Archive for Monday, September 5, 2011

Group to discuss closing schools

Meeting on consolidation scheduled for Wednesday

September 5, 2011

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Members of the Central and East Lawrence Elementary School Consolidation Working Group are set to gather Wednesday evening for the first of 11 scheduled meetings to come up with a plan for closing some schools, upgrading others and otherwise compiling a long-term plan to guide the Lawrence school district’s K-5 education for years to come.

Rick Ingram, for one, hopes they can get the job done.

“I hope that whatever they do reflects a true consensus,” said Ingram, a member of the Lawrence school board, which is scheduled to receive the group’s recommendations in February. “If everybody feels good about the recommendations, then I’ll feel good about them.”

Working to achieve consensus will be more than two dozen volunteers with plenty at stake.

The 27-member group is instructed to propose a plan to consolidate the district’s 14 remaining elementary schools into a list of 11 or 12 within the next two or three years, as recommended earlier this year by another volunteer group — the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force — and endorsed unanimously by the school board.

The group includes members representing seven school communities — Cordley, Hillcrest, Kennedy, New York, Pinckney, Sunset Hill and Woodlawn — that either are being considered for consolidation or have been identified as being part of the process. Teachers from each school are serving as ex-officio members, to serve as advisers.

Two administrators from Kansas University — Marilu Goodyear, director of KU’s School of Public Affairs and Administration, and Kathleen, learning and development manager for KU’s Department of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity — will serve as co-facilitators for the group.

Wednesday’s meeting is set for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. The agenda calls for “brainstorming” and setting ground rules for interaction.

“We’re anxious to get going,” said Rick Doll, district superintendent.

The meeting is open to the public, although discussion is limited to members of the task force, their advisers and other district personnel.

Comments

Richard Heckler 3 years, 12 months ago

What if the group feels it is not fiscally responsible to close schools only to spend more money building new schools?

There is no hard evidence substantiating closing schools is the absolute best use of existing and paid for resources.

Janis Pool 3 years, 12 months ago

It states in the article that these schools are targeted. So no one is thinking of salvation. Which is just plain sad. I think they need a realtor on the board so they hear WHY we keep growing west. Since the 1930's (or before) realtors have said look west not east . And look at what we have. Our downtown is threatened. Our schools in the east are threatened. What is wrong with a well built older home with a mature yard,or a school that has smaller class size and a community at your fingertips?

independent_rebel 3 years, 12 months ago

What is wrong is that a lot of people don't like the area. They don't like the run-down houses, the slum-lords, the liberal politics of the area, the crime of the area, the lack of shopping/groceries (forget downtown if you want to shop cheaply and at hours convenient for most working folks). Just like the east side backers who view that what goes on west of Iowa, or Kasold now, is awful, many others love it, and they chose to live there. I've lived on both sides. No doubt where I prefer living.

That being said. I wouldn't close any neighborhood schools as long as they are viable. Closing them just to save money is an easy out. There are other ways to save money.

independent_rebel 3 years, 12 months ago

What is wrong is that a lot of people don't like the area. They don't like the run-down houses, the slum-lords, the liberal politics of the area, the crime of the area, the lack of shopping/groceries (forget downtown if you want to shop cheaply and at hours convenient for most working folks). Just like the east side backers who view that what goes on west of Iowa, or Kasold now, is awful, many others love it, and they chose to live there. I've lived on both sides. No doubt where I prefer living.

That being said. I wouldn't close any neighborhood schools as long as they are viable. Closing them just to save money is an easy out. There are other ways to save money.

conservative 3 years, 12 months ago

We need to consolidate. The schools have a lot of repairs and upgrades that would be needed to keep them viable schools. Small schools with only one or two classrooms per grade level cost too much to operate. They require the same amount of support people and almost as much in utilities as the bigger schools. Trying to say we should save All of the outdated small buildings because of community is ridiculous. The financial situation needs to be taken into account not just now in the tight times but for the future when more funds are available again. Right now to keep all of the schools open we are diverting funds from programs that help kids, not buying new texts, and taking away more and more education opportunities from the kids.

