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Archive for Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lawrence school board eyes other sites for career and technical education center

July 7, 2013

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The Lawrence school board plans to discuss other locations besides the Holcom Center for a new career and technical education center, which is being funded with $5.7 million in new bond proceeds.

But officials say the final decision on where to put the new facility may depend on whether the city, county or local businesses can raise additional money for another site.

That will be part of the discussion Monday night when the Lawrence school board takes up the issue of other possible locations. The board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the administration office, 110 McDonald Drive.

Outgoing board president Vanessa Sanburn said the district has been involved in informal talks with the city of Lawrence, Douglas County and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce about the location of the new center.

During the campaign to pass a $92.5 million bond issue in April, which included the money for the new CTE center, district officials indicated in campaign material that their plan was to develop a new 30,000 square-foot facility at the Career Community Connections Center, property the school district already owns near Holcom Park, 2700 W. 27th St.

But Sanburn said Chamber officials have lobbied hard for another location that would be more visible and more conveniently located to area businesses that would benefit from an expanded career training center.

In particular, she said Chamber officials wanted the district to consider the new industrial park being developed at the former Farmland Industries chemical plant on East 23rd Street. But Sanburn said that was ruled out because environmental regulations would require complete soil decontamination before a school facility could be built there.

Sanburn said the school board is willing to consider other locations if other entities can contribute to the cost of acquiring additional property and building a larger facility.

Also at Monday's meeting, two newly elected board members will be sworn into office, along with Sanburn, who was re-elected in August to a second term on the board.

Kristie Adair and Adina Morse will be sworn in, replacing Mark Bradford who did not run for re-election, and Bob Byers who was edged out in the April 2 elections.

Following the swearing-in ceremonies, the board will elect new officers and make several other routine annual appointments and designations.

It's expected that current board vice president Rick Ingram will be elected to serve as board president for the upcoming year, and Shannon Kimball will be elected vice president.

In other business, the board will consider:

• Adoption of board meeting calendar for the 2013-2014 school year.

• 2013-2014 district administrative organizational chart.

• Designation of official newspaper and other news media for the 2013-2014 school year.

• Designation of Legal Counsel for the 2013-2014 school year.

• Designation of authorized representatives for federal programs, attendance officers, the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, Freedom of Information Officer, and hearing officer for suspension and expulsion appeals.

• Appointment of representative to the Kansas Association of School Boards Governmental Relations Network.

• Appointment of board clerk, district treasurer, deputy clerk and deputy treasurer for the 2013-2014 school year.

• Designation of depositories for the 2013-2014 school year.

• Waiver of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and Fixed Asset Accounting requirements.

• Approval of Master Services Agreement with US Bank.

• 2013-2014 schedule of fees, which includes no increase from the previous year.

• 2013-2014 meal prices, including a 5-cent increase in full-price meals, but no increase in reduced-price meals.

• Participation in child nutrition programs for the 2013-2014 school year.

• And approval of pay rates for noncontracted personnel.

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  • Comments

    usesomesense 9 months, 1 week ago

    It's really your typical government action - why do what makes sense when you can spend like crazy?

    Another question is this - who is this really for? Is this really higher education or just an expansion of 'shop class'? While that's nice, what we really need is facilities that kids can start in at 11th or 12th grade and continue on for 1-3 years after High School and walk out with real skills that can land them a real job.

    If it's really over after High School graduation it's not going to do much other than get them pointed to another technical school out of town.

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    Dan Simons 9 months, 1 week ago

    We have tried to show the city/chamber and school district the 30k square feet of needs and the estimated 60-70k square feet of Adult Vo-Tech needs can be cost efficiently met at the Riverfront building. Big open floor plan, extremely cost efficient to up-fit for classroom and demonstration space, all on city land, with city owned parking deck. Honestly they appear to have zero interest. They believe the weight load of big hands on stuff, ie engine,s air compressors etc, would be too much for the building , even though 45 thousand feet of space is on ground level huge concrete slab

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    usesomesense 9 months, 1 week ago

