Comment history

Letter: Weak opposition

$80 million to renovate old school buildings? How much will that cost in maintenance over the years? The School Board never did cost comparisons (or never shared) for operational expenses of a new school building vs renovated buildings. Anyone who owns an "older home" knows that the upkeep is far more expensive. Rather than doing the cost comparison, the School Board functioned as a special interest Save Our Neighborhood Schools group and scrapped the planned laid out by the previous School Board. However, they did acknowledge that a new, state-of-the-art school building would be about $15 million---compared with $10 million renovations to one school and $8 million renovation to another school.

Further to this, the money from the bond issue is spent at the discretion of the School Board. This means, that although certain amounts are slated for different projects, when there are cost overruns, that money can be taken from a different project. So, the $13 million for upgrades to Free State, Lawrence High School, etc., may be taken and used for the renovations (or anything else within the scope of this board proposal), if the Board says so. Given the history of the Lawrence School Boards generally, and this Board in particular (simply changing their mandate after election and their misleading advertising on the cost), they have not earned my trust for the use of $92.3 million.

Vote No and start over on an efficient plan the considers ALL the costs associated with the buildings.

March 30, 2013 at 8:45 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawrence school board votes to move up 6th graders, 9th graders in 2011

Works well unless you are the student who doesn't have a spot on the team, since there will be fewer teams!

April 27, 2010 at 11:21 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawrence school board votes to move up 6th graders, 9th graders in 2011

The fine arts program is a big issue. The school administration has repeatedly said "no problem" to the concerns about scheduling and sound proofing. I have asked. The school board has not asked how much any improvements will cost. They haven't asked what the impact on the teachers will be. Go to the junior high spring shows...then come back and say that those programs won't take a big hit...that those 9th grade students will have those same opportunities in a a 4 year high school. It just isn't possible. The response from the administration to that comment has been "Maybe we can replace it with 9 and 10 grade shows in the high school.:" Maybe. And what will that cost? Same with drama.
Oh yeah, and what about Marching Band??? Do we have money in the budget for new marching uniforms for both of the high schools? Or will that actually NOT be an opportunity for 9th graders? Took years to get those new chorale uniforms at the junior high, has the budget situation improved?

April 27, 2010 at 9:22 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawrence school board votes to move up 6th graders, 9th graders in 2011

The increase is more like 33%, not 25%. Now you have three grades, adding one more grade of about the same number of students is adding one-third of what is already there---that is 33%.

April 27, 2010 at 9:10 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

School board to plot next moves

The question and the vote should not be about reconfiguring schools. The question needs to be "What is the best educational model for Lawrence that Lawrence can afford NOW?" Second to that question is, "What model should the district move to in the future, when funding might be better?" The public deserves to know what programs WILL be offered if reconfiguration occurs not what MIGHT be offered. How much will it cost?
Moving 9th graders to the high school will NOT lower the DISTRICT per pupil cost significantly unless schools are closed or more students are added.
The Board voted in favor of smaller school size for elementary students. The advantages of smaller schools should be given to students across the district (http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2010/jan...), at least until the administration can present a comprehensive plan for education across the grades, across the curriculum with an accompanying budget. Measurable goals and objectives should be set to ensure accountability.
Our current configuration is working great for the majority of our students (even those 9th graders who don't know they are in high school, they still perform at or above the state 9th grade average!) ---it shouldn't be voted away without a concrete plan with measurable objectives to be approved in its stead.

April 25, 2010 at 2:16 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Split developing on whether it's a good idea to move 9th graders to high school

The School Board and people who have been attending the meetings have spent months listening to reasons why smaller, neighborhood schools are better for students. In fact, the Board agreed with this reasoning in the recent decision to maintain all elementary schools. It would be good if the Board would apply this reasoning to high school education as well; it is the education---not the building that is important.

Moving 9th graders to the high school buildings will increase school population by 33%. That is significant. Read the comments of a KU professor from one of the meetings:

"Barker and Gump found that as school size grew, the opportunities for students to take on new roles grew as well. Larger schools offer more opportunity, it's true. The problem is that the opportunities—to be on an athletic team, to be on student government, to represent the school at the Science and Engineering Fair—do not grow as quickly as the student body does. Smaller schools offer more opportunity PER STUDENT than larger schools."