GMom05 3 years, 12 months ago

Granted, we do have a number of buildings requiring repairs due to deferred maintenance our school board never authorized. So, what kind of sense does it make to close one of only two schools (Wakarusa Valley and Broken Arrow) in this entire district that needed $0 in repair work? These two schools above all the rest should be filled before asking me for my tax dollars to do repairs on the rest of the buildings the board chose to abandon.

Upstate 3 years, 12 months ago

The district did not make all the cuts the board voted in 2010 (for the 2010-2011 year) and meanwhile, they managed to add millions to their savings. Again. As far back as the district posts budgets, there hasn't been a year they didn't squirrel away millions in some special fund(s) on the last day of the fiscal year.

Yes, there has been less money sent from Topeka. But we clearly have enough money to keep all the schools open - we paid all the bills and still added to savings last year. This year, we have one fewer school so the savings should be even greater.

Let's be honest about why the consolidation started. The last board simply wanted to build new buildings and they had to justify it to get public support after the last bond debacle. Conveniently, we had a state fiscal mess and someone, in deciding to not let a crisis go to waste, made budget cuts the reason for school closures.

I hope the current board is more candid about the long-range (10 year) strategic plans for our district, including planned capital expenditures.

weeslicket 3 years, 12 months ago

  1. all of these existing schools are already paid for. the district does not "save money" when it closes a school that is already fully owned.
  2. perhaps the district is thinking of maintenance costs. well, all of the buildings have maintenance costs. just consider how much repair and maintenance money has been put into the most recently built-- langston and free state.
  3. the only "savings" a district can point to (and they won't), is that you can eliminate 1 principal, 1 secretary, and 1 librarian (1.5 custodians, 2 food service workers, and 1.4 medical staff will likely be re-assigned).
  4. and, older schools have better classrooms. period.

conservative 3 years, 12 months ago

Weeslicket the buildings are in need of serious repairs and upgrades to be safe and ADA compliant. As in literally millions of dollars.

GardenMomma 3 years, 12 months ago

Not all the buildings are in that much disrepair.

weeslicket 3 years, 12 months ago

@ conservative: those "literally millions of dollars" are already available, and have been available for quite some time. it's called capital outlay.
that's why the district has a capital outlay fund.

also, new contruction would cost "literally millions of dollars". so, the public would have to approve of a bond.

this really isn't all that confusing.

conservative 3 years, 12 months ago

Upstate not sure where you're getting your information. Every article I've seen has talked about them using their contingency funds nothing about adding to them.

Upstate 3 years, 12 months ago

Because we are now paying attention to contingency funds, the district is stowing away the excess cash at year end in other funds. Millions were added to the USD497 piggy bank by shifting it to other accounts. The ending balances in following funds grew by over $3.7 Million this year: Special ed, at-risk k-12, vocational, federal, activity, textbook, cost of living, professional development, food service, virtual, bilingual, and at risk 4. See CODE 99 fund balances on the district website for beginning and ending fund balances.

More curious is the fact that the district depleted 25% of the general and local option funds ($20million) in a single month at year end. The general fund's total outflows were $63.2 million for the year of which $13.1 million was spent or transferred out in June 2011. The LOB's total outflows for the year were $21.8 Million, of which $6.9 million was moved out in June 2011. The district has posted every month's expenditures except June so we don't know where this $20million went.

weeslicket 3 years, 12 months ago

@ conservative: sounds like you're not getting ANY information. let me help you out a little bit. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2011/jul...

Scattered 3 years, 12 months ago

Consolidation benefits nobody in the affected community. Countless studies show that the small school is most beneficial to everyone.

http://www.wpaag.org/Consolidation%20Studies.htm

notorious_agenda 3 years, 12 months ago

There is no doubt that the schools are being closed. They have already had to deal with replacing people on this working group who were only for saving the schools. They have a recommendation from a previous working group to consolidate. This new working group only deals with consolidating. There is no "hey lets keep these schools open," that's been decided already. They need to stop wasting time again and again on people who only want to save the schools.

weeslicket 3 years, 12 months ago

a notorious agenda indeed !

please remember, dr. doll's "objective" in consolidating schools is to trade 1 principal, 1 secretary, and 1 librarian for 3-4 learning coaches. dr. doll has said so himself. also cross-reference the KLN report to usd497 just this past year.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 12 months ago

"We need to consolidate. The schools have a lot of repairs and upgrades that would be needed to keep them viable schools. " These schools are victims of "demolition by neglect" which means the district has become victim of reckless leadership and fiscal irresponsibility. Some of the repairs which are necessary have been on a list for 10 years or more. Why the hell is that?

