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Do you think low test scores and saving money are good enough reasons to close Lawrence Alternative High School?

Asked at Checkers, 2300 La. on December 3, 2004

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Photo of Jon Hunt

“I know that the schools are looking for money anywhere they can. I think that if they shut down the Alternative High School, they should invest the money they save on programs like the virtual school.”

Photo of Suzanne Baker

“No, probably not. Test scores don’t always show what the kids are learning or what they know.”

Photo of Lee Basham

“No, of course not. The purpose of the Alternative High School is to further people’s education while ensuring they don’t begin their adult lives branded as losers and future criminals. Our social categories are self-fulfilling.”

Photo of Diana Patterson

“I don’t think so. I think they are trying to save money in the wrong way. The Lawrence Alternative High School was a great benefit to our son and needs to stay open.”


jayhawktownie 13 years, 6 months ago

While I agree that schools are ridiculously underfunded and any program cuts are unfortunate, I agree with the school board's decision to cut the alternative high school program. As a former student at one of the conventional high schools, i know many students who have been in the alternative program and been witness to many of their thoughts and attitudes about it. Sure, some of the students in the alternative program genuinely benefited from a change in environment and learning style, but many others simply saw it as an easy way out and literally laughed at how much less actual school work they were required to do in comparison to the conventional high school experience. This catering to students ready and willing to cut corners and abuse the system does nothing to prepare them for adult life. I see this program as one that has very limited benefit to a small number of students and therefore, if cuts must be made, i see it as a logical and good choice.

Fangorn 13 years, 6 months ago

Consumer1, thank you for an impassioned, first-person advocacy for the LAHS. I have worked within the school district and with boys who attended the alternate school in a capacity outside the district. (Seven years after the fact, I'm still working with one.) And although I have no success stories like consumer1's, I believe this school is a valuable resource. I do hope they find a way to keep it open or else to continue providing services to the students who need them.

Looking at the per student expenditures in USD497, I would like to know where all of it goes (Randy's secretary's furniture vs. teachers' salaries, etc.). I won't vote for a school bond unless I know that the money they already get is being spent to educate the children of Lawrence. Simply throwing more money into a system that isn't working will not fix the system. I also think that a voucher system would benefit the public school system because it would force them to compete for students, either with private schools or among themselves. [Full disclosure: most types of voucher systems in use throughout the US today would benefit my family, since my daughter attends a private school. Which, by the way, educates for much less per student than USD497.)

Richard Heckler 13 years, 6 months ago

Absolutely not. Quite the opposite. Most if not all the students performed far better because they were removed from the environment that was holding them back. Since a majority move on to higher education it becomes apparent that brain cells were not the problem...they got em'.

The BOE should look at offering the higher achievement students this same could move excellence to a higher level.

Hopefully the BOE is not thinking of selling the ALT. High building. It's a resource. Not only that the history of this school district and selling price for their property leaves a lot to be desired.

Fangorn 13 years, 6 months ago

Ah, there's the rub! (a little Shakespeare dialog there) "Family support", parental involvement. The second-most important key to a successful academic experience (the foremost being personal desire to succeed). No amount of money can replace the support of parents, regardless of the setting.

mrcairo 13 years, 6 months ago

I think the School Board should take a 20% pay cut across the board and pump that money into the schools.

It will be a great day when the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber, and schools have all the money they need to educate our children.

Frankly, I'm sick of paying extra fees and being bombarded with fund-raisers for the schools. We pay our taxes AND have to pony up hundreds of dollars to send out kids to school. The before/after day-care programs are OUTRAGEOUS. $300.00 a month just to drop my kids off 45 minutes early??? Get real. Something is wrong here folks.

I'd like to see the LJ World print a detailed listing of where every penny is spent. How much do they get, how much do they spend, and where.

