Letters to the Editor

Letter: School questions

December 1, 2013


To the editor:

Let me see if I get this straight: Cordley Elementary, a school built in 1919, is slated for significant, costly and time-consuming renovations, while the students are shipped off to East Heights, a school built in the late 1940s and subsequently mothballed for being clearly inadequate. Meanwhile, Centennial, a school built in the 1950s along the lines of Hillcrest and Sunset Hills, remains closed, despite being less than four blocks from Cordley!

If it is necessary to renovate Cordley, why not use Centennial, which is within walking distance of Cordley? The bigger question — why renovate Cordley at all, for at the end of the day the district will still have a school built in 1919, which will eventually be closed, but only after having had big bucks sunk into it. It is things like this that voters remember when the school board and administration present bond issues for their approval. I for one certainly will.


Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

"East Heights, a school built in the late 1940s and subsequently mothballed for being clearly inadequate." Not true.

It was closed under the guise of saving money for the district. Meanwhile students were split between New York and Kennedy thus creating a much longer walking distance for some young elementary students.

In general the taxpayer owned properties were ignored for at least 10 years or more due a BOE that was sure USD 497 taxpayers would buy in to the reckless idea of shutting down neighborhood schools. In favor of spending lots of money to build newer and bigger schools.

Also a significant increase in new single family dwellings has been ongoing quite close to East Heights. Maintenance on the building has been ongoing.

Centennial is being occupied by USD 497. The GED program is housed in that structure.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

The fiscally reckless conservatives have taught most all school districts that cutting funding will not improve the prospects for students. In fact we are leaning how detrimental reckless budget cuts damage a school district.

For certain these budget cuts have NOT improved the numbers of high school graduates.

25 years of cutting budgets to public education demonstrate a documented monumental failure.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 2 months ago

you forgot the part about how it is often MORE expensive in the construction industry to properly renovate a 100 year old building than it is to build a brand new, state of the art facililty. When asked about that issue at the school board candidates debate held at Free State high school last year, the (now elected) members of our school board said that preserving history was too important to consider that a legitimate option. God forbid we knock down a 95 year old building that we've apparently deemed so inadequate it needs multi-million dollar renovations.
We had the option to build for our children a brand new, state of the art facility....but instead we will ship our kids every direction for extended periods of time, inconvenience all the teachers that will have to move their classrooms twice and all in the name of protecting the asbestos filled cobwebs.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Too many years went by of doing little to no maintenance thinking that wiping out neighborhood schools was a done deal. Probably from at least from 2002 to present. It is much more fiscally responsible to maintain taxpayer owned resources on an ongoing basis as they should be. We could call this preventive maintenance.

Wiping out existing resources is reckless indeed.

BTW what is a new expensive "state of the art facility"? Why spend zillions on much larger new state of the art buildings if the mentality to maintain taxpayer resources does not exist? Which would require more driving instead of more children walking or riding bikes to school sometimes accompanied by parents.

Neighborhood schools with smaller classrooms produce the best results.

John Graham 4 years, 2 months ago

The US spends more per child for education than other countries yet the kids are not showing benefits of all the money being spent. Maybe the education industry in the US should admit they don't know what they are doing. Maybe the education industry should be completely overhauled to look more like those countries that produce kids that routinely trounce US kids on testing of basic skills such reading, math and science. Updated schools are nice but what is happening inside is simply not working compared to other countries. The educational industry continues to demand eve more money without producing results. Recent results again show the US trailing significantly. More money after more money does not seem to be the answer.

Kate Rogge 4 years, 2 months ago

Those countries that are beating us have year-round school years with much longer school days (including evening tutorial programs). Let's change to that model before we assume that transferring the educational 'industry' to private companies is the only way to improve student scores.

John Graham 4 years, 2 months ago

I never mentioned any transfer of education to private companies. I do think with what tax payers are being forced to pay, we should be getting better return for our tax dollars than we currently do.

Michael Shaw 4 years, 2 months ago

The general state of education is not the issue here. It is one of maintenance versus new construction. Ascertaining the best project in this case is complex since there are several kinds of benefit involved.

John Graham 4 years, 2 months ago

I beg to differ. The school districts are forever wanting more money to update this or that yet they are failing to produce results consistent with the money spent. They say updates will improve education yet the results are lacking. If they are going to be spending and wanting more money then they need to be producing better results than they do.

Michael Shaw 4 years, 2 months ago

We had two children go through the Lawrence School System and were highly pleased with the results. What other results are you seeking?

John Graham 4 years, 2 months ago

The data shows despite the US spending at the upper level per child's education the test scores repeatedly shows US children well behind many other countries in basics such as math, reading and science. The data applies to even children from well to do families. The US is paying for first place education yet is getting middle to lower place scores on testing. We the taxpayers are overpaying for the results the children are showing.

Recent study showed out of 34 OECD countries the US placed 17th in math, 21st in science, and 17th in reading. Overall 13% of test takers scored in the top two levels, "top performers". The US had only 9% score as "top performers". The data is similar to slightly worse than in the 2000 study. So despite continuing to throw money at the problem at a top tier rate the results are continuing to be mediocre at best. While I am glad you are happy with your schooling experience the data shows the US educational system is producing avg to below avg results when compared to other countries.

Michael Shaw 4 years, 2 months ago

So this is a reason not to update or replace the Cordley building? Nationwide statistics have little to do with the Lawrence School System.

John Graham 4 years, 2 months ago

The facts are there if you wish to ignore them you can do so. The school systems routinely request (demand) more money for a variety of reasons all under the umbrella that more money is needed to improve education. The data has shown repeatedly that the US, which Lawrence is a part of, spends at the upper level per student for education yet is producing children with avg or worse level of education when compared to other countries. I am simply stating that taxpayers are not getting a good return on money spent. So small picture the school may need updating. Big picture the educational system in the US is terribly expensive compared to many other comparable countries and the results from the US educational system is behind many of those countries that are spending a lot less to educate their children. Taxpayers are not getting good value for dollars spent.

John Graham 4 years, 2 months ago

Undoubtedly many factors. But the facts remain well proven that throwing more money after more money has failed to improve the situation. A school can be updated or a new school can be built to replace it but the outcome will be the same. The children coming out will have a top cost educational experience resulting in at best avg to below avg results when compared to other countries. Lawrence may have an above avg school system in the state or even the country but it is still well behind the international leaders in education.

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