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Do you think the Lawrence school board should reduce or eliminate school fees?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on September 12, 2006

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Photo of Ron Schneider

“Absolutely. For too long, individual parents have had to make up where the Legislature has left off.”

Photo of Ann Talleur

“I think they should charge less fees and more taxes to the people who can afford them.”

Photo of Kay Emmerich

“I think the fees should at least be reduced because there are people who have four or five children in school at the same time.”

Photo of Kristofer Voorhees

“They should keep the fees, but they should base them on a sliding scale based on the parent’s income.”

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Kuku_Kansas 11 years, 8 months ago

Parents can always send their children to a private school.

Rather than $260/year fees, they can pay $4500/year if they would prefer.

Sounds like they are getting some financial relief already.

Sad thing is, if the district were to cut 10 administrative positions...immediate automatic relief could be passed on the parents.

But we all know companies and organizations simply can't run without so many indian chiefs running around. <>

killjoy 11 years, 8 months ago

The roundabouts could be shaped like a bowl for the mean the users to throw change into, to fund education.

geekin_topekan 11 years, 8 months ago

I think "Too many Chiefs,not enough Indians" is what you are looking for?

sgtwolverine 11 years, 8 months ago

This is funny timing for this question for me, since most Detroit teachers are still on strike, having defied a court order telling them to return to work yesterday. The issue? The district has a large budgetary deficit, and they're trying to cut expenses everywhere -- including teacher benefits.

Public education costs money. One way or another, you will pay for it. More than likely, this would be a fee shift, not a fee elimination. How often does the government spend less because it takes in less?

Sigmund 11 years, 8 months ago

The education system has little or no competition from private schools. They are given governement subsidies and have no pressure to cut costs or become more efficient and with the recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling they have even less motivation. Taxpayers have unlimited pockets, don't they?

YourItalianPrincess 11 years, 8 months ago

Reduce would be nice so that some parents won't have to rely on the city for their kids. There are some parents who can't afford to buy school materials so they get them for free through agencies around Lawrence.

If you have more then two children enrolled in school, fees can get a bit high for your family. I'm a single mom so fees are low right now with my little one still in elem school. Not looking forward to the fees as he progresses into jr. high and high school.

Love From Lawrence Needs Bakers......... We are hosting our second annual benefit fundraiser on October 7th in South Park. We are benefiting Health Care Access this year due to the state cutting their funds by 38,000. The fundraiser will be an all day event from 10 am - 6 pm. Live bands, drawings, carnival area, food, a beer garden, and much more. We will also be collecting food for our local food pantries.

We are looking for people who would like to do some baking for our bake sale. If you enjoy baking , know someone who enjoys baking we could use your help. Anything you want to bake would be wonderful. We have some already baking, but could always use more.

We are also looking for people to help out on Oct. 7th with various areas. Hoping to see everyone out for a day in the park and to help one of our local health clinics.

SayWhat 11 years, 8 months ago

The large legislative segment that continues to try to underfund "free" public schools is winning the propaganda war. It may sound simple to say "cut the administrators." I'm sure teachers would love to be bogged down by increased paperwork and obtain less continued training that would result. Let's not contribute to the growing herd of the simple "less administrators" cry until we see what the real cost of such an approach would be.

Stephen Roberts 11 years, 8 months ago

It isn't always the issue of funding the schools, it is an issue of costs. Look at it, teachers are going to get an 8 % raise. How many people last year got an 8 % raise.

Look at the facts. The teachers have a union ( good or bad depending on how good a teacher you are) The good and bad teachers both get an 8 % raise. There is no real merit based raises. How many people got a raise last year- no matter how good or bad they did their job.

I would really like to see how much fees are collected and used. The district really doesn't know and does not have the capacity ( both in knowledge or people) on how to do this nor would they want to share this with the public.

Kat Christian 11 years, 8 months ago

What I don't understand is why can't this town pay for the educational needs of our children? Where is all the money going? And Why isn't it being budgeted well? Back East there are 10 times more children and school yet parents are not charged the fees they are here. Don't blame it on the cost of living differences because in housing there not much difference in cost. I think it's just poor financial decisions.

