its football or baseball programs.

• Rich Minder wants the district to consider a variety of options regarding attendance. In the past he’s suggested giving students a choice, rather than an assignment, of where to go; different schools also might offer different programs to attract students from all over town, near or far. “If the discussion centers only on boundaries,” he said Monday, “then it restricts the imagination.”

• Mary Loveland, who helped identify and set the 15th Street boundary leading up to Free State’s opening, said she wasn’t sure that the two schools were as balanced today as they were then. “We may have to look at it (as a) ‘blank slate’ again,” she said.

Vanessa Sanburn, who joins Byers and Mark Bradford as having at least two years remaining in office, described creating boundaries that promote equality, safety, efficiency and academic achievement as “a worthy goal for us to look at.” Bradford did not address the issue during Monday’s meeting.

Two of four incoming board members attended Monday’s meeting: Rick Ingram and Shannon Kimball. After the meeting, each said specifics about how to address boundaries would need to emerge from the board’s upcoming goals-setting session, which also would include incoming board members Randy Masten and Keith Diaz Moore.

Ingram and Kimball acknowledged, however, that boundaries — all boundaries — would get plenty of attention from the new board.

“The primary goal has to be to maximize academic achievement,” Ingram said. “You have to start there, then work backward … and boundaries need to be a part of that.”


jayhawklawrence 6 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Scott Morgan on this.

It would be a very good exercise to put your plan down in writing and let everyone study it in detail. You need to back up your opinions with real data and case studies from other cities.

...or you can act like the babies we have in Congress and argue until the cows come home.

conservative 6 years, 11 months ago

They need to look at the boundaries for all grade levels. It doesn't make sense to take kids from an elementary school and shuffle them to 2 different middle schools, and then separate them again when they go to high school. It would be much easier on the kids socially if whole elementary schools fed into the same middle school and then the whole middle school fed into the same high school.

Prairielander 6 years, 11 months ago

Actually, socially the split is a good thing. Kids develop friendships with a wider group. My kids went to Pinckney (split) then Central (split) then Free State. Through multiple kids, they retained very good friends on both sides of the splits attending sporting events, concerts etc. at the other schools. They even ended up rooming with LHS kids in college. All-in-all, I think the splits are unifying for the community and, at least for my kids, enhanced their social experience.

Take_a_letter_Maria 6 years, 11 months ago

Why that's just crazy talk.

We need shelter and protect our kids from the world out there.


avaholic 6 years, 11 months ago

Conservative, while I agree with your premise, I'm not sure how you could do it fairly or if it even can be fair. In your proposal, the two schools that would make the most sense for Lawrence High would be Central and South. The two schools that would make the most sense for Free State would be Southwest and West. I think that would create even a bigger disparity financially between the two schools. After reading the article, I get the feeling that is the larger issue and why they are even considering this.

I'm not saying that there is a fair way to draw boundaries. I think regardless of how you do it, something is going to be unfair. Interested to hear your response.


sourpuss 6 years, 11 months ago

Okay, then have Central and Southwest feed LHS and South and West feed FSH. It's arbitrary, right, which schools feed which schools at that point. It doesn't have to be based on geography. Of course, the most egalitarian and cheapest solution would be to just split them by grade. 9/10 go to LHS, 11/12 to FSH and make it all "Lawrence High School" again. Then you wouldn't have to double up all the teachers and the small parking lot at LHS wouldn't need to accommodate so many cars because the 14 year olds can't drive themselves. Instead of increasing school buses, get city bus routes to funnel kids to the schools.

Of course, this will never ever happen, but maybe some different scenarios than just "drawing an arbitrary line through town" can be proposed?

honestone 6 years, 11 months ago

A wonderful idea. That is the same idea many people had been suggesting since before they built the new high school. Every kid in Lawrence would get to know every other kid. Every kid in Lawrence would get to go to both the old school and the new school..hey that may mean that some of that benefactor money will get spread around a litte more. A good idea.

blindrabbit 6 years, 11 months ago

Trust Mary Loveland? Didn't she try to gerrymander the original boundaries back when FSHS opened. Was compelled to buy property in the FSHS district (for her daughter) so she could attend there! Mary lives just south of the 15th Street line in the LHS zone. Just another politician trying to obtain personal gain! Now she ought to recluse herself from any further tinkering!

Prairielander 6 years, 11 months ago

She will be off the Board in July so no further reclusal will be necessary.

avaholic 6 years, 11 months ago

Interesting idea. I would support looking into it

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