    I think the tale is really told by this: The bond issue has 5.7 million for the whole tech school and 6.5 million just to upgrade network infrastructure. Early reports indicated the network infrastructure improvements were for the middle schools and the high schools, but the 'no tax increase' propaganda (http://www.usd497.org/documents/SchoolBondIssue.pdf) indicates it's across the district. How exactly were they planning on building a 'Tech School' for almost a million less? The answer is simple - the numbers in that document were simply divided out of the amount they wanted to spend as a whole. I am certain that all the schools in the district could have upgraded wireless for far less. It very vaguely implies there's some sort of curriculum attached to this figure but has no specifics - leading me to believe that's really separate.
    I suspect we'll ultimately see something similar to the debacle when Free State was built (if I recall correctly), and what's currently going on with Rock Chalk Park and the Library. Initial figures will be wrong, item 'A' will come in way under the projection so more will be spent on item 'B' or they'll just add item 'C' like they did with the administrative offices at McDonald drive. I think right now it's a combination of the realization that 'Oh my god, what were we thinking - we can't build a whole school for that' combined with the idea of 'Wouldn't it be great if we could get businesses to help pay for this' followed by 'Here's the deal - if we don't spend another 3 million to get this done we're going to miss out on this grant money.' (See Lawrence Virtual School which has a real building, a real principal and real instructors - student body supplemented by closing the Alternative High School as the 'Virtual School' received federal grant money while the Alternative High School did not. It made economic sense but should have been disclosed properly to the public.)

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    irvan moore 9 months, 1 week ago

    buy the riverfront mall and put it there, great location and parking is there now

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    toe 9 months, 1 week ago

    It is just the government teachers stealing from the taxpayer. Nothing new here. The cost of this new school is going to escalate and more tax dollars will be needed. Lawrence will give them all they want because only the government teachers vote. The non-government worker's vote is suppressed. Government teachers are a bigger problem than a nuclear armed Iran.

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    SpeedRacer 9 months, 1 week ago

    I refuse to answer the Google questions to read a story. If I can't read it otherwise, I'll go somewhere else for my news.

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    usesomesense 9 months, 1 week ago

    "But Sanburn said Chamber officials have lobbied hard for another location that would be more visible and more conveniently located to area businesses that would benefit from an expanded career training center."

    Visibility is an extremely minor consideration in my opinion. The "conveniently located to area businesses that would benefit" is really pretty disturbing. I see absolutely NO reason for this and it makes me question the motive for suggesting it. Are we as tax payers going to foot the bill for training that's already happening on the job now instead of the business that needs the employees? I use skilled technicians in my business - I have to train them the the specifics of what we do and pay them while training them. When I hire them I know they already have a general skill set from their technical school and can only hope they have what it takes. If they don't I lose. I think that's reasonable - I don't think it's reasonable for me to ask tax payers to pay for that additional training.

    The U.S. higher education system has VERY significant flaws - it's really become geared to draw in as many students as possible up front, collect tuition from them and then set them up to fail with required courses with hundreds of students enrolled with no real instructors. Students that drop out = free money for the universities and wasted grants, scholarships and defaulted student loans that the federal government pays for with our taxes. (Or at least money the fed borrowed from other countries - primarily China)

    While local businesses may receive benefit from such a facility it really should be about the students - our local kids that need options for real world jobs that aren't no skill or menial jobs and yet don't require a degree and frankly all the nonsense frequently required to obtain one. Additionally we as a community stand to gain from keeping students that moved here to go to KU and find they can't make it there.

    A technical school in our community should INTEGRATE with KU - for instance someone seeking certification to be a computer technician should take some classes AT KU that apply toward the course certification from the Technical School. A student wanting to be an electrician could take some of the introductory EE classes perhaps. This scenario reduces the need for redundant classroom space and educators, increases utilization of KU facilities by those that would otherwise likely not attend or drop out, and increases the prestige of the technical school. Additionally it would make KU a much more progressive educational force and set an excellent example for the rest of the nations universities.

    Also - students that can't make it at KU could seamlessly transition to a cooperative technical institute - ie. - a kid goes to KU to become an EE, can't make it through the math requirements but is halfway to becoming a certified electrician already with the courses he's taken at KU.

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    Richard Heckler 9 months, 1 week ago

    KU graduates may desire further training after discovering jobs for grads in the USA have approximately 1,001 job applicants per position.

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    Richard Heckler 9 months, 1 week ago

    Chamber of Commerce thinkers are out of touch with current demands. Housing construction can be learned OJT.

    We want to promote small business entrepreneurs and/or highly skilled technicians that will move forward and make some money. Thus far this Chamber has been happy with Always Low Wages which does little to strengthen an economy.

    Lawrence attracts students which should be the economic driver. People want to go to school in Lawrence therefore the school needs to be designed accordingly. When some KU students discover that the KU institution is not for them Lawrence should have a plan B in place.

    "Lawrence should have had a technical and career center 30 years ago." Exactly! More students are key to Lawrence new economic growth.

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    oneeye_wilbur 9 months, 1 week ago

    Hey, how's about we put the center in the admin building. It's big enough and a few portable buildings for the staff!

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    oneeye_wilbur 9 months, 1 week ago

    East Hills is not a private business park although certain private parties benefitted financially, not the public. Eat Hills is a public private partnership with the public getting the short end!

    Even Dolph won't touch it!

