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Archive for Tuesday, February 14, 2012

High school principals give update on grade realignment

February 14, 2012

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Lawrence’s high school principals said the transition to a ninth- through 12th-grade system is benefiting the district in many areas but added they are continuing to evaluate facility needs at the high schools.

The principals were giving a midyear report to the Lawrence school board in the first year of the new system.

Ninth-graders, in addition to the athletic opportunities they had last year, added co-curricular activities this year.

Participation in high school debate had increased by 100 percent since the addition of ninth-graders, said Matt Brungardt, principal of Lawrence High School.

The new seven-period day has led to increased elective options for students, too, the principals said.

Traffic flow is still “a little bit of an issue” at Free State High School, Brungardt said, but not as much at Lawrence High.

Board member Shannon Kimball asked the principals whether they had evaluated their facilities needs yet. That work is still ongoing, but Brungardt said the top priority at Lawrence High is the cafeteria space.

On cold days like Monday, when few students opt to eat off campus, the cafeteria can get pretty full, he said.

“We know in the future if we grow, we’re going to outgrow our cafeteria,” he said.

At Free State, the most notable strain is in classroom space, said Principal Ed West. “We now have more teachers than we have classrooms,” he said.

The schools are also looking at ways to reincorporate the seminar period that allowed students to get help, make up exams and labs, and make use of other tutoring opportunities during the school day. Mark Bradford, board chairman, thanked the principals and their staffs for their work during the transition.

In other business:

l The board was scheduled to approve five people to a finance advisory committee, but Rick Doll, superintendent, said he erred and did not get information on the applicants to all board members, so the board is scheduled to reconsider the appointments in two weeks.

l Though the schools consolidation working group was meeting upstairs at the same time, the board did not specifically discuss the issue.

Comments

cato_the_elder 2 years, 2 months ago

Here we go: Having split LHS because it was "too large," the brilliant minds behind the recent "middle school" move have now created two high schools that are closing in on LHS's size before it was split. Hence, we will shortly hear the hue and cry for a third high school, which was the main reason the third high school proponents behind this did it after they had finally had to concede that the ridiculously high 10-12 school population projections that had been served up in 1994 to justify splitting LHS were never going to materialize.

Are the taxpaying residents of USD 497 really the ignorant fools that some school board members and school administrators think they are? When is someone going to say "enough?"

A third high school was on the USD 497 agenda even before the second one was approved in 1994. It now seems evident that those in charge of USD 497 are going to figure out some way to justify a bond issue for building a new elementary school in order to appease the current elementary school task force, which has made it clear that none of them can agree on closing any elementary schools. The call for a third high school won't be far behind. When that happens, it's vital that concerned USD 497 patrons require school administrators to reveal exactly how much it has cost taxpayers to operate and continue to equip fully two high schools instead of one since 1997, and must drill down beyond the smoke-and-mirrors fluff that will undoubtedly be sold to the public.

The late Jack Davidson, a distinguished Professor of Physics at KU and USD 497 school board member from 1999-2003, emphasized more than once how much it was already costing the taxpayers to operate and equip two high schools during his time on the Board. I sincerely hope that school administrators and USD 497 board members will be equally forthright when they launch their sales pitch for the third high school that wouldn't have been needed for another thirty years had they not made the radical move that was fully implemented this school year.

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