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Archive for Thursday, February 16, 2012

No closings

February 16, 2012

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To the editor:

I am a proud Lawrencian, quick to defend my decision to keep my roots firmly planted here, where I grew up. My paternal grandparents attended elementary in the same school my children have come to love, and my father and I have dedicated portions of our lives to working in the schools here.

I’ll be honest. I don’t know much — only what I’ve observed and done. Fortunately, others have shared the facts for me.

A number of years ago, a bond issue passed, funding school repairs and improvements. Soon after, expensive, state-of-the-art athletic facilities were built for both high schools while other schools continued using trailers for classrooms.

This past fall, my son rushed home, upset. “Mom,” he shouted, “They might close a school! You have to call everyone you know!” He expressed concern for his peers and how their lives would change. How would this affect them? Or him?

It’s interesting that the east-central portion of Lawrence has long been viewed negatively. No matter anyone’s assessment of our quality of life, our residents are not statistics. Our children are not numbers.

Each of our schools is valuable, with farm-to-table programs and butterfly gardens and alternative teaching methods that work. There is too much to lose playing games with our children’s education. There is no financially urgent reason to close or consolidate our schools.

Hard as it is to reduce my thoughts to 250 words articulately, they can be summed thusly: Lawrence simply does not need to close another school.

Comments

Loretta James 2 years, 1 month ago

But if they close another school they will have more money for sports related things. Get back to education being the MOST important NOT sports.

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 2 months ago

They may not close any schools at the moment but you can bet Ms, Hess that another bond issue is in the works for more money to repair schools. Isn't it interesing that always more money is needed for deferred maintenance, which translates to more money for the architects, consultants, and a pittance for repairs.

Get your wallet out Abby and follow the lead of your ancestors to feed the hungy pig.

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ashmole 2 years, 2 months ago

Right on. The School Board needs to listen to the people for a change.

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friendlyjhawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Excellent comment about the issue of local schools and funds.

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aryastark1984 2 years, 2 months ago

And if this comes to pass, and we want to raise local taxes to increase teacher pay (for instance), we will probably have a lot more success if we don't make that request on the heels of a ginormous bond to build several new schools.

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gseibel 2 years, 2 months ago

The truly twisted part of this whole debate is that most of the proposals include spending millions on construction (either for expanding existing schools or building an entire new one) in order to save thousands on operating costs. And no, even over the long run the savings wouldn't pay off. The reason is that state law caps the property tax that can be raised for operating expenses but doesn't have the same limit for paying off construction bonds. Not that i'm a fan of Brownback but his proposal to lift the cap on local education funding is the only sane solution. If we can't convince the rest of this right-wing anti-tax state to properly fund education, at least let us support our own schools the way we want.

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nativeson 2 years, 2 months ago

If there is room in the budget to keep all the elementary schools open, then so be it. But, it should not be done at the expense of ever-expanding class sizes in certain elementary schools. I would like to see the LJ World do a story on class size for each grade at each elementary school. Let's see the disparity and look at the other side of the coin.

Class size has been traditionally an important indicator of student achievement. If the school board believes in this research, it must be a consideration in the dialog about school closure. This debate has become very one-sided, and it not considering the implications of doing nothing with facilities and accepting larger class sizes in some primary schools.

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Mike Myers 2 years, 2 months ago

Abby, you know more than you give yourself credit for. Many of us have the same feelings in our guts about how perfectly wrong the idea of school closure is. Lawrence has been there and done that and we are done with it now for good. Thanks so much for your insightful and heartfelt comments. Let's hope the School Board takes it to heart

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 2 months ago

The move to close neighborhood schools began in earnest when USD 497 elected to save operating costs associated with elementary schools in order to pay for operating and continually equipping two high schools instead of one.

The most important teaching of children occurs from birth to approximately age 8. USD 497 has been obsessed with extracurricular "opportunities" for high school students, while exhibiting benign neglect toward the needs of elementary students, for over two decades.

Those who want to keep neighborhood schools open should run for the school board and get elected, and use that opportunity to make a difference.

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grammaddy 2 years, 2 months ago

Closing schools is never the answer. Education is the only way out of poverty. Perhaps the views of the East-Central schools are negative because they are a reminder of that.

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Kookamooka 2 years, 2 months ago

Why close schools only to build another one? The district administration has not made a clear enough case to the public. The P.R. person at USD497 is missing an opportunity. Consider replacing that person before you fire another teacher. Also...H.R. is messed up. Doll's advisers should be investigated. The Journal World is missing an opportunity to find out what's really going on at MacDonald Drive.

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