YES the fees should be eliminated.

good_kitty 11 years, 8 months ago

I agree with sunshine. Is it the norm to apply fees to public education? Where I grew up in a suburb of KC, there were never fees for attending public school.

So, what happens if the parent can't come up with the money? "Sorry Ms.--- your son can't come to school today b/c you're deliquent on your account."

Truly, something is not right. . .

SayWhat 11 years, 8 months ago

Good_Kitty, According to Weseman in Sunday's article:

...about 30 percent of the district's families qualified for free or reduced lunches and had their fees waived. Another 20 percent of parents default on their fees - they just don't pay, Weseman said. "There's really nothing you can do about that," he said. "The law says you can't hold them out of school until they pay fees. Because the reality is, you're supposed to get a free public education." That leaves about 50 percent of parents who pay all or most of the fees, he said.

Bone777 11 years, 8 months ago

If you don't pay property taxes, you should have to pay fees.

Just because you have chosen to invest your money in a home/property, you shouldn't have to cover the cost of the families that don't.

good_kitty 11 years, 8 months ago

Bone- some families can't afford to own property. Quit being an elitist

Todd 11 years, 8 months ago

Renters pay property tax. (landlords aren't running a charity you know)

About the only people that don't pay property tax in one way or another are folks in jail/prison. Even homeless people buy stuff and those businesses pay property tax.

dacs23 11 years, 8 months ago

I've said it once and I say it again. If you can't afford kids, don't have them. As a tax payer I don't want to pay for your lack of forethought and planning. Why does it seem that the poorest families have the most kids? I vote for social reform.

P.S., great place to start.

Bone777 11 years, 8 months ago

Kitty - then with the savings they have from not paying property taxes and other assorted cost of property ownership, they can afford to pay some fees if they want their children to have a quality education.

Todd - The people that own property still will continue to pay property taxes including landlords and business owners. The ones that don't have children in the system will even pay for everyone elses educational needs.

I just don't think that if you are already paying for education out of your property taxes, you should have to pay extra fees to support the people that are not.

I repeat: If you don't pay property taxes, you should have to pay fees.

bunnyhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Bone 777, you must be a BONEHEAD!

Everyone pays property you think Lawrence landlords are too dumb to factor that expense into the rents they charge?

QUALITY free public education is absolutely the cornerstone of a free society........all this dishing on public schools and all this stingyness about funding public education have gone hand in hand over the past 25 years with conservative union busting efforts.......keep them poor and dumb and they will smile for the crumbs the rich leave that YOUR vision of Amerika?

Todd 11 years, 8 months ago

I repeat, just about everyone pays property taxes in one way or another. If you rent part of your monthly payment goes towards property tax, if you are a street performer and homeless you still buy stuff in town from businesses that pay property taxes.

Not many people pay enough property tax to pay for a single child to attend school. I know I sure don't, I think you need to have a $400k+ house or something like that to foot a $5-6k property tax bill right?

SouthernBelle 11 years, 8 months ago

YourItalianPrincess: Could you post contact info? I would like to help out. Thanks.

jonas 11 years, 8 months ago

No, but I think we should make the kids pay off their fees by some form of intentured servitu I mean community service to give something back to the community. For instance, right now one could be forced to come over to my house and mow my yard, and I could pay the school directly. After all, it's the kids who are costing us money, not some abstract concept like "school." Dirty little money grubbers!

Bone777 11 years, 8 months ago

bunnysquawk - thanks, I resemble that remark.

The point I was trying to make is, don't try to get more money out of the ones that are already paying MORE than their fare share.

The school district with do just as well, making a consumptive tax. Like, maybe a 5% tax on Walmart purchases. That would cover the fifty percent who don't pay their fees currently.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 8 months ago

It's so nice to see the board back to its old contentious self after that startling display of tact and respect yesterday.

Personally, I think the schools should contract with the school bullies. The bullies extract money from the kids, and the schools take a cut of that money.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 8 months ago

"And they want him to look at putting the brakes on fees for the school district's "pay-to-ride" busing program that costs some parents thousands of dollars a year."

