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Archive for Friday, December 3, 1993

CLOSING SCHOOLS UPSETS PARENTS

December 3, 1993

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Some parents say the closing of schools, an idea proposed by the Lawrence school board, also could cause the breakup of communities.

Craig and Alanna Daniels would like to end their life as renters and purchase a home of their own.

However, they don't want to move very far. They have three children at Cordley School, and they would like to remain in the Cordley enrollment area if possible.

Alanna Daniels said she and other parents have a strong dedication to Cordley and would be upset if the Lawrence school board were to adopt a proposal to close the school.

"We like our neighborhood, and we like the families that are there (at Cordley)," she said. "We like the school atmosphere and all the teachers."

Cordley, Grant and East Heights schools would not continue as elementary schools under a boundary proposal the school board discussed Monday. The board discussed several boundary options in conjunction with two new elementary schools that will open in August 1994.

Cordley, 1837 Vt., is being considered as the new home of the Lawrence Alternative High School, now at Holcom Park. School officials say moving the alternative school to Cordley would put it closer to Lawrence High School, 1901 La.

Alanna Daniels wanted to know why Centennial School, which is about one block south of LHS, isn't being considered for the alternative school.

Board member Renee Karr, who served on the committee that developed the boundary options, said it's mostly a question of size. Centennial has 30,310 square feet of space; Cordley has 44,100 square feet.

Judy Juneau, director of the alternative school, said regardless of what decision is made about Cordley, her program could use more room. The alternative high school, which serves a maximum of about 70 students struggling with school, now operates in 6,372 square feet of space.

"Even though we wouldn't want the alternative school to be too large, there certainly is a need to be able to serve more kids," Juneau said. "If we had a larger facility, we could even begin to look at offering more things."

Juneau said the present building lacks conference space, a commons area, a library and space to set up a computer lab. She said moving closer to LHS would help alternative school students feel more like part of the LHS community.

People in the Grant and East Heights areas also are concerned about plans to close their schools. Grant, which serves about 60 rural students northeast of Lawrence, would be closed primarily for cost-efficiency reasons.

Jane Bireta, who has three children at Grant, said other factors should be considered.

"I question some of the cost estimates, especially when you consider some of the intangible benefits that you'd be losing," Bireta said. "One thing that holds this community together is a shared interest in the children. Without the school there, I think a lot of that would be lost."

East Heights Principal Clem Clayburn said she has received several calls from parents wanting to know more about the boundary proposal.

"I think a very important part of their children's lives is to be able to go to school here," Clayburn said.

East Heights, 1430 Haskell, would become a preschool center under two boundary options.

Some people thought the boundary discussion would involve just drawing lines on a city map, not closing elementary schools. Karr explained why the boundary committee decided to look at those options now.

"What we're trying to do is a comprehensive plan instead of going back to the public in two years and saying, 'By the way, we need this,'" Karr said. "We know that we're going to have to spend money in the next five years, but where can we do some rearranging so we can save money?"

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