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Archive for Monday, May 9, 2011

First Bell: Tonight, school board members to consider athletics upgrades for LHS, learn about a ‘District Improvement Plan,’ and meet in executive session on personnel matters

May 9, 2011

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Here’s a look at a few of the items on the agenda for tonight’s meeting of the Lawrence school board, set to begin at 7 p.m. at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive:

This architectural rendering shows plans for an arched entryway at Lawrence High School's stadium. This view looks at the stadium from the southeast. The project is being financed through donations generated through LHS Building on Traditions.

This architectural rendering shows plans for an arched entryway at Lawrence High School's stadium. This view looks at the stadium from the southeast. The project is being financed through donations generated through LHS Building on Traditions.

Board members will be asked to approve changes to planned upgrades at Lawrence High School’s athletics fields, to be financed through donations accumulated through an effort known as LHS Building on Traditions.

Doug Gaston, a leader of the effort, is scheduled to update board members on the work scheduled for this summer: an arched entryway and ticket booth for the football stadium; stone encasements for various scoreboards, including the main one at the stadium; and related work.

You can see the drawings, a site plan and other background information online.

No district funds will be used to pay for the upgrades, said Rick Doll, district superintendent.

“Through these generous donations, we’ll be able to dress up those athletics facilities,” Doll said. “It’s a nice finishing touch. We’re very appreciative of the generous donations.”

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Also on the agenda:

Kim Bodensteiner, the district’s chief academic officer, will present a report regarding the “District Improvement Plan,” mandated following a visit by consultants and educators through the Kansas Learning Network.

The plan, and visit, were required because the district was designated as “On Improvement” because of performance on state assessment tests.

Here’s the district’s “theory of action,” as outlined in the improvement plan:

“Our district theory of action is that student achievement will be improved by creating a more coherent and highly reliable system of schools. This involves determining what needs to be systemic or ‘tight’ across the district vs. what can be site-based or 'loose' from school to school. We understand the need for clear district expectations and accountability along with flexibility for specific decisions to be made at the building level, contingent on school performance, to address the student and school community needs."

•••

Also on the agenda:

Board members plan to meet in executive session — that’s behind closed doors, out of public view — beginning at 6:45 p.m., to discuss “personnel matters of non-elected personnel.”

One potential topic: Superintendent Rick Doll’s recommendation to hire G. Keith Wilson as the new principal for the Lawrence Virtual School, a matter up for formal consideration during the board’s regular meeting.

Another possibility: ongoing contract negotiations between the district and its teachers.

Representatives from the Lawrence Education Association have proposed several items they’d like to see included in the next Master Agreement, which will be expected to govern wages, benefits, working conditions and other matters between the district and its more than 900 educators.

Among the union’s proposals:

• All teachers would receive a $1,500 raise.

• The district would waive standard fees for enrollment, textbook rentals, extracurricular activities and related supplemental charges for students whose parents are licensed educators.

• Permit the president of the union to work full-time on union business, at district expense.

The board also met in executive session April 25 with members of its negotiating team. As noted in that meeting’s minutes, the gathering was conducted in executive session “to discuss negotiations in order to protect the public interest in negotiating a fair and equitable contract.”

— The First Bell mailbox is always open. Please feel free to send any feedback or ideas to me at mfagan@ljworld.com.

Comments

Kookamooka 3 years, 2 months ago

"The district would waive standard fees for enrollment, textbook rentals, extracurricular activities and related supplemental charges for students whose parents are licensed educators."

Both parents? One Parent? Employed in USD497? Licensed in MO? What does that mean exactly?

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mfagan 3 years, 2 months ago

Any student attending school in the Lawrence school district who has a parent working as a licensed educator in the Lawrence school district would have his or her standard fees waived. That's the proposal. - Mark Fagan Schools reporter

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situveux1 3 years, 2 months ago

Waive fees for some but not others. Nice. Guess it pays to have friends in the right places.

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KSManimal 3 years, 2 months ago

If a health club let its employees use the facility without buying a membership, would you have the same response?

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honestone 3 years, 2 months ago

I am always an advocate for the teacher's but...do you really think that asking for raises right now helps your cause...just a thought

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irvan moore 3 years, 2 months ago

why don't we waive fees for children that have unemployed parents or are in hardship situations instead of teachers kids?

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Cogito_Ergo_Es 3 years, 2 months ago

"No district funds will be used to pay for the upgrades, said Rick Doll, district superintendent." Every time Doll and Frank go out and have a beer and talk about the athletic fields, District Funds ARE being spent on it. "Board members plan to meet in executive session — that’s behind closed doors, out of public view — beginning at 6:45 p.m., to discuss “personnel matters of non-elected personnel.” In the main, I am not opposed to certain discussions about personnel happening behind closed doors. However, I do firmly believe there needs to be more transparancy when our fearless leader's contract is up for renewal. Their should be public and staff input on his performance over the past year, so that we all know he is being renewed because he's is doing the best job a superintendent can do for our children and all the taxpayers that pay his salary (which is not inconsequential.) As it is now, I envision a lot of back slapping and laughing behind those doors and the good ole boys signing him up for another year, before our newly elected board members can say anything about it. I think a thorough 'performance review' by the people that actually work with/for him would tell a different story than those that sit on high above him and who are sweet talked by him (because he's not a COMPLETE idiot.)