Seriously? Some people actually pay that much to ride the bus? That's crazy! Yes, they need to do something about that.

I disagree with Ann T. above. I'm sick to death of "hey, let's up the taxes on the people who are doing better." People already pay property taxes based on "how well they've done." There is a point at which it is just rediculous to punish someone for working hard or for just having good fortune.

junco_partner 11 years, 8 months ago

Where do you think the money is going to come from if they remove these fees? From the tax payers, that's where. I for one am sick of how much of my tax dollars are used for funding schools. I don't mind paying some for this purpose but it's getting ridiculous! These fees should come from the parents, Period! The parents are the ones who should have to shoulder the burden. They are the ones who chose to have children, just like I chose not to have any. Put the responsibility where it lies.

mztrendy 11 years, 8 months ago

Just curious, what do the fee's run in Lawrence?

mom_of_three 11 years, 8 months ago

I am tired of the comments about "if you can't afford them, then don't have them."
Sometimes, things just happen you can't control. I know of folks who are doing well, and then an illness hits them, and wipes out their financial assets. Or the mother who never planned on getting a divorce, but has to pay for 2 kids on her own because DAD disappeared with his girlfriend. Or, in the case of Lawrence school district, one year the fees rise 300%. Parents have a hard time budgeting for a sudden increase. And how many people knew 3 years ago that gas would rise to over $3.50 a gallon????Any mindreaders out there??

If everyone waited until they were absolutely financially stable to have kids, then many of you probably wouldn't have been born.

mztrendy 11 years, 8 months ago

nevermind, i just saw the other article... Sorry!

blahblah 11 years, 8 months ago

These children (whether you have any or not) will some day be making the decisions for every single one of us. THEY are our future, whether you like it or not!

Instead of cutting money from the schools we need to figure out how to get more money INTO the schools.

Personally, I want the people who in 40 years will be making the decisions whether to help the elderly humanely or put us all to live under the bridge someplace where they don't have to see or smell us, to be educated better than we seem to be providing now.

This isn't about people making sure they can afford kids before they can have is about doing what is RIGHT.

Quit griping about the teachers FINALLY getting an 8% raise... How many years have they gone without... yet they keep taking care of those children who are our future day after day.

I realize I'm exagerating a bit... but they ARE our future, they WILL be making decisions that affect our lives... don't we owe it to them... and to ourselves to make the right decisions for them now?

So why not stand together and do something that you can take pride in, ensuring a better future for ALL, by supporting the schools as a community.

Or you can just sit there and keep griping that it's not your responsibility since you didn't help create the kiddos... and I hope you are happy with the decisions they make for you when it's their turn.

mom_of_three 11 years, 8 months ago

Thankfully, the school district is allowing parents to pay their fees in installment parents, because i know having to come up with over $700 at the start of school can be hard. I know there is a large bill every year, (and every year, it goes up) but I never have enough saved. ANd we have two incomes.

javery 11 years, 8 months ago

I wish that Lawrence would spend a bit more on education and a bit less on catering to the homeless population.

Tony Kisner 11 years, 8 months ago

Hard not to see the logic in Ann the teacher's idea. I agree that all people who make more money than I do should pay all the taxes, and anyone making less money be denied any benifits. - All politics is local and personal.

beatrice 11 years, 8 months ago

I thought all kids in Kansas are home schooled? Come on now, you Kansans have a stereo-type to live up to.

RI: Sue does not love Hillary, of this I am sure. All the rest ...?

Dems: It takes a village. Reps: It takes a pillage.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 8 months ago

Bea is right. I do not love Hillary. She's just not my type. And to give her credit for that saying is so ignorant. :P hippo pinko commieo... You are one foot in the door to a patchouli shower with the Mrs... Mr. RI! Fear the sue lest a rain of tikki torches shall cometh down upon you.

blahblah, very well said.

Bone777 11 years, 8 months ago

BlahBlah, If there is not support at home, the kids you are worried about will still not be making any decisions that affect the rest of us, unless we are in lthe chow line in prison.