ms_canada 13 years, 6 months ago

Once again, please forgive me for posting off topic, but I have a problem with gremlins in my system for some weird reason. ljw can't help me. I seem to be able to fire off one post in the morning and that is it. None of my later posts go through. Very weird!!! But I feel the need to reply to BADGER on a remark he made in his post yesterday. I believe you quoted me, badger, about our church accepting gays but they would have to put up with whatever sermon the pastor would make about homosexual behavior. Then you said that we would not put up with their lifestyle. something to that effect, you said. Well, re-read my remarks, I did not say that the way you implied.
We would not hassle them. They would be accepted in any activity of the church. In fact one young lad sang in a trio with his sisters frequently during our worship service. I loved their singing as they had such beautiful harmony and such lovely voices. And about the pastors sermons, he does not tailor them directly to any particular persons in the church. How could he? If he were to preach on my specific sin, not knowing that to be my sin, I would be the only one to know that and be touched by it and that goes for anyone else in the congregation. Do you know what I am saying? We are all sinners to some degree or other and if the pastor could not preach freely for fear of offending someone, why then, I suppose, he would only be able to preach about the weather. You know, I am not sure why a gay person would want to go to any function, be it church or any other, where they believed that they may be hurt or maligned. In this day and age, I doubt there are any gay persons who are not aware of the teachings of most Christian churches. Not all churches as you see from the ECC business. We have one church in our city that has a lady gay minister and many gays in the congregation. If a gay person was sincerely seeking help, be it redemption, love, acceptance or friendship there are plenty of churches that would be there for him. (I use the generic him)
You know the cliche, hate the sin, love the sinner, I hold to that thought and so do most in my church. We try to do all we can to make them welcome but if they feel uncomfortable, they leave. Enough said. Just a word to the coffee (cocoa?) clatch group. Sure wish I could have joined you, but prior committments have kept me in this not-frozen north. Supposed to be 11 above today, celcius, of course. Real warm. Be sure to let us know how it went with the meeting, please.

lunacydetector 13 years, 6 months ago

don't the schools get enough freaking money as it is?

throwing money at an issue does not bring results.

"It will be a great day when the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber, and schools have all the money they need to educate our children." mr. cairo is Lulu.

how many cookies does a school have to sell to educate 1 kid? over 9,000 cookies?

Carmenilla 13 years, 6 months ago

Yah, those schools get sooo much money, LD. Have you even looked at the condition most are in? Central is crumbling and South has asbestos. Need I go on?

The Alternative High School has helped a lot of young people get back on track. I know that it keeps kids in school when the system has given up on them. I think that the Alternative High School is an important facet of this communty's quality public education. Figure out how to keep it going, please, BOE.

Jay_Z 13 years, 6 months ago

I agree with lunacydetector, the schools get more than enough money to operate effectively. There needs to be better management of education funding, and schools need to be held accountable for their performance. A school full of incompetent teachers (and superintendents, principals, etc.) will not educate students more effectively if we throw more money at that school. In my opinion, a school voucher system would vastly improve the education system.

Linda Aikins 13 years, 6 months ago

I worked there, and my child will graduate from there this month, thanks to LAHS. I am 100% certain this would not be happening if my child had been attending the regular high schools. I am so disappointed in this decision. I would almost guarantee that the dropout rate is going to increase substantially. Judy Juneau and her staff are doing amazing work there and I want to thank her and all of them for their incredible patience and skills. I am so sorry the district is turning their back on your goals and objectives. Shame on them. Shame shame shame.

Gary Denning 13 years, 6 months ago

"I think the School Board should take a 20% pay cut across the board and pump that money into the schools."

I can't tell if you are being sarcasitic. School Board members are not paid even one dollar for their work on the school board. They do a very difficult job for no compensation whatsoever.

Schools have not received an increase in funding in Kansas in the last four years, and, actually, the per child amount that schools receive went down by a few dollars three years ago. I don't know about you, but my expenses went up during that same time. I'm not complaining about the legislature here (that would be another letter), just telling you that school districts across the state have been cutting teachers, administrators and programs over the last three years in an attempt to balance their budgets.

The alternative school in Lawrence was probably very helpful to lots of students, but it appears to cost in the neighborhood of $10,000 per student--and that does not include the district wide costs for administration, the cost for extracurriculars and elective classes taken at the other schools.

Our legislature gives each district $3,870 per student, and that number is multiplied by various weighting factors, to give Lawrence probably about $4,500 state money per student. Then, you have a local option budget, which amounts to another 25% of what you get from the state per pupil, for another $1,000 or so, totalling maybe $5,500 per student. Its really tough to justify spending $10,000 on a partial day's education for one student, when that means that every other kid in the district will get less than their fair share of education dollars spent on them.

It appears that the administrators are trying to provide your alternative students with enough services formerly available at the alternative school so that they can function in the regular school environment. That is a very reasonable decision, and the same decision has been made in other districts this year.

This is an example of the tough situations that school boards are placed in each year. Yes, this decision has a direct impact on student success. But, every school board decision does. Every year that the per student allocation from Topeka remains the same, more and more difficult funding decisions will have to be made. Next year, funding shortfalls may result in class sizes rising, cutting out needed maintenance, the end of art or music classes, no more foriegn languages, or God forbid, the end of football teams (Then, your school board would receive some public input!).

Go ahead and talk to your school board about the alternative school decision at their next meeting, but also talk to your legislators about funding for public education.

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