A few education-oriented items from around the area:
As the Jayhawks prepare to cross the border to play Missouri’s Tigers this Saturday in basketball, teachers in Lawrence just may have their eyes on another battle brewing in the Show Me State.
Lawmakers in Jefferson City are busy considering a bill that would push school districts into ranking their teachers and then paying them accordingly.
According to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the legislation would:
• Strip teachers of tenure.
• Award teachers contracts based on performance rankings, with those in the top of four tiers getting four-year contracts; teachers in the bottom tier would get one-year contracts.
• Reduce salaries for thousands of teachers, as teachers in the top tier could earn twice as much as those in the bottom group; the bill would require that a third of each district’s teachers be in the bottom tier.
The bill is being considered in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, and is considered “one of the top priorities of the House Republican leadership.”
Back here in Lawrence, negotiations opened Wednesday between Lawrence school district administrators and teachers regarding a new teacher contract for 2011-12.
I received a note Thursday from the folks at Packademics, a Wichita-based company that says it can fill orders for school supplies online for essentially any school, anywhere.
I went ahead and followed the link, and came across a long list of schools in Lawrence.
I’m not saying the site should be a first option for buying school supplies, or even if it would be appropriate. There are plenty of local retailers — both locally owned and national chains — that have all the supplies a student would need.
I do have a bit of an issue, however, with this quote from the note I’d received: “The firm gathers school supply lists for every grade in each school, and does the shopping — and shipping — so the supplies are delivered to the home in time for the school year.”
In time for the school year? It’s March, folks. The next academic year doesn’t start until August, and I’d hope they could fill an order by then.
Of course, they’ll have to wait for the updated supply lists, which won’t be available for, oh, at least a few more weeks (or months, I should say).
Members of the Lawrence school board know that next year’s budget likely will need to be $3 million smaller, given anticipated reductions in state revenue.
What remains unclear is just where board members intend to make cuts to make ends meet.
Thus far, only one plan has moved forward with any sort of recommendation: closure of Wakarusa Valley School for next year, as recommended by the Lawrence School Facility Vision Task Force. Board members are scheduled to discuss the recommendation — and others contained in the task force’s report — during a board meeting March 14, then come back with a formal public hearing on the closure issue March 28.
The closure would be expected to save the district nearly $500,000 next year, according to data provided to the task force.
Where would other cuts come? Who knows? But to see where cuts were approved at this time last year — March 9, 2010 — check out this memo provided to members of the task force.
— The First Bell e-mailbox is always open: firstname.lastname@example.org.