Archive for Saturday, March 26, 2011

If school closes, all-day kindergarten could expand

March 26, 2011


The Lawrence school district is making plans to add full-day kindergarten at two schools next year if — and it’s a big if — Lawrence school board members agree to close Wakarusa Valley School.

Both Broken Arrow and Sunflower schools would be added to the list of eight existing schools that offer full-day programming at the kindergarten level. The district would use money that would be freed up by the closure of Wakarusa Valley.

Board members are scheduled to discuss and possibly approve the proposed school closure Monday, following a 7 p.m. public hearing at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. If approved, board members then would consider the option of extending all-day kindergarten.

Expanding full-day kindergarten has been considered a priority of board members and district administrators. In recent months, the idea has picked up support from visiting professionals and the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force, the group that has recommended closing Wakarusa Valley and then consolidating other elementary schools during the next three to five years.

“There will be huge benefits and gains for elementary students if the task force recommendation and long-term vision is carried out,” said Vanessa Sanburn, school board member. “This is part of it.”

The district could use an anticipated $143,322 in savings that would be generated by the closure of Wakarusa Valley — savings that have not been included in earlier estimates — to cover what would be the additional $132,500 in increased costs for teachers at Broken Arrow and Sunflower, the two schools that would be handling Wakarusa Valley’s displaced students next year.

The money would come from state funds designated for “at-risk” students and from savings on transportation through reduced-length bus routes. About 50 students living in the Easy Living Mobile Home Park, behind Target, would be attending Sunflower School next year instead of Wakarusa Valley, cutting $68,322 in bus expenses.

If enacted as proposed, only Sunset Hill, Deerfield, Quail Run and Langston Hughes schools would be limited to half-day kindergarten.


Synjyn Smythe 6 years ago

"savings that have not been included in earlier estimates" Nice. They either lied to the taskforce about alleged savings, or they're lying about it now. Who is responsbile for these ever-changing numbers? Identify them and terminate their employment immediately!!!!!

TNPlates 6 years ago

I find it odd that with talk of whether they can close enough schools to reach the $3.5 million they need to save, they are now talking about spending $130K with some of the perceived savings. Do we need to save money or break even? Full-day kindergarten should be a goal for all USD 497 schools, but it seems to be the wrong year to be proposing it for more schools, unless they trade a couple administrators and their salaries for teachers.

wow365 6 years ago

How can closing Wakarusa School save enough money to add services when it will supposedly save $400 K and the district is in debt 3 million. Lets see the numbers - the real ones. Is this double talk - to get behind closing Wakarusa?

It must be - this is the third time I have posted this - it keeps getting removed......

deec 6 years ago

How many children attend WV? I'll bet it's more than 50. The district will save money by not busing 50 kids as far, but won't need to spend more money to bus WV kids to town. Or am I missing something?

Cogito_Ergo_Es 6 years ago

Completely Amazing. "savings that have not been included in earlier estimates." This creative bookkeeping is beyond ludicrous! So, now we're being asked to sacrifice our school in the name of the greater good and full-day kindergarten. Why not close New York and Kennedy too, then they can afford to bring full day kindergarten to SH, DF, LH, and QR too! And while we're at it, let's close Broken Arrow and Woodlawn and Cordley, then we can afford to rehire all those Learning Coaches they let go last year. Now we're down to 9 schools, now that's efficient!

Clevercowgirl 6 years ago

"The money would come from state funds designated for “at-risk” students and from savings on transportation through reduced-length bus routes. About 50 students living in the Easy Living Mobile Home Park, behind Target, would be attending Sunflower School next year instead of Wakarusa Valley, cutting $68,322 in bus expenses."

Now this would be funny, if it were not so completely sad, but true:

Move the "at risk" kids from easy living, from a small school with a strong community and small classes, and place them in a large school minus many of their friends;

Take away their free transportation to and from school; then

Tell everyone who has been displaced what a great thing closing Wakarusa is because now two more schools get all-day kindergarten.

Question: Have we looked at the effect on AYP scores of at risk kids being moved from small school to large school environments? Question: Just how are these Easy Living kids supposed to navigate around K-10 and walk to school? Many of those families only own one car, which is used for work.

Does anyone look at all of this in its totality?

notanota 5 years, 12 months ago

My understanding is that AYP looks at classes and not students, so I imagine it would be hard to tell what the AYP does when you move kids from small schools to big. To be fair, the big schools don't lump all the students into one ginormous 60 kid classroom, so there should in theory not be a huge difference in actual academics in 22-25 kid classrooms from school to school, but I find the school closings suggestions to be a bit rash and the future savings claims are murky. Every time we do one of these school closing rounds, it seems that >surprise< there's some hidden expense.

deec 6 years ago

Nice maneuver to move those "at risk" state (and I'd guess some Federal) funds to a well-off suburban school.

Clevercowgirl 6 years ago

The more interesting question is: where are these funds being shifted from? Wakarusa has not gotten federal funding as a Title 1 school. And, I don't believe that there is any state funding to speak of being used at Wakarusa. So, I suppose that some state funding would have to be moved from another USD 497 school. Or, this could be another story. Who knows.

Cogito_Ergo_Es 5 years, 12 months ago

Don't forget once the 120 Wakarusa kids get moved to Broken Arrow it will no longer be a Title One school and there will be real dollars lost there as well...

KU_cynic 6 years ago

Headlines I'd prefer to see:

"If football terminated, all-day kindergarten for all Lawrence children"

"If central administrators terminated, all-day kindergarten for all Lawrence children"

"If assistant principal positions consolidated, all-day kindergarten for all Lawrence children"

"If capital budget funds shifted for operations, all-day kindergarten for all Lawrence children"

"If USD 497 central administration building closed/leased, all-day kindergarten for all Lawrence children"

Richard Heckler 5 years, 12 months ago

Save $3 million on bus transportation? 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 bussed: 75% of $4,000,000 = $3,000,000 (million)

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

OR if parents assumed all of the transportation of their children that would be a real savings of $4,000,000 - $4,500,000 yes we are talking millions.

And a lot of children would be spending wayyyyy less wasted time on a bus.

This is talking real savings year after year after year.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 12 months ago

Close the current USD 497 admin building and move the admin staff and BOE meeting room to Centennial.

Put the large white elegant admin building on the market and move those funds from the sale into the USD 497 cookie jar to clear up a $16.5 million maintenance backlog in elementary schools.

Why have the school boards be neglecting USD 497 taxpayer owned property? This reckless money management must stop with this election.

Vote Ingram/Diaz-Moore/Masten

Vote No on incumbents!!!!

Why close schools?

Carol Bowen 5 years, 12 months ago

What ploy is this? It looks like USD 497 is trying to broker a deal. They're betting a lot of parents would close a school or two to get all day kindergarten.

What troubles me is that they are "managing" facilities rather than education. How are they maintaining or improving the quality of the educational experience with their proposed budget cuts?

Stephen Roberts 5 years, 12 months ago

It is too bad that people on this board do not realize that people who worked at the district office (that are not on teachers contracts) took a gross pay cut. This pay cut is in addition to an increase in medical insurance increase.

It is easy to say that we should cut the administrators pay, but eventually those "highly" paid administrators will leave & go to districts that will pay them & respect them more.

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