Archive for Friday, September 9, 2011

First Bell: School board, not superintendent, poised to appoint advisory committees; Langston Hughes to welcome grandparents; adult education fees on rise

September 9, 2011

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The Lawrence school board will receive a recommendation next week that would change a board policy, one regarding appointment of advisory committees.

The proposal would change how such committees are appointed, giving all such power to the board itself.

“After considering recommendations of the superintendent, the board shall appoint all members of board advisory committees,” the draft language states.

The language would replace a portion of the current policy that requires members of such committees to be appointed by the superintendent, and for board members to be appointed to such committees by the board president.

“The changes will align the appointment of committee members with the KASB (Kansas Association of School Boards) suggested best practice,” David Cunningham, the district’s director of legal services, human resources and policy, said in a memo to board members.

The issue has come up in recent months with the appointment of two advisory groups with big jobs to do, and likely will come into play with the creation of more groups to help advise district administrators and the board.

For 2010-11, Superintendent Rick Doll appointed members to the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force, whose members met for eight months before recommending last February that the board should close Wakarusa Valley School and pursue closing either two or three more by choosing to consolidate some of six other elementaries: Cordley, Hilcrest, Kennedy, New York, Pinckney and Sunset Hill. Members of the previous school board ultimately approved the task force’s recommendations, closing Wakarusa Valley and having formed the new Central and East Lawrence Elementary School Consolidation Working Group.

Doll appointed members of the working group earlier this year, after taking recommendations from site councils at the schools involved. That group is tasked with making its recommendations by the end of January.

Two other committees have been suggested by some members of the current board: a Budget Advisory Committee, and a Capital Improvements Advisory Committee. Both would advise district administrators and the board about matters regarding the two topics.

The policy change is among several scheduled to be presented at the district’s next regular meeting, set for 7 p.m. Monday at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. The change would be slated for approval Sept. 26.

•••

Teachers, staffers and — especially — students at Langston Hughes School are ready to welcome hundreds of important folks to campus today.

That’s right: grandparents.

The school will conduct its second-annual Grandparents Day Tea from 2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the school, 1101 George Williams Way. About 700 grandparents are expected to attend, learn and share experiences.

And sip some tasty beverages.

“Actually, we have lemonade,” reports Jackie Mickel, principal. “Kids don’t drink tea, and we don’t want them caffeinated.”

Grandparents will take part in activities, based on students’ grade levels. Kindergartners will sing selections from their “Animated Alphabet,” for example, while fifth-graders will interview their elders about how things were different back in the day.

Special accommodations are being made for the special event.

“We’ll park on the grass, and we have special parking permits to park on the road,” Mickel said. “This is just a nice way for the kids to share their education with their grandparents, and I’m sure the gradparents appreciate being included in their grandkids’ lives.”

And I know plenty of parents — myself included — who sure appreciate all that their kids’ grandparents do, too.

A lemonade toast sure sounds appropriate.

•••

Fees are going up for a couple of adult education programs in the Lawrence school district.

In the Lawrence Diploma Completion Program — which allows students at least 18 years old to finish their high school educations and receive actual diplomas, either from Free State or Lawrence high schools — the technology fee is now $50, up from $25.

The key is to help convince students to show up early and on time, said Sharen Steele, the district’s director of adult education programs.

If students meet attendance requirements by Sept. 20, which is the state’s assigned date for enrollment headcounts, the district will waive the technology fee. If they fail to meet requirements, they must pay.

Why the break? The district gets $3,780 for each and every student officially enrolled as of Sept. 20, and for students to be counted they must meet the attendance requirements by that date.

The thinking is that bumping up the fee would increase the chance of students qualifying the district for such state aid.

In previous years, some students would opt not to show up by Sept. 20, which is the state’s deadline for enrollment headcounts, and just figure on paying the $25 technology fee.

Just for the record: The program now has 175 enrolled, plus another 22 at the Douglas County Jail.

The other fee increase comes courtesy of the Kansas Board of Regents, which oversees adult education. Anyone walking into the Adult Education Center, 2145 La., to take a GED practice test now must pay $40, instead of the previous $25. The Board of Regents had told the district to charge anywhere from $40 to $50, and Steele opted for the $40.

Unchanged: Students who take the center’s GED classes do not have to pay a fee for a practice test.

The charge for taking an actual GED exam remains unchanged, at $85, and that remains the same for people who take the classes or not. Limited scholarships are available.

The fee increases are set for formal adoption by the school board Monday night.

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 3 years, 11 months ago

This fee for taking the GED test hits those who can least afford it, and at the same time are interested in improving themselves. It should be rejected. The test should be taken for free. Also the classes are very important. Many people are mothers who have children to take care of. Apparently those behind the fee are probably well off and couldn't care less. But these tests and courses affect some of the neediest people in the state, people who want to improve themselves and often who will go to great lengths to do it.

Take a look at this article on the BBC if you want to see how far people go in other countries, especially Africa, to get an education:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/magazine-14770642

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