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The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.

The Budget

The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.

The Budget

District announces revised schedule plan, addresses community concerns

Special meeting of school board responds to communication issues and LEA concerns
Kristen+Ryan%2C+executive+director+of+human+resources%2C+and+Jana+Craig-Hare%2C+director+of+data+and+assessment%2C+speak+to+the+board.+
Natasha Torkzaban
Kristen Ryan, executive director of human resources, and Jana Craig-Hare, director of data and assessment, speak to the board.

High school students will have two additional school days after an uproar from staff, students and families to initial proposed changes to the school calendar aimed at making up for excessive snow days. 

The changes approved by the school board in a meeting Friday afternoon will include an extension to the school year by two days in May. It restores the Wednesday schedule to allow early-release at the high school level. After announcing the new plan, district officials addressed the lack of transparency in communication.

“The feedback that we have gotten has been positive that this is a much better solution than where we were 24 hours ago,” school board Vice President Bob Byers said.

Board Vice President Bob Byers addressed the board during the meeting on Friday afternoon (Natasha Torkzaban)

Confusion and concerns stemmed from tentative plans leaked to students and families. Former board president Shannon Kimball discovered the proposed schedule through a social media post.

“We have to acknowledge that the way that this was communicated out to families certainly did not meet my expectations, and I don’t think it met our families’ expectations,” Kimball said.

The district was forced to adapt the fourth quarter schedule after it used four full inclement weather days in January. Additionally, the state auditor informed the district that the 1.5 days of parent-teacher conferences held prior to the start of school in August couldn’t be counted for instructional time. 

On March 7, teachers were sent a proposed schedule to compensate for the lost instructional time. The plan included a removal of Wednesday early-release, as well as an extended day of finals. This plan came as a surprise to many teachers and students, sparking concern within the schools.

“If we could rewind the last three days we would.”

— Kristen Ryan, executive director of human resources

“[Students] were very confused about why this was happening,” student board member Becca Craft said. “I know a lot of people were saying it felt very disorganized, especially that I talked to, and they were concerned about the impact that would have on clubs and work schedules.”

Kristen Ryan, executive director of human resources, explained that the district acted fast to respond to the threat of losing accreditation from the Kansas Department of Education. 

“It felt like the stakes were high on our end to be honest,” Ryan said. “If we could rewind the last three days we would.”

After a four-hour meeting earlier today, the Lawrence Education Association and district administrators came to the new agreement that addressed student concerns by bringing back early-release on Wednesdays. They compensated by adding two days onto the end of the school year. 

“It was our intention to repair the harm with the new schedule that we have, and I certainly want to apologize for any confusion we might be causing families and staff,” board president Kelly Jones said.

Board president Kelly Jones addresses the room during the board meeting Friday afternoon. (Natasha Torkzaban)

Jones added that student input was crucial to the process of revising the plan. 

“They were really clear about what the issues were that they would be facing if we kept the schedule the way that it was initially proposed,” Jones said. “That absolutely informed my decision to call the meeting tonight, and it did inform our decision to change the schedule that was initially put out, so it does matter when students contact board members and say, ‘Can you do something different?’”

Multiple board members expressed appreciation for the community response that informed the schedule decision.  

“Another space where the student voice makes a huge difference in terms of change is when you all collectively contact us,” Jones said. “That is one of the biggest reasons why we have a better schedule today. So thank you to the students.”

Zana Kennedy contributed reporting. 

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Natasha Torkzaban, The Budget Co-Editor in Chief
In my third year on journalism staff, first year on the Budget, I have taken on the role of Co-Editor in Chief of the print publication. I’m very excited to lead our award-winning publication this year alongside my incredible Co-Editors in Chief. When I’m not writing late-night stories, standing awkwardly to get the best shot, or spending way too much time trying design, I’m at color guard practice, working for the Lawrence Times, or spending copious amounts of money on coffee.
Ashlyn Tell, Reporter
I'm a first-year writer on the journalism staff. Outside of journalism, I love to ride my bike, cook, and spend time with friends.
Jack Tell, LHSBudget.com Co-Editor in Chief
As the co-editor in chief of LHSBudget.com, I'm looking forward to leading our publication during my senior year. My goal is to continue our tradition of award winning journalism and serve the LHS student body responsibly. When I'm not writing, l prefer to be mountain biking, swimming, or reading. I'm looking forward to covering all sorts of stories and doing quality work this year.

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