Letters to the Editor

Easy solution?

March 22, 2011


To the editor:

I could describe how wonderful Wakarusa Valley is, how it is the reason we reside where we do. But you will hear the same from every parent about any school.

I understand the position the Board of Education is in — something must change. I realize the decision is gravely difficult.

The BOE should look at all information provided by the task force — beyond the recommendation itself. Look at the numbers, the actual cost. Is Wakarusa the school to close? Not according to the task force’s numbers.

BOE member Bob Byers said he questions keeping schools open that require significant repairs to remain open. Wakarusa can handle more kids now. It can run at capacity without major renovation — certainly not $5.3 million that Cordley requires or $3.7 million for Pinckney. Byers questions not closing schools where so many are in close proximity. Wakarusa does not “sit on top” of other schools and serves three times the area of all in-town schools combined.

Of all the scenarios provided by the task force, there was not one wherein Wakarusa remained open, another school closed and the boundaries changed to move students to Wakarusa. Why not?

Closing Wakarusa may seem an easy solution; it is not. Closing Wakarusa is NOT a way out, it is a way in deeper. Use the facilities we have now — the ones that are in good working order and ADA-compliant, those not needing major repairs. Use Wakarusa Valley to its full potential.


Cogito_Ergo_Es 7 years, 2 months ago

You're correct, Paula. They should be looking at other options instead of the few scenarios the task force came up with seemingly overnight. I will remind everyone, that was not their original charge. I would hope the board doesn't plan to make a decision before they even get the results back on the mold at Kennedy! If they're looking for the easy way out, that would settle the issue for them. Apparently many board members and task force members think that closing Waky is easier because there are fewer people to anger. (Yes, that's a good reason.) I'll only say, they may find that this particular group of people will fight back hard and will speak LOUDLY! Because it would seem that SONS is only in favor of keeping open the neighborhood schools that are within the city limits. We know we need to speak louder than them. Look out for those board candidates that are aligned with SONS, or we'll be fighting this battle again next year...

nativeson 7 years, 2 months ago

How is closing a neighborhood school easy? It never is, and the decision to reduce facility costs that can be managed has come way too late. What the easier decision to do would be to continue operating facilities that are 50% of capacity, not ADA compliant and raise the student/teacher ratio across the district which is not as easy to perceive for parents in the district. The unwillingness to address what every district in the country is facing with shifting populations and less revenue is costing every kid in the district daily in quality of education.

melott 7 years, 2 months ago

How about reducing athletic budgets to save money? (I don't mean phys ed, I mean spectator sports.)

4yourinfo 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure they make the best decisions based on the instructions from the great Dr. who put the people in place on the task force and whatever plea bargain SONS cut by serving up Waky! Which I still don't understand how you build a panel to inform those serving on the school board made up of people from the school board? Oh just curious has there been a recuse yet? Only reason I did not run for school board is because of my vested interest in Waky Commons.

4getabouit 7 years, 2 months ago

I like spectator sports. Close Melott.

David Klamet 7 years, 2 months ago

What I never see are numbers. Tables, pie charts, percentages... There is a lot of discussion filled with unsubstantiated assertions and vague facts. We are, evidently, expected to believe all that we are told.

Maybe making this available would make the situation even less clear. On second thought, that hardly seems possible.

We build schools, we close them. We add to some, close others. We have to assume that those making these decisions know what they are doing?

Do they?

I can easily find out what my neighbor's house is worth, but finding information about what the city and school district spend, while it might be possible, is certainly not easy.

The media (LJW included) reports what people say, but never present hard financial information in a way that is easy (or at least possible) to understand.

Remember the story of the blind men and the elephant?


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"What I never see are numbers. Tables, pie charts, percentages..."

Well, I'm sure that you're well equipped to fabricate some that the Koch brothers would appreciate.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 2 months ago

bozo, do you get a penny from Soros every time you work the Koch brothers into a totally unrelated thread?

rrapp1 7 years, 2 months ago

Mold at Kennedy School? Should we not pay particular attention to that problem before you make a final decision? The health of our school staff and students might be more important than an unpopular choice to close schools prior to the new board taking over. A perfectly clean enviornment exist at Wakarusa Valley and I'm sure they would protect and welcome new students with open arms.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

"BOE member Bob Byers said he questions keeping schools open that require significant repairs to remain open."

That comes with neglect.

These necessary repairs have not been a secret. They have been around for years.

Why is it that USD 497 BOE does not respect taxpayers property nor our money?

This became public in 2007. This situation took years of neglect to reach this point: How should the school district pay for a $16.5 million maintenance backlog in elementary schools?

Closing schools to build new schools makes no sense. Another $30 million or more.

AGAIN why is it that USD 497 BOE does not respect taxpayers property?

Why did the BOE blow $20 million on the sports project knowing full well that $20 million could rehab the taxpayer owned school buildings?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

How smart was shelling out $23,000 per acre for 75 acres of unimproved land? Then telling the public there was not an immediate need as yet. Portraying this deal as an investment.

Save $3 million on bus program?

Something to think about:

USD 497 budgets $4-4.5 million to bus students. The district is charged at a daily rate depending on how many students use the transportation.

Parents would you be willing to find other means to get your students to school IF it meant keeping all the schools open,teachers employed and retaining important subject matter/programs?

Think car pooling,family members ,walking and biking.

USD 497 says it needs $3 million. Can WE come up with $3 million?

IF 75% of students were no longer using the bus: 75% of $4,000,000 = $3,000,000 (million)

75% of $4,500,000 = $3,375,000

David Klamet 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't know if the lines waiting to pick up students after school are as long as they were 6 years ago when I last picked up my kids. But I'm sure this proposal would make the situation into a twice daily nightmare. (No pun intended)

I would have gladly paid to have my kids ride the bus. In terms of time and fuel, it would have been a bargain.

For a city with a reputation for eco-fanaticism, those long long lines of cars waiting to pick up students at the elementary and junior high schools seemed out of place.

And another point, is it really a better solution to replace buses with private cars?

I am not an eco-fanatic, but fewer vehicles seems to me to be a good thing.

The district needs to find more places to cut spending (besides closing schools), but if getting students to and from school in a safe and efficient way is not one of the priorities (or should I say a requirement), what is?

This proposal seems to be penny wise and pound foolish.

Synjyn Smythe 7 years, 2 months ago

Ms. Rapp: This is one of the more intelligent and on-point letters on this subject to have appeared in LJW in the past two years. Thank you!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.