This is a back door approach to direct new school construction in the areas where developers have their eyes on "new bedrooms". Schools in neighborhoods promote sales this is no secret. We're talking more local corporate welfare = wasteful tax increases.

It is not the duty of the school district to promote economic growth by way of participating in the less than desirable goals of the real estate industry and the Chamber of Commerce.

"Small schools with only one or two classrooms per grade level cost too much to operate." Says who? I've read recently that some communities are abandoning the large school approach because small schools are STILL the best learning environment. And the cost savings never surfaced.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 12 months ago

Property owners in the areas of closed public schools will lose 10% of property value by this decision according to Kirk McClure. Property owners, city hall nor USD 497 cannot afford the loss.

  Who is Kirk McClure?

   Education Ph. D., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley,
  Department of City and Regional Planning, 1985.
  Concentrations in Housing Economics and Public Finance.

  Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
  Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 1978.
  Specialization in Housing Policy Analysis.

  Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas,
  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1974.
  Special Major in Urban Studies.

  Bachelor of Architecture, Graduated With Distinction
  University of Kansas,
  School of Architecture and Urban Design, 1973.
  =========================================

CENTER FOR URBAN POLICY AND THE ENVIRONMENT DECEMBER 2003

What determines the price of real estate? Location. Location. Location. This cliché is a good starting point for a discussion of property values and public choices, for it leads to the question why property values vary in different locations.

Most property owners know from experience that similar properties in different neighborhoods can command vastly different prices. But many may not realize that public choices can have large effects on property values. Public choices about capital investments, public services, and taxation affect property values because their impacts vary in different places.

A new highway interchange, for example, generally increases the value of nearby property because it increases its accessibility.

Conversely, a decision to close a school or a neighborhood police station may decrease the value of property in the neighborhood.

In public policy debates, moreover, decision makers often lack information as to how their choices will affect property values

Flap Doodle 3 years, 12 months ago

Are you trying to get this McClure dude a job, merrill?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 12 months ago

How much will it cost taxpayers to close neighborhood schools?

Something to think about...

It seems like of all the segments of the population in the USA Lawrence,Kansas puts very little energy or money into attracting this healthy crowd as residents. About all it would take investment wise is widening more existing sidewalks to 10 feet throughout our community. Lawrence has plenty of empty houses/bedrooms.

Sarah Shipley admits she owns a car, but if she can, she will walk, ride her bike or take a bus.

Which is a fine thing, considering she’s a bicycle and pedestrian advocate who works for such groups as BikeWalkKC and the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation.

Shipley is also a communications consultant who works out of her home in Waldo. She, her husband and two small children moved here from the Washington, D.C., area two years ago.

Q. How do you decide whether to take your car, a bus, your bike or your feet?

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/09/04/3121105/so-you-want-to-be-car-light.html#ixzz1XApWDt6A

http://www.kansascity.com/2011/09/04/3121105/so-you-want-to-be-car-light.html

irvan moore 3 years, 12 months ago

we have lost our sense of community, we need neighborhood schools and we don't need mega sports complexes. the direction of this city has been decided by the developers and their cronies on the city commissions and school boards. if you have school age children buy a house where there is a school with room for your kids, it's really pretty simple.

GMom05 3 years, 12 months ago

Yes, I tried that and they closed my school. If you choose a school with room for your kids, my feeling is it will end up on the chopping block for closure/consolidation. If it stays open, it will have absorbed another school's children and turn into an impossible learning environment with many drawbacks to the education of your children. I do not get what our school board is missing, regarding the positive outcomes for small neighborhood schools. I don't care how many text books you can buy with the extra money, it won't matter if my child can't hear what the teacher is saying in a noisy overcrowded classroom.

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