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Clickker 3 years, 2 months ago

"Every time Doll and Frank go out and have a beer and talk about the athletic fields, District Funds ARE being spent on it.".......really? ....and you know about this? About them going out and having beers and charging the beers to thier expense acct? Really? Wow.

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Cogito_Ergo_Es 3 years, 2 months ago

Didn't say anything about expense accounts. YOU said that. All I meant was they are being paid salary to work on these things. Every time they talk about athletic fields they are NOT doing something else they are being paid to do. It can be at a game or in the office, doesn't matter. They are still on salary and working on one project over another. If they are making decisions and "working" on something, they are being paid. Sorry, I can see how you misinterpreted that.

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Clickker 3 years, 2 months ago

No....the district funds are being spent whether they talk about this or not. You implied that incremental dollars are being spent. Unless their opportunity cost is 100% I doubt that their spending any time talking about this impacts other more important ( in your opinion) things.

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4getabouit 3 years, 2 months ago

"why don't we waive fees for children that have unemployed parents or are in hardship situations instead of teachers kids"

Fees are waived for these situations.

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Scattered 3 years, 2 months ago

".....stone encasements, archway, ticket booth".....Wow - what priorities. I realize these are "privately funded projects"; it is a shame those who donate do not see the REAL needs at the schools.

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melott 3 years, 2 months ago

I wonder if they tried to get any money for drainage or getting lights in compliance with their agreements.

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nativeson 3 years, 2 months ago

It is reasonable for the union to advocate for their members. However, fee waivers for students with educator parents makes no sense. It concludes that they are all of modest income. Without any qualification of need the district has no idea what other sources of income that teachers may have with second incomes.

Paying for the president of the union to focus full-time on union activities on the district's dime is nonsense. Why are teachers paying dues in the first place? Why should taxpayers pay for a position created because a bargaining unit decided to organize?

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KSManimal 3 years, 2 months ago

To your first point... That same "logic" could be applied to any other salary/benefit: makes no sense for the district to provide health insurance to teachers who are married to doctors or lawyers, right?

As for the union president, currently that person works part time for the district and still receives a full salary. The district and the union make equal cash contributions to cover part of the half-time release, while teachers "donate" unused sick days to cover the rest. The latter is basically a good-faith gesture. In reality, the district pays a full time salary to the union president already, and has for years.

Therefore, a move to a full-time release president would add only one half-time position to the district's total teaching staff. With 900+ teachers, this amounts to about 1/20 of 1% of their teacher-salary budget. That's right, 0.0005%. That doesn't seem too much to ask, and would certainly buy a lot of good will and rapport - in a time when those are in short supply.

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volunteer 3 years, 2 months ago

It's just part of negotiations. Each side asks for something it does not really expect to get, in order to "reluctantly" relinquish that request up as the process proceeds.

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honestone 3 years, 2 months ago

I understand putting a lot of issues in the proposal that can then be given up for something else but...asking for raises now casts a very bad light on the union. Not saying that many teachers deserve the raise but...

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KSManimal 3 years, 2 months ago

Does this mean you've contacted your legislators and asked them to cut back on corporate tax breaks and sales tax exemptions? The budget "crisis" isn't really a budget crisis; but rather a "we refuse to levy taxes on our wealthy good ol' boy friends who got us elected" crisis. You're saying the solution is to pay for tax cuts and exemptions on the backs of teachers. Teachers are saying "no".

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been_there 3 years, 2 months ago

This waiver for fees does not seem fair to the teachers with no kids in school. Let's say a teacher has 3 kids in junior and senior high, each participating in two activities. This waiver basically gives them a $1,000 raise (more if they join more activities throughout the year) just because they have kids. I know many teachers who don't have kids and it just doesn't seem fair. I also think the term "related supplemental charges" is too vague and those charges need to be listed separately.

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KSManimal 3 years, 2 months ago

By that logic, it would not seem fair to provide health insurance benefits to some teachers while other teachers are already covered under their spouse's benefits elsewhere..and therefore decline the district-paid insurance.

That being said, it isn't up to you to decide whether it's "fair". Rather, it's up to the members of the bargaining unit who will vote on a contract proposal.

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commuter 3 years, 2 months ago

If the teachers get this benefit, what about other people who work for the district?? It would only be fair.

As to allow the LEA President not to tech but still get paid is a joke. If the union wants this, why don't they fund it through their own dues!!!!!!! It is stupid to make the district to pay for this.

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deec 3 years, 2 months ago

"If the teachers get this benefit, what about other people who work for the district?? It would only be fair." I agree. Too bad they don't have a union to make that happen for them.

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