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Bond Issue Planning
PhotoIn keeping with its Excellence, Equity and Engagement goals, the Lawrence Board of Education will pursue a $92.5 million no-tax-increase bond issue on April 2, 2013, to improve school facilities, enhance technology districtwide and expand career and technical education opportunities for students.

The board voted last spring to continue operating the district's 14 remaining elementary schools. This decision followed several years of community engagement about elementary facilities, school consolidations and formal recommendations from two citizen task forces supporting a bond issue. Elementary enrollment increases during the past few years, and projections for continued growth, also have played into the board’s decision.

Using the task force recommendations as a guide, the board identified the primary emphasis of the bond issue: elementary facility needs, especially among central and east Lawrence elementary schools; additions to both high schools to address security and equity issues and to better accommodate grades 9-12; continued investment in technology across the district; and expansion of career and technical education opportunities to better prepare students for college and careers.

Due to the district’s strong financial position and the retirement of existing bonds, the board can issue a significant amount in new bonds without increasing taxes. A financial report from the district’s bond counsel, George K. Baum, indicates that Lawrence Public Schools have among the largest enrollments (7th) and assessed valuations (5th) in comparison to the largest school districts in the state, as well as neighboring districts. Meanwhile, USD 497's debt per student, debt-to-assessed valuation, bond and interest fund levy and total mill rate are low by the same comparison.

Process imageThe board partnered with Gould Evans Associates, a local architectural services firm, to assist with information gathering and to develop a community plan that balances the many space, land use, academic and infrastructure needs of the district with an emphasis on responsible, sustainable and compatible growth for 21st century learning. Architectural consultants met with principals and staff focus groups in each school to discuss how facilities can better support learning and technology needs. The district also hosted a series of 16 community input sessions in each of the elementary schools and both high schools. School and community members reviewed and refined a baseline criteria for district facilities.

Priorities image
Districtwide equity and 21st century learning provide the road map for school improvement planning. Some of the key considerations included:
  • Larger elementary classrooms that provide better opportunities for break-out and in-class multi-modal learning activities
  • Elementary resource spaces that are flexible and dispersed throughout schools, creating multiple learning environments for students and appropriate collaboration/office space for teachers
  • Elementary special education spaces that enable sensory learning activities and are equipped with restrooms and adequate storage
  • Districtwide infrastructure improvements supporting instructional technology
  • Districtwide upgrades to mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems
  • Accessibility
  • Security, especially as it pertains to school entrances, and campus safety (pickup/dropoff and parking areas)
  • Additional classroom capacity (Free State High) and enlarged common spaces (Lawrence High kitchen/cafeteria)
  • Building capacity to accommodate elementary growth
  • Assessing elementary priorities
  • Sustainable/energy efficiency initiatives

The following are facility evaluations presented by Gould Evans & Associates during Community Input Sessions:

Presentations made by Gould Evans & Associates during school board meetings are as follows:

In addition to the community input sessions, Gould Evans provided an online survey tool that schools used to gather additional input from site councils, staff and parents. The district contracted with Patron Insight to conduct a scientific telephone survey of 400 randomly selected households from November 14-December 3: Patron Insight Survey Results.

A district technology audit occurred parallel to the comprehensive facilities evaluation. Alexander Open Systems (AOS) worked with district and school leaders and the districtwide Technology Planning Committee to review best practices, technology uses and needs. The comprehensive review included goals and objectives, infrastructure, end user support and technology staffing, financial planning, curriculum integration and professional development, academic standards across curriculum and grade levels, and disaster recovery. The AOS review informed a professional report of current practices and programmatic and operational recommendations for the creation of an instructional learning plan, improved services and future areas of study. This information also served as a basis for an updated district Technology Plan and informed the board's work on the bond issue.

Last Modified: Oct 08, 2013

Lawrence Public Schools | Unified School District 497 | 110 McDonald Drive | Lawrence, KS 66044
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