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Should the Lawrence School Board close one junior high or several elementary schools?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on February 7, 2010

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Photo of Karen Sinco

“Several elementary schools. … I feel if you close the middle school, you will have too many children in one building.”

Photo of Annette Galluzzi

“Given that choice, close the junior high school because I think that they should keep smaller class sizes at the elementary level.”

Photo of Pat Bates

“One junior high school because we need the elementary schools for the neighborhood kids; they need to go close to home.”

Photo of Brad Barker

“I believe they should close a junior high, as opposed to elementary. It’s probably more important to have smaller class sizes for the younger kids.”

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Kathy Theis-Getto 8 years, 2 months ago

Here's a suggestion. Take the energy used posting here, write your representatives in the Kansas House and Senate and tell them to raise taxes. Simple. Fund schools as is constitutionally mandated.

Bill Lee 8 years, 2 months ago

Legislators are afraid that if they raise taxes, they won't be re-elected. If they aren't doing the job they were sent to do, they need to be replaced. I don't mind paying higher taxes if I see the money being spent wisely.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

No schools should close. Lawrence is not a dying farm community no way jose'!

Our paid for school buildings are worth millions upon millions upon millions of tax dollars.

It is more apparent than ever that school districts are needing additional sources of funding. Teachers deserve salary increases and decent health insurance. Our legislature is not a reliable source although by law it is a state responsibility.

Neighborhood schools are good for Lawrence. No Lawrence neighborhood wants to be without an elementary school within the neighborhood. Lawrence has spoken out on this issue numerous times.

There are families that which cannot afford two cars or bus transportation. Therefore walking and/or bicycling become the modes of choice.

Two revenue sources are available. The online state wide sales tax dedicated to public schools only is a reasonable source.

A local source to help fund USD 497 medical insurance, salaries, and perhaps school fees. This could become available as a dedicated City of Lawrence USD 497 user fee:

Of course these mechanisms will only be supplemental.

All USD 497 schools benefit. Perhaps experienced USD 497 teachers will stop fleeing to Blue Valley as well.

sherlock 8 years, 2 months ago

well if they close a Junior high, can bet on it being central! Now that would make another empty school????? So how about selling the old milk barn where the staff for 497 now congregates, and move them to now empty Central building? Savings? should be a lot IF they can sell the bldg..

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

The admin staff could relocate to the virtual school building.

There are some who would rather have the admin offices "in the community" no matter what.

Money from the sale of the current admin building could be applied to the new sports affiliated debt aka tax increase.

Or that money could be applied to maintenance on existing structures.

scary_manilow 8 years, 2 months ago

Why does it have to be either/ or? The phrasing of this question is very one-sided, regardless of the false choice it presents.

JHawker 8 years, 2 months ago

If they close a junior high school, think of the repercussions on the already fragile-minded early teenagers who have a hard enough time adjusting in new settings and are in a time of their life when changing schools, leaving formed social groups, could severely damage their thought processes and could lead them to less desirable paths and habits such as early drinking and drugs; forms of rebellion. If they close elementary schools, these young minds would have to navigate their learning in too-large classroom sizes and neighborhoods would suffer. I would like neither of these to occur, but in looking at the options available, I would also not like to see administrative/teacher positions being cut. Maybe Lew Perkins could donate revenue from a Men's basketball game to the School Board to generate good will in this community as well as foster a stronger tie between Lawrence communities and the strong, successful, KU Athletic Department.

tomatogrower 8 years, 2 months ago

I can write to my reps, but I know they will do everything they can to save schools. It's the reps from other districts who are anti-public schools. What are we suppose to do about other parts of Kansas who apparently hate public schools? Maybe we should go back to keeping all our property tax here, and using it just for us, and let those people in western Kansas figure out their own problems. Yes, we will have unequal schools, but they keep voting in these reps who want to destroy public education. Let them home school all their kids.

gr3sam 8 years, 2 months ago

The question is based upon the false premise that any schools need to be closed. If the LJW would simply review the budget documents available as open records, the LJW would see that money is available, making school closures unnecessary. But, that would require actual investigative reporting, as opposed to mere digestion of the administration's rhetoric! Look! Look! Report!

WilburM 8 years, 2 months ago

No Question, Southwest. Sell that valuable real estate.

lindseydoyle 8 years, 2 months ago

Cut out admin jobs. They create more work than they actually do. Put an end to their empire building on your tax dollar.

Ken Lassman 8 years, 2 months ago

Once again, a strongly manipulative question frames the issue in a way that throws folks off, like getting rid of some scary dogs by throwing a stick so you can get away. I thought the issue was supposed to be meeting a financial shortfall, so here we are discussing a question that will hopefully lead folk to the hidden agenda: let's move 9th graders to high school and close a junior high! Never mind that it won't save money, will increase transportation costs, and perhaps increase the number of students in a classroom.

Show me where cutting administrative overhead will end up creating a worse outcome than shutting schools as a means to financial solvency. Only if you can clearly demonstrate this should the idea of closing schools even be on the table for discussion.

