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Archive for Sunday, March 14, 1993

PARENTS DEAL WITH OVERCROWDING IN VARYING WAYS

March 14, 1993

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Mike and Penny Tubbs already were living in the Quail Run School enrollment area in September when the school's enrollment was closed to newcomers.

The Tubbs' children could have continued attending Quail Run, but the couple arranged to transfer their children to a less-crowded school.

Other parents decided to stick it out and keep their children in Quail Run's large classes. Parents who moved to the area after the enrollment closing had no choice but to send their children to another school.

Quail Run's crowded conditions have forced all those families to make some alterations, and some families are concerned that they'll have to make even greater adjustments in the future.

Quail Run, 1130 Inverness, had its enrollment closed in September because the school's 632 students surpassed its capacity of about 525. The class size at some grade levels averages at 29-30 students.

Now district officials are talking about opening the school's enrollment for the 1993-94 school year, a move they say could put the school's enrollment around 750. Under a recommendation from administrators, six portable classrooms would be added to the school to handle the enrollment growth.

LeANN AND RANDY Towner have two children at Quail Run. LeAnn Towner said she thinks teachers have coped well with the large number of students. However, she questions the advisability of adding even more students to the school.

"I think the teaching staff at Quail Run is excellent, but I have great concern that we take good teachers and ask them to do way too much," Towner said. "I'm concerned that by asking teachers too many years in a row to take on too much, they'll say, `I quit.' Good people will only compromise themselves so much."

A new elementary school scheduled to open in southwest Lawrence in the fall of 1994 is supposed to alleviate crowding at Quail Run. But at the rate west Lawrence is growing, Towner is concerned that Quail Run will remain crowded even with the new school.

Towner's fourth-grade daughter, Libby, is in a class of 28 students. The class had 30 students earlier in the year. Although she gives Libby's teacher high ratings, Towner said she knows students in smaller classes get a lot more attention.

Her first-grade daughter, Katie, is in a class of 14. The class meets in a conference room that has been converted to a classroom; it won't accommodate many more students than that.

"It's not the best classroom facility, but I think she's had a wonderful year in that classroom because there are only 14 in the class," Towner said.

Whatever happens to Quail Run enrollment, "I don't want to see classes get much bigger," she said.

PENNY AND MIKE Tubbs got their children into smaller classes by transferring them to Pinckney School. Shauna is a third-grader; Jessica a second-grader.

Shauna said the move to Pinckney was difficult at first.

"I missed a lot of friends that I had at the other school," Shauna explained. But she's found that "at Pinckney you can meet a lot of people that are really nice."

Penny Tubbs said she still has her daughters in Quail Run Brownie troops as one way to keep them in touch with their Quail Run friends. But paying close attention to her daughters' social needs isn't the only adjustment Tubbs has been forced to make.

Under district policy, parents of transfer students must arrange their children's transportation to school.

"I work six hours a day, and it just so happens that I could change my office hours so I could get them to and from school. Most people don't have that flexibility, but I'm not excited about having the sole responsibility for their transportation," said Tubbs, who lives about five miles west of town.

TUBBS' DAUGHTER Haylee will enter kindergarten this fall. However, district officials won't guarantee Haylee a spot at Pinckney until kindergarten class sizes are known, and that's created a day-care dilemma for Tubbs.

"The day-care facilities already are filling up, so I've had to pay deposits for day-care arrangements at two different places one that serves the Quail Run area and another that serves the Pinckney area," Tubbs said. "One of them I know I will not participate in, and I'll lose my deposit fee."

Tubbs said it would be nice if the district could do more to accommodate those parents who have alleviated Quail Run crowding by transferring their students. She also said she hopes her children will be able to continue at Pinckney now that they've started there.

Craig Fiegel, the district's director of business and facilities, said priority would be given to transfer requests from parents who have moved their children out of Quail Run. However, he said, it's possible such transfer students still will have to find their own transportation.

BILL SCHELAR, 417 Terry Ct., said the transportation dilemma concerns him. He and his wife, Judy, moved to the Quail Run enrollment area with two school-aged children in December. Because the school's enrollment was closed, first-grader Kelsey and third-grader Erin had to attend Deerfield School.

Since the Schelars were hit by the enrollment closing, the district has provided transportation for the children. However, if Quail Run enrollment is opened and the Schelars' children continue at Deerfield which they prefer the Schelars may be required to provide their own transportation.

"We were kind of concerned last year when we heard that Quail Run would be closing enrollment. Our Realtor did a real good job of letting us know that they closed it, but by that time we already had a contract," Schelar said. "We were surprised and disappointed, but it's working out OK. Deerfield seems to be a good school."

So as not to disrupt his children's social lives, Schelar said he would like them to continue at Deerfield.

"My concern is what kind of bus transportation the district will arrange to do that," he said.

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