Despite the split vote cast Wednesday by members of the Commission on Mid-Level and High School Education, there are several signs that commission members are willing to compromise in proposing a solution for secondary school space needs.
A proposal to build a mid-high school for grades 9 and 10 and house grades 11 and 12 at Lawrence High School received 10 of 22 votes largely because of such compromise.
Commission member John Tacha, who earlier had proposed a series of bond issues to build a fourth junior high school, expand LHS and build a second high school, switched his vote Wednesday to the mid high-senior high proposal.
Tacha said that while he still likes his original proposal, "If we really want what is best for kids, then we've got to think about how we get there."
Several commission members said the mid high-senior high proposal stands the best chance of getting voter approval because, unlike the other two proposals, it doesn't split Lawrence students into two high schools. Rather, once the mid-high school and senior-high school attain enrollments of 1,700 students each, students would be divided among three high schools for grades 9-12.
Tacha said that, like the other two proposals, the mid high-senior high option does provide for multiple high schools and for the creation of middle schools.
But commission member Fred Rodriguez said that under the mid high-senior high model, it would be difficult to provide high school students with the variety of course offerings they have now, adding that significant busing would be needed to provide ninth- and 10th-graders access to upper-level courses.
"I'd like to have someone convince me that this is, educationally, the best arrangement we can have for kids," Rodriguez said.
Commission member Mick Lowe said he saw similar problems with the proposal.
"I'm mostly concerned about it organizationally and managerially," Lowe said. "It's not what makes sense to me."
However because it could be the most politically feasible option, Lowe said he could support a temporary mid high-senior high setup "to get what I think is better for everybody in the long run."
Commission member Joe Flannery also voiced a change in his stance, saying, "This isn't the plan that I originally voted for, but I think it makes a lot of sense."