You can't just throw money at the problem and expect the "villiage" to raise your children.

People need to be held responsible for their kids and the cost. There needs to be some accountablility.

Khromag 11 years, 8 months ago

"No man is an island:" -John Donne

To those who resent having to pay taxes to fund the education of 'other people's kids': Remember that, like it or not, we live in a web of dependencies. Every aspect of your lives is somehow dependent upon thousands of unseen factors. In this case, your future is dependent upon the education of the next generation.

"If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton

We are all proud of the achievements humankind has made. Advances in science, the arts, industry, and business have propelled mankind through history. But it isn't over. Mankind isn't done yet. None of us can point to a child and say that "she will be the next Pasteur," "he will be the next Curie," "she will be the next Lincoln" or "he will be the next Carnegie." The best we can do is make darn sure that those children will grow up in an environment where they are encouraged to reach out for greatness by giving them the resources of education to blaze the path.

On a smaller and more humble scale, it is almost certain that there will come a day when your life or the life of one you love will be in the hands of a child who is now in school. Whether that young man or woman is preparing food, administering medication, working on your transportation, or any other subtle but vital interaction you can imagine, ask yourself this: Do you want that person making some error or some oversight because they were not given an good education? Or do you want that person to be capable and adequately educated?

If you depend on employees to make your business a success, what kind of employees do you want? Good employees do not appear out of thin air.

Truly it is in everyone's best interests that children in school are given a comprehensive education. In the modern world this means technology. Computers. Training teachers to know and use that technology. Educating for tomorrow requires the best we can offer today and that means money.


Khromag 11 years, 8 months ago

To say that it is solely the parents responsibility to pay for developing that resource for you is selfish. It is a desire to gain something for nothing. Your tax dollars pay for roads whether you personally drive over them or not. But the fruit you buy might come over one of those roads, your meat over another, and so on. Whether you use it personally or not its presence benefits you, even if it is not obvious.

No one likes paying taxes. We would all like to feel that every tax dollar spent is spent wisely and to the best effect. In a perfect society filled with perfect individuals, this would be the case. But sadly we do not live in that ideal world. Greed, corruption, and laziness sap our tax dollars and our will to pay them, but we should not give up.

What can we do? Accept the price you pay for education as you accept the price you pay for roads and other infrastructure, for it truly is another kind of vital infrastructure. Everyone benefits from it, without exception. So we should all bear the cost. Fund education well and get involved in positive measures to foster the kind of education that will build a positive future. Tie school funding to performance (i.e. individual student improvement and development over time and NOT simple group 'hurdle metrics') and positive behavior (i.e. funding a sport/activity if the sport/activity team is regularly involved in some minor community-oriented service, thus teaching the kids two lessons: that socially responsible behavior is rewarding and to have pride in their community).

On a final and somewhat different note, I offer this thought and question: I think the phrase 'It takes a village' is much misused and misunderstood. Regardless of the origin of the phrase and whatever good or bad one may place upon the person who promoted it, to me, the phrase invokes the notion that my children do not just learn from me as a parent, although obviously I am their primary teacher. Undeniably though, they also learn from their community. In subtle ways every person they encounter, every day, teaches them. Kindness is noticed, generosity is seen, cruelty is noted, and indifference is witnessed. All our goods and evils are shared with those around us, especially with the children, and children are always learning. What are we teaching them?

Bone777 11 years, 8 months ago

"What are we teaching them?"

Why work? Everything is free and if you don't make enough money someday, we can manipulate the system to get as deep as we can in the "rich" guys pocket. Yeeeee Haaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. Well written anyway, Khromag.

Khromag 11 years, 8 months ago

Bone777, merely exaggerating something to the point of ridiculousness is not a productive way to discuss anything, as it only promotes arguments.

"Everything is free:" Is that what you learned going through school? As it is almost certain that, if you attended public school, your parents did not pay fees that are even a significicant fraction of what parents today are being asked to pay in Lawrence. The cost of your public education was borne by the taxpayers of your youth. It was an investment in you and your contemporaries. It's our turn now.

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