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    mikekt 9 months, 1 week ago

    This Chamber of Commerce idea of a tech school becoming some businesses' "out of house convenient school space" is pointless. This school shouldn't be used as a short term employee retraining site, for a handful of private companies in a private business park, as an extension of their own businesses, during tech school system hours .

    So far, this whole thing sounds like a visit to Pee Wee Herman's Chamber of Commerce Play House...... Minus Captain Carl and Miss Evon !

    The Chambers idea of an "accessory school for future businesses located in a business park", where the businesses' own employees can be retrained,.....or as a feeder school to turn out minimally educated employees for on site business park employers,........ is just a dead end for the students, ....perverse.....and bizarre .

    This place is supposed to turn out what type of technical students ?....who are not company dependent slaves ?.... so they can pick up and go anywhere, in or out of Lawrence....and have real world portable skills, as a person with a college engineering degree or chemistry degree, could expect to have .

    As examples, are they teaching Computer Servicing, Electronics repair, Computer IT skills, Plumbing, HVAC, Electrical Wiring, Water and Wastewater Technologies, Automotive Technologies, Building Construction Management ?......will a graduate be able to apply for a license some where with a Fed, State, City Board or an FCC license for electronics,..... or gain by testing after attending this school, industry certification, in recognized trade skills ?

    Tell me something real and believable....... Like how much space and money needed for classes that each trade requires ( because many trades require lab space with their own set of tools and things to work on, that aren't exactly multiuse labs ) ....and how much future space will it need to further expand the building and parking, if it takes off and flies, on it's chosen future site ?

    The Chamber needs to go out and find tenants for their park on it's own merits and realize that a school run as a school should be a place to learn real technical long term competence that the world needs......and not as a business park tenant lure .

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    nascar 9 months, 1 week ago

    If this facility is primarily for use during the day for our students then the location is critical. Students needing transportation from either LHS or LFSHS would be better served with a more central location. I like long-term thinking but perhaps the Chamber is over-involved in this matter? What can they put on the table that is sustainable?

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    LogicMan 9 months, 1 week ago

    Are there any vacant, or need to be vacant school buildings in east Lawrence? That part of town is where it would do the most good, and many students can walk or bike to it.

    Hopefully it would have some spare land so that the facility can grow over time.

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    Phil Minkin 9 months, 1 week ago

    Attention School Board: Do what you told us before the vote and don't bow to pressure from the chamber. They are only interested in the success of their business park, not what is in the best interest of the school district.

    2

    jhawk1998 9 months, 1 week ago

    stop spending money unnecessarily. I concur with use of a closed property or existing structure. this community never ceases to amaze me at their espousing recycling and preservation yet cannot wait to tear down the old to build new. wasteful in the least

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    oneeye_wilbur 9 months, 1 week ago

    Build the center at East Hills business park! The taxpayers bought the land, the taxpayers built the infrastructure. Give us something in return. The taxpayers sure did not make any profit from the park. Who did?

    A topic the JW will not touch. And you think Fritzel is cleaning up. What about those involved in East Hills.

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    cheeseburger 9 months, 1 week ago

    "During the campaign to pass a $92.5 million bond issue in April, which included the money for the new CTE center, district officials indicated in campaign material that their plan was to develop a new 30,000 square-foot facility at the Career Community Connections Center, property the school district already owns near Holcom Park, 2700 W. 27th St.

    But Sanburn said Chamber officials have lobbied hard for another location"

    And the district wonders why there is so much distrust of the board and administration. You say one thing to get the money, and then do something else. It appears Sanburn had her alternate plans in the works prior to the bond election. If they desired flexibility, they shouldn't have worded the bond so specifically.

    Shame on Sanburn et al. You have once again violated the trust of the taxpayers of the district. This is probably the tip of the iceberg with regard to changes being made after the fact on bond projects.

    Is there an attorney who would care to investigate whether the district has the latitude to put one thing in front of voters, and then do something else?

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    rtwngr 9 months, 1 week ago

    Lawrence should have had a technical and career center 30 years ago. This community has been so about KU that every student that came through the public school system was indoctrinated to believe that you would amount to nothing without a college education. The fact is not everyone is cut out for college. It is a shame that this city spoon feeds this tripe to our youth and then set up a lot of them for failure in college. Get off of your a$$es, school board, and get this thing built as promised! Now!!

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    Matthew Herbert 9 months, 1 week ago

    Classic Bait and switch. "Give us $92 million and we'll build this awesome career and tech ed building!!!".....so we do...."Okay, well now that you've given us your money, we have a better idea...but it's going to require a little more money".

    Absolutely pathetic. This EXACT irresponsible move is why citizens become so anti-tax. Sanburn is essentially saying/admitting that they asked for money before really considering how they were going to use said money.

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    Clint Church 9 months, 1 week ago

    How about one of the schools that were closed.

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