Bladerunner 8 years, 2 months ago

How about a usage tax for apartment dwellers and other renters? Not fair that property owners should have to pay the bulk of everyones education.

Tony Kisner 8 years, 2 months ago

Correct the wrong when the additional High School was built and then we would rule in football once again.

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 2 months ago

School vouchers, more private schools and close a bunch of public schools.

Now let the hate begin.

polkadottedzebra93 8 years, 2 months ago

Something obviously needs to be done about funding schools. All of the suggestions made about trying to save money by switching freshmen to the highschools, 6th graders to the jr. highs, and now this? Leave the kids of Lawrence where they are.

getreal 8 years, 2 months ago

I can write to my reps, but I know they will do everything they can to save schools. It's the reps from other districts who are anti-public schools. What are we suppose to do about other parts of Kansas who apparently hate public schools? Maybe we should go back to keeping all our property tax here, and using it just for us, and let those people in western Kansas figure out their own problems. Yes, we will have unequal schools, but they keep voting in these reps who want to destroy public education. Let them home school all their kids.

If you think that only legislators from Western Kansas are for cutting school funding, think again. Johnson County has a plethora of elected officials who don't want to fund schools, and one of them wants to be the 3rd District Congressman, representing part of Lawrence! Just how high do you think you can raise your own property tax to keep schools running? There needs to be a fairer tax system and we need to hold ALL elected officials responsible for making that happen.

Cammie Braden 8 years, 2 months ago

Rather than closing a Junior High or Elementary Schools, why not:

  1. Move 9th graders to the high schools where there is space for the additional students
  2. Move 6th graders to the junior highs
  3. Move all the early childhood programs and preschools back to the elementary schools and close East Heights

Wouldn't this keep most Lawrence students in their community schools AND save money?

Just an idea. There is no easy solution. And, I'm sure, many will post their objections.

Unfortunately, Kansas is in a "no win" situation. Small rural school districts have even tighter budget cuts.

I try to do my part: talk with my legislators about why I want them to support funding for public education (even those that already support it, need information to convince other legislators) and I spend my money locally rather than on-line or in another state (not that I have much to spend: I work in education).

NME 8 years, 2 months ago

Im with bob and Alice, also closing a elementry school for some families is terrible. The reason alot of people live where they do is so they can walk, alot of people in Lawrence don't have cars. So they live in a area that they can get around with out. If you close a middle school ,it should work out fine, adjustments of course but come on we have more on the line with our neighborhood.

1029 8 years, 2 months ago

Schooling is overrated in general. It really don't do much for lots of people. Instead, there needs to be more training of how to work on cars, or fix pipes, or clean grease traps in kitchen's. Prepare the kids for what they will see out there in the real world beyond the school.

SpunKey 8 years, 2 months ago

As the public is saying, it isn't just pick which to close! There are lots of good ideas here.

Making rent a taxable sale is common in many states! Require rentals to be registered/licensed with county (helps monitor many other local issues). Plus it would also start addressing some of the income tax being evaded by unreported rentals that are slipping between the cracks.

Why not make longer class days & reduce total number of days per year (reduces AC & transportation, etc.)?

Why not close ALL the jr highs and keep kids in elementary longer? Two things we hear over and over: young kids need to be local and younger kids need smaller class sizes than older kids. This would also reduce sports program costs. Plus jr high kids would be in same school with younger siblings - have to set example and help kids get to school safely.

In summary: + tax revenue - 4 buildings - 4 adminiatrations - total school days per year = big savings that keep kids local longer!

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago


  Property owners in the areas of closed public schools will lose 10% of property value by this decision according to Kirk McClure. Property owners cannot afford, the city cannot afford to lose the property tax dollars and USD 497 cannot afford the loss.

  Who is Kirk McClure?

  Education Ph. D., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley,
  Department of City and Regional Planning, 1985.
  Concentrations in Housing Economics and Public Finance.

  Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
  Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 1978.
  Specialization in Housing Policy Analysis.

  Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas,
  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1974.
  Special Major in Urban Studies.

  Bachelor of Architecture, Graduated With Distinction
  University of Kansas,
  School of Architecture and Urban Design, 1973.

  center for urban policy and the environment
  december 2003

  What determines the price of real estate? Location. Location.
  Location. This cliché is a good starting point for a discussion of
  property values and public choices, for it leads to the question
  why property values vary in different locations.

  Most property owners know from experience that similar
  properties in different neighborhoods can command vastly dif-
  ferent prices. But many may not realize that public choices can
  have large effects on property values. Public choices about capi-
  tal investments, public services, and taxation affect property val-
  ues because their impacts vary in different places.

  A new highway interchange, for example, generally increases the value of
  nearby property because it increases its accessibility.

  Conversely, a decision to close a school or a neighborhood police
  station may decrease the value of property in the neighbor-

  In public policy debates, moreover, decision makers
  often lack information about how their choices will affect
  property value.

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