Archive for Friday, October 14, 2011

First Bell: No class is no vacation for teachers, especially with standards-based grading to do; Consolidation Working Group to review data

October 14, 2011


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Today is an off day for Lawrence public schools, something like a bye week for NFL teams heading into the weekend.

But like coaches and front office personnel who never seem to stop working, teachers and administrators will be on the job today, taking care of business.

While students won’t be in class, teachers will be busy for their scheduled professional development/reporting and recording day.

And there’s a difference this year for some middle school teachers: Instead of following the usual schedule — using half the day for reporting and recording grades, and the other half for professional development — teachers of sixth-graders will have the entire day to spend on grades.

That’s because such teachers are facing something new themselves:

• First-time teachers of sixth-graders have not used standards-based grading — assigning E, S, M and T grades to student performance in each of six different standards, plus awarding of a single A, B, C, D or F letter grade — before, and therefore may need extra time to work through issues related to recording and reporting such grades.

• Teachers who have taught sixth-graders may have the experience — standards-based grading has been in place in elementary schools for several years — but such teachers have not used such grades in middle schools, which are new this academic year.

District administrators opted to make the entire day available for such teachers — and have people on site to assist with concerns, problems or anything else — after they heard complaints from parents and teachers alike that many teachers had not received enough training to employ such grading.

Today teachers can earn some credit for professional development through their grading, because they will be learning and working with a new system.

While today is the end of the first quarter for secondary schools, teachers in elementary schools — which follow a trimester schedule — will use today only for professional development. That’s because there are no grades to record and/or report.

And don’t forget: Middle schools will not have classes Thursday, as educators conduct parent-teacher conferences. Middle schools and both high schools will not have classes Friday, also for parent-teacher conferences.


The Central and East Lawrence Elementary School Consolidation Working Group meets from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive, with members expected to review a pile of data they’ve requested to help them determine how to consolidate six schools into either three or four within the next two to three years.

Specifically, they expect to receive and review information regarding:

• Enrollment projections.

• Elementary transfers.

• School floor plans, including classroom usage.

• Background information for a school-capacity chart compiled by Gould Evans, a chart to be reconfigured to include a column to reflect the rate of usage in each school based on exclusion of existing portables.

• Race/ethnicity, socio-economic status (SES) and English as a Second Language (ESL) data by school.

The volunteer group, created by the Lawrence school board earlier this year — before four new members were elected and seated — is expected to send its recommendations to the board in February.

Members of the group come from the communities of six schools identified for potential consolidation by the board back in February — Cordley, Hillcrest, Kennedy, New York, Pinckney and Sunset Hill — plus Woodlawn.


Kookamooka 3 years, 12 months ago

Sadly, a bond issue isn't likely to pass in this economic/political climate. Lawrence is turning into a retirement community and the elderly do not want to spend their tax dollars on someone elses child's education. They already educated a generation (with ample funding-no less)

So...if the district is pretending there is money in their budget for brand new schools...they are wrong. They don't tend to "sell" old schools but rent them for a pittance or reuse or repurpose them. And if new construction isn't feasible, then...neither will consolidation be feasible. You can't cram two schools worth of kids into any of the existing buildings. If that occurs....we have to move or home school.

I'm sorry that the admin decided they needed to put air conditioners on their fancy building. Maybe they should consider consolidating themselves into an abandoned school.

Mike Myers 3 years, 12 months ago

I think you are wrong on the bond issue and hopefully since you used the word "sadly" that means I can count you as a YES voter. If you visited some of the schools you would see that many of them have been neglected for way too long. They are getting by and making do with what space they have and now they are also getting by without the needed full-time support staff. I think with education of the voter a bond issue will pass with flying colors. Construction will allow for new efficiencies and more wisely spent base state aid. Construction bids are low right now also. Lots of hungry builders out there.

Agreed on the admin building though. Unfortunately the cost of remodeling a school into a modern office building isn't going to be cheap.

GMom05 3 years, 12 months ago

Um, they decided to close a perfectly good school that hadn't been neglected and needed no repairs. I see no reason to spend my tax money on new buildings when they can't make better choices than that. They OWN buildings they aren't using for children. We don't need more. Maybe they need to look at booting the Boys & Girls Club or maybe the LVS, or the Adult Ed Program. As long as there are still viable buildings available, I vote NO.

Sadly, it will be the misinformation of the average voter, that will actually cause it to pass. If there are hungry builders out there, then surely there are hungry repair people too. Let them fix the schools. In most cases it will be cheaper than building a whole new school.

puckstah 3 years, 12 months ago

As I understand it, there's enough money in the coffers now to fix up the elementary schools - no bond should be needed for this.

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