The Lawrence school board on Monday night held off establishing an elementary school task force while it tries to determine the best size for such a group.
The board considered a proposal to create an Elementary School Facility Task Force to study both the immediate and long-range needs of elementary schools in the district.
The charges of the proposed task force would include reviewing past studies of elementary programs, studying potential renovation needs of older structures, studying enrollment growth and community development patterns and studying the possible need to acquire new school sites.
While the scope of the group's duties would be rather broad, board member Barbara Ballard questioned whether the task force would need 34 members as proposed.
"Thirty-four members is really a lot of people. Maybe it's too large to really do what this committee has to do," Ballard said.
THE PROPOSED task force would consist of school board members, elementary teachers and administrators, members of the Lawrence business community, special education staff, representatives from Kansas University and parents of elementary school students.
Under Monday night's proposal, each of those groups would have from two to six representatives. But Ballard said the task force could be made smaller without "leaving anybody out."
Board member Mary Lou Wright said that when she served on a past committee with more than 30 members, attendance didn't seem as high as it has been on smaller committees.
"You don't feel terribly guilty (for not attending) because there are so many others who are going to be there," Ms. Wright said.
However, Board Vice President Mary Loveland said, "I think you have an issue here of expanding the information base beyond a few people who know what's going on."
LAWRENCE School Supt. Dan Neuenswander pointed out that the task force would be looking at the value of "neighborhood" schools versus the value of fully utilizing all current schools, in part by transferring students to schools with more room.
Such tranfers were a hot issue at the board's last meeting, where several parents protested proposed boundary changes that would move their children to different elementary schools primarily to handle overcrowding at Quail Run School. The board will hold a study session on the proposed boundary changes at 7 p.m. Monday at Lawrence High School, 1901 La.
Ballard and Loveland agreed to meet with school administrators to work out another proposal for the size of the task force. Both Ballard and Loveland agreed that an added component of the task force should be representation for senior citizens.
ALSO ON Monday, the board learned about the condition of six of the district's oldest elementary schools and the district's oldest junior high school.
Craig Fiegel, the district's director of business and facilities, said Craig Patterson and Associates, a Lawrence architectural firm, had completed a study of New York, East Heights, Sunset Hill, Cordley, Pinckney and Woodlawn elementary schools, plus Central Junior High School.
Fiegel said the good news is that the buildings are structurally sound enough for continued use, however, the schools' plumbing and electrical systems are running at capacity.
"The bad news is there's a lot to be done, and some of it's costly," Fiegel said.