Ninth grade students are currently treated and graded as ninth graders. They are taught by certified, licensed, qualified professional educators. They perform at or above ninth graders across the state by objective measures. In the current configuration, there are more opportunities per student and the students are, generally speaking, closer to home (ie, neighborhood school).

What is the compelling academic reason for the change?

April 14, 2010 at 10:33 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Proposed ninth-grade shift draws range of responses

Frank Harwood presented a powerpt report to the School Board on Oct 26th on the space situation at the high schools. It gave the capacity numbers and projected enrollments. It should be on the usd497 website under new business that from the 26th, but I couldn't pull it up. Can anyone else?

April 2, 2010 at 4:58 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Proposed ninth-grade shift draws range of responses

If the School Board doesn't have to cut the activities, then eighth graders could move into some of the positions. However, time is needed for kids to learn skills and to mature. That is why, giving the eighth graders those same leadership positions will not have the same benefit. At least this is true for the choral, band, and drama programs. The younger students see the achievement levels of the 9th graders and strive to imitate it.

Students NOW take advanced Math classes in the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. They take Adv. Biology in 9th grade. They don't have to go to the other buildings for that. Our experience has been that my students, even taking zero hours every year, could not fit all the courses they wanted to take into their schedules. More options are not needed, at least not for college prep. Perhaps on the vocational/technical side there is a need, I can't speak to that.
Lawrence is meeting the objectives set up for high school education as laid out by the state department of education. The department of education doesn't mandate 4 year high school buildings. Changing just because everyone else does it that way, ie. we are the only school in the state that does it this way, isn't a reason to change.

April 2, 2010 at 12:24 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Proposed ninth-grade shift draws range of responses

Hopefully, no, the child's development doesn't end when his or her ninth grade year ends. Certainly meaningful development occurs during K-8. However, students' ability to reason and work independently is greater in ninth grade than in eighth. So, keeping the ninth graders in the junior highs means that they have the leads/leadership opportunities in the plays, in chorale, in student council, in yearbook, band, in the year when they can independently make a difference. I don't have a link for you, but you can talk to any of the junior high teachers, counselors, principals, etc. to verify the difference in abilities from 7th to 9th grades.

By the time the students are in tenth grade, their organizational abilities, study skills, self-perception have grown by another year and it is appropriate to move them into the larger environment. The School Board recognizes that transitioning ninth graders to the high school buildings will require additional support. They have talked about maintaining the 9th graders in "pods" and want the extra year to determine strategies for the successful transition. It is not simply a matter of "backing off and letting kids succeed or fall on their faces all by themselves."

My point is that Lawrence has a successful school configuration. Last year's FS graduating class sent kids to KU, KState, Yale, MIT, and Columbia, to name a few. The year before that one went to Julliard. If the School Board and/or the Superintendent want to change the configuration, they should articulate how the change will improve educational achievement in measurable objectives.

April 2, 2010 at 11:46 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Proposed ninth-grade shift draws range of responses

I have asked the School Board several times to articulate the purpose of moving ninth graders to the the upperclassmen's buildings at FS and LHS. So far, I have not received an answer. I would like to know how the educational opportunities for ninth graders will be improved. In the present configuration, ninth graders have many leadership opportunities at a point in their development when they are establishing their self identity. In ninth grade they have greater ability and maturity than in eighth, so they can achieve goals in those leadership positions, they can participate and contribute more meaningfully in ninth than in eighth. Dropping those leadership positions down to eigth grade will not impact the students' development as greatly. As ninth graders in a four year school, they will lose those opportunities and be "little fish" in the big pond.

I hear parents say "My child is ready for high school." I don't know what that is supposed to mean. Do those parents know about the gun and drugs found at FS a couple of weeks ago? Lawrence junior high schools nurture students for an additional year. I have been told by usd497 officials that our ninth graders perform at or better than the average Kansas student...we should keep it that way....

at least until the School Board can articulate reasons for the reconfiguration beyone "everyone else does it that way" and "it will be easier for administrative purposes to be aligned with the state curriculum."

April 2, 2010 at 10:41 a.m. ( | suggest removal )