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Archive for Sunday, May 8, 1994

DISTRICT MULLS JUNIOR HIGH BUS PLAN

May 8, 1994

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The Lawrence school board could adopt the same junior high boundaries it considered in February -- with one new twist.

A shuttle bus between Central Junior High School and Southwest Junior High School is the latest proposal for enhancing racial diversity among Lawrence junior high schools.

The Lawrence school board on Monday will consider the administrative proposal, which is designed to ease student transfers between Central and Southwest.

Administrators are recommending the same boundaries that the school board approved on first reading Feb. 28.

Those boundaries would move students north of Peterson Road and east of Kasold from West Junior High School to Central. Students already enrolled at West could finish their junior high schooling there as long as they arranged their own transportation.

The shuttle bus would provide free transportation for minority students wishing to transfer from Central to Southwest, which will open in 1995 southwest of Clinton Parkway and Inverness Road. The shuttle also would offer free transportation for nonminority students who wish to transfer from Southwest to Central.

Sarah Jane Russell, a member of the executive committee of the Lawrence Alliance, said the shuttle bus could be a step in the right direction. The Lawrence Alliance is a local group that works against discrimination.

"This is a recommendation for achieving diversity, so I think the Lawrence Alliance can applaud that," Russell said.

Under the proposed boundaries, an estimated 28.6 percent of Central students would be minorities, compared to 9.8 percent at Southwest. Administrators hope the shuttle would bring those figures closer together.

Both West and South junior high schools would have minority populations of about 15.4 percent.

Although Russell applauded the shuttle idea, she said other steps are needed.

"I think the board is going to have to take a look at a number of things -- curriculum, staffing patterns and efficacy training."

For example, Russell suggested the possibility of the district hiring a director of multicultural education.

Russell also wondered how many students would take up the transfer offer.

"Transition doesn't need to be negative. But it is change, and change can be difficult," Russell said. "The culture at each junior high school is well established, and a new school might not attract the kind of change they (school officials) want it to."

Bill Simons, 1508 Vt., has threatened to bring legal action against the district if he thinks equity issues haven't been addressed. He called the shuttle bus proposal a poor attempt to achieve racial diversity.

"I don't think the response is going to be that great," Simons said. "The point is that it's left to chance."

Simons said he was equally concerned about socioeconomic diversity among the schools.

"If this gets approved, I think I definitely will investigate through the NAACP legal fund and see what the options (for legal action) are," Simons said.

  • Do you support a plan to shuttle students on buses between Central and Southwest junior high schools to enhance the schools' racial mix? Answer today's J-W Access question